Standing in my garden, camera in hand, I become aware of the diversity in just a few square yards. Leaving the plants to one side, as they remain a mystery to me, I feel relieved that my small patch is home to so many creatures.
After the hazels were coppiced and the branches chipped from the over-tall poplar we topped off we allowed the chippings to pile up or just cover the ground. The leaves from the red oak add to the carpet. Each step is a scrunch. I would never make a tracker. I become aware of the flies in all their varieties. I am looking for hoverflies and one cooperates. The others flee my lens. The breeze makes every shot tricky. Rarely a lull. Hence my position. Static. Alert. Hopeful. Frustrated. Then a surge of adrenaline. A damselfly. Red! Not what I normally see here. This is Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula. I become acutely aware of my shadow. I must let it sit and bask. Shade will cause it to move. Two or three times it shifts. I take a couple of distant record shots. I kneel. The under-carpet scrunches. I hold my breath. I raise my camera. I quietly press the shutter. I pivot as silently as I can. I edge closer. I press again. Gone.
Bees are everywhere. Never pausing. Nose in, body wriggle, reverse out. Next please. Large queens and tiny early bees. And nomad bees too. The ones I thought were small wasps. Oh no. Cleptoparasites. But today not one will let me take a single frame. They quarter the leaf litter and rotting wood like miniature harriers. They drop out of sight, emerge and dive under the foliage. Constantly moving. Gone.
From my position I can hear birds all around me. The blackcaps, the chiffchaffs, the rattle of a mistle thrush and if I walk a few paces to my left, the incessant demands of the nuthatch chicks. I watched the parents a day or so ago. They are returning to the nest every minute or so. Land, pause, in, feed, peek out. Clear. Away. Repeat.
The strong breezes have stopped the moths in their tracks. Nothing wants to fly in such conditions. The temperatures have risen but the moths need a calmer night to kick off the summer season. Will tonight be the night? Standing here I don’t really care. I am surrounded by bluebells and the garden is alive. Pyrrhosoma nymphula has made my day.