Firstly, a HUUUUUUUUUUGE SORRY for the lack of content lately. I have been very busy with my commercial side of photography that I’ve had little to no time at all for any wildlife and nature photography. Very sad, but of course, I’ve had to follow the work that puts food on the table and with the current state of the planet it makes it even more important.
However, with my monthly article for the Algarve Resident now due, I decided to take some snaps of the many Hummingbird Hawk-moths that visit the garden.
These super fast moths are incredibly difficult to capture pin sharp due to the high speed they move. It’s easy to just put the shutter speed on maximum and hope for the best, but to make it even more challenging, I like to have the body sharp but allow for movement in the wings as I feel this tells the story about their incredible speed they flap them at.
Of course, then there is the angle and I’ve learnt over the years to try and predict movement of wildlife and moths are no exception, just much harder. As you can see from the shot below, I certainly nailed both the shutter speed and the prediction of where it was to feed. I have many shots that I’ll share at a different time, but for now here is just one I captured this afternoon.
This morning I was shooting a landscape commission in the Lower Alentejo and once I was done I took a quick look around the area. Within just 5 meters of the car (I was down a dirt track) I found a Female Tarantula Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) burrow and also a Common Yellow Scorpion (Buthus occitanus).
I was so excited to see a male European Rhino Beetle in the garden tonight. These are amazing creatures and in adult life they do not feed, all their feeding is done during larvae stage in which you will find them in rotting wood. They are often misidentified as Palm Tree destroyers as they are often found when a dead Palm Tree is cut down, however, the eggs are laid inside the already decaying Palm Tree. There are other species of Rhino Beetle in the world that can damage trees.
I have been working in the garden and today I was cutting wood, this is why the patio table has sawdust, also for some reason he is covered in sawdust although this could be from wherever he has emerged from. He sat and posed with glass of the patio table giving a great reflection. He was large too, they usually grow to around 4cm, sometimes almost 5cm. This one was nearing 5cm!
This is a real sign that the thermometers are rising, it has been well over 20 degree Celsius for the last few days during the daytime and this has awoken the Violet Carpenter Bees.
These gentle giants are flying around feeding and also mating. You may think that these are dangerous due to their size, but are really docile and yes like all bees the female has a stinger, but rarely uses it. Many people think these are black, but if you look closely, you will notice the violet reflecting in the sunlight. In some countries Carpenter Bees are a pest as they damage wooden structures, however, Violet Carpenter Bees only seek out dead wood. If you have a garden or some land, leave out a rotting tree trunk or large branch which will become a nest and hibernation home for them. They are solitary bees, but this time of year you may see them mating.
Here are a few shots I snapped in the garden this morning
Yesterday morning I was cleaning one of the terraces here at the Quinta and noticed a female Preying Mantis under the lip one of the steps. It was a warm December day and assumed she was laying an egg sack, called an Ootheca. She actually wasn’t so as I needed to hose down the area I decided to move her. I have relocated many Mantises by picking them up and they usually stand their ground but this lady was having none of it. She immediately went I to full defence mode and started to grab my fingers with her Raptorial Legs. As you can see in the photos she even opened her wings to make her look scary but actually I think made her look more pretty!
All photos were shot and edited using Lightroom on my Samsung Galaxy S9+ Smartphone.
A great find this morning in the garden, although, it was the dogs that found it, not me!
This is a Death’s-Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar, the name comes from the pattern of a skull on the back of the moth. I have never seen the actual moth, but have put a library photo at the end. There are 3 species of this moth, this one is the African Death’s-Head Hawkmoth with the scientific name of Acherontia atropos, the other 2 species (Acherontia lachesisare and Acherontia styx) are found in Asia.
This Caterpillar is one of the largest I’ve seen, even bigger than the Elephant Hawkmoth. It was around 12-14cm in length and over 2cm wide. In fact it was so long that I struggled to get it all in focus, even with a small aperture.
When approached they click their mandibles as a defense tactic, although it’s not very loud. I relocated it away from the dogs to go about its business.
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