Norfolk’s wildlife in pictures, with photographer Jonathan Lewis
Every month, we are following in the footsteps of local wildlife photographer Jonathan Lewis. Here is his photographic perspective of what's been happening in wild Norfolk during July.
Summer is now in full swing; swallows and swifts fill the sky, flowers are in full bloom and our hedgerows are bustling with insect life. This is one of the easiest months for wildlife as food is abundant and the days are warm.
During summer many species of animal are taking advantage of the good conditions to raise their young. Parental techniques vary widely and as a photographer I often get fascinating insights into otherwise hidden worlds.
Take for example the nursery web spider. This small beige arachnid can be commonly found sitting on leaf tops keeping a sharp eye (or eight) out for unsuspecting prey. At first glance it may be presumed that the fearsome-looking, husband-eating female may not be up for a good parenting award, but a closer look reveals otherwise. The mother nursery web spider actually carries out intricate and fascinating behaviours aimed specifically at protecting her young. After mating she lays her eggs into a silk cocoon ball which she carries around in her fangs. When they are ready to hatch she spins a silk nursery tent and releases the spiderlings into it. She will guard this tent over the first few days of their lives, at which point her young will be large enough to disperse with a better chance of survival. Not bad at all for a 3cm long mother!
Likewise, the larger (and possibly more easily loved) otter also shows the same strong parental skills. The young are dependent on the mother until they are 13 months old and she will feed, protect and teach them all they need to survive.
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I was lucky enough to spend some time last month photographing puffins on a small island off Wales. Again parental instincts shone through. I witnessed thousands of puffins tirelessly travelling back and forth between sea and land, risking being attacked by gulls and other birds, all to transport sand eels back to their young to give them a better chance of survival.
Observing the trials of life is one of my favourite aspects of being a wildlife photographer. Summer is a great time to do this but the real race for survival begins over the next few months in autumn when wildlife prepares for the long and tough winter ahead.
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August wildlife to watch out for…
- Grasshoppers calling in the field
- Birds returning to the garden more as their breeding season comes to an end
- Bright orange and black cinnabar moth caterpillars feeding on ragwort
- Daubenton's bats flying over water hunting for insects
Jonathan Lewis is a wildlife photographer based near Norwich. His company, Norfolk Wildlife Photography, offers a range of local and international courses and tours.
For more information visit www.norfolk-wildlife-photography.co.uk (using the link to the top right of this page) or visit www.facebook.com/norfolkwildlifephotography.