April 2010

A very sad thing happened today... A Dunnock (Prunella modularis, Heggenmus in Dutch) flew into our window and died on impact. Of course there are several bird stickers on our window, but it still happens occasionally that a bird flies against it. As usual when I find a dead animal I placed it in a corner in our back garden. Near the 'compost' heap in this case. Death brings life, let's hope this dead Dunnock helps some other animals (and plants?).
As the day started nice and sunny, the bees in the largest bee block in our back garden took advantage warming up in the morning. On the picture below an Osmia cornuta can be seen peeking it's head out. :)
Something that really brightened up my day after the Dunnock-event was seeing a Common Newt Triturus vulgaris, Kleine Watersalamander in Dutch) in our pond! It's just a cement tub! :D Awesome that it attracts a newt. :)
I occasionaly find snail houses in our garden that belong to the species I saw alive and well today. I looked it up in one of the older books in our collection and found it's a Clausilia species. I think they're beautiful, as most snails are in my opinion. :)


I went ahead with the difficult task of cutting back the Buddleja in our front garden today. See the result below...
Also, I finally found a sign of the Wood Ragwort (Senecio ovatus, Schaduwkruidkruid in Dutch) in our back garden. It's growing well in the forest, I've seen plants about 15 cm high there, but I waited and waited to see the first shoots of the plant that grew so well in our garden last year. I planted it while it was a small plant. It flowered the next year, but not very enthousiastically. Last year however, it grew into three very strong plants of about 1,5 meters tall! So I'm curious to see what will happen this year!
I took a photograph of the tiny shoot (which didn't work out well, which is why there isn't a picture of that below) and walked back to our house. I felt something tickling on my hand... A Tick! (Ixodes ricinus, Schapenteek in Dutch) :( I Don't like finding them our garden, but there isn't much I can do about it. (this wasn't the first time I found one in our garden either)


I went to visit the Rye field in forest 'Duivelsberg' today again. Put some effort into photographing females, and, if I may say so myself, got some nice results. One of which can be found below. :)

The flowering willow in our back garden is attracting visitors. :) Of course that is the main reason for planting it. :) The bee that can be seen on the first picture below belongs to the big family called Andrena. It's part of a group called minutila if I'm not mistaken, hard to identify small species.
The bee on the second picture is far from a small species. It's Anthophora plumipes, the Hairy-footed flowerbee (Gewone Sachembij in Dutch). They look a bit like bumblebees, but the sound they make is very recognizable. It's much higher pitched than that of bumblebees. Their furry coat makes it possible for them to fly at low temperatures, like bumblebees can. I often see this species in our garden, mainly when they visit Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis, Gevlekt Longkruid in Dutch). Still hoping they'll use the loam wall I made for them of course...
The Ribes is also working very well at attracting bees. The picture shows a male Osmia bicornis (Red mason bee, Rosse Metselbij in Dutch).


A piece of PVC pipe that used to hold wires that went to our shed for the light in there is now holding something very different. Well, actually, it was used last year already, but this year a new user is busy, removing the old nest walls and then making new ones after filling a room with pollen and nectar. The beauty using it is an Osmia cornuta (Gehoornde Metselbij in Dutch).
I discovered a frog in our pond today. :) So there are two amphibians in there now. :)


I found a rather unfortunate Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis, Rosse Metselbij in Dutch) in our back garden today. It's 'breast' was full of mites. I'm not sure if a bee can survive this. I'd imagine the mites steal so much energy from the bee that it doesn't have enough left to live a normal life.
I also took a picture of the gall on one of the branches of the willow in our back garden today. It seems someone was smart enough to realize there must be life in those galls, perhaps a Great Tit (Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch)?
I also managed a very reasonable picture of a Hairy-footed Flowerbee (Anthophora plumipes, Gewone Sachembij in Dutch) today. :) It takes quite some attempts and quite a bit of luck, because these bees don't sit still very long.


A Blackbird (Turdus merula, Merel in Dutch) was collecting nesting material beside our 'marsh' today. That alone is something I love to see; birds that find stuff they need in our garden. But when her beak was full, se didn't leave our garden, in fact, she went into the Taxus! :)
Completely different animals that are nesting in our garden are bees. The largest of my bee blocks is providing quite a few bees with a space to nest. A close look at the picture of it below shows two species. Osmia cornuta is working what may well be the end-wall of her nest in the top and there are at least two Red mason bees on the bee block. The next picture shows Osmia cornuta close up. The next picture shows a visitor of the same bee block, a Velvet mite (Trombidium holosericeum, Fluweelmijt in Dutch), a small spider-like hunter.
I later noticed the Blackbird is probably using a lot of moss in her nest as well, there's a big patch of soil where a lot of moss used to grow.


I'm very curious to see how the plant on the picture below will do this year. It's a Purple Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius, Paarse Morgenster in Dutch), I got a couple of seeds from one of the people of the Oase Foundation (Stichting Oase) during a visit of their garden, I think it was four years ago. The plants looked small and somewhat weak during their first two or three years but are looking promising now... :)
what isn't looking promising at all is the Wood Ragwort (Senecio ovatus, Schaduwkruiskruid in Dutch). During it's first year in our back garden it flowered as a very small plant. Last year was it's second year, three huge plants flowered very well. :) But I'm seeing plants up to 15 cm tall in the forest now but nothing at all in our garden... :(

I guess I must've overlooked the first Wood Ragwort (Senecio nemorensis, Schaduwkruiskruid in Dutch) shoot? Either way, it's grown nicely since yesterday!

Beautiful weather today. After a flora-excursion with the KNNV (Royal Dutch Association for Natural History, also Dutch Association for Field Biology) in the morning to the beautiful area surrounding the Kastanjelaan in the village of Ubbergen I spent some time in our back garden. Found more ticks... :( But also very, very active (Red mason) bees. Several males kept buzzing around in front of the bee block, searching for females leaving their nestholes I suppose. Sitting on the terrace having a drink a mating couple fell onto the ground beside us. Males probably try to catch a female from the air and this male succeeded. But he wasn't the only one... A total of five mating couples ended up around and on the terrace!


Short update: a total of six Wood Ragwort (Senecio ovatus, Schaduwkruiskruid in Dutch) shoots have appeared by now! :) See the entry of April 14th for what they look like.

One of the frogs in our pond isn't very scared at all. I could get so close with my camera that I could use the 'super macro' mode. :) I'm not really sure about the species though... :/ It's not a Common Frog (Rana temporaria, Bruine Kikker in Dutch), as those have a very distinct dark patch behind their eye. It's not very green either though. Oh well. It's a frog. :)
I while ago we planted bulbs of Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris, Wilde Kievitsbloem in Dutch). The fruit body is being eaten by red and black beetles. Possibly Cardinal Beetles (Pyrochroa coccinea, Zwartkopvuurkever in Dutch).
Also, stunning news!!! Lisette noticed a 'big bee' entering a hole in the loam wall today! Of course I couldn't help but wait for it to get back out again so I could see it was indeed Anthophora plumipes!!! I managed a picture as well, though it's ehm, perhaps not very decent of me, photographing the butt of a lady... ;)


Two entries ago I wrote that six Wood Ragwort shoots had appeared. Well, try to find them on the picture below... ;) Some ae still very, very small. But it can be done to find them. There's one in the very bottom of the picture, then the obvious one in the middle, but with a sneaky small one at it's left. Then one a bit higher and to the left of those two, another small one close to the base of the roof tiles and finally the other obvious one in the right of the picture.
I managed to take two more decent pictures of the Hairy-footed flowerbee (Anthophora plumipes, Gewone Sachembij in Dutch) (or indecent, depends on how you look at the first of the two pictures :p)
Also, another picture of Cardinal Beetle, but this time two of them!
Also two, but not in such an intimate pose (though it might look a bit like that) frogs, out of a total of six! Amazing...
There are several Blue Bugles (Ajuga reptans, Kruipend Zenegroen in Dutch) flowering in our back garden. Beautiful flowers that attract plenty of bees, among which Anthophora plumipes, which can also be seen on the last picture, visiting Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis, Gevlekt Longkruid in Dutch).


I'm very happy to see how the Absinthe Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Absintalsem in Dutch) is doing. It's beginning to look a tiny little bit like the parent plant in the centre of Nijmegen I took a 'cutting' of and which is now gone. It's the silvery-green plant on the picture below by the way. Also in that are the Ribes (in the upper left with pink flowers), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense, Rode Klaver in Dutch) in front of the Absinth Wormwood, some Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Jakobskruidkruid in Dutch) just left to the Red Clover, Brown Knapweed (Centaurea jacea just to the right of the Red Clover and Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, Luzerne in Dutch) and Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, Boerenwormkruid in Dutch) to the right of the Knapweed. Of the other things that can be seen, the only thing left I want to mention is the Dog Rose (Rosa canina, Hondsroos in Dutch), growing in front of the wooden frame. I hope that'll grow a lot this year.
The Hairy-footed flowerbee (Anthophora plumipes is working hard on her nest. At the end of the hole I drilled she's building egg-shaped chambers which she fills with food for her offspring. Solid state pollen first, then a layer of liquid nectar. On top of the liquid nectar she lays a single egg per chamber (it floats on there!). Each chamber is sealed, I think the entrance on the picture below stays open. A pile of loam can be seen under the nest entrance, proving the hard work of this nice bee species.
Like the Absinthe Wormwood, the Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa, Pastinaak in Dutch) I sowed last year is doing really good as well. It's growing into a very large plant, undoubtedly with a big edible root... :)
And yet another plant that's doing great is the Spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum, Gevlekte Dovenetel in Dutch). It started flowering early in the spring and will continue for a couple of months if all goes well!
Our little 'pond' (dug in cement tub with two plant baskets with Yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus, Gele Lis in Dutch) and a lot of Waterweed (Elodea, Waterpest in Dutch)) is not only attracting a Smooth newt and several frogs. It's also been the home to a damselfly larva. It must've found what it needed judging by the empty skin on a Yellow flag shoot. :)
And they're just a tiny bit too early for their Dutch name (Meikever, 'Maybeetle'), Common Cockchafers (Melolontha melolontha). As I was watching the bats flying over our garden this evening I noticed a large insect flying by. At first I thought it might've been a big moth. But after seeing one or two more I noticed the sound they made when flying. Typical for beetles. So I got a flashlight and looked around in the back garden. And I quickly found the female on the picture below. Beautiful insects aren't they?