Today I found a hornet's nest. I thought I saw a hornet the other day but it disappeared very quickly. Today I saw several entering and leaving an old woodpecker's hole in a cherry tree. Five yards away is this greengage tree.
We've had a bumper crop off it this year but the recent rains managed to split most of the remainder of the fruit so now it's the insect equivalent of a running buffet and the hornets are the greediest customers. Plenty of wasps, flies and butterflies in it too, so much so that despite there being no wind, the tree appeared to be moving. Also present were a squadron of around 30 dragonflies picking off the smaller flies on the wing. Nature's bounty.
Also nearby is a plum tree that has managed to deposit much of its cargo into a trailer parked beneath it where it is now fermenting. The abundance of rain this year hasn't done the soft fruit any favours and it's often dropped before it can be picked. Shame. Walk by though and it smells like a bar. There was a crow in the trailer earlier and I swear it was pissed. Back to the hornets.
There were actually two entrances into the nest and I stood watching them for a few minutes. Contrary to popular belief, hornets aren't particularly aggressive so I wondered if I could get some pictures. I got hold of Dad's monopod, stuck my cheapo camera on the end and set it on timer. I held the monopod at arm's length, pointing into the nest and took a picture. It didn't quite work. Look! A cloud.
I heard a very loud buzzing noise by my left ear and instinctively scarpered just as the shutter clicked. Hornet nests always have a sentry and I was there at changing of the guard, the incoming one deciding to show who was in charge. I wasn't arguing. As I said though, they're not aggressive and they soon got used to me sticking a camera into their doorways and never bothered me again. I daresay I wouldn't necessarily have been too bothered either if I was out of it on plum brandy. Try as I might, I couldn't quite get the shot dead centre but I did manage the couple below. You can see the nest quite clearly and if you look closely on the right, an inhabitant.