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Australian encounters: Awesome Ants!

Before I got enjoyable engrossed into #30DaysWild, I was posting about my wildlife experiences from my holiday in Australia. February feels like such a long time ago, but I had the good fortune to be able to photograph many different species of wildlife. I have posted most of what I wanted to share with you, but I have two blogs remaining (including this one).

When I was heading out to Australia one of the things I most wanted to do, was find as many different species of Ant as possible. I knew there was some wonderfully unique species to be found on the continent, I also knew that there’s only so much you can see in 2 weeks! I was careful during my searches, as I knew that there were some species to keep a respectful and safe distance!

I was thrilled to see the different species and to witnessed them go about their business. With fascination I watched them forage, feed, fight and preen! Sadly I was not successful with my photos of the bright iridescently green ants. But I do keep re-watching the preening ant video, it looks almost like it is playing shadow puppets!

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My #30DaysWild Highlights

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in #30DaysWild. This year was no different.

I have had so many amazing wild experiences; watching the Worcester Peregrines, the chip stealing Starling, the Spider at sunset, an Ants’ picnic, visiting Morecambe.

I spotted my first Fritillary!

I got creative too; making models of ants and creating a comic strip.

I shall continue to Stay Wild, enjoying the wildlife that surrounds me everyday. I hope that you do too!

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#30DaysWild – Day 17 – The Ants’ Picnic!

This idea was inspired by a friend, he has always like to give ants a crumbled biscuit or a gummy sweet. Now it is something I do myself.

In the last few months I have been watching the ants on my doorstep. I have given them a few crumbs and sweets, but nothing has taken their fancy. In the last few days the ants have been very busy opening out the soil at the entrance area of the nest. They are clearly getting ready for ‘flying ant day’! I have even seen the winged ants at the opening of the nest. But it has not been easy for them, in the evening of the last two days there have been huge thunderstorms. The accompanying rain has destroyed the ants hard work, so I want to give them a little treat but I don’t know what they like. So today I decided to try and find out what type of food these ants might favour.

I picked out 8 foods that I already had in my kitchen, 3 savoury items and 5 sweet: Ham and Beef meat paste, cream cheese, a crumbled monster munch, honey, bramble jelly, apricot jam, marmalade and a piece of pear. I put a sample of each along a piece of card complete with label. I wanted to make sure I could see which food the ants visited and clean it all up afterwards.

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No sooner did I put the samples down, the ants were on the food investigating! I will admit, I hadn’t really thought about how to record the results so my notes aren’t very scientific. But my goal was simple, find the ants favourite food and have fun watching them!

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The first food to be visited was the bramble jelly, but the most interest was shown to the marmalade and apricot jam. There was some interest was taken in the meat paste too. The cream cheese and monster munch was investigated, but not touched. The honey and pear where completely ignored!

After about 15minutes I sat back to leave the ants be, I reached for the most appropriate of my new graphic novels, Ant Man!

I didn’t want to leave the food unattended, I wanted to make sure that no other passing animal took advantage, but also to be there should something change. I would read for a short while then check on the ants then go back to reading , I did this over the next hour and a half. I saw the meat paste and marmalade were revisited and that the pear was inspected once! In total, 4 ants walked over the monster munch, only to thoroughly preen and clean themselves afterwards. I would say at this point that the marmalade was most popular, the apricot jam came in second, third was the bramble jelly and the meat paste was fourth. The cream cheese, honey and pear all but ignored!

I wondered if the monster munch was too pungent for the ants, so I moved the card with the crumbs and pear to one side. I slide the card with the rest of the food up along the step, to be closer to the nest entrance. Renewed interest was shown.

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Marmalade was a huge hit! A lot of ants spent time feeding on the sweet orange food. The honey was now of interest too. The cream cheese was still ignored! This time when the ants found the meat paste, they tucked in!

I watched for another 45 minutes. I would say that this time the meat paste and marmalade came a joint first, the apricot came second, bramble jelly third and honey finally making an appearance in fourth!

One additional insect made an appearance to caste their vote, a marmalade hoverfly landed on the apricot jam for a snack!

I would have liked to have continued for longer but for the third day in a row a thunderstorm hit and I had to retreat indoors. By this time I have spent over 2 hours watching the ants (I didn’t read as much of my comic as I thought I would!). I would do this again, but with a few changes. For the sake of the ants, I wouldn’t use monster munch or any other crisp type snack. For my sake I wouldn’t use the cream cheese. While taking photos and videos I managed to get covered in the stuff! Yuck!

I got a great deal of pleasure from just taking the time to watch these amazing tiny creatures. Ants are absolutely fascinating to observe!

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#30DaysWild – Day 3 – A countryside cycle

Despite the cool and cloudy weather, I did head outside today. I went for a 9 mile cycle through the beautiful British countryside.

I took the time to stop, admire the views and take a few photos! I was also lucky enough to see some great wildlife: Song thrush, mistle thrush, jay, blackbirds, robins, blue tits, yellowhammer, house martins, rabbits, hares and a speedy vole that narrowly escaping the wheels of an oncoming car!

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#30DaysWild – Day 2 – Making a bracelet

I got a little arts-and-crafty today, I decided I wanted to make a bracelet. I got everything sorted and headed outside. I chose a shady spot under some trees where I could watch and listen to the birds and get some fresh air, while making the bracelet.

As it is 30 Days Wild, I thought a wildlife pattern would be most appropriate. I found this pretty blue butterfly pattern to create. If you want to give it a try, you can find the instructions here: https://friendship-bracelets.net/patterns/24310.

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Australian encounters: Magpies and Butchers birds

On my holiday to Australia in February, I had the good fortune to be able to photograph many different species of wildlife. The colourful and often noisy birds, cute mammals, fascinating lizards and the many species of gorgeous insects I encountered will, I hope, all be blogged about in the near future.

The focus of this blog is of Australian Magpie and Pied Butcher Birds. They are more monochromatic than some of Australia’s other birds, but what they lack in colour they make up for in character!

The photos I want to share with you are of two families of Australian magpies and butcher birds. The first six photos are of the families, but the last two photos are the juveniles being playful. To my amusement the juvenile magpie rolled on its back while a juvenile butcher bird tugged on its tail! The tussle went on for a few minutes before the magpie stood up, face to face with the young butcher bird. Moments later both families went on the merry way.

There are so many incredible species to be found in Australia, something I discovered on my first visit. Colourful parrots, iconic kookaburras, fancy pigeons among many others. Those are memorable for their beauty but when it comes to songs, there is nothing more soft and fluting as that of the butcher bird, that is recorded in the video at the end of this blog.

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My photograph of the month for January

In early January I got to photograph this pretty little Dunnock, foraging in and out of the golden sunlight under a Yew tree.

Dunnock

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My favourite wildlife moment of 2019

I had wanted to publish this blog over the new year, unfortunately I had a nasty bout of flu so I had to delay this post.

In November I took a trip that I had wanted to do for a few years. It was to Donna Nook, famous for grey seals. In November and December the grey seals come up onto the beach in huge numbers to breed. It is an impressive sight! The day was wonderful, the baby seals were adorable! What I wasn’t expecting was the noise of the seals, so loud you can hear from the car park. It is an eerie sound, yet somehow it is enchanting!

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust do a fantastic job of counting and looking out for the safety of the seals, while also taking the time to talk with visitors about the seals and the local wildlife.

I took so many photos that I did have a hard time choosing which ones to share with you. There are a lot of cute baby seal photos, but as you will see, there was room for other wildlife to live amongst these magnificent marine mammals.

I am already looking forward to visiting again next year!

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My photograph of the month for September

My choice for my photo for September was clear. This little moment of urban wild was a real highlight for me.

Walking along a path in the rain, housing estate lining one side and the river the other, I stumbled on this handsome frog. Sat proud in the middle of the path, I got down low to capture the frog in its urban surroundings.

Once I had photographed its best side, the frog hopped off to the damp safety of the nearby river bank, leaving me with a this photo and a spring in my step!

Frog

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#30DaysWild – Day 12 – Indoor safari

After 4 days of rain, today I went on an indoor safari! Exploring my new home, unsurprisingly, I didn’t find too much. I did find a couple of very pretty moths and a lovely spider!

I promise I shall encourage them back outside once the weather subsides.

Spider

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