October 2008

The plants I sawed along the hedge in the front garden are doing well. I sawed Red Champion (Silene dioica), Celandine (Chelidonium majus) and Wood Avens (Geum urbanum). The Red Champion is flowering at the moment, it's flowers really sticking out against the dark color of the hedge. The Celandine has formed a lot of leafs, but I haven't seen any Wood Avens yet.


I went for a short walk around the Wylerberg lake nearby this evening. I was hoping to photograph a Kingfisher, which I see nearly every time I'm around the lake. I saw three even, but just flying by, I didn't manage to photograph them. As I was about to leave after I'd given up hope I noticed a Buzzard flying above the path very low. It was clearly carrying a prey. But after a couple of meters it dropped it's prey and left for the trees nearby. It became clear why soon, as two joggers approached on the path. I waited around behind a shrub for a while, hoping to get a chance to photograph the Buzzard as it came back for it's prey, but it didn't. I went to look at the prey and it turned out to be a Brown Rat. I was curious if the Buzzard had caught it by itself or just found it dead somewhere. But the rat still felt warm, so I suppose the Buzzard did catch it. I hope it returned later to enjoy it's meal, though I'm sure if it didn't, something else would've enjoyed it.
I don't have a whole lot of negative feeling with rats to begin with, but on the picture I took it looks to me like a really cute animal. I'm sad for it's death, but that's the way things go.


It's clearly autumn, loads of mushrooms everywhere. I only know the names of one or two species, so I was unable to name most of the ones in our garden. I photographed a whole load of them though, most ended up in the pictures and videos section, on the misc. page.
Beside mushrooms there's still plenty of other interesting stuff to see. Like the always beautiful haircap moss. And poisonous Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua), a weed, but in interesting member of the Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) family. I just read about it in the great book series Nederlandse Oecologische Flora and was curious about it's smell, as the book states it has a typical 'poisonous' smell. I was a bit disappointed though, it doesn't smell very special or poisonous to me. The small green flowers smell nice though, very sweet. I did wash my hands well after crushing some leafs between my fingers of course. I realize there already is a picture of the Red Champion (Silene dioica) in this diary, but the one I took today looked better than the one I took before, so I decided to place this one as well. :) Also took a picture of a leaf of Celandine (Chelidonium majus), beautifully supporting some small drops of water, which ended up in the plants page of the pictures and videos section.
And last but not least, a small caterpillar on the Common Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) in a corner just outside the kitchen door. I saw at least three of them on there before, but could find only one today. I'm still not completely sure about the species, I'm guessing it's Small Angle Shades (Euplexia lucipara), but it might also be Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa). Small Angle Shades caterpillar are supposed to have two spots on their back end that are typical for this species, but I couldn't clearly make those out. I did find a tiny second caterpillar when I went to check again for those spots just now, but I have no idea what species that could be (yet).
Edit: I recieved an email november 11th that experts of the Dutch Butterfly Foundation (link to English page) identified the caterpillar on the last picture below as Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa). I'd placed the picture on the website Vlindernet.nl (link to English page), on which the picture below has been added to the photo-section of the page about Angle Shades now.



Right after I made that first entry a Peacock Butterfly kept visiting our Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii 'Dartmoor'). I tried to photograph it a couple of times. Unfortunately, I scared it off once, no doubt a very energy-consuming activity, flying away in the shade on a not too warm day. Thankfully, it found it's way to the wall of the neighbours across the street that was bathing in the sunlight at that point. The butterfly sat there for quite a while, recharging. Then it returned and I was able to photograph it without scaring it off.
There was also a very slow moving bumblebee on the Butterfly Bush. I'm not sure what that was doing, it may well have been at the end of it's life... :(



When I got downstairs this morning, the bumblebee I'd photographed yesterday was still on the same flowers of the Butterfly Bush as it had been before. After a while when I looked out the window I didn't see it anymore. I went outside to look for it but didn't find it, not on the shrub, nor on the grass below. Maybe it flew off and lived hapipily everafter... ;)
I did find some mushrooms I hadn't seen before, growing right in the middle of the grass, quite a few of them. I just browsed through a mushroom-book we have, but it clearly isn't my field of expertise... Not that I have a real field of expertise, but I'm having a lot less trouble when looking for plants. Mushrooms just look so much alike, and there are sooooo many species. So I'll just call it a mushroom and enjoy it's beauty without knowing anything about why and how it's growing in the grass in our front garden (I'd like to know though, so if a mushroom-expert is reading this and knows what species the mushroom below is, do let me know so I can look it up somewhere).


Beside being a bit of a nature-freak, I'm also a bit of a computer-freak. So this afternoon I was busy chatting away on MSN, downloading music, writing emails and all that stuff, when I heard the typical sounds Long-Tailed Tits make. From behind the desk on which my notebook resides, I can look through a lot of windows. The large sliding doors on the back, the kitchen door, the small window beside the kitchen door, the small window in the wall behind me (when I turn my head that is, but I have to do that in all cases or I'll just be staring at the notebook screen of course), the large windows at the front of the house, the long slim window in the front door, and, last but not least (certainly not in this case!), the small window beside the front door. Pfew... So anyway, the sound was coming through the opened front window, so I looked in that direction and my attention was drawn toward the window beside the front door by some movement. And there they were, a couple of Long-Tailed Tits and some Blue Tits. All in the tiny pine trees (more like shrubs) beside the path leading to our front door. I got up and got my camera and sat back down in the chair behing the notebook. Taking pictures through glass isn't very great for the quality of course, but there weren't a lot of other options. I did go out the back door and took a cautious look around the corner of our house after taking a couple of shots, but by then the Long-Tailed Tits had left (they do that a lot, being the motile creatures they are).
It was nice though, there was one different Long-Tailed Tit among the 'normal' ones. One with a white head, making it a White-Headed Long-Tailed Tit. Those are visitors from abroad during the winter around here. They come from Northern or Eastern Europe and blend in with the othr Long-Tailed Tits.
It was a good day for birding behind the desk. Better than it was outside for me. I saw a White Wagtail on the roof of the neighbours across the street, after it'd notified me by sound that it was there. And a bit earlier, I saw something moving in the corner of my eye during lunch (I think), turned out to be a Green Woodpecker. One of my fav birds that I've photographed far too little. So I got up, sprinted to my camera, twisted off the lense-ring, took the caps off my extender-lense, turned that onto the camera, sprinted to the back door, opened it, focused, and just before my camera was ready, the woodpecker took off... DAMN! Of course, I should've tried taking a picture through the window first, but that's easy to say in hindsight. Oh well, maybe there'll be another chance, as this was already the second time I saw a Green Woodpecker in the Robinia Pseudoacacia of the back neighbours.



I went to meet with some fellow Swift enthousiasts today. I'll write a bit about that in the Swift Projects section sometime soon. On the way over to the house where the meeting took place I heard the beautiful calls of a Tawny Owl (Strix aluco). I love hearing their spooky calls. I hadn't heard them before we moved to Beek. But here it seems sometimes they're only a couple tens of meters from our back garden.
When I got home I noticed a big hedgehog on our driveway in the light of my bicycle. I went to get Lisette and we watched it for a couple of seconds. We then left it alone. I saw it run into the darkness of the back of our garden a minute later, sitting on the couch. A couple of minutes later I noticed a big Common Frog on our terrace. :) I went to get my camera and Lisette quickly cought the frog. It was very strong, but she managed to hold it for a couple of seconds allowing me to take a picture (I hate taking pictures in the evening, I'm not very good at picking the right lighting-settings...). While the frog was freed again, I noticed a big dark snale on the terrace as well. Maybe it's what the frog had been after. I suppose we saved it. It was a real beauty...



Lisette and I took a walk in the forest with my mom and her husband today. Saw the familiar things I still like seeing (Deer Fern among others). Also saw this nice Oak Mazegill. It's the only reason I'm writing this entrie, but it's beauty is worth an entry all to itself...