The world of the snail

It rained on and off for the most part of yesterday, which wasn't ideal. I wanted to get up to the pond as I hadn't been up all week, but the persistent drizzle made me think otherwise. However, there was a break in the weather at about eight o'clock, so I decided to get out while it lasted.

Unfortunately, there was no spell of gorgeous weather that you sometimes get after rain. The dark clouds were still looming over the town as I emerged from the dene. This didn't just mean that the lighting was terrible, but also that another shower would come soon. Sure enough it did, and before I even got to the pond I was rather damp. Thankfully it didn't rain hard - I had forgotten my coat!

Fungus in the dene
As I walked along the path to the pond, I noticed that there were very large numbers of snails. As I hadn't taken any photos yet, and birds were lacking, I decided to spend some time trying to photograph them. This wasn't too easy with a telephoto!

Garden Snail
After taking quite a few photos, I remembered I had to get to the pond pretty soon to check a nest. When I arrived, I could hear a Reed Warbler singing, my first on the site! I also took a photo of another snail on the path. I then returned home, pleased with my shots, to see which species I had seen.

I checked my book as soon as I got home. The snails I had photographed were Garden Snails - but I had also soon three Kentish Snails (I think!). I had an idea for a photo of the Kentish Snails but they were a lot smaller than the Garden Snails and I couldn't get the angle I wanted in focus - I really needed a macro for it to work. However I am very pleased with the Garden Snails photos.

Garden Snail
After photographing them, I decided to learn a bit more about the creatures I had seen. I learnt that Garden Snails are extremely common, and are mainly found in Europe. However, they have been introduced to other countries and are now a garden pest. They also only have one lung!

Garden Snail at the pond
A Garden Snail's shell is large, usually about 2.5-4cm, with four or five spirals. It usually feeds at night or early in the morning, but if it rains, like it was, it will feed. However, their fastest speed is only 1.3cm/second. At least unwanted motion blur wasn't an issue! During the day they stay in usual resting places in groups.

When the weather is hot, Garden Snails will retract into their shell and cover the opening with a layer of mucus that stops bacteria and predators getting in whilst keeping moisture inside the shell.

My favourite of the Garden Snail photos.
Finding out about these snails has inspired me to pay more attention to the insects and other invertebrates around my local area. I have also learnt that there is more to photograph than just birds!

Thanks for reading,

Louis.

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