The Algorithm in the Forest part 2


Notes on a day of forrest floor exploration at Fineshade woods / In search of ants...

Exploring Fineshade woods in search of ants, we felt the need to find a lesser walked track. We find one leading into a grassy meadow. Heads down, we scan the grass. We and try to focus on the space arround our feet. The more we slowdown and calmed our selves, the more became visible to us. Tuning into the invisible motions beneath the leaf mater, between rhizome of stems and stalks. Soon we notice one ant, maybe two, on a small insignificant soil clearing about the size of a hand, nearly a mound. We suspected it might be a nest. Perhaps Yellow Meadow ants - the type that makes mounds, perhaps this one had been flattened or was it just a bare patch of soil.


Setting up a camera we noticed a couple of holes, the head of an ant aperes, rotating its antennae in a circular motion as if it sensed the impending scrutiny of the artists above. It's a black ant. Emerging fully, It scurries into the grass, under, around, and over and over, several blades of grass with mysterious intent. Now I notice more ants similarly investigating the grass blades near by.

After a while I noticed a spider nearby, all I can see is one-minute delicate green leg under another blade, operating some kind of purposeful manoeuvre. Waiting a while longer a larger wolf spider cautiously makes its way past the nest, before disappearing into the deeper network of stems.


I hand over to Simon while I go to explore. While Simon filmed he had accidentally disturbed the nest, the ants are in a state of confusion, but we are delighted to see the chaos. The mound was now teaming with furious ants. Stepping through the grass I inspected the tree trunks of some young oaks. My initial conclusion is that nothing much is here. Interesting pockets of moss cling to the bark. A small fly lands on the bark. It walks up the trunk. I couldn't recognise the species, tiny and insignificant. It was the size of a fruit fly but differed in that its wings are folded back in a tent-like manner.


The colouring in keeping with the bark, looking closer using my close up lense, I notice the speckles of brown in its wing veins. Each brown speckle is adorned with a robust bristle. Its carapace, the section of the thorax between the head and wings, has almost royal detail, angular metallic green, its noble head tightly paired to this. Its periodic and silent ascent was interspersed with short moments of remaining still. Moments of invisibility. Suddenly another overtakes, before stopping next to it. Moving my focus out a little I now see these flies are all over the trunk, each ascending in the same manner. Perhaps just slightly spiralling it contours as they go. Why? Why not fly? Where are they going? They are neither in a hurry or looking for food. Perhaps their journey serves more of a ritualistic purpose.

Turning over a  log, w evoke a mass panic ground bealtles and centipededs speed away from signt. While others circle in confusion or remains still hoping not to be notced.

We watched some kind of grasshopper-like entity slowly making its way across the log, scanning the surface with extra long antennae. [Not until we processed the video, applying filter and movement detectors, did we notice its surface was teaming with mites and springtails almost entirely invisible to our eye, slowly circling in confusion] 

Other creatures such as centipedes are too quick to capture on film exiting in a straight line to anywhere else that here. To darkness and safety. The minute springtails with their flexible soft white bodies are more visible against a darker surface. They have an ability to seemingly teleport short distances to escape danger, [The spring in the tail] probably equivalent of me jumping with speed over a house. Larger Bristletails, dark blue with yellow spots {Please not the i am colour blind] crawl inside the damp cavities between the bark. They move with a calm considered motion, antennae carefully inspecting everything they encounter. All this time in the periphery, spider mites teem on the surface with relentless mania.