November 08, 2019

Grue Migration 2019

Whilst sitting, drinking my coffee this morning at 8:02 am, I heard the unmistakeable cacophony of the Common Crane (Gru) overhead. I dashed out of the boat with my telephone to take photos and one recording. This is the annual migration of the Gru from Scandinavia to Spain. I am privileged to be living right under the flight path they take every year.

There were 3-4 flights flying at the same time and directly over the marina where we are moored. They continued in wave after wave until almost 9:00 am when they slowed to a trickle. The last flight that I saw was at 11:09 am. Our outside temperature was 2 C but the skies were blue with no clouds.

I checked my observations and found that 8 months ago, I saw them going in the opposite direction.

Posted on November 08, 2019 10:51 by perkpenn perkpenn | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 16, 2018

Wall Walking

Wall walking came to me because central France is wintery, cold, windy and there is nothing flying, crawling or available to the budding photographer. I discovered that there is a plethora of insects which happily crawl the walls of the pastel buildings in my region and so began my wall walking quest. I carefully creep along on the pavements, making sure that I don't step into traffic and I am off – wall walking again.

As my passion developed, I began to discern what attracted the most subjects. The outside temperature and whether or not the sun shone on the buildings was the first thing I considered. With dipping temperatures, if the sun is shining, there will still be a few brave souls crawling along. Of course, I had to consider whether or not I might suffer frost bite along the way.

The building materials used in construction also dictated what might be out and about. I found that rough surfaces which make mobility an issue were devoid of my subjects. Peaks and valleys make it difficult for critters to move along, so stubbly, ripply stucco, though fashionable, is out of the question. Just keep walking to the next edifice.

The colouring of the outside of the buildings makes a difference. Dark colours tend not to produce many insects. The pastels are great – especially pink to rose. White is fine, but can give the novice photographer problems with exposures. I have had many a photo ruined because it was too light. Rarely because it was too dark.

Half walls that but up against some form of vegetation can be fruitful. Remembering that insects need to be able to make a quick exit lead me to keep my eyes out for hedges, overhanging trees, plants that were sprouting up along a wall and small, postage-stamp walled in parks.

Using common sense is important and I usually try to do so. Taking photos along the walls of prisons, schools, police stations, or banks is probably not such a good plan. Let that very interesting specimen go rather than find yourself on CCTV being arrested! Also, care must be taken around playgrounds and primary schools.

Respecting private property is a must! Open windows can be a cause for concern as the inhabitants can generally hear the click of the camera. I have had more than one person poke their head out and ask what I thought I was doing. When I tell them that I am taking pictures of spiders and insects, they often join in and point out what they see. I have had more than one European Firebug pointed out and I felt obliged to photo their find.

Along those same lines, I was crouched one day with my camera nearly on the wall taking a picture of a springtail when a car drove up and a man and woman (French speaking) asked what I was doing. They found it hilarious when I told them and drove off in fits of laughter.

Ah, but spring has come to central France . . . so have the insects of flight . . . now the dilemma . . . 'wall' walk or 'vegetation' walk???

Posted on March 16, 2018 13:25 by perkpenn perkpenn | 3 comments | Leave a comment

January 02, 2018

Very Small Things

I have taken to walking around Auxerre village with my camera in tow (wall walking). The walls of many of the buildings here are smooth plaster/cement with pastel colouring. As a result, I can usually find an appropriate subject for my lens. However, most of the insects that I find are between 3-5 mm. Very, very small. My lens and my abilities are stretched to get as much detail as possible.

I find them totally interesting - beetles, spiders, things that go bump in the night.

So, I shall continue to spend my winter, blurry-eyed but happy as I continue to explore the walls of Auxerre.

Posted on January 02, 2018 08:11 by perkpenn perkpenn | 1 comments | Leave a comment

September 03, 2017

Jardins des Plantes - Paris

Today, the 3rd of September, I was in Paris and decided to visit the Jardins to see what insect life might be out there. At first, I was in the wrong area so there was little to see. Perhaps a controlled environment will not have much because of pesticides?? I eventually wandered into the are where there were flowers! Score! I found my favourites - the crab spiders. I also nailed a common Blue butterfly (male). I will have to wait a week whilst I am in Norway before seeing if the photos have had the correct exposures!

Posted on September 03, 2017 17:46 by perkpenn perkpenn | 4 comments | Leave a comment

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