According to one traditional saying, every coin has two sides. And everything has its sunny side and its dark side. Perhaps none of the nature lovers will look for something nice and positive on the masts of long-distance high-voltage power lines. They hide the landscape for kilometers and a wide strip of land below stays with no further use. Such a situation occurred many years ago in Eastern Bohemia near the village of Čeperka. In the years 1959–1960, the thermal power station Opatovice nad Labem was built not far from this place. A four-step power line headed west from this power station and cut a pine forest at the southern edge of Čeperka with an almost hundred-meter-wide gap. This forest was planted on very valuable location – the sands of Elbe river. So the unique biotopes specific for areas of bare sand and gravel disappeared.
For many decades, the administrator of the distribution network regularly cut and removed encroaching trees in this forestless area, where the original sand-loving species of plants and animals gradually began to return. The shock occurred in 2009, when they found out that energy workers had changed the technology of caring for areas under the high voltage, and instead of taking the cut material away or dumping it somewhere on the edge, they mulched it and spread it over the area. A real disaster for gerbil-loving communities. Thanks to the willingness of the administrator of the distribution network and the care of the land association of Velkojaroměř, the regular cutting of invasive trees was started. On this more than seven-hectare area, communities close to the original sands of Elbe river have been restored with the occurrence of a number of rare and endangered plants and animals.
I have been planning to visit this interesting place for a long time. I finally did it in June 2023. Since there were only macro lenses in my camera bag, my main photographic targets were members of the local insect kingdom. And I was definitely not disappointed. A warm, sunny location with a mosaic of mowed and unmowed meadows, framed by a mature pine and deciduous forest with many dug-out pools, provided suitable conditions for an abundant spectrum of insect representatives, some of which were willing to be models for me.
The most valuable finding was the first one. The beautiful, metallic-colored beetle Cryptocephalus androgyne is classified as “threatened” in Czech republic. It tucks its head under the chest shield, and this is where its Czech and latin names come from. He was caught in his typical habitat, on yellow meadow flowers.
But a macro photographer can also enjoy far less rare entomological specimens. Especially when they show the photographer some interesting action. Like these fragile, but very lively little Long hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta), which stood only because they were enjoying their intimate moment.
The meadow under the high voltage wires was full of spring mood that day. Similar to the hoverfly, the strikingly yellow-colored small beetles Cteniopus sulphureus also enjoyed life.
On the other hand, some types of butterflies, such as this Six-spot burnet (Zygaena filipendulae), has completed their courtship and finished their biological role and deposited their eggs in safe places.
On the sloping banks of several local ponds, sand wasp (Bembecinus tridens) have found suitable places for digging their nesting corridors. A human-entomologist-photographer could stand watching them fly, driving each other out of suitable habitats and searching for new suitable places for burrowing in moist, firmer ground all day.
The hot summer day was also marked by the activity of longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae). We found a mating pair of fairy-ring longhorn beetle (Pseudovadonia livida) in the meadow.
The real jewels of this sunny corner of the world were cuckoo wasps. The southern edges of the forest with many dry tree stumps and the blooming meadow in the neighborhood represented an ideal environment for them, where they found both the opportunity to find their hosts for their parasitic way of life and plenty of food in the form of pollen on the flowers. We observed two species of these cuckoo wasps, Chrysis iris and Chrysis ignita, without determining the specific species.
And as they also say in the Czech Republic, it doesn’t have to rain, it’s enough if it drips. In order to restore an interesting area and save a considerable number of rare and interesting animal and plant species, it is not necessary to immediately declare a national park or some other large-scale protected area. All you need is a good idea on the one hand and helpfulness on the other. And, of course, the willingness of many people to do something altruistic for nature with their own hands.