The red-tailed bumblebee is small and beautiful. In this wet July I’m photographing bees when the sun shines. I like the way the stigma of meadow crane’s-bill shows in colour, then casts its shadow on the veined petal. After overnight rain I thought if there were butterflies they’d be slow to warm up. I found a common blue on a plantain seed head and it stayed to be photographed. I couldn’t imagine what could go wrong. I had time to create the shot I wanted, my butterfly against a blue sky. Home with some fifty pictures. I couldn’t wait to see them on computer screen. I had great plans for them. So----
Linnets are secretive in spring as the breeding season gets underway, concealing their nest-sites. They’re easier to see in summer. Last July, I watched a family on a bare hawthorn. The advantage of a local patch is knowing where to look, and here they are- same time, same tree. They sense they’re safe, up in the tree away from predators. Close by in another hawthorn, young swallows were stretching their wings, gaining strength whilst mature birds wove the blue above. For some while I was still on the ground photographing flowers and hidden in the foliage of an ash tree a green woodpecker called loud in my ear.
There is strange and wonderful flora and fauna at Sandscale Haws. And there are everyday marvels, if you are curious and look closely. I chose today a certain way of seeing- or letting my camera do the seeing, then running with it and enlarging the macro image. I’m looking for design and pattern. Go close into the corolla of a flower and we see it in a new way. Not the usual look that draws us first to identify a species. And concepts of beauty shift and change. Have a look and see what you think, and do contact me and tell me.
A chorus of golden plover to Mullach Buidhe through boggy ground with lousewort, sundew, butterwort and green spears of bog asphodel, our boots gripping on whalebacks of Lewisian Gneiss. Sunlight through scarlet wattles of red grouse. Leaving heather for thick mosses and lichen, Nigel finds us a golden eagle as we climbed. From Beinn Losgaintir, views of An Clisham, the North Harris hills and Traigh Losgaintir. From Beinn Dhubh we retrace our route and Jane spies a clutch of golden plover eggs half-hidden by heather A stream becomes a gully and from a bridge we watch small brown trout. Cuckoo in distinctive posture on a rock. 4 June 2005
Twelve miles of single-track coastal road passing a Norwegian-built whaling station sets the scene for Huisinish on the west coast of Harris, looking out to the island of Scarp and the Atlantic Ocean. Weather colours the day. Wimbledon basked in the hottest July day ever. But this is Atlantic Coast and we’re prepared for Atlantic weather: cloud, wind and rain. Dreadful summer, the locals say. We don’t expect fine weather, but the effect of bright sun is breathtaking.
Aspects of Hekla on a summer’s day. Sunlit cloud swirled deep in a corrie and hung upon the mountain. Hekla, the mood changed with weather off the Atlantic and the named changed too: Hekla, Thacla, Theacla . Walking to the church, we put up a flock of lapwing and in one image they looked like punctuation marks adrift in a blue sky. The air was pure and lichens draped the statue of the Virgin.
This is yomping country. The walk in to Burabhal and Eaval is rough terrain, demanding. I remembered the red-throated diver and the shore of Loch Obasaraigh from ten years ago, when I climbed Eaval. Today our objective was Burabhal – a mere 440 feet but it’s a yomp to reach the lower slopes and a steep and strenuous pull to the top. Boggy ground was slithery, with gullies to stride across and deep heather to clamber over. We passed inlets of rich-coloured seaweed; sea and lochan
The adventure begins in the clouds, in Cumbria’s eastern fells. Up on Mallerstang Edge, vistas are lost in mist on a late March day filled with birdsong. Seeing little, other senses become fine-tuned to the world close about us. Here and now, the mist blots out beyond. Skylark, curlew and golden plover are come for the breeding season, settling in. Listening through the wind, we spy a ghostly golden plover through the mist. In the heather there are mystery feathers and bird droppings. Not the weather we might choose, but it made a day which resonates long after the experience is passed.
Jan Wiltshire is a writer and naturalist living in Cumbria. She take photographs.