20 May 2015

The Forest Floor

As a child I spent as many opportunities as I could playing in my back garden, imagining tiny worlds in amongst the leaves, twigs, stones and dirt.  I think it is because of this that I'm still fascinated with looking closer at nature and spending time observing smaller habitats that usually go unnoticed.

The predominant reason that I enjoy looking at these habitats, other than just curiosity and a love of nature, is that I find taking in all the textures, organic shapes and patterns really useful when it comes to my illustration work.  Since I mainly illustrate natural things, the best way to be inspired is to immerse myself in it, not just look at images in books or online.

Recently I decided to do just that and visited Padley Gorge one bright evening.  Padley Gorge is a stunning wooded valley, with a pretty brook that runs through it.  It is a perfect spot for exploring, as the forest floor is covered in all sorts of plants, leaves, seeds and moss.
As I took the time to wait and observe, I noticed that on the ground there were loads of large red and black ants.  I hadn't seen any as big as these in the UK before, so I was really interested in watching them.  Some were carrying sticks, others were climbing up trees and crawling across the mossy ground.

Kyle followed a line of them which led to the nest, which was a large mound of twigs and leaves at about a metre wide and teeming with workers ants.  It was totally fascinating watching them, although the best view was balanced precariously on a log, so the fear of falling into it was very real!  Whilst I didn't fall in, I did get a few tag-alongs climbing up my boots.  I don't have a problem with ants so long as they're not on me, which is probably due to being scarred by a traumatic childhood experience involving me, an ant nest and a play tunnel...bad times.

I decided to look them up online when I got home and found out that they're a protected species called northern hairy wood ants (love that name) and the ones found in Padley Gorge and the surrounding areas are actually being studied by scientists using tiny radio receivers to monitor the way in which they communicate and travel between their nests. Got to love an outing that inadvertently makes you learn something!


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10 comments

  1. Beautiful photos! Macro photography can be tough but the payoff is so worth it!

    Silly Medley: Lifestyle and Travel

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    1. Thank you! I totally agree x

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  2. Anya your photos just make me want to drop everything and get outside as soon as I read your posts. I love how you turn the tiny and seemingly normal into something so magical.
    x

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    1. That is such a kind thing to say, thank you! That means so much to me x

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  3. I agree, i don't have a problem with ants as long as they aren't on me either! Its really interesting to see how ants living in the woods survive. I've heard about scientist researching on them, on the way they live in a community, their tenacity and resilience, and also how they are so so hardworking! So fascinating to find out such things about our world!

    x, Carina
    Running White Horses | Fashion + Travel

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    1. Oh yes, completely fascinating. I couldn't believe quite how long we'd spent in the same place just watching the little things x

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  4. I love that first photo! You must have an epic lens to get a shot like that!

    Liv | www.maidenincornwall.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so much! Not that epic really, will do a post on my camera kit soon though I think x

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  5. Love the ant photos! They turned out so well. I'm always so fascinated looking at ants, they are just so interesting! x

    Jasmin Charlotte

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    1. Aw thanks :D They are truly mesmerising, especially en masse! x

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