May 2009

Lisette and I went for a nice walk in forest Duivelsberg here in Beek today. We saw a all the familiar, but still great plants and animals, like Wood Ragwort (Senecio nemorensis, Schaduwkruidkruid in Dutch), a pretty little moth I would have liked to photograph and singing Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis, Boompieper in Dutch). Near the end of our walk we came across a Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus, Ree in Dutch). It obviously hadn't noticed us, because it went ahead an layed down! I quietly made a couple of videos, after which we, equally quietly, walked on. Another very nice experience!


Lisette and I went to nature reserve the Maasheggen with my mother today. The weather wasn't all too great, but that didn't make the area less gorgeous. There were tons of songbirds active in the abundantly present hedges. The Maasheggen area is an agricultural area that shows what most of the agricultarul land has looked like in this region before the agricultural consolidation. The not so sunny weather did give me a chance to photograph what I thought was the Hairy Footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes, Gewone Sachembij in Dutch). I've been trying to get this species on a picture for a while now, so it was a bit disappointing to find it can't have been this species (it must be some kind of fly, I'm not too familiar with those).
Once back in Beek we all went for another walk, in forest Duivelsberg this time. I was finally able to photograph a yellow moth we've seen at a couple of places in this forest. I just searched for it on our excellent moth-guide and found it's Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia, Boterbloem in Dutch), which is rare in the Netherlands though it can be abundant at places where it does live. We also ran across a really impressive water beetle, the Great Silver Water Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus, Grote Spinnende Watertor in Dutch). I photographed this with my finger beside it as a reference for it's size. It's a Water Beetle, but they can fly to reach new areas.


I saw a great Swift-spectacle today! I wrote about it in the 2009 Swift diary and have included two short videos! :)

As I was taking inventory of the Swifts in a part of Nijmegen I found a nestplace at a pretty low spot. I wrote a bit about it in the 2009 Swift diary and have included two short videos.

An Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines, Oranjetipje in Dutch) rested on the flower of a Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis, Herik in Dutch) in our back garden for quite a while today. There probably wasn't enough sun to energize her. The picture below shows her beautiful eye quite nicely I think.

I noticed a couple of days ago that the young Oystercathers (Haematopus ostralegus, Scholekster in Dutch) at work have fledged again. Like last year, the parents used the flat roof of a building near my workplace to nest. Three fluffy young hide in the taller grass along the fences or use their excellent camoflage to hide in bits of dry grass. I tried photographing them yesterday but wasn't happy with the results (too far away mostly). Today things were a lot quieter in the area where I work due to the fact it was saturday so I took my camera along to work again to try again. The young Oystercatchers were walking along the glass door behind which I was working and I was able to take some nice pictures. The one below is best in my opinion.

Things are looking good in our garden. The Wood Ragwort (Senecio nemorensis, Schaduwkruiskruid in Dutch) is growing fast and looking very strong. The Absinth Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Absintalsem in Dutch) is doing well also, though it's still a small shadow of the plant this one originated from (see the plants page in the pictures section, second picture on the first page). I'm glad to see it's doing well in our garden though, as the original plant had to make way for construction (see also one of my Swift project pages!). The pond is doing ok. There's quite a bit of algae growing in it, probable mostly due to a surplus of nutrition, and none of the seeds I planted have germinated. But the Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus, Gele Lis in Dutch) is doing very well, as is the Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus, Wolfspoot in Dutch) that came along when I took the small Yellow Flag from a nearby lake. Nothing going on plant-wise in the 'marsh' either. Blackbirds (Turdus merula, Merel in Dutch) come to bathe in it pretty much daily though, which is fun to watch and supplies me with small black feathers (I collect small mostly fluffy feathers to put into Swift nestboxes as nestingmaterial).
The last picture shows a small bit of our back garden. I really like how a small bit of ground can hold so many nice plants. The three blueish-green plants that grow from bulbs in the lower left corner are onions. When I find an onion that is growing leafs while making dinner I plant it in our back garden. They dont grow with the nice purple flowers that most cultivated onions have, but the white flowers are still nice and attract plenty of insects. Only just visible in the left, above the onions, is an Aster species. The triple-lobed, toothed leafs to the right of the Aster belong to Hop (Humulus lupulus, Hop in Dutch). The small somewhat kidney-shaped leafs growing all over the place (but clearly visible between the grass in the front) belong to Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea, Hondsdraf in Dutch). The purple flowers belong to Heartsease (Viola tricolor, Driekleurig Viooltje in Dutch), or possibly a garden variaty of that species. The small plant in the centre of the photo, with a purpleish stem, is Watermint (Mentha aquatica, Watermunt in Dutch). I think that may have arived in our garden with the wind because even though I really like it, I don't recall sawing or planting it there. Between the two Watermint plants (there's one at the base of the Robinia post as well, a bit hidden) stands the purpleish stem of a Columbine (Akelei in Dutch), of which the flowers are not in this picture (they're not spectacular anyway). Just behind the Watermint in the centre there's a shiny dark green leaf that belongs to an Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Rode Zonnehoed in Dutch). The white flowers at the top are those of Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea, Grote Muur in Dutch). All the way at the top are, best visible between the stem of the Columbine and the Robinia post, leafs of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, Luzerne in Dutch). I nearly overlooked one, a pale green prickly leaf behind the largest of the onions. I'm not sure of the species, it looks like some kind of thistle.


During a walk in forest Duivelsberg with Lisette here in Beek today I came across a couple of Common Cockchafers. Nice to see them in daylight for a change. Makes photographing them a lot easier. No need for a flashlight this time. :)

I was strolling through the garden today, as I do very often. We have this nice and dark corner in the back of our garden where a special fern is growing on a little wall, the Heartstongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium, Tongvaren in Dutch), a rare plant in the Netherlands. I sawed seeds of the Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae, Klimopbremraap in Dutch) there a while ago, as the host plant of that parasite, Ivy (Hedera helix, Klimop in Dutch), is growing there as well. No sign of plants of this special species unfortunately, but I did find some other interesting species. Not a plant though. At first I thought there were half peanut shells on the ground between the Ivy, but upon a closer look I saw they were fungi. My hopes of finding out what species they were by browsing through our fungi-gide weren't high, but I found it anyway. I couldn't find an Enlgish name, it's scientific name is Tarzetta catinus, in Dutch it's called Gekarteld Leemkelkje (something like 'serrated loamchalice').

I was strolling through the garden again today while Lisette was painting a door in the garage. She called me to say she'd just seen a mouse that had went by the open garage door. I'd heard a strange sound a bit before that and had found that some snalehouses at the base of the loam wall for bees had been moved. I went looking for the mouse and quickly found it. It wasn't very shy at all, which allowed me to take some very nice pictures and videos. It was eating seeds of the Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum, Paarse Dovenetel in Dutch) and of the Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea, Hondsdraf in Dutch). In between eating, it appeared to be sunbathing and feeling rather sleepy... I was able to get really close with my camera, at some point I even had to use the macro setting as I was too close to focus using the regular setting!



I went along on an excursion to Zuid Limburg with the KNNV Nijmegen today. Zuid Limburg is the most Southern province of the Netherlands and home to many special species, both plant and animal. We went to the 'Orchid garden' first. Garden probably isn't the best word for what it is, it's a slope like all the others in the valley Gerendal near the village Oud-Valkenburg. Several species of Orchids must've grown there all along, but the slope was chosen to be an area for tourists and others interested in Orchids to see the species that could be found in the wide area (and to prevent people from entering closed areas to search for Orchids). In the 1960's and 70's several Orchid species that weren't growing on this slope yet were planted there. In the following years some Orchids disappeared, but others formed a stable population or even expanded. The slope is managed in an Orchid friendly way and a small path zig zags along the slope so visitors can get close to many species that are very hard to find in the wild. We saw many different species, both Orchids and other beautiful species and several of us, including me, took many pictures. I'm quite happy with the end results, though I may have missed am Orchid species that I'd have liked to have seen.
After the Orchid garden we had lunch in the shade as the slope on which the Orchid garden is located is sunny and it was a very sunny and warm day today. We walked back to the cars taking a different trail. We saw Orchids growing in the wild in a field next to the path and in the light forest. The management measures the owner of the nature reserve (Staatsbosbeheer) is taking are clearly paying off. They're keeping the forest open and light which gives room to very special plants like the Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea, Purperorchis in Dutch).
Then we went to a small railway station in the village Simpelveld. We saw Swifts in screaming parties flying along an old building, clearly the nestingplace of a couple of Swifts. A very nice start, as it's always very spectacular to see these birds flying so fast and screaming at low altitude. Then we went to look for plants near the rail. We found the rare plant Sand Rock Cress (Arabis arenosa, Rozetsteenkers in Dutch) and searched for a plant that might grow there but we didn't find. We also found Wild Liquoric (Astragalus glycyphyllose, Hokjespeul in Dutch). I left the group a bit early to watch and film the Swifts. :)
On the way back we passed masses of Hemlock (Comium maculatum, Gevlekte Scheerling in Dutch), growing in the middle of the freeway. The total amount of plants possibly contain enough poison to kill the entire Amterdam population (Hemlock's poison was an ingredient of the famous poison that killed Socrates).




It may not be as spectacular as all those Orchids above, but I'm still very happy to see the Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, Luzerne in Dutch) flowering in our back garden!

I went for a walk in a heathland area some distance away today with Lisette and her brother and his girlfriend. We saw a couple of Cuckoos and I saw some nice but not very spectacular plants (Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella, Muizenoor in Dutch) and some species of Bedstraw (Walstro in DUtch)). We also saw and heard a couple of Sky Larks (Alauda arvensis, Veldleeuwerik in Dutch), Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis, Graspieper in Dutch) and a couple of Stonechats (Saxicola torquata, Roodborsttapuit in Dutch and beautiful birds!). I only managed to photograph one of the Sky Larks. I also filmed a Swallow (Hirundo rustica, Boerenzwaluw in Dutch) that entered a barn. It was very impressive to see them do this as it was very windy and they had to enter through a small slit in between the doors. I slowed down the (very short) video below to half speed. No need to turn on your speakers... :/

I went to two nature reserves near Winterswijk today. The weather was great. So great in fact that I went to two nature reserves while my intention was to visit three. After the second I felt I'd had enough sun.
The first place I went to is called Bekendelle. It's a forest with a gorgeous stream running through it. Perfect for Kingfishers with all the vertical banks, but I dind't see any. I did find the nest of a Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, Grote Gele Kwikstaart in Dutch). AND, I saw Beautiful Demoiselles! (Calopteryx virgo, Bosbeekjuffer in Dutch) I'd never seen those before, just the somewhat similar less rare species Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens, Weidebeekjuffer in Dutch). There were quite a few flying around in Bekendelle though. I even managed to take some quite nice pictures! :)
After Bekendelle, I cycled on to the Wooldse Veen, an upland moor, or a raised bog, I'm not sure about the English name. It wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped it would be (I had rather high expectations of the flora). But it was really nice anyway. The area was very beautiful, full of dragonflies (not my speciality) and butterflies. I saw a Green Hairstreek (Callophrys rubi, Groentje in Dutch) which unfortunately I was unable to photograph (it somehow ended up very whitish on both pictures I took). Also saw a very beautiful beetle that I did manage to photograph. I didn't know what it was, but back home soon found out it was the Green Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata, Gouden Tor in Dutch).



I photographed an insect in our garden today that was doing an excellent job imitating a bumblebee. It was actually a hoverfly species, a Bumblebee Hoverfly to be exact. The coloration of their abdomen is very variable, it can have a white stripe in addition to a yellow one, or just a white one, etc.
The Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare, Speerdistel in Dutch) is still growing fast. Compare the picture below with that in the diary entry of April 19th!
Near my mom's we saw something very different. Like last year, thousands and thousand of caterpillars have gift-wrapped a lane of trees (Willows I believe?). It's a very alienating sight...