September 2010

The Comma egg hatched! After I got home from work this afternoon I went to take a look and found the empty egg shell. I turned over the leave and found the tiny, tiny caterpillar. I hope it has a good life in our garden. :)


Yesterday morning as I left Beek on my way to work there were such beautiful patches of fog draped over the Ooijpolder landscape. So today I decided to take my camera with me to work. It was to be expected, the fog was a lot less beautiful today then yesterday. Still a nice view, so I stopped my bike, crossed the N325 (pretty quiet at this time of day (5:33)) and walked into the very wet, long grass to take the picture below.

A very special discovery in our garden today! Lisette and I were watching wolf spiders, amazed about how many there were walking through the Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea, Grootbloemige Muur in Dutch). But then Lisette noticed something different. What was that? Some kind of Bug (Wants in Dutch)? No! A Praying Mantis! Wow... We'd never seen one before and they don't belong here, but what an amazing creature... I kept a close eye on it while Lisette went to get the camera. It wouldn't pose very well though, so I caught it and photographed it on my hand, which worked out quite nicely I think.
I had sent the pictures to Gerrit Jansen of regional newspaper de Gelderlander. I searched for what the species was, for example in a general insect book. It looked like it might be the European Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa, Gewone Bidsprinkhaan in Dutch). But looking on the internet, I found Mantis religiosa had a black spot on the forelegs. The one I photographed clearly didn't. Gerrit Jansen thought it might be Mantis religiosa anyway but sent the pictures to Roy Kleukers of museum Naturalis in Leiden to ask for his opinion. He thought it looked like something 'more exotic' than Mantis religiosa and on his turn sent the pictures to an Italian praying mantis expert. He thought it was highly likely that it was a young specimin of the specimen Iris oratoria, the Mediterranean Mantis. Too bad it was a young specimen with hardly any wings, because if we had gotten to see those it would've been even more spectacular. Take a look at the picture on this website.
I also wrote a small article about finding this praying mantis in our garden that was placed in local newspaper De Rozet and asked if perhaps someone had a terrarium that was missing a praying mantis or if someone had imported plants for Southern Europe or something. I received a phone call after the article had been placed from someone living about 400 meters from our house. He and his family had been on holiday to Croatia, near the Italian border. An area very rich in grasshoppers. They brought back some plants and when they had unpacked some of their things, they'd seen a green insect jump out... It certainly is the right area, so who knows, this might explain how we could find this mediterranean insect in our garden. :)


The Eumenes wasp worked so hard on it... All work undone, probably in a split second. No doubt the work of a Tit, either a Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus, Pimpelmees in Dutch) or a Great Tit (Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch). Some species of Eumenes wasps camouflage their nest with algae. Perhaps not a bad strategy... :(

Lisette and I went for a walk in forest Duivelsberg. It had been a while and we somehow felt that really well in our shins... Anyway, we had a nice walk. Lots of mushrooms, among which a very well-working Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus, Grote Stinkzwam in Dutch). It was a bit tricky to get a nice picture is this mushroom was growing in a rather dark place and I didn't want to scare of all those flies of course! :)
Later we found a real beauty. Upright Coral (Ramaria stricta, Rechte Koraalzwam in Dutch). Other than that we just enjoyed the nice weather and the beautiful surroundings! :)


I could note a new bird on the garden list today! I thought I sawe one yesterday, but wasn't sure. But today I could clearly see it. A Nuthatch! (Sitta europaea, Boomklever in Dutch) Two actually! :) After trying to photograph one through the window (wortless pictures...) I tried quietly sitting about 2,5 meters from the bird feeder when my computer had crashed... That worked out ok, though the Nuthatches didn't show much. Perhaps a camouflage-net would have helped. Who knows, some other time. Nice Tit-pictures though, if I may say so myself. And obviously, I'm talking about the Blue and Great Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus, Pimpelmees in Dutch and Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch) on the pictures below.... :p


Some mushrooms have appeared on the 'compost-pile' behind the shed in our back garden. It's not really a pile to make compost, just a pile of branches and material from working in the garden. It supports a lot of life I'm sure, but I somehow didn't really expect mushrooms to pop out of the top.
I also tried to photograph a Nuthatch (Sitta europaea, Boomklever in Dutch) again today. No luck though.

I sowed a variety of Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium var. tatula, Doornappel in Dutch) in our garden, ehm, two years ago I think. Creating a vegetable patch seems to have triggered the seeds to germinate. I got the seeds from a plant on a beach of the river Waal near Nijmegen during a plant workgroup excursion. There were several plants growing there, some had purple stems others didn't. The ones with a purple stem are a variety that gets light purple flowers insted of white. Perhaps the vegetable patch isn't the ideal place for this very toxic plant, but I don't think we'll mistake it for something eatable anytime soon. It smells really aweful when touched... It looks very nice though.


I'd noticed mushrooms in our garden earlier, but hadn't photographed them. They were the same species as the ones on the picture below though, I think they're Suplhur Tufts(Hypholoma fasciculare, Gewone Zwavelkop in Dutch). I also tried to photograph a Nuthatch (Sitta europaea, Boomklever in Dutch) again, but no luck. I did film a House Sparrow from pretty close by. I think it's nice to see how it uses it's beak and tongue to take off the skins of the seeds.

A fine butterfly day today. I saw three at the same time on the flowering Bushy Aster (Aster Dumosus, Herfstaster in Dutch), a Comma (Polygonia c-album, Gehakkelde Aurelia in Dutch) and two Peacocks (Aglais io, Dagpauwoog in Dutch). Also saw Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Atalanta in Dutch) on the remaing flowers of the Butterfly Bush (Buddleija davidii 'Dartmoor', Vlinderstruik in Dutch). And, while looking at the butterflies, I noticed a small Crab spider (not sure of the exact species) on one of the Bushy Aster flowers. Not very well camouflaged and probably too small for those large butterflies though.

A Peacock was nearly caught by another spider that's been living in the corner of the sliding doors. A big female Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus, Kruisspin in Dutch). Easy to recognize as a female because she has a round and big abdomen and she's much bigger than a male gets.


Some time ago I sowed Rye (Rogge in Dutch) in our front garden, at the base of the mixed hegde. It's looking so beautiful now. It's not the best picture for showing it's beauty, but still...
In the back garden, the Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium var. tatula, Doornappel in Dutch) is showing a growing seed pod. I guess it's looking pretty much as dangerous as it is, containing very poisonous seeds. Placed just right, in our vegetable patch, isn't it? ;) On a picture of the plant in the diary entry of 17th several holes in the leaves can be seen. I saw this on a plant on my way to work last year as well (see the August 23rd 2009 diary entry but never found the cause. It's not very easy to see on the picture below, but there's a small Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum, Segrijnslak in Dutch) inside the beautiful flower. There are quite a few of these snails in our garden, so who, knows, maybe these like to eat from the Jimson Weed leaves? Can't really imagine anything enjoying those, they smell horrible, but tastes can differ I suppose.


No picture unfortunately, but today a Hummingbird Hawk Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum, Kolibrievlinder in Dutch) visited the flowers of the Butterfly Bush (Buddleija davidii 'Dartmoor', Vlinderstruik in Dutch). These great moths are called Hummingbird Hawk Moths because they hover in front of flowers to drink, like Hummingbirds do. It's Dutch name is the same translated, but there's also another, older Dutch name for this moth: Meekrapvlinder, which translates to Maddermoth. Madder (Rubia tinctorum, Meekrap in Dutch) is a plant that was cultivated in the Netherlands in the past (from the 12th century 'till around 1868) for substances in it's roots that were used to dye textiles with a deep red colour. The red in the Dutch flag comes from this dye. Originally, the colours were orange, white and blue. For the orange colour, the dye from Madder was mixed with a yellow dye from Weld (Reseda luteola, Wouw in Dutch) or Curcuma. The yellow colour faded though, leaving the much more colourfast red dye of Madder. Eventually the colour in the flag was changed to red as it is now.
Any way, the caterpillars of the Hummingbird Hawk Moth use Madder as a food plant. Other food plants are members of the Bedstraw family (Galium species). I sowed Hedge Bedstraw (Galium mollugo, Glad Walstro in Dutch) in our back garden some time ago and there's a nice plant growing there now, so who knows... They're more than welcome!
(many thanks to the wonderful Dutch Ecological Flora (Nederlandse Oecologische Flora) for all kinds of amazing and interesting information told in such a easy to read way!)

Despite the dull weather, another visit of a Hummingbird Hawk Moth today! It may very well have been the same one as yesterday of course. No signs of caterpillars on the Hedge Bedstraw... And again, no picture unforatunately. But of course, more than enough are to be found on other website, among which awesome ones like this one on the website