The Way I See Things



Trench Wood was a strange place today - warm and at least intermittently sunny, and with a fair amount of devil's bit scabious still flowering, but virtually devoid of nectar-feeding inverts: across two hours I reckon I saw just three hoverflies, two butterflies, and fewer than half a dozen bees. And while that wouldn't necessarily have made me grumpy, because at this time of year I tend to be more focused on beetles and bugs, those were also playing hard to get.

Worse yet, the only dragon I found actually found me, buzzing me several times and eventually bouncing off my hair, while I was crouching down trying to get focus on a froghopper. I shook my head in a panic to make sure it hadn't settled, and it zoomed away in an apparent huff, giving me such a poor view of its departing rear end that I couldn't even decide what species it was - which as R commented when I told him the tale, is almost the definition of adding insult to injury.

Anyhoo, moaning aside, I did get a few minutes in the company of this aspen leaf-rolling weevil, and that's always something to celebrate. Over the past couple of months these little guys have become harder and harder to find, which surprises me because they overwinter as adults, and therefore I'd expect them to be trying to feed up and lay down fat at this time of year. This one (which is a male, as evidenced by the little 'horns' on either side of his pronotum) was neither feeding nor nesting, but was sitting in plain view on the top leaf of a little aspen sapling at the edge of the main ride.

This otherwise excellent photo opportunity was rather spoiled by the fact that the sapling was quite shaded, and this leaf was angled away from what light there was, so to begin with I shot him using flash. I could immediately see though that the flash brought out the red and orange colours of his exoskeleton at the expense of the green and blue, so that this rainbow effect was largely lost. I hoped that I might be able to retrieve the situation in processing, but in case this wasn't possible I took a few high-ISO shots without the flash, and I'm glad I did, because this image is one of those. R chose it for today's post, and recommends that you view it full-screen.

I've posted these weevils before, and I don't want to repeat myself endlessly about them, but I would like to say just two things. Firstly, they're extremely rare across most of the UK, and I feel lucky to live in a county that's one of their real strongholds. And secondly, I think it's worth pointing out that this little creature is only about 5mm long. Because I spend so long looking at highly magnified images of invertebrates, I find that even I am regularly surprised by how small some of them actually are 'in real life'.

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