Upon a Mayflys reflection

Mayfly reflection 2016There are known to be over 2000 different species of Ephemeroptera or Mayfly distributed worldwide.

Freshwater ecosystems are critical to the survival of mankind….so whether you like bugs or not, its your responsibility to be aware of how important they are in your everyday ability to live your life. The more aware we are of their importance the better our lives will be in health, wealth, ability, mind and mantra…FACT…  (those are in no particular order BTW).

So lets take just one of those little annoying blighters to start with…..Mayfly, whether you knew it or not they are ambassadors for good quality freshwater ecosystems, and if your freshwater ecosystem is healthy….blah blah ….you know the rest.

I am an amateur photographer, below that in fact, I have no idea what I am doing, but for me these Mayfly made it easy to capture something special.

mayfly ghost 2016Most Mayfly cannot survive long in poor quality water so they are a great indicator of healthy water.

They have quite unique life-cycles, starting off with up to 2 years worth of ‘living it larvae’ helping to keep ponds, lakes, rivers and ditches, fresh and algal blooms low by chowing down on plant debris, algae and minute water creatures that are almost invisible to the naked eye. During this time they shed their exoskeletons around 40 times!!! then during a transformation for reasons that scientists are still unsure of, they emerge from the water as a dull looking brown fly that hides in vegetation awaiting sexual maturity. When this small creepy lurker feels ready for some action he crawls up some vegetation and then transforms again into the magical wispy fairy like form that we recognise as an adult Mayfly ready to mate.

The males swarm in huge numbers across surfaces of freshwater bodies all over the world. This attracts the eyes of the equally beautiful females and the males grab them as they come in looking for the best in show. For a female, after that first crucial date she lays her eggs on the surface of the water and dies… others in the same family dive to the water-bed attach their eggs to something solid and drown as the weight of the water holds them under.

As you can imagine this huge swarm of Mayfly deaths provides a massive nutrient boost for fish and many other creatures involved in the maintenance of a healthy freshwater ecosystem, so this act should not be taken lightly.

IMG_20160511_160601.jpg  I won’t go into it now, but Mayfly as well as many other invertebrates can provide humans with a rich source of protein, which will be necessary in the near future due to the rapid depletion and utter destruction of our other food sources.

I am exhausted just writing this so imagine how a  Mayfly feels….

So lets keep and eye out for these guys and remember how lucky we are to have them….

Thank you Mayfly, without you we would be stuffed!

All the best


Info :


Civic service in France is helping young people find their way….without a life crushing debt

barn owl rescue.jpgManon Tissidre, manager at the LPO Aquitaine centre of care, giving a barn owl a last check before its released back into the wild. This barn owl is one of hundreds injured on Europe’s roads every day .

I went on a barn owl reintroduction road trip recently with young Matteo, a 21-year-old dude from Bordeaux, who felt like he flunked school and didn’t really know where his future was heading. I reminded him that this was totally normal and that he actually has the world at his fingertips so he can grab any opportunity he wants.

Matteo decided that he would enrole with the french ‘Civique service’ scheme. It is a government-funded scheme for young people between the ages of 16-25. The scheme is a paid work experience opportunity over a set period of time that participants can carry out in France or abroad. The work placements have to cover a range of subjects to give the student the best chance of trying out working in several different industries they may be interested in.

Matteo receives approximately 560 euros a month from the scheme to help with travel and living expenses. To begin with he chose to complete 7 months with the LPO centre of care in Aquitaine, a wildlife hospital that rescues and rehabilitates wild animals. Most of these animals have suffered injuries from the result of human activity such as road traffic incidents or rodenticide poisoning.

matteo and manon.jpgMatteo, Manon and a head dude from the LPO checking the second barn owls eyes are nice and bright before release. This barn owl had received a nasty injury to its eye when the car hit him, the eye is now fully recovered and he is now ready to hunt again.

The LPO is a large wildlife organisation that operates all over France and has its own individual working charity bodies in each county. They are very similar to the RSPB focusing on birds, but they also help with mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate conservation.

Manon Tissidre the manager of the centre allows volunteers to be hands on within their first few days helping at the LPO, which has enabled many young people like Matteo to gain valuable and important experience with conserving European wildlife. A lot of civic service students work here and go on to follow careers in conservation and a few have even gained employment with the LPO after proving their dedication with hours of voluntary work. I take my hat off to Manon, she has an incredible way of managing people and makes you feel like part of the family as soon as you step through the door.

For me, Manon has the best job in the world and is a fountain of wildlife knowledge. She didn’t get this job because of an expensive qualification. She travelled different animal hospitals around the world and gained valuable work experience with them, including ‘Tiggywinkles’ wildlife hospital in England. Matteo is certainly in the right hands if he wants a future in conservation.

barn owl check.jpgManon checks over every animal thoroughly before release to ensure all injuries have healed and each individual is fit enough to cope with life back out in the wild.

For young people deciding what to do can be a stressful difficult task, we shouldn’t be closing doors and ushering them all through to places we think would be best for them, we should be encouraging them to dip their own toes in to different waters before they take the choice to dive in…. because they need to be able to cope with what they are going to find.

‘Civique service’ enables young people to take a glimpse into the real world and test out some of the natural skills they already have, without getting themselves into a lifetimes worth of debt. I wish I’d had the opportunity to do this when I was younger…..

matteo and madame politeMatteo and the rehabilitated owls, (in the boxes!), alongside the members of public who found one of the injured owls. Fortunately the rescuers have the ideal release space for the owls, a hundred year old barn in the countryside of Dordogne. A happy ending for a tragic everyday occurrence of a magnificent species.

Thanks for readingand remember to…#dosomethinggreat

K x

Link to Civique service website –

Link to France LPO –

Barn owl info –

Wildlife road mortality –





Dead stuff is important too.

touching a dolphinCommon dolphin (Delphinus delphis). Being able to touch these animals, is and should be an extremely rare opportunity.

Since moving to France I have had time to realise my fascination with dead things…its not morbid, sick or weird.

When a wild animal that is normally pretty elusive dies it doesn’t move around anymore…obviously… so you can get a pretty good look at it, nice and close up!

Road kill since the 1960s, has been massively on the increase all over Europe due to habitat fragmentation and motor technology, it is an especially controversial subject to photograph. Looking at something that has seen a brutal and often messy end isn’t on everyone’s wish list but for me quite often, it’s an opportunity to look inside a wild animals body which not a lot of us would normally get the chance to do. The teeth are normally exposed in a grimace, some bones or muscle exposed and if, like me, you enjoy tracking animals you get a chance to look at the incredible survival adaptations a lot of these creatures have on their bodies.

pine martenEuropean pine marten, (Martes martes), a gentleman stopped and helped me remove this carcass from the road. It is a highly respected animal in these parts, someone must have been driving way over the 30 km per hour speed limit to kill this animal, I hope they felt pretty ashamed about it afterwards.

dead hareThis beautiful bright-eyed European hare (Lepus europeaus), was hit on a road where, daily, I see wild boar, deer, foxes, hunting dogs and evidence of otters, so why are these people driving so fast!? this is a country road that leads only to the beach…what are they late for…the wave of the day!? who knows. Its eye was dusted with the pollen of pine trees, two sure signs that spring had sprung.

According to a scientific study During the 2013/14 hunting season in Austria it was averaged that 53 European hares a day were being killed on roads…that is around 2 per hour! the conclusion of this study was that there seem to be ‘hotspots’ for road kill, this narrows down the areas that could be managed to help save populations of declining species like the European hare, European otter and European pine marten.

dead otter A large male European otter, (Lutra lutra), owns these incredible webbed feet. They have a territory of up to 20 km which means the chances of them crossing a road is high. I had never seen a wild otter this close before, it was both sad and exciting.

I take photos of these animal corpses because I think its important to think about how these animals have died. If it moves us there are certain things we can do about it to reduce the chances of these incredibly important animals from seeing a pitiful end like the roadkill – under the tyre of an over-rated unnecessarily fast, range rover or BMW…not to stereotype or anything.

Once I have taken the photo I move the animal out of the road so that the carrion feeders are not putting themselves at risk. It’s a heart breaking, stomach churning deed but I believe that the animal deserves a last gesture of goodwill before its eaten.

dead hare.JPGThis European hare had some muscle and bone exposed, I got a good chance to see how powerfully made its legs are, its feet were more delicate than i thought and its eyes looked as though it were still alive.

It’s not just roadkill I am interested in…the coastline is swarming with interesting dead things from giant alien jellyfish to adult dolphins that lay alongside their young. They may have become hungry or fatigued often due to due to bad weather or over fishing and ended up on the sand with no strength to get back into the water.

short beaked dolphin-blog.jpgThis common dolphin may have died at sea and have been washed up naturally but nearby lay the corpse of a young dolphin that made me think that it could possibly have beached itself, instinctively following its offspring. The hungry corvids, birds of prey, foxes and seabirds start with the soft parts first which makes for a horror scene at first glance, but these gruesome holes the scavengers make give a glimpse into the anatomy of these wonderfully self-aware sea mammals and if you can get past the smell you can learn some really interesting things about them.

Because of the increase in plastic and other toot that is accumulating in the sea, we have created platforms for normally sea based creatures to reach land.

harry barking at goose barnaclesGoose barnacles, (Lepas anatifera), are a trendy edible delicacy in fashionable modern eateries. They are washing up in their tonnes where they have become attached to a piece of rubbish out at sea and found themselves washed ashore with no means of a return ticket. They provide an incredible amount of food for scavenging exhausted seabirds who are suffering because of over fished and polluted seas but I can’t help wondering…would these guys even be on land in these numbers if it wasn’t for humans dumping waste into the sea?…

My favourite sea-bird, the Northern gannet, (Morus bassanus), are not normally seen inland on beaches around here but huge storms this winter have washed many up dead or dying with little chance of survival. It’s very hard to re-waterproof these creatures. Wildlife hospitals like the LPO centre of care in Aquitaine work incredibly hard to reintroduce many seabirds that get taken into their possession for rehabilitation. If the birds survive their trauma but cannot re-waterproof themselves they have to sadly be put to sleep because they have no chance of surviving back at sea.

Northern gannetThis Northern gannet’s beak is beautifully prehistoric looking and their bodies are designed better than any human technology to dive at neck breaking speeds into huge waves to catch fish. I don’t know how this bird had died, probably a victim of the bad storms we had that month. I did however find many gannets and other species of sea birds that had fishing lines, hooks and plastic hanging out of their beaks that they had partly ingested.

Seabirds literally cross both ecological and economical boundaries which provides a huge opportunity for countries to work together to acknowledge and discuss different stakeholders interests and values in their environment. They are important advocates for marine conservation and their deaths need to be taken seriously by everyone.

Check these guys out they provide an amazing service to wild animals and are open to volunteers.

Thanks for reading, if you want to know what you can do to help any of these situations, please get in touch.

p.s be safe on the roads.



Stretz, C., Heigl, F., Steiner, W., Bauer, T., Suppan, F. and Zaller, J.G., 2015, April. Project Roadkill: Linking European Hare vehicle collisions with landscape-structure using datasets from citizen scientists and professionals. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts (Vol. 17, p. 7163).

Lescroël, A., Mathevet, R., Péron, C., Authier, M., Provost, P., Takahashi, A. and Grémillet, D., 2016. Seeing the ocean through the eyes of seabirds: A new path for marine conservation?. Marine Policy, 68, pp.212-220.



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