Pond News: Southern Hawker

In May, I put a pond in my garden, the most anticipated event since before I moved house! I added native plants and waited for animals to find it of their own accord. Some water beetles were the first to arrive (first noticed two days after the water went in) followed by a lesser water boatman and pond snails. Surprisingly, I still haven’t seen any pond skaters which have been the first aquatic insect arrivals at previous ponds I’ve made.

If I had to pick a favourite dragonfly it would be the broad-bodied chaser. Fittingly, a female of this species was the first dragon I saw here. I’ve also had an Emperor dragonfly ovipositing and a male common darter. The most recent addition to the dragon’s den was a female southern hawker. She only stayed a few minutes but luckily I had a camera to hand. The light was going a bit but nonetheless I fired up my homemade 4K straightscope (more from that soon) and grabbed a quick few shots. This edit is a bit rough and ready and has a different vibe to the Marsh Fritillary one I posted recently! Lastly, I have to mention the damselflies. I’ve had a large red ovipositing and a particularly dainty-looking blue-tailed damselfly has accompanied some of my pond-side coffee breaks.

Marsh Fritillaries

Earlier in the summer, I spent a day filming in a meadow for a new venture promoting wildlife friendly foods. A couple of days ago, I decided to make a short edit of some of my rushes of marsh fritillary butterflies from the day and am able to share it here.

Ballooning Spiders

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Biologist Dr Erica Morley at the University of Bristol asked me if I could photograph ballooning spiders for a British Arachnological Society article and a forthcoming research paper. We didn’t have much time but, being an invertebrate and science enthusiast I was excited to try. I’m pleased to say that Dr Morley's inspired research with Prof. Daniel Robert made the cover of the journal Current Biology. Subsequently, the research and pictures have been picked up by the press internationally. Visually, it’s a subject I hope to dedicate more time to soon. You can read the original paper here: Electric Fields Elicit Ballooning in Spiders.

Avon Wildlife Trust

The world’s environmental problems can seem overwhelming. One place everyone can make a difference is in their local area and that’s a reason why I continue to enjoy supporting local charity Avon Wildlife Trust. I’ve made quite a few videos for them in the past about urban wildlife gardening and am glad they came back to me for help with some filming and editing for their latest campaign. I’m pleased to learn they are very happy with the final film which is used on social media. However, since the film is so short and the script they wrote doesn’t go in to details about the range of work they do, I feel obliged to elaborate on this here! As well as managing their own brilliant nature reserves, they manage a lot of green space outside of those too. They do education work with all ages including pre-school (eg. their ’My Wild Child’ events), school visits; talks and courses for adults. They have an ecological consultancy arm, a food growing project, wildflower nursery and they run urban wildlife projects that have improved our cities. If you live in Bristol/Bath area and aren’t already a member please look into joining up!  Video below.

 

Philippines

I’m just back from a month filming in the Philippines for a new wildlife series. It was my first visit to these nature-rich islands and I found the people to be amongst the most welcoming, friendly and helpful I’ve met anywhere. There were lush, green ‘Hollywood filmset’-like forests, amazing looking reefs (unfortunately there wasn’t time to swim in them!) and, as one might expect for an extensive archipelago, a huge variety pack of endemic species.

Highlights included stunning damselflies (despite disruptions from torrential rain), one of the best bat colony spectacles anywhere, exploring the famous Underground River of Palawan and two multi-day hiking expeditions to track down one of the rarest mammals in the world, the Tamarau (a small buffalo) and one of the world’s largest pitcher plants, Nepenthes attenboroughii. 

 

 

 One beast waits for another: Canon's 50-1000mm lens in tamarau country

One beast waits for another: Canon's 50-1000mm lens in tamarau country

 One of the moment's I was most looking forward to  - seeing Nepenthes attenboroughii for the first time! 

One of the moment's I was most looking forward to  - seeing Nepenthes attenboroughii for the first time! 

World Land Trust - music video by Sarah Class

World Land Trust is a well-respected, effective organisation backed by such highly-informed, widely travelled patrons as Sir David Attenborough, Steve Backshall, Chris Packham and David Gower. World Land Trust safeguards threatened habitats by funding the purchase, management and protection of land by local partner organisations and communities. Recently, I was honoured to play a small part in making a film for them.

In a huge personal effort, composer and singer/ songwriter Sarah Class wrote and performed a song accompanied by a music video to promote World Land Trust. Sarah hired Five Films to direct the video and a small kaleidoscope of other people contributed archive footage and post-production skills.  I was very happy when I was asked to help too.

www.worldlandtrust.org

www.sarahclass.com