Last month I said that the weather did not seem to know what it wanted to do and in the intervening weeks it has still not made up it’s mind. Despite this, the BBC springwatch website has continued to record the onset of spring with a vengeance. The Hawthorn, traditionally a perennial shrub that flowers in May, hence its colloquial name May Bush, had flowered almost throughout the UK before the month started!
Animals and Birds
By May, most of the breeding bird varieties will have made their nests and will either be sitting on eggs or feeding their young. This means frantic activity from at least one, and often both parents. There are, of course exceptions to this, where one parent is left to fend on their own or the ubiquitous cuckoo who does nothing at all to rear it’s young. You will still hear its call though you will seldom see it.
On quiet evenings along the side of the woods you may be lucky to see fox cubs emerging to play or even the occasional badger as the longer days mean they sometimes emerge before dark descends.
During the afternoons, another mammal whose activities increase this month is the now much rarer Water Vole, ‘Ratty’ from ‘Wind in the Willows’. Once decimated by escaped ‘American Mink’, with the help of concentrated efforts from re-introduction programmes around the country, it is making a limited comeback. There are further releases planned on the Thames near Oxford this month. Look for holes in the riverbank, especially areas where the grass seems to have been patchily mowed, but no lawnmower is likely to have been. Sit quietly for a while and you may be rewarded with one of these fascinating creatures poking its nose out to check for danger!
Landscape and Habitat
All of a sudden, at this time of year, the landscape and habitat becomes crowded with all sorts of colourful things. Many more of the plants are flowering and they are covered with myriads of crawling and flying insects. Butterflies and Bees abound, both in the woods and the meadows, while down by the rivers and streams, Damsels and Dragons are emerging from the water to complete their life cycle. The earl orchids are now in full bloom in the meadows and will only last a short while before the more rigorous summer flowers take over their space. The Ponds too will be teeming with life as the spawn turns to tadpoles and the newts have a feast. Watch too, on a sunny afternoon, for a grass snake taking a cooling swim and watch for the frogs and newts on or just below the surface.
Acompetition that has a few days left for entry is the Visions of Science competition run by Novartis and The Daily Telegraph and sponsored by Science Photo Library. With £7000 in prizes plus sponsorship by Kodak and a range of categories, it is well worth the effort entering. Two of the six finalists in the PM/TDP “What ever it takes” competition sponsored by Jessops are members of ePHOTOzine and you can vote on their pictures here. (And you thought it would only be Politicians canvassing for votes this month!!)
As usual, the ePHOTOzine Competitions page holds all the details of the May competition and watch the forum for the now regular 1 hour challenges using the Modifications ability of e2. Talking of e2, the Slave Flash offer for members is still on here and is a great little tool for those 1 hour challenge shots!
Out and About
The season for events is now well under way with everything from Spring Fairs to major sporting events taking place around the country. Events include the BBC Good Homes Show at the NEC and a full calendar of race and test dates at Silverstone.
A major ePHOTOzinemeeting is planned for the 5th, 6th and 7th of May in Holland
that is being organised by Conrad in this thread. The itinery (http://www.columnar.com/epz/dutchmeet/ ) has been organised by popular demand through the forums. Thanks should go to Conrad for all the hard work and planning for this, the first ‘overseas’ meet. A meeting is planned on the Wirral on the 8th May.
There are also meetings planned for the 29th/30th April at Marwell./Eagle Heights , Suffolk Coast on the 15th/16th May and possibly a developing meet in Dorset . Watch the forums for more news.
Blue Peter style tip for great gadget for the camera bag!
Take a piece of A4 card and cut it down the centre. Cut one half across the centre again and put the whole lot through your laminator. Put the resultant pieces into your camera bag and you will have some ready-made small reflectors for all those close up flower shots you will be taking.
Ian Andrews www.wildaboutkent.co.uk