Park Life

P1033643©Diane Dalli

In the sixth of a series of articles featuring the images of local photographers who document the wildlife of Wanstead Park and the surrounding area, Diane Dalli presents her macro shot of a Batman Hoverfly

Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park are havens for all forms of wildlife and are ideal places to find subjects to photograph. There is an ever-changing bird population as many species stop off here during migration as well as the resident population of birds of all sizes, including Skylarks, Dunnocks and Kestrels, in addition to the many types of finches and warblers, and many species of waterbirds on the ponds and lakes – too many to list!

During the summer months, the many areas of long grass are alive with butterflies, moths, spiders, grasshoppers and all sorts of other bugs. They are challenging to photograph due to their size and speed. It can take a while to focus on them and often before I can press the shutter they hop, jump or fly off!

It is fascinating to see the amount of detail that is revealed when you look at an image which is larger than life-size, much more than can be seen with a fleeting glance of the naked eye.

I use the long end of a telescopic lens for the larger subjects, such as butterflies, and a macro lens for the tiny creatures, such as ants, crickets and beetles. They are very easy to spook, especially if your shadow falls across them, so better to try to keep a distance. They can be elusive, so it is sometimes worthwhile lifting a leaf or looking closely at the area near a spider’s web to discover tiny creatures hiding away. Sitting still for a while in a patch of grass can also be rewarding as you can spot little insects moving around as they get used to your presence.

Hoverflies are one of my favourite subjects as their habit of hovering in the same spot for a while gives me a chance to focus and snap them. This Batman Hoverfly, so-called because of the shape of the marking on its back, feeds on pollen and nectar from many different plants and is common in the area. There are over 280 species of hoverfly in the UK, about 30 of which can be found in Wanstead Park. As well as their long Latin names, they are often given common names such as Marmalade, Banded, Pied and Long Hoverfly, according to their characteristics.

Insects both flying and crawling can be found all over the Park but the area near the stables known as the Old Sewage Works (so-called because it was a parcel of land that used to belong to a water company) is particularly rich in butterflies, spiders and grasshoppers in the summer months. Even grass snakes have been seen there, although they tend to slither away as soon as they feel the vibration of approaching footsteps!

I really enjoy my visits to Wanstead Park and will continue to explore the area regularly as there is a huge variety of species which is constantly changing with the seasons, and there is always something new to photograph.

To view more of Diane’s wildlife photos, visit wnstd.com/dalli

Author: Editor