Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the Sun...

And the length of daylight rapidly increases causing new plant growth to "spring forth." 
The derivation of Spring? I'd like to think so. Being an island of course, and surrounded by water, our weather is never predictable.


Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal of new life (both plant and animal) being born. The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times.


The first thing I noticed on waking this morning,was the increase in birdsong. It must have been around 5.30am and already the chorus was approaching a crescendos. I pulled back the curtain to see if I could spot any of the 'choir' and that's when I first began to get excited about what the day might offer. Better times indeed!
There was such a hard ground frost that for a split second my (sans glasses) eyes told me we'd had another dusting of snow.


Specs installed, I had the second  thrill of the day, there peeping through trees that I could now see were also dowsed with frost, was just the very beginning of a fabulous sunrise.
That was all the incentive I needed. An early walk would be in order. The light would be great for photography I thought, and after weeks of sloshing through muddy fields, the crisp white hard frost seemed very inviting.



"Up with the Lark" seemed a very apt phrase this morning. By the time I'd got myself and the dog ready for our walk, made our way through the apple trees that line the little road we always use, apple trees by the way that seemed to be heaving with Field fares, more than I've ever seen in one spot, I could already hear the faint trill of Skylarks.


It's just so peaceful and tranquil early morn, of course if one listens hard, there is the ever present distant hum of traffic. Difficult to eliminate the intrusive sound of combustion engines completely wherever you are, well here in Kent anyhow.


By now the sun was a little higher in the increasingly blue sky, and my solitude was only disturbed by occasional coughing from one of the horses stabled nearby, and the endless squawking of Jays, followed by the odd flash of vivid blue as one of them made it's exit from what seemed to me to be males fighting?


As I'd hoped, the light was fantastic, almost Mediterranean in it's warmth. By warmth, I'm of course referring to the colour/light and not heat.



Just opposite the point where the fencing (on the left of picture) stops, there is an area where the farmer dumps unwanted fruit. It's actually almost exclusively apples and always seems to be a dreadful waste to me.
However, putting on my 'bug-hunters' hat for a moment, it makes for a superb habitat for insects and bugs.





Where there is fruit, there will usually be fruit flies.  Tephritidae are a large family of colourful, small flies, often with beautifully marked wings. In fact they sometimes are referred to as picture-wing flies.
Most dislike them intensely, but for myself, as with most of nature, they make wonderful subjects for my photography.
Hated by most of course because of their ability to reproduce at an alarming rate.The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous; given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs. The entire life-cycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week.


Mini ice sculptures?
I have a habit of turning over any fallen branches of wood that I find lying about to see if any bugs are hidden beneath. Beside the bulk-bins that had once contained the now rotting apples, were several such items.

The overnight frost had done its best to turn the wood into works of art, or at least mini ice sculptures, but once photographed, I couldn't help myself.




Hmmmm...just as I expected, more fruit flies than you could shake a stick at.








A Fruit Fly (approx 4mm)




If you are interested in getting the best light possible for your photographs, then I recommend early morning or late evening.
Harsh mid-day sun is to be avoided. Filters help of course but 'natural light for nature' has always been my personal mantra.


Back-lighting your subject can yield some impressive results, turning a mundane subject into something of beauty and interest.
 
Backlit oak leaves
The early frost was soon put to bed by the spring sunshine and the day that held so much promise came good for us all, and my little corner of Kent did us proud, with a good 10 hours of sunshine and blue skies.

A second walk, this time without my coat (another first for 2011) provided yet more sustenance for the body and soul. Firstly in the form of spring lambs, no doubt they've been populating the fields and barns of Kent for weeks now, but I'd not seen any until today.



And to cap a day that at last lived up to expectations, yet another first! This time, it took the form of one of my favourite insects, a Comma butterfly. First sightings of butterflies for me seem to alternate between Comma, Red Admiral and Peacock. This year the sighting is according to my diary 8 days earlier than last.


The comma is unmistakable with its ragged-edged wings. Superficially I suppose it is like a fritillary but sadly no local sightings of those that I know of. The white 'comma' on the underside also readily identifies this butterfly that is one of the few species that hibernate as adults.
The other joy of spotting these is that you know the Orange Tips will not be far behind.


Comma Butterfly
I'll leave the final word on spring to often quoted American newspaper columnist Doug Larson...

"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush".

Until the next time then...  



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