Glorious spring flowers

There can be few things more uplifting after a cold, dark winter than spring flowers heralding brighter weather ahead. Don’t get me wrong, winter has it’s merits, but for me spring is a time for fresh starts and there are few more glorious than the beginning of the flowering season for a great number of our native plants. I thought I’d share a few photos from my recent local wanderings which encapsulate just a couple of my favourite finds this spring. I’ll begin at the beginning with one of the earlier species to flower, the Wood Anemone which, in the right conditions, can carpet a woodland floor to much the same effect as the Bluebells do later. These dainty flowers are also known as Wind Flowers for their propensity to nod at the slightest breeze. They are an excellent source […]

Christmas Review 2016

It’s that time of year again. If you celebrate Christmas hopefully by now you have gifts for your nearest and dearest bought and wrapped, a fridge full of delicious food and drink, and a decorated tree around which to enjoy the festivities. It is always one of my favourite times when I spend time with my family to reflect on the year just gone and look forward to the adventures that the New Year brings. I thought that I would extend that to you too and so today I’m reflecting on my three favourite shots of the year in my Christmas Review 2016. It is always difficult to narrow down my favourites from a year’s worth of images but my first is this image of a Knapweed Gall Fly. It probably isn’t everyone’s idea of a beautiful subject but I like this […]

Autumn Bulbs in Glorious Greece

At the beginning of this month I was privileged to spend a week leading a tour to the Peloponnese in southwest Greece for Greentours. It was ostensibly to see the autumn bulbs there, and indeed the display was wonderful, but of course we saw lots more lovely things too so I thought I’d take a moment to share it with you. I had intended to write this a lot sooner but the last couple of weeks have been rather hectic so apologies for the gap between posts! We flew from Heathrow into Athens, arriving mid-afternoon. Having collected luggage and vehicles we set off northwards across the Corinth Isthmus, crossing the impressive Corinth Canal whilst on the motorway, towards our hotel for the first night. We arrived just as darkness descended to a wonderfully warm welcome. The following morning we woke to […]

Autumn in the air

This last few weeks as I’ve stepped out of the door each morning I can’t help but feel autumn in the air. Summer is most certainly drawing to a close. Blackberries are ripening in the hedges, the first hues of the beckoning season are beginning to appear, the House Martins have reared their second brood which are preparing to fledge any day now, and there have been a few misty mornings bringing with them that earthy smell that I associate with autumn. It isn’t quite here yet though and these past couple of weeks I have been enjoying those moments that you only really get at this time of year, when the last of the summer’s butterflies bask in the morning sun and dragonflies perch peacefully between flights. One species which I always enjoy seeing is the Small Copper. This year […]

Nature Blogging

If you read my blog regularly, you will know that once a month I invite a guest to write a piece about their interests and passions. I have been privileged to have support and encouragement from a wide range of of guests, and I hope that you have enjoyed their input too. In return, I too have written a couple of guest blog posts for others and thought I would take this opportunity to share them with you.   The first was for James Common about Orchids:     More recently I have written for another James, the Grantham Ecologist, about Dragons and Damsels:     I hope that you will enjoy my guest posts on their blogs, but that you will also take a moment to look at their writing too – it is wonderful to share a love of […]

Magical Meadows

Last week’s wonderful guest post about the creation of a wood-meadow by Lin Hawthorne inspired me to revisit a local and rather magical meadow. I thought I would share with you a few of the reasons why, for me, it is such a special spot. Let me start by describing it. By comparison to Lin’s lovely space, it is a much smaller plot for starters at under two acres. It is a vaguely almond shaped field which lies alongside a railway line. On the one side it is bounded by the embankment which is covered in low growing trees and shrubs, while the other is contained by a mixed hedgerow backing on to a country lane. It is wetter at one end than the other and there are a profusion of ant hills dotted throughout the space. Rabbits are frequently seen diving […]

A Wood-meadow in every Parish? Lin Hawthorne imagines…

The Three Hagges wood-meadow project began in 2012, with two aims: The creation of a new ecosystem with the aim of restoring lost biodiversity to an arable landscape, and the creation of future ancient woodland. The motivation was a need to address the losses that are by now familiar to many of us: 97% lowland meadows, a similar percentage of coppiced ancient woodland, and many, many miles of mixed and ancient hedgerows. Along with them – these systems in which our native plants form the base of an ecological pyramid – we have seen declines of many invertebrates, including multiple pollinating species that depend on them for pollen, nectar and hosts for their young. And with those, the decline of songbirds that feed their young on the larvae of said invertebrates, and so on up the chain. Most of these declines have […]

Gardening with nature

In recent years “gardening for nature” has been a hot topic, and rightly so; as we invade and pave over wild habitats, we need to provide spaces for the species we have dislodged in the process. Be it by putting up a bird box or planting bee-friendly plants we can all play a role in providing a home for nature on our doorsteps. The difficult part once you start is gardening with nature. I should first explain a little about our situation: We are lucky to have inherited a beautiful mature garden from the previous owners of our house, who were a retired couple with a keen interest in keeping their garden immaculate. They had bird boxes and feeders up, and naturally some of the wonderful flowers in the borders were ideal for bees and butterflies so they hadn’t created a […]

Suffolk Wildlife: A summer weekend of wonder

Despite now living quite close, Suffolk is a county I have visited little but I have wanted to do so for a long time. This last weekend I got the opportunity when my husband and I decided to take a weekend break to celebrate our wedding anniversary. With Springwatch having just finished at Minsmere we knew we were in for a treat with the Suffolk wildlife and we were not disappointed. Today I thought I’d share with you just one part of our short break. The first afternoon in the area we headed out to a local nature reserve, Darsham Marshes which is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. We spent a very enjoyable hour or so walking around the reserves and it was a wonderful spot despite the overcast weather. The first thing we spotted having suited and booted […]

Miniature Miracles of Nature

I love exploring different wild locations and I find that just as every season brings different natural delights, so these pockets of wilderness have a varying character throughout the year. The local wood is at its most vibrant in April when the bluebells are in full bloom, and the meadow next door takes on its own carpet of colour a few weeks later when the cowslips, cuckoo flower and green winged orchids are at their finest. By contrast, the small patch of marsh just down the road is at its best now in my opinion. There are all sorts of lovely species which call it home throughout the year, but the summer months see a series of colours adorn the anthills and a wonderful buzz in the air. Essentially it is little more than a small field, albeit rather boggy at one […]

Wild Walks

This week I thought I’d share with you a few photos from various wild walks I’ve been on recently. In the spirit of the “30 Days Wild” campaign run by the Wildlife Trusts which starts today, I like to try and get outdoors as much as possible and often for me that means taking myself off for a walk on the wild side. The only problem is that sometimes I don’t get very far very fast because something has caught my attention and then I spot something else a couple of feet away and so the cycle continues. I don’t always carry my camera with me, I do occasionally feel like a break – it seems that every creature on the planet knows when this happens though and inevitably, they all come out and dance in front of me at […]

Cambridge’s Newest Nature Reserve

  It has been a little while since I last gave you an update on my project to document Trumpington Meadows, the newest nature reserve taken on by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, so today I will be sharing some of my latest photographs of the site. First though, some exciting news – the reserve will be officially opened to the public on Saturday 11th June, so please do come along and find out all about it for yourselves! If you are interested, the details of the opening event are as follows:   Now for that update I mentioned: I had hoped to take some lovely wintery images around the reserve but as you know, this winter was exceedingly mild and those beautiful icy conditions never really materialised. I had to settle for some signs of spring instead and […]

Beautiful butterflies

Recently, I read a wonderful book called The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham (I would highly recommend it if you haven’t already come across it!). The author describes his personal challenge to see every British species of butterfly in one year and I found it gripping reading. There is something intrinsically joyful about seeing the first butterflies of the new year on the wing and Patrick captures that beautifully in his writing. The book also inspired me on a personal level; that is not to say that I intend to try and follow in his footsteps, but it did make me realise that there are quite a few species which I haven’t seen before, be it in Britain or at all. The first to emerge are those which have braved the winter elements and survived their hibernation. Among them Small Tortoiseshell, […]

Wild Sardinia

If you read my blog regularly you will know that I recently celebrated a big birthday and my wonderful husband announced he would take me on holiday to celebrate. We decided on the island of Sardinia and spent a long weekend there at the beginning of the month – not quite long enough in the end, I wished I could have stayed longer! Anyhow, despite being a holiday I couldn’t leave my camera behind so I thought I’d share a few images with you in this week’s post. We flew to Cagliari in the far south of the island, in fact we didn’t have much choice about that at this time of year. It was a warm but rather flat grey day when we arrived but that didn’t bother us too much as we were already into the afternoon and […]

Spring has sprung – a little bird told me!

In my opinion you cannot say that Spring has sprung until a certain migratory bird has returned to sing in our woodlands. The Chiffchaff is a small brown warbler with a creamy yellow breast which declares its name loudly from the tree tops at this time of year and on into the summer. For me this little bird is the ultimate harbinger of Spring. Today I heard my first of the year and it had the same effect as ever, bringing an instant smile to my face. I often hear my first of the year in my parents’ garden in rural Herefordshire but despite listening fervently to the dawn chorus every day while I was home over the Easter weekend, it was not to be. Instead I heard it in my village in Cambridgeshire. I have yet to tempt one into […]

Cypriot Spring – Part 1

I had hoped to have taken a few more photos over the past few weeks but the weather has not been kind and while I’ve captured a few nice shots it wasn’t enough for me to put together a coherent blog piece…perhaps next week! Instead I’m going to treat you to a few images that I took in Cyprus a couple of years ago and bring a little sunshine to the cold damp shores of Britain for a few minutes while you read this. I think it will be too much to include the whole trip so for now I’ll start with the first half. I hadn’t visited the island before but had heard that the Cypriot Spring was a rather lovely season and so when I got the chance to visit on an organised tour I was really intrigued […]

Ivy Bee Bliss

This week while the weather outside is less favourable I want to think about a particular plant, Common Ivy (Hedera helix), and why it is so important for wildlife. You might be wondering what the link is between the two factors but at this time of year there are few plants which are still flowering and Ivy is one of them. This is a slightly spontaneous post after a somewhat momentous wildlife encounter I had last week. You might have read about it on Twitter if you follow me (@AHunterPhotos). I found an Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae) and I was rather pleased to have done so.

Trumpington Meadows in Autumn

JYou may remember a little while ago that I introduced you to one of my latest projects, documenting the development of a new nature reserve on the edge of Cambridge. Trumpington Meadows is still unveiling its secrets to me and although I’ve missed a few, Yellow Wagtails nesting on the edge of the reserve for example, I’m determined to capture as much as possible despite spending relatively little time there. It is appropriate therefore, that I share some images from my latest visits. September’s was quite late in the month as I’d been away in Scotland. I had thought I might find the first few autumn colours emerging, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It still felt like summer despite the cooler start and patches of mist burning off. The first thing that struck me as I walked onto […]

Ryan Clark’s Garden Invertebrates

I have lived on an urban housing estate in Buckinghamshire for over a decade now and it has shaped my view on the world around me. Despite living reasonably close to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, I didn’t have the access to green spaces that others may have had. My connection with the natural world was through the window and investigating the garden. As a child I used to photograph butterflies in the garden on a cheap digital camera. I still have these photos and they are precious to me because this is when I discovered the natural world.  My connection with nature started at home for me, not through David Attenborough documentaries, but by getting muddy and exploring the garden.  I aim to encourage you all that you don’t have to travel far to see amazing wildlife!

Macro Madness

The question that I’m most often asked is what my favourite wildlife subject is to photograph. I always say that I struggle to choose and it’s true, but there is a particular group that I tend to fall back on, especially since my investment in a decent macro lens at the beginning of 2014. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily love invertebrates any more than any of the other amazing species I have been privileged enough to photograph. I think what it comes down to is that there is incredible diversity of invertebrate species within a few feet of my back door. That’s not to say that I live in some super or exotic location (although I do love it here!), but that a lot of these tiny miracles are easily overlooked simply due to their size.