Although the daytime temperatures over the past few days have barely gone above freezing, I was surprised when a quick glance at the calendar last night revealed there are only five weeks to go until spring. I’m not entirely sure how I feel. I’ve never hated winter and indeed, glorious moments can be had. Like yesterday morning when I was cleaning the fields by hand as the sun rose over the distant hills and a flock of Canada geese passed directly overhead. I could even hear the beating of their wings.
There is so much to look forward to though and I can’t wait to get back to the nature reserve and the delights of photographing insects. Last year I was lucky enough to capture dragonflies, damselflies, ladybirds and hoverflies. I even spotted a ruby wasp on one of the posts in our field, but decided he was far too small for any of my lenses. I have never seen such a colourful insect before and I would love to see another one.
Insects that I would rather not see are the wasps that made their home in our tiny porch. They must have burrowed behind the wooden cladding and into one of the walls in our bedroom. I have the greatest respect for wasps and wouldn’t dream of harming them, but we started to have problems when they emerged in the bedroom where the cats thought they would be fun to play with. We tried everything to stop them, but they were too well hidden and sadly three of our cats were stung. Poor Chai had a small bare patch on her back. The sting had long gone, along with the swelling which we didn’t spot at the time. Then Foxy had a swollen paw and was rushed to the vet for an injection. Her foot thankfully returned to normal by the evening. Then I actually spotted Bubu pick one up as it emerged from under the carpet, but I wasn’t quick enough to grab him. He had clearly been stung in the mouth (a potentially dangerous place for animals) and I had to rush him to the emergency vet. The sting was found at the front of his mouth, removed and he too was given an injection.
The wasps eventually disappeared, but then some giant hornets put in an appearance. They could often be seen hovering outside the windows during the evenings. Clearly attracted to the light and warmth, I felt sorry for them knowing that the increasingly chilly nights would put an end to them too. Thankfully they never made their way indoors, but I found this one tucked behind a board covering a gap in the dining room window one morning. He must have gone there for shelter and I took his portrait before he had time to warm up.
Later on that day I found him on our garden seat and allowed him to walk across my hand. Hornets are not particularly aggressive by nature. He disappeared with the first frost leaving me sad, but also a tad relieved that our cats would be safe for a few more months.