After a few pretty murky days a cloudless crystal sky, warmth and a breezy clarity in the air. A lot of the garden plants are starting to feel the pace but some, as above, are still doing their best to attract pollinators.
There was a new face in the insect cast today as I registered the first visit to the garden of a gloriously vibrant brimstone (no doubt from the second emergence). That takes the species count to 14.
I’ve often watched the bees crawling in and out of the hibiscus flowers, getting progressively weighed down by a head to toe covering of pollen. While they’re digging about in the flower they make a fairly simple target for the camera but I was keen to catch one in flight. I tried a number of strategies to obtain the correct focus for the moment of gravity-defying, logic-confounding take-off. Using my fastest shutter speed to freeze movement left me with a super-narrow depth of field. I had to take a guess as to whether the bee would move towards me or away when it launched. I then used either the nearest or the furthest petal on the flower head as a reference and focussed a fraction further away from the centre. Then it was a matter of waiting for the bee to perform. Several times it vanished so far into the flower that after a while I decided it must have gone. Needless to say, if I removed my eye from the viewfinder or my finger from the shutter, a pollen-encrusted head would appear, look around and buzz off before I could get reset. Multiple shots were the way ahead, I decided. The moment the insect next appeared, I fired off about 20 shots at 5fps. It didn’t fly. It actually walked to the next flower. I was being trolled.
Luckily I’m persistent and the bees were peckish. As is so often the case, the best images happened almost as a by-product of my efforts rather than a direct result. My favourite isn’t actually that sharp, but in its softness has a slightly unreal quality that emphasises the bee’s apparent unsuitability for a life of flight.
I’ll include a couple of others for your perusal as well:
With nature it is, of course, always the ones you least suspect and I think it’s worth taking time to appreciate some of the less glamorous creatures you might come across. While I was framing a shot on the topmost hibiscus bloom (a tired-looking flower but with a clear blue sky background) a greenbottle touched down for a split second. Click. Gorgeous. My favourite shot of the day: