July 2010

The Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa, Pastinaak in Dutch) is getting ready to flower. It smells quite nice when a leaf, of any other part of the plant for that matter, is rubbed between your fingers. I'd like to know how big the edible root is, but I don't want to dig out this nice plant, so I guess I'll never know. Another plant getting ready to flower is the Common Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum, Grote Kaardenbol in Dutch). Very photogenic! The Wild Carrot (Daucus carota, Wilde Peen in Dutch) has already finished flowering for the most part and is now making those beautiful "bird's nests".
During a walk in the forest, starting in beautiful 'valley' Dal Palland just 5 minutes from our house, we saw some nice things again. In Dal Palland several beautiful Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus, Koevinkje in Dutch). No picture from the underside of the wings unfortunately, that was very beautiful as well. Take a look here for example (just a Blackle.nl image search result). A bit further along we came across another beautiful butterfly, Comma (Polygonia c-album, Gehakkelde Aurelia in Dutch). And another, though pretty different insect we met was the bee species I've been getting to know pretty well, Andrena bimaculata, Donkere rimpelrug in Dutch). They're nesting in hundred thousands in rye acres in this forest. The one on the picture below was slow and agreed to pose onmy finger. Yet another species I fotographed on my finger, proving time and time again these wild bees are nothing to be scared of at all. See for two other pictures the pictures and videos section, bees and wasps, 2nd page.
Back at home more butterfly-stuff! The Perennial Wall-rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia, Grote Zandkool in Dutch) is still very popular among Small Whites (Pieris rapae, Klein Koolwitje in Dutch). Not for the nectar of the deliciously smelling flowers though...


YES! It worked! :D I've been checking the corner of our garden in which I sowed Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae, Klimopbremraap in Dutch) more often than I can remember, but today with awesome results! I counted four flower stems, all I'll ever get to see of these mysterious plants... The seeds were very, very small. I sowed them by putting some on my hand and just blowing. They're so small because they contain no food reserve. That's because they only germinate if the host plant, Ivy (Hedera helix, Klimop in Dutch) is nearby. Yes, these are parasites. That is why they have such a strange colour. The plants don't contain any chlorophyl, so they're not green. All the food they need they take from their host. You'd expect that these broomrapes are much more common as their host is so very common, but that's part of the mistery. Like Thistle Broomrapes (Orobanche reticulata, Distelbremraap in Dutch) that I found not far from home last summer (see the diary entry for August 29th 2009). Their host is very common, but the broomrapes need more than just the host. For Thistle Broomrapes that's at least that the ground has to have been disturbed by digging work or something like that. For Ivy Broomrapes I'm not sure. A botanist I know (Andreas Beiersbergen) once said it needed a very nutrient rich soil. Well, I think that's certainly available in our garden... It took about three years for the plants to develop into what can be seen now, though of course I have not seen what happened underground. Nice to see these plants for the first time in our own garden though!


The Ivy Broomrapes (Orobanche hederae, Klimopbremraap in Dutch) have opened up a bit further. I think they're beautiful flowers even though they're not very conventional...
Also not very conventional is the insect I saw in the hegde in the front garden today. Body shape led me to think it was a bug of some kind. Browsing through the books I came up with a name, scientific only: Heterotoma merioptera. Indeed a species of bug. According to one of the (very old) books they suck plant juice mostly, but the nymphs as well as adults also sting aphids and other soft-skinned insects to suck them dry... Nice... And I thought they looked rather friendly...
A plant growing in the 'lime-patch' (sand mixed with chalk-grains originally intended to fight moss in lawns and with pieces of sand-lime bricks from the Eifel area in Germany on top) was unknown to me. I sent a picture of it to a botanist friend (Kim Lotterman) who said he thought it might be Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, Bijvoet in Dutch). He suggested I should check the underside of the leaves, in case of Mugwort those would be silvery. They were and another typical property I could've checked myself was the smell. Mugwort has a typical spicy smell to it. Nice plant, but I pulled it out of the chalk-patch, it's reserved for special chalk-flora. Like for the one I sowed, Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris, Wildemanskruid in Dutch), of which I brought back three or four seeds from one of my trips to the Eifel area. I wonder if they'll germinate. I might see next early spring. They need frost in order to germinate, so I'm hoping for a good winter, like last one. :)


Lisette and I went along with an excursion to nearby nature reserve Zwanenbroekje today. Somewhat challenging due to the rather wild and lush vegetation and not all that big a yield, but we did get to see a couple of nice things. At the beginning of the excursion I was able to take a pretty decent picture of a couple of Linnets (Carduelis cannabina, Kneu in Dutch). But more spectacular for me was seeing so many Swifts. And drinking! Read about that in the Swift diary. There's also a link in there to the picture I took of a drinking Swift! :)
Inspired by the drinking Swifts I went back into the Ooijpolder hoping to be able to take more pictures. No luck though... Took a short video that can also be found through a link in the Swift diary. But I went for a nice bike ride in the Ooijpolder. Passing a house at a place called Vlietberg I stopped to take a look at the House Martins (Delichon urbicum, Huiszwaluw in Dutch) that have been nesting there for years. There were the juveniles looking out the nests. :) And a resident of the house had been very kind and made a mud pool for them! The sign beside it reads "Swallow-Gamma, the D.I.Y. shop for birds!" (Gamma being a large D.I.Y. shop chain in the Netherlands).


A couple of entries back I wrote about the Perennial Wall-Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia, Grote Zandkool in Dutch) being very popular among the butterfly Small White (Pieris rapae, Klein Koolwitje in Dutch). Well, it's not just the butterflies that have found it. Ichneumon wasps (sluipwespen in Dutch) have parasitized on the caterpillars and have pupated. There are also some caterpillars left that look fine, but I guess it cannot really be seen how things are inside the caterpillar.
And I found some holes in the garden...? Not sure what would dig holes like these, except maybe for bunnies which I'm sure are not what did this. I'm thinking about a Bank Vole (Myodes glareolus, Rosse Woelmuis in Dutch), but I'm not sure why...
Most of the flowers of the Ivy Broomrapes (Orobanche hederae, Klimopbremraap in Dutch) have finished flowering. They grew into quite tall flower stems. It's a nice corner of our garden, with another special plant, the Hart's Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium, Tongvaren in Dutch) growing well on an old small and low wall.
Not far from that corner the Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara, Bitterzoet in Dutch) is doing well. After flowering with those nice purple flowers that the bumblebees like so much it is now carrying berries of different colours.
And in the front garden, a plant that spontaneously appeared a while ago seems to be doing well also. Quite a nice plant, even though I don't know what species of mint it is.


Such a nice species of butterfly passed through our street today! An Old World Swallowtail! (Papilio machaon, Koninginnepage in Dutch). They're really big! Unfortunately, it went over to the Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii, Vlinderstruik in Dutch) of our neighbour across the street. Ours isn't flowering yet. :( Even more unfortunate: no pictures... :(
I did however get to photograph, and film, a couple of other nice insects. The Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, Boerenwormkruid in Dutch) in our back garden is attracting a lot of very pretty bees. Colletes daviesanus or Wormkruidbij in Dutch. It happened very often that a bee collecting on the flowers was harassed. I'm guessing the collecting bees were females and the one's 'attacking' males, trying to grab the female to mate. See the video below.
In the back of our back garden I photographed a different bee species. Small and beautifully shaped with very long antennae, I thought it might be a Lasioglossum species, but wasn't sure. Someone on the Waarneming.nl-forum could help me out though. It was a male Lasioglossum calceatum or albipes (impossible to distinguish from the picture I took). :)
And then on the flowering Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, Duizendblad in Dutch) I noticed another real beauty. Maybe I should stop calling insects beautiful because nearly all of them are... Haha, anyway... As I was searching for information on Colletes daviesanus I noticed a picture of this seemingly same insect called Gasteruption jaculator. A parasite on the larvae of Colletes daviesanus! I've been searching for nests of this Colletes species, in the loam wall for example, but no luck finding any. The literature states they nest in loam walls but also in old stone walls. Apparantly they have such strong jaws they can cause quite some damage to walls building nests in groups. Posting this picture on the above mentioned forum gave some more information. It's indeed a Gasteruption species wasp, but the genus is being reviewed so even though this was jaculator before, it might change into something else. It was also said it's a parasite of different bee and wasp species. Too bad it was just visiting flowers as far as I've seen.


I photographed a small ichneumon wasp today. It was on a leaf of the Perennial Wall-rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia, Grote Zandkool in Dutch). I'm not sure at all, but this might be one of the wasps parasitizing on the caterpillars of Small White (Pieris rapae, Klein Koolwitje in Dutch). See two entries back.
And later today some nice light shining on the wall of our shed caught my attention. Went out to take a look... :)


A nice discovery today. I thought Perennial Wall-Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia, Grote Zandkool in Dutch) was growing in the 'lime-patch' (see July 9th entry), but it turns out to be Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea, Wilde Reseda in Dutch)! Excellent! It's a plant I've been trying to get in our garden by sowing, but I didn't saw it in the lime-patch. Perhaps seeds I sowed before (last year I think) ended up in it without me knowing. Either way, it's very welcome! It's an excellent 'bee plant' which is the main reason I wanted to get it to grow in our garden. I just read about a specialized butterfly, Bath White (Pontia daplidice, Resedawitje in Dutch) that'd be awesome to see in our garden as well. It's rare though, so the chances are very small.
Also disovered a freshly emerged dragonfly on an old leave of the Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus, Gele Lis in Dutch) in our pond this morning. :) I took a second picture about 8 hours later when the wings had been 'pumped up' (the dragonfly pumps blood into the veins to make the wings strong and useable) and the colour had changed to brownish.
Also, in between taking the dragonfly-pictures, I filmed a 'stridulating' Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus, Bruine Sprinkhaan in Dutch). Stridulation is the act of producing sound by rubbing, in case of the grasshopper, ridges on the joint of the hindlegs along the veins of the wings. It was the sound that helped me to identify this grasshopper as the Field Grasshopper. A nice and summery sound I think. :)


Lisette told me she'd seen a mouse yesterday. On the terrace, a somewhat big, reddish mouse with a pointy nose and rather small ears, eating from the seeds and breadcrumbs I put out there for the birds. A Bank Vole (Myodes glareolus, Rosse Woelmuis in Dutch)? I don't know... So this early morning I kept a close eye on the corner of the terrace where the crumbs were. And there was a mouse indeed, but a different one than Lisette had seen! This was a shrew and Lisette would've recognized one of those. There are a couple of species of shrew and I wasn't sure which one this was, so I posted the picture below on a forum of waarneming.nl. It didn't take long before I got an answer, it was a Greater White-Toothed Shrew (Crocidura russula, Huisspitsmuis in Dutch). I also filmed it through the window. A nice video, though not too great video quality of course. But I wondered what this Shrew was doing there as I thought Shrews were strickt carnivores...?

It was Lisette's birthday today! Happy birthday sweetheart! In numbers one year ahead of me again (she turned 30 today, I'll turn 30 on December 25th). My present to her was a water dish for birds and insects by Schwegler. It's wood concrete so it'll last for ages. There are steps along the side and in the centre so insects can easily escape the dish. The red colour should be attractive to bees and butterflies. I'm not sure if it'll indeed attract those to come and drink, it would seem to me they get plenty of moisture drinking nectar, but it sure looks nicer than the plastic dish that was standing on the terrace before. Oh, and another present was the computer game Dragon Age by the way. :)
I also photographed some living things in the back garden today. Visitors of the flowering Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, Boerenworkkruid in Dutch) for example. A somewhat damaged Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus, Boomblauwtje in Dutch) for example. But I also tried to get a better picture of Colletes daviesanus (Wormkruidbij in Dutch). Like I wrote before, such beautiful bees. I also photographed a different bee, not really sure of the exact species, but I suspect it to be a member of the Lassioglossum family. Also a real beauty I think.
No bees to be seen in front of the loam wall (I hope the Hairy-footed Flowerbees (Anthophora plumipes, Gewone Sachembij in Dutch) in there are doing well!), but there was something interesting underneath it. Well, underneath the tile on which the loam wall stands that is. An interesting hollow, perhaps the owner is the shrew I wrote about in the previous entry?
Just across the loam wall are a couple of tree trunks, in various states of decay. I noticed a Common Frog (Rana temporaria, Bruine Kikker in Dutch) sitting on top of one of them, between the plants, hunting for insects. :)
A large Swift-shaped bird passed by while I was in the garden as well. A Hobby! (Falco subbuteo, Boomvalk in Dutch) Very cool... Too bad I couldn't get a nicer picture. But the one below shows what I mean when I say it was Swift-shaped.