This strange pom-pom like growth, which forms on the branches of wild rose, is actually the work of a tiny wasp (Dipoloepis rosae). The ‘gall’ contains multiple chambers where the larvae of the wasp will develope before emerging the following spring. The gall provides a perfect home for the tiny wasp larvae during the winter months.
Last week I was in Arne, Dorset to photograph these amazing spiders. I always liked how they varied some much in size and colour. I photographed them using my field studio at the side of the pond where they can be found.
National trust properties can provide a wealth of photographic opportunities with their immaculately kept houses and gardens. Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire is one I have visited many times over my lifetime as the gardens provide many seasonal highlights. Its worth visiting at different times of the year, to capture the changing moods of the properties.
As the winter months close in, the wildlife in my garden is becoming more scarce, however the vole population is booming as always.
I still continue to document the same creatures such as the common frog, I find that they vary so much in size and colouration, making each one different from the last.
This southern hawker was a visitor to the newly built pond and also became the first of its species to appear on my field studio.
Southern hawker - Aeshna cyanea
Smooth newt - Lissotriton vulgaris
Bank vole (juvenile) - Clethrionomys glareolus
Common frog - Rana temporaria
Its amazing how much wildlife you can encourage into your garden just by letting it grow naturally. Up until a few years ago we used to mow this paddock several times a year. Today many would see it as field of weeds but to me its a wildlife haven. I included the barn in the image below, as it is also an important part of the habitat. Lots of insects and spiders benefit from the red brick walls that warm up in the sun throughout the day. Some of my best findings have been discovered around the edge of the building making it an important area of my study.
The area of study: Paddock
Various species of arachnids living in the paddock
In order to encourage particular wildlife, I laid down six chip board panels amongst the grass. The panels provide a whole host of wildlife with shelter and in some cases a home. The boards warm up nicely in the sun which the snakes particularly benefit from.
A litter of bank voles in a nest under one of the panels
Within a week of putting down the panels, I had mice, voles, shrews and grass snakes living underneath them. Over the course of the summer I have lost count of the number of nesting voles that I have encountered under the boards.
The population of bank voles in the paddock is booming. Everywhere I look I find new nests. If you just sit and listen your can hear squeaking and rustling coming from within the long grass.
Amazingly, bank voles become sexually mature at just five weeks old. Female bank voles can produce up to four or five litters a year which explains the numbers found within my paddock.
I have been documenting the bank voles with the aid of my field studio to create ‘Meet Your Neighbours’ style images.
To be continued…