• Andy Brown

Battling Heat Exhaustion in Cabilla Woods with CWTPG

One area of my photography that I haven't written about much in this Blog is Natural History. My Bio elsewhere on this website states that I have a degree in Botany and although it is many years since I have employed it at work, I still have a lifelong interest in the natural world. Latterly, climate change has been huge on the world agenda and we are beginning to see the signs of it all around, not least of which yesterday was the UK Met Office announcing an Amber weather warning for heat in the South West of the UK. Cornwall, where I live is at the furthest end of that corner and hot weather is rare here. We generally have mild winters and cool, wet summers, so such an event is exceedingly rare. Against that backdrop, I had booked myself into a group trip to a secluded woodland Nature reserve by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Photographic Group (CWTPG) This contains some exceptionally talented natural history photographers whom I am proud to call friends. The target species for the day was a rare Butterfly called the Silver-washed Fritillary known to be active in the woods. That proved to be harder than I thought as although there were many present, they rarely stopped for more than a second before fluttering off again. The day was getting hotter by the minute and carrying a tripod and heavy backpack was probably a mistake. However, I had water and provisions, so I slogged on. I soon lost the rest of the group (typical me) and found an open space nearer to the river. There I was able to take some images I am pleased with.

Female Beautiful Demoiselle resting on Bracken
Female Beautiful Demoiselle

The Demoiselles were relatively accommodating, as once they settled they tended to stay put for a while, so I managed to find an angle that gave a pleasingly out-of-focus background and snapped away.

Nearby, there was also a rapidly drying patch of mud which had attracted a Red Admiral Butterfly perhaps in need of water, or possibly another nutrients. I slowly crept up on it and despite the harsh sunlight managed to capture an image that shows it with Proboscis extended and is reasonably sharp in the areas I wanted.

Red Admiral Butterfly at rest on a mud patch feeding or looking for moisture
Red Admiral with Extended Proboscis

The Path was leading lower towards the river so I back-tracked up towards the main path and there I found my first Silver-washed Fritillary. It was in the middle of the path and I managed to take just the one image before it left. It won't win any prizes, but it is a good record of the moment.

Silver-washed Fritillary at rest in Cabilla Woods
Silver-washed Fritillary

It was now getting very hot and I had no idea where the group was located, so I moved further on up the main path where I encountered a boggy area with a shallow pool fed by a spring of rusty water coming out of the hill. This showed promise as I could see a Dragonfly depositing eggs with it's ovipositor. Sadly, I was not quick enough to catch this, but I was able to capture some mating Damselflies. Now, my Damselfly identification skills are not quite up to making the distinction between Common Blue and Azure, so I'll leave it at Blue, but no doubt one of my friends will correct me on that.


Again, not a prize-winner due to not being able to align myself as I wanted (there was a wire fence) and the very bright and confusing background, but it is reasonably sharp and again a good record. I then went on further up as I had been told the group were lunching up ahead. The heat was now getting to me and although I stopped for regular water and rest breaks, it was becoming evident that conditions were too challenging for me. So, I began to make my way down and there, I was greeted with the sight of a young Roe Deer buck in the middle of the path ahead. Of course, he disappeared immediately, but as I proceeded on, I could see him again deeper in the woods. So, more in hope than expectation I fired off a few shots and was pleased to see that he was recognisable in the final images and as you can see from the emergent antlers definitely a male.

Young Roe Deer Buck just visible through dense woodland.
Young Roe Deer Buck

Again, these record the moment and are not artworks, but they do help to tell the story of a rewarding moment. I was the only member of the group to be lucky enough to confirm the existence of Deer in the woods, so other group members were interested in my discovery.

I then made my way slowly back to my car where I rested and took on fluids and a snack. finally rested after this took my camera out again and staked out a spot with Bramble (Rubus sp.) flowers that I had been told were attractive to them. This did prove effective as after about fifteen minutes, I managed to grab a shot of one that had alighted in the right place. And so ended one hot days photography.

Silver-washed Fritillary on Bramble Flowers

But of course, just like every good rock-n-roll gig, there has to be an encore, so here is an image of what I think is a Black and yellow longhorn Beetle (Rutpela maculata) See what you think?

So that's it for this Blog. I hope it's been interesting. All feedback as ever is welcomed. If you are interested in anything to do with Natural History, Conservation, or just like the outdoors, I highly recommend joining your local Wildlife Trust. Here in Cornwall that is: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

I shall certainly be back to this patch of woodland which is relatively quiet and free from hordes of tourists and other distractions at other times of the year. So that's it for this Blog. I hope it's been interesting. All feedback as ever is welcomed.

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