Here We Go Again….

The original plan for this weeks blog post was for me to be writing about the great time I recently had visiting Cotswold Falconry centre (which I still will include, just to a lesser extent), however: I cannot ignore the recent news of the secondary lockdown coming into force in the UK.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about the impending lockdown, I struggled through the last episode with my mental health, at some points I hit lows I had not felt in a long time.

That’s not to say I didn’t have any high points, it was during the last lockdown I discovered my love for macro photography, a love affair that is still burning very brightly. I am already excited about the next “macro season”.

I’m very aware I was not the only person who struggled previously and are again anxious for the future. This time of year is hard enough already for some with the shorter days and the miserable weather setting in.

We all need to be there for each other more than ever: to listen, to encourage and to support.

I know sometimes it’s easier said than done, I am consciously trying to make a greater effort to keep afloat mentally and help those who are in the same boat. We got through it last time, we can do it again.

I’ve been preparing myself mentally and being realistic, I know this time it will be harder, I won’t have macro as a crutch during these colder/darker times. Where this leaves my photography I am unsure…watch this space.

As always when I talk about mental health, I remind you all, if you start to feel low, reach out. Talking may take some of the weight off and help you see things more clearly.

Moving onto a more positive subject, the previous weekend brought with it a visit to Cotswold Falconry centre. The centre boasts a great variety of birds of prey, to which the staff are very passionate and knowledgeable about.

I would highly recommend visiting, especially to watch one of the flight displays. The staff do extremely well to demonstrate as best they can the natural behavior of each bird they fly.

On this occasion visiting the centre, in my opinion, I managed to capture some of my best bird portrait shots. It is very rare where I feel happy about what I have captured, I am always quick to point out flaws. Always my own biggest critic.

The Bateleur eagle portraits in particular are some of my absolute favourites, I looked at them in camera at the centre and knew then I had something special. I look at them now and they don’t even feel like my work, I love them.

I hope your week has been a good one, until next time, take care.

https://www.cotswold-falconry.co.uk/

A New Appreciation

Since I began macro photography, I have surprised myself enormously about what I now get excited about capturing in the garden, or what I really hope to shoot in the future. From discovering the joy of jumping spiders to this weeks “buzz” in achieving a wasp portrait.

Wasps, often seen as useless, dangerous and annoying are massively underappreciated. Ashamedly, in the past, I have not always been the wasps biggest fan, until recently that is.

Public perception of this much maligned insect needs to be changed, you don’t have to love them just know they aren’t as useless as they are perceived.

I can understand why these so called pests have been given such a bad press, who wants to get stung? Unlike its close relative the Honeybee, who also packs a powerful sting but provides us with honey, there is no physical trade off for a wasp sting.

Wasps (social or solitary) are great at pest control, either killing insects for feeding their larvae in a nest or using them as a host for their eggs. Who needs pesticides when the wasp is an apex pest predator, they are the gardeners friend!

Wasps also pollinate, although not rightfully credited. I recently learnt that figs are reliant on the aptly named fig wasp, one without the other cannot complete their life cycle, that’s just one example of many specialist plant/wasp relationships, where without each other they would cease to exist.

Other wasps inadvertently pollinate by transferring pollen flower to flower when collecting nectar, making them amazing general pollinators.

As you may well tell I am completely converted to appreciating these fascinating creatures. The more you read about their role in the ecosystem its hard not to. I hope that in the small snippets of what I have written here I have piqued your interest to maybe rethink your own perception of the wasp.

I was ecstatic when I managed to get the wasp portrait, they were busy drinking water off some plant leaves, I was calm and approached slowly without disturbing them. As long as the wasp does not feel threatened then you are not likely to be stung, they sting to protect themselves. As you can see in my pictures, I managed to get quite close.

The rest of my macro shots are all varieties of insects/bugs that I have managed to shoot before, but that does not lessen the joy they give me. I was very happy to discover how shield bugs eat while out snapping them, sucking up sap from plants, in one of my pic if you look closely you may notice a shield bug tongue ready to eat!

I hope your week has been as joyful as mine with my mini beasts. Until next time, take care.