It was in May when I’ve bought a lens extender for macro photography and I’ve decided to give it a try. My girlfriend and I went to the Årslev lake nearby to enjoy the beautiful spring weather so I took my gear whit me.
I have seen few birds on the lake that day but I got to try out my macro set-up and pretty much failed in most of the situations but managed to get some decent shots also.
The first subject that gave me the opportunity to experiment with macro photography was a Field bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum) that was collecting nectar, meanwhile getting covered by pollen. He was pretty active, flying from flower to flower but I managed to surprise him a few times. The Field bumblebee or Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum) is a well-spread species of bumblebee in Europe that can be found in a large variety of habitats, from meadows to roadsides and gardens. Bumblebees use their long hairy tongue called proboscis to extract nectar from the flowers, and the Field bumblebee has a medium length head but a long proboscis compared to other species. The length of the tongue ranges from 10 to 13 mm (39. to 51. in) considering that the body length ranges from 9 to 15 mm (35. to 59. in). This is possible due to the fact that when it is not used, the proboscis is kept folded in a cavity under the head. There are many other interesting facts about the bumblebees that I will make sure to reveal in future stories.
Another participant in my macro trials was a member of Orbweavers (Family Araneidae) which allowed me to take a few photos before retreating inside the railing of that he built his spider web. The orb-weavers can be found in moist areas, like in this case usually close to water and they build their spider web between grass or low shrubs. Because he found a better vantage point this spider chose to build his web on the railing of a bird watch tower. They are named orb-weaver spiders because of the spiral wheel-shaped webs they construct.
Few days after the lake trip I took the macro extension tube with me in the forest. I have spent quite a long time tasting the system on a colony of Jet black ants (Lasius fuliginosus) which turned out to be not the greatest choice because of their agility and restlessness. I have positioned myself next to a trail they used and tried shooting the workers that were going or coming back from foraging. While other black ants queens find its own nest and lay eggs and feed the new larva with a fluid produced by breaking down its own muscles which leave her weekend; the Lasius fuliginosus queen establishes her nest by social parasitism. This means that she takes over another species or the same genus colony by killing the queen, laying eggs and leaving the existing workers to take care of them. They usually tend to aphids from which they collect honey-dew (more on that in future articles) and it is said that they rarely take dead or injured insects back to their nest. I guess I’ve captured a rare moment than :D.
Next photos were taken with the phone because in order to take normal pictures I have to remove the extender and to put it on and off it takes too much time for me to be able to catch the most subjects. I was trying to see if the Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) from the last article will come again to his singing spot when I have noticed a bug sitting on the tree in front of me. I’ve identified it later as being the Blacks-potted pliers support beetle (Rhagium mordax) which look like out of this world. I was excited to come across this little one as I like beetles and this one is a pretty interesting one. Not much can be found about this particular species on the internet just that it makes part of the longhorn beetle family that contains over 26000 species from which several are serious pests.
On the same tree, on a different side, there was a Tree slug (Lehmannia marginata). First I thought that the beetle was searching for the slug but it turns out that the beetle is vegetarian. Lehmannia marginata is a species of air-breathing land slugs found in woodland, 50-80 mm long when extended, that feeds with algae, mushroom, and lichens but can eat also other dead slugs if other food is not available. This is a pretty particular looking species of slugs because of the nearly transparent body.
The last insect that I’ve managed to capture in a decent photograph for identification was another one that couldn’t be identified to the species level. It is a member of the hoverflies (Syrphidae) family which as the name suggests can be often seen hovering above flowers because they mainly feed on nectar and pollen while the larvae eat a wide range of foods, from decaying matter to other insects. Hoverflies are harmless insects but use an interesting strategy for keeping the predators off; they mimic other insects like wasps and bees. This strategy is called mimicry and it is found in different species in the insect world.
Two more animals that I’ve meet while being in the woods and I want to shoot pictures of, they appeared in previous articles and being common they will probably appear again but I like the pictures. It is the European Roe Deer(Capreolus capreolus) and Great tit(Parus major). Enjoy!
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look on INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.