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The Hornets Nest

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I was on my usual weekend quest for the next wildlife shot in the best location locally, Selsdon Wood.

I try and walk the woods every weekend primarily looking for insects to shoot but we are coming to the end of the season for insects and spotting a subject is getting difficult. 

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I have started to see the first signs of fungi is starting to appear which is a great subject for macro photography but there was nothing to be seen that was going to make a nice shot. I was walking a narrow path that is very overgrown hoping to find a spider or spiders web to shoot. I did find a web that was catching the light and was looking interesting when I saw what at first looked like a wasp but it was enormous about three times the size, and then I realised it was a Hornet.

I hadn't see one over the summer, if fact this was the first one I had seen for a long time. It seemed to be feeding on a rotten old blackberry. I have no photographs of Hornets so was pleased that I had spotted this one but as I started to focus it flew off.  I started to follow it down the path hoping to see it land again. It flew to the base of a tree and disappeared behind it. As I got closer there were lots of Hornets flying in and leaving the base of a tree.

I had found the nest.

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I approached the tree feeling a bit apprehensive as the Hornet has a reputation of being aggressive and having a nasty sting. I grabbed a few shots of the nest and decided to go home and find out more  about them before I went any further trying to shoot it.  I had found a nest of the European Hornet. It can be found all over Europe, Russia, North America and Northeast Asia.    

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I was surprised to find that Hornets aren't as aggressive as most people think and that you are more at risk of being stung by Wasps.

With this knowledge I was more confident returning to the nest and trying to get a good macro of a Hornet. The next weekend was very overcast and the site of the nest was almost in darkness. This meant shooting using a high ISO to get a good exposure. I was using my 90mm Tamron macro lens on a small travel tripod setup in front of the nest. I framed a shot on the entrance to the nest and pressed the shutter release every time a Hornet came into focus. The results are the photographs you see in this post.

                                                A Cinemagraph of the Hornets I made from a clip form the video.

                                                A Cinemagraph of the Hornets I made from a clip form the video.

I also shot a short video clip of the nest to record how busy the Hornets were constantly coming and going.       

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Mark Shoesmith