Nature’s hitchhikers rely on a chance meeting

Oil Beetle, Meloe proscarabaeus - Sierra de las Nieves, Andalucia, Spain

Oil Beetle, Meloe proscarabaeus – Siera de las Nieves, Andalucia, Spain

Oil beetles may be abundant here in the Serranía de Ronda, Andalucía, where ever you look an oil beetle is scurrying crossing the road and it’s not infrequent to see a dozen or more in just a few metres in suitable habitat. In the insect kingdom oil beetles have unquestionably have one of the most extraordinary and fascinating life cycles of any insect. The larvae are parasites of a number of species of ground-nesting solitary bee and less often grasshoppers have been recorded as hosts. Towards the end of winter, female oil beetles dig shallow burrows in sandy soil in close-proximity to colonies of host bees, into which they lay hundreds of eggs. Typically the larvae emerge from these eggs the following year to coincide with the emergence of the bees in early spring.

Once hatched, the louse-like larvae known as tringulins (of which I have seen many times and failed to photograph to date) are incredibly active and ascend up on to flower-heads and lie in wait for suitable bee busy collecting pollen for their own nests, the larvae of the oil beetle cling on with hooked feet and hitch a ride. Once in a bee’s nest the larva drops off and eats the bee’s eggs and the store of pollen and nectar. The larva develops rapidly within the bee burrow until it emerges as an oil beetle ready to mate and start the cycle again.

Oil Beetles in the British Isles

At the beginning of the 20th century Britain had 8 species of beetle and by the 1950′s three of Britain’s native oil beetles were considered extinct, the remaining 5 species have suffered drastic declines in their distributions due to changes in the way our unfavourable countryside management.

The 5 remaining UK species are: Black oil beetle, Meloe proscarabaeus); Violet oil beetle, Meloe violaceus, Rugged oil beetle, Meloe rugosus, Short-necked oil beetle, Meloe brevicollis* and Mediterranean oil beetle, Meloe mediterraneus.**

*The Short-necked oil beetle was thought extinct until it was recently rediscovered at a site in South Devon, and on the Isle of Coll in Scotland.

**The Mediterranean oil beetle was also though extinct until rediscovered in 2012 in Kent.

Red-striped oil beetle, Berberomeloe majalis - Sierra de las Nieves, Andalcuia, Spain

Red-striped oil beetle, Berberomeloe majalis – Sierra de las Nieves, Andalcuia, Spain

Mediterranean Oil Beetle, Meloe mediterraneus feeding on a Momosa bloom - Sierra de las Nieves, Andalucia, Spain

Mediterranean Oil Beetle, Meloe mediterraneus feeding on a Mo imosa bloom – Sierra de las Nieves, Andalucia, Spain

Red-striped oil beetle, Berberomeloe majalis  - Sierra de las Nieves, Andalcuia

Red-striped oil beetle, Berberomeloe majalis – Sierra de las Nieves, Andalcuia

 

SPRING LIFE UNDER A FLIGHT PATH

Bee-eater

A Bee-eater doing what bee-eaters do best, eating a bee

Do you live under a busy, busy, noisy flight path? We do, and guess what? WE LOVE IT! If Nature gives you goose bumps, YOU will love it too!

Day after day, night after night the migratory birds are returning from their wintering grounds across the latitudes of Africa. Some of these feathered athletes will pass straight overhead to disperse throughout Northern Europe; others are navigating elsewhere in the Iberian Peninsula and the rest (hooray!) are here to beguile us until autumn.

Short-toed eagle photographed from the bedroom window

From our house perched at the top of our village overlooking the stunning Valle del Genal, Andalucia, we watch Alpine Swifts, Crag Martins, Peregrine, large flocks of Black Kite interspersed with Honey Buzzards and majestic Short-toed and Booted Eagles, just metres away, circling the village streets and surrounding flower meadows on the hunt for the many snakes and lizards that inhabit the valley.

Around our VISIONWILD Gallery near the outdoor swimming pool and the tennis court, and down by the river in the enchanting woods where otter, wildcat and gennet inhabit there are many self-titled melodious warblers and those relentless songsters, nightingales are everywhere. Above, the sight and sound of iridescent Bee-eaters are a sight to behold. Moreover, we are charmed to listen, from our beds, to their signature chirrup during the still hours of the night as their flocks pass en route to the locations of their births where they will raise a new generation of young ones. Most certainly: living under a bird migration flight path is superb for the eyes, the ears and the heart.

Black Kites & Honey Buzzards

Black Kites and Honey Buzzards are a common sight as they circle on the early morning thermals

However, don’t just listen to us rave about it: COME and ENJOY the birds for YOURSELF and share in this amazing spectacle with us here in Andalucía, Southern Spain.

Our new exciting VISIONWILD PHOTO TOUR SCHEDULE 2015 is now available online and we’re already taking reservations, so to avoid disappointment please be quick off the mark. Andaluca is the biodivsity hotspot of Europe so be sure to bring plenty of

BESPOKE PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS

We fully understand the differing requirements of both advanced and beginners photographers and it never a good mix in reality as the demands are often quite different. Hence the reason that in 2013 nearly half the tours and workshops I led were bespoke….. we have as you would expect some fantastic reviews and testimonials from participants as far away as the Australia, US and Sweden so good in fact that you can communicate directly with my guests, we are that confident that we are PROUD of the what we able to offer our future and returning guests.

BESPOKE BIRD MIGRATION & NATURE GUIDING TOURS & DAYS

Should you be interested in a bespoke photography or nature watching tour or a day’s bird (nature) guiding in the Serranía de Ronda and/or Strait of Gibraltar autumn migration then we can tailor a tour for a group of friends or the individual traveller….. you’ll be in expert company I’m an expert regarding Andalucían ornithology and as a lifelong naturalist and the only professional outdoor photographer residing in this truly stunning almost virgin territory you ‘ll be assured of some world-class photography and watching opportunities.

So what are you waiting for? email hello@visionwild.com or call me directly on (0034) 627 242 417 for a prompt response, it costs only 6p a minute from a UK landline.

New Business Page on Facebook

Geoff Simpson Photography

April 2014 Competition

April 2014 comp image

Win a 36″ x 24″ metallic print printed on Kodak Endura metallic paper – gallery value £375.00 of an image of your choice from the website. To enter simply email: hello@visionwild.com with the correct latin of the species of orchid photographed in Andalucia, Spain depicted in the image above.

To enter the April 2014 competition simply provided the your answer along with your with your name, address and telephone number should you be drawn as the winner. (Please note we do not and will not pass your details to any 3rd party)

In the subject line please write APRIL 2014 Competition. The winning entry will be announced on the closing date 30 April 2014.

The answer to the March 2014 competition was “Spanish Festoon, Zerynthia rumina” we received 1,792 entries of which 1,435 provided the correct answer.

The winners of the March 2014 competition - Miss Barbara Mattison of Halifax, Yorkshire, England

Malta Massacre on Migration

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www.chrispackham.co.uk

YouTube at 9.00 p.m. / 21.00 (GMT) - 21st to 26th April 2014

Eminent, naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham is on a mission, not one funded by some large corporate TV company who frequently avoid the real issues of the day probably because it’s too controversial, but a self-funded, kick-ass mission to make aware to the broadest audience possible of the cruelty of the Maltese bird massacre. Sadly few are willing to take such action. Chris is off to Malta later this month in an attempt to bring a stop to this slaughter by bringing it to the world’s attention. And judging from the mentality of the locals here in Spain and witnessing how they behave he could well be putting his own and his teams safety at risk.

On a personal level I wish Chris and his team all the luck in the world and for those of you visiting the VisionWild Blog I’ll be posting a link to Chris Packham’s YouTube Page for his daily updates, though be aware you could be looking at some pretty graphic scenes.

Website name change www.visionwild.com

Brand logoMaster

For some time I’ve been thinkng about REBRANDING my entire business, web presence, email address and showroom gallery. Never one to sit back and just think about it, as of this moment going forward…….

My website now becomes: www.visionwild.com replaceing http://www.geoffsimpsonphotography.com – though you can still use it if you like typing in long names.

My email address is hello@visionwild.com replacing hello@geoffsimpsonphotography.com – ditto the aforementioned.

My showroom gallery is renamed VISIONWILD GALLERY.

Ecapsulating Originality Master version

Andalucian farmland

Andalucian vinca near VillaMartin, Cadiz Province, Spain

Due to many ever-increasing workload photography has taken a bit of a backseat over the last month. I left home in the Valle del Genal at 7.00 a.m. when the temperature was just 7c. A 90-minute drive to Montellano in the direction of Seville and already the temperature was a balmy 18c and by 11.00. a.m. the gauge on the car was registering 28c so spring here in Andalucia is well on its way. It’s only a matter of time before the entire landscape is transformed from barren soils into a carpet of wildflowers as far as the eye can see.

Andalucian farmland near VillaMartin, Cadiz Province, Spain

Church remnant, near Villamartin, Cadiz Province, Spain

Andalucian farmland near Seville, Spain

Ariel view of Andalucian farmland near Seville, Spain

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