Friday, January 10, 2020

Dr Hinge I presume?

Are you sure that picture is of Maggie Kuhn? Looks just like Dr Evadne Hinge to me...

While you are pondering that, here are some figures to contemplate...

And if you find those in any way disturbing, then take a look at the following figures:

1. The Hawaiian snail, Achatinella apexfulva

2. Australia's Bramble Cay melomys, Melomys rubicola

3. Sumatran Rhino, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis

4. Bahama nuthatch, Sitta pusilla insularis (potentially)

These are species that scientists say we lost forever in 2019!

The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.

We, as a species, need to do better in 2020 if we are to halt the decline. We are raping the earth at the expense of wildlife and it has to STOP.

Oh and...

The flip side of all this bad news is that we are discovering new species at an amazingly unprecedented rate.

So what does 2020 have in store I wonder? I look at it this way: there are 365 new days, that equals 365 chances to do/find something amazing. But, 'fugit inreparabile tempus' as nobody since Virgil ever said. Or as my witty Pa would have it, 'Time flies like the wind; fruit flies like a banana'. All of which equates to having already used up a good handful of those new days, so...

Time for a smile: take a look at this picture of a Comma Butterfly...

This is the image that had me wanting to investigate macro photography cameras and lenses in depth. I think it was around 2004 and I had been struggling with my very first digital camera: an Olympus that boasted 3.2 megapixels. 

Now it's true that equipment does not equal perfect pictures, and I should have done better than this paltry effort. I'm sure I did with some images, but this was the one that fired my interest in ernest and was really the start of my adventures with macro-photography.

Fast forward 16 years and my current camera has 20 megapixels and although in general my photographs have improved beyond measure, I still manage to cock it up from time to time. Partly due to operator error; but also the realisation that macro photography just IS challenging for lots of reasons, but, and here's where I drop in my third quote in a row, this time it's in the form of a lyric by George Jackson: 'One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl'. (Don't Google it, you'll have an earworm all day!) 

As I write I have only had 9 new chances to et out takin photos, well, Bu**er! My letter '*' is stickin* a*ain! Han* on, I'll *ently persuade it with this lump hammer...

Much better, now where was I? Oh yes, 9 became 2 once I had negotiated other commitments and days when Mummy's little soldier was feeling poorly. But get out I did and so at least have a few newbies to share here.

One nice find since I was last here, was this fantastic Longhorn Beetle. I had previously found its cousin the Lesser Thorn-tipped Beetle.

Greater Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle Pogonocherus hispidulus (approx 10mm)

The very similar Pogonocherus hispidus~also known as the Lesser Thorn-tipped Beetle that I found back in 2014

This species lacks the white band on the antenna though and is generally a bit smaller...

I think that white splodge on its back is supposed to convince any predator that what it is actually looking at is bird poop. Now it's one thing to have a pretend patch of poop on your back, but having fungi, or slime mould growing from your back is another level right? 

Well this IS something new for 2020 for me because I have never seen anything like it before. It does appear to be growing right out of the elytra (wing casing) of this little beetle though. It seemed healthy and happy enough to me and thus far I have not managed to find any references to this being observed, and so I'll need to dig a little deeper to see what I can uncover.

How astute of you - yes I did...

I found this white hopper nymph. Perhaps it had just moulted and was still a pale, teneral colour? I don't know enough about these tiny creatures to be sure whether they might moult in winter or not.

Well, most of a spider anyhow. This is probably Pholcus phalangioides - commonly known as a Cellar Spider, Daddy Long-legs (more in the USA), Vibrating Spider and sometimes, Skull Spider. This male is in a pretty bad way. It has dropped half of its eight legs and looks dehydrated. Perhaps it got to mate with a female, and then escaped with its life...just! 

What? I dunno, I'm not Anna Raeburn! Let me think...erm...awe....erm...NO!

I'd like to dedicate this update to a real gentle giant who passed away a few days ago: enjoy being a star in the night sky big Benny...