All quiet at the hornets’ nest this morning; Spike was indifferent to it.
My camera was ready to shoot, so I couldn’t pass without trying to get a hornet image.
When I tap the tree trunk with my fingernail, a hornet zips from the nest entrance and banks away before flying off down the bank. About ten seconds later the hornet returns to the nest. So I watched the hornet fly down the bank, put the camera to my eye, and make myself comfortable to shoot the hornet landing back at the entrance.
The returning hornet landed on my hand! If I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder, I’m sure I would have panicked at this point – jumping up and down and flapping my arms, I expect. I couldn’t see the hornet, but I could feel it moving over my fingers. Then I think it crawled on to my camera before flying to the entrance. When the hornet landed I pressed the shutter, and this is its image. I think this might be evidence that hornets are not out to get us, and that they won’t sting unless we are perceived as being a danger to the nest, or they sense panic – don’t take my word for it, though.
The hornet saga continues: Spike was sat to attention a good three metres away from the hornets’ nest tree when I arrived there this morning. He was looking up at the nest entrances and making soft woofing noises. There was a lot of activity. Hornets were flying in and out of the nest, and some where climbing down the tree trunk carrying grubs, which they dropped at the base of the tree.
Why I am compelled to push my camera lens into melees such as these and begin clicking and flashing away at hornets that are obviously agitated? I think I feel that as long as my eye is behind the view finder I will be safe and that the hornets won’t realise I am there, but realise they did. They forced me to put quite a bit of distance between us.
Spike must have realised something was going on at the nest last night, because he has never scrabbled away so enthusiastically at a tree trunk before. Why did he sit well away from the nest this morning? I reckon that Spike sensed the hornet attack pheromones. Maybe a predator entered the nest last night, and this morning the hornets were removing dead bodies and carrying out repair.
It’s just this kind of mystery that makes the outdoors so interesting
Passing the hornets’ nest this evening, I shone my torch in both entrances; there wasn’t movement in either. I suspected, though, that there might be a few hornets still holed-up somewhere in the nest. I wondered if this might be good opportunity to shoot some decent close-up images. I reasoned the hornets would be groggy, I don’t know why I should think this, and that they might hang about at the entrance after my pretending to be a woodpecker by tapping the tree trunk with my fingernails; again, I don’t know why I should feel this. I would need to get my camera lens within a few inches of a hornet if I was to get the images I wanted.
I have a spotlight fitted to my camera and whilst practicing a few slow swoops at the nest exit with the light on, Spike, my jet black Welsh Cocker Spaniel, stood on his hind legs and started scrabbling like a mad thing against the tree trunk with his front paws. This upset my concentration and left me unsure of the best thing to do next, or indeed what might happen next. Events overtook me within seconds. The hornets began their escape. One after the other they zipped out of the nest entrance, banked away from me, and flew off into the darkness. Five hornets left the nest, and I managed to snap one, but not as closely as I had hoped. Now there were five hornets on the loose, and I had no Idea where they were. Spike was still scrabbling away like a mad thing, so I reckoned the best thing to do would be to leave him to it – he was obviously enjoying himself.
Last year I photographed a hornets’ nest in an old woodpecker hole; well, it was two woodpecker holes really. A green woodpecker punched a decent sized vertical shaft, about 350 mm long, in the trunk of a healthy oak tree on Hoo Wood ridge, with an entrance hole at its top and bottom. I watched the woodpecker excavate the hole, over the summer of 2011 I think.
The hornets had done a proper job of papering over both entrances before they died at the end of last year. A pile of dead hornets grew at the base of the oak as the winter nights grew colder.
This year, the same nest is active again, but the new batch of hornets are unpredictable and have stung people. I tried to photograph them a few times during the last two months, but they have mobbed me each time.
The last three times on passing the nest, hornet activity had decreased, inspite of day and nighttime temperatures being unusually high at the moment.
This morning the nest was quiet, so I lightly tapped the trunk and this hornet answered the door. The entrances have not been papered over, so I think there is something wrong in the nest. When I lightly tap the tree trunk A few hornets fly away from the nest instead of showing interest in me. They probably think my tapping is a woodpecker wanting to eat them, so the few hornets that are in the nest panic.