Young herring gull in botanical garden


Herring gull, 8 September 2014

This is one of four cellphone photos in this blog post of a young herring gull on 8 September 2014. Swimming in the canal, it came closer and closer. Then, it walked up the bank near the old astronomical observatory in the botanical garden.

Herring gull, on 8 September 2014

It came closer and closer to the bench where we sat.

Herring gull close up, on 8 September 2014

And still closer. It even tried whether shoe laces are edible.

Herring gull and bench, 8 September 2014

Before we met that gull, we had seen that the botanical garden axolotls are again on show after the reconstruction of the hothouses, now in the orchid hothouse.

In the brook, pondskaters.

Amphibians of Meijendel nature reserve


Young tree frog, Meijendel, 6 September 2014

This is a photo of a young tree frog on the shoe of a natural history enthusiast in Meijendel nature reserve, north of The Hague in the Netherlands, on 6 September 2014. If you read on, then you will find out how that frog landed there.

That day, we went to a part of Meijendel, usually not open to the public. It is known as Kikkervalleien, frogs’ valleys, because of many amphibians living there.

In the Kikkervalleien, original wet sand dune valley situations have been restored. This means many small lakes with shallow water. Good conditions for amphibians, as there are often no predatory fish in the lakelets.

Traditionally, there used to be six amphibian species in nature reserve Meijendel.

Four of those are toads and frogs:edible frog, common frog, Eurasian toad, and natterjack toad.

Also two newt species, the common newt and the great crested newt, are traditional Meijendel denizens.

About 2007, two other species joined them.

They are the common Eurasian spadefoot toad; and the common tree frog.

The species which we saw most on 6 September were natterjack toads.

All still very small; most smaller than half a centimeter.

Natterjack toad, 6 September 2014

No matter how young natterjack toads are, they already have the characteristic stripe down their backs.

Common frog, 6 September 2014

The second most numerous species on 6 September were common frogs. Also mostly still young, but a bit bigger than the natterjack toads: over 1 centimeter. We also saw an adult.

Young tree frog on shoe, Meijendel, 6 September 2014

Then, the young common tree frog. It jumped around on the sand, till it jumped on the shoe. Then, it jumped higher, to a fold in trousers. Finally, it jumped off, to continue its journey in the dunes.

Young tree frog still on shoe, Meijendel, 6 September 2014

At the lakelet near the exit of the Kikkervalleien area, where the natterjack toad photo is from, there were also young common frogs. And small Eurasian toads.

And a young common newt.

Stay tuned, as there will be more posts on this blog about non-amphibian life forms of Meijendel, like birds, fungi and plants!

Vlieland island and its wildlife, video


This video is about Vlieland island in the Netherlands and its wildlife; like shorebirds at the mudflats, and edible frogs.

Dutch endangered species news


This video is about red deer in Veluwezoom National Park, The Netherlands.

The Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics writes about research about 1771 wildlife species in the Netherlands.

From 1950-1995, many species became endangered or even extinct.

The CBS writes this destructive trend did not continue in 1995-2013 because of pro-environment measures then.

Translated:

The percentage of endangered species [as part of total species] was in 2005 slightly higher than in 1995, but it was actually lower in 2013. Progress is strongest in dragonflies and mammals; these species were already progressing from 1995 on. Since 2005, we see slight improvements in higher plants, reptiles and breeding birds. In butterflies and amphibians, however, little or no recovery was found.

Good Guatemalan birds and amphibians news update


This video says about itself:

A singing male Pink-headed Warbler, Ergaticus (formerly Cardellina) versicolor, at the roadside edge of a large forest patch on the Ocosingo Highway in Chiapas, Mexico, on March 21, 2014.

From Wildlife Extra:

An important lagoon and montane forest property in Guatemala is purchased by conservation charity

Thanks to a donation from Puro Coffee the World Land Trust has the funds to help their partner Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) purchase Laguna Brava in western Guatemala.

The property measures 1,186 acres (480 hectares), with the lake (Yolnabaj) takes up just under half the area of the property. The remainder is made up of some of the last remnants of the region’s montane tropical karst forest on the northern, southern and eastern side of the lake.

It supports many rare species including amphibians and birds and is home to three species of tree frog that are listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, as well Lincoln’s Climbing Salamander, which is registered as Near Threatened.

The forest surrounding the lagoon hosts 72 different bird species including the Highlands Guan (Penelopina nigra), and the Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), both registered by IUCN as Vulnerable.

“FUNDAECO’s determination to create this reserve, which forms the first protected reserve in the region, will help many previously unprotected but Critically Endangered species,” said Charlotte Beckham, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Co-ordinator.

Read all about the conservation charity World Land Trust and the work it does HERE.

Saving reptiles and amphibians


This video from the USA is called What’s the difference between an amphibian and a reptile? Find out in this World Book Explains video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Zoos stave off extinction for many reptiles and amphibians

A frog that doesn’t croak, the largest living lizard, and a tortoise that can live up to 100 years are just some of the species staving off extinction thanks to the help of zoos, according to a new report.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top 10 reptiles and amphibians benefitting from the aid of its members in the UK and Ireland.

Dr Andrew Marshall from BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA collections.

He said: “Zoos are part of a global conservation community. Last year, BIAZA published a report on the top 10 mammals most reliant on zoos, which highlighted the work being done to help safeguard their future. This year, we have focused on 10 prevailing examples of reptiles and amphibians.

“The list includes some fantastic species, many of which are facing a dramatic decline and are in a desperate situation in the wild.”

Strict criteria were used for the list. All the reptiles and amphibians proposed had to be associated with current field initiatives by zoos and/or essential conservation breeding in zoos.

Particular importance was given to initiatives which included a management role in the species’ conservation, rather than just providing funds. Priority was also given to species listed as threatened on the international IUCN Red List of threatened species.

“The top 10 list demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to funding and management of conservation projects in the field,” said Dr Marshall, “including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.”

TV presenter and naturalist, Nick Baker, who is supporting the top 10 campaign this year said: “Zoos and aquariums have a very important role in this whole thing … at the scariest level they are the Ark. They are where the insurance populations of these animals can be looked after and understood and studied.

“As much as BIAZA is very important in holding the Ark population, it is also very important in being that interface between these animals and the public.

“The problem with these animals is they are not furry, they do not have an instant appeal to the masses. As a consequence they can be forgotten.

“The reality is, when the zoos show them to the world they are reaching people and spreading that word and getting people to appreciate what these animals are about.”

BIAZA’s top 10 reptiles and amphibians most reliant on zoos are:

Axolotl – this Critically Endangered amphibian retains a tadpole-like appearance even as an adult and has the extraordinary ability to regenerate limbs, but it is vulnerable to water-quality changes and is Critically Endangered mainly due to high levels of pollution in its last remaining stronghold in Mexico.

This video is called Axolotl salamanders continue to intrigue researchers.

Golden mantella – These Critically Endangered frogs don’t croak! Instead males attract females by a series of clicking noises. This bright yellow frog is known for attempting to eat anything that can fit in their mouth, even if the taste is repulsive.

This video is called Golden mantella chorus.

Komodo dragon – there are fewer than 1,000 left in the wild, living on a small island off Indonesia. They are the largest living lizard with males growing up to 3m in length and weighing up to 90kg.

This video is called Massive Lizards : Documentary on Giant Komodo Dragons.

Lemur leaf frog – Due to massive habitat loss and the effects of chytrid fungus, this species’ range and its population has declined by over 80 per cent in recent years. An adult lemur frog is only 3cm to 4cm long, it could fit on the end of your finger.

This video from England is called Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology at Manchester Museum talking about Lemur Leaf Frog conservation.

Morelet’s leaf frog – these striking lime-green frogs with a pink or orange underbelly are rapidly disappearing as their forest habitat is destroyed. They have incredible jet-black eyes with no discernable iris, and wide webbing between their toes which allows them to parachute between trees.

This video is called Morelet’s Tree Frog.

Mountain chicken – One of the largest frogs in the world, this Critically Endangered species came by the name because it is commonly hunted for food on the islands of Dominica and Monserrat in the Caribbean. Despite its name, it lives mainly in the lowlands.

This video is called Mountain Chicken.

Orange-tailed skink – These beautiful and highly endangered skinks were discovered on Flat Island in Mauritius in 1995 where they were being preyed upon by non-native introductions such as the Indian musk shrew. The species would now be extinct if it weren’t for the help of zoos.

Ploughshare tortoise – one of the rarest land tortoises in the world and a most sought after reptile in the illegal pet trade. This Critically Endangered tortoise is endemic to Madagascar and can live up to 100 years.

This video is called Ploughshare Tortoises, Madagascar.

Round island boa – the only snake in its genus, found only on one small island off Mauritius, where it is suffereing from loss of habitat. It is one of the very few snake species that can change its colour over a 24-hour period, being darker during the day and lighter at night.

This video is called Round Island Boa.

Sand lizard – although common in other parts of the world, this is one of the UK’s rarest lizards, protected here by law, as it is in most of Europe. It is restricted to sand dunes and lowland heaths in southern England.

This video is called Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) – Life on the tree – Animalia Kingdom Show.

Wall lizard on Texel island


This is a wall lizard video from Italy.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Lizard discovered on Texel – 26-08-14

There are no lizards on Texel. So, Texel man Hans van Garderen looked surprised when he found one in his home in Den Burg town. The animal was missing part of his tail, but looked healthy overall. He sent pictures of his special discovery to Ecomare biologist Pierre Bonnet. To find out which type it was precisely, Bonnet asked experts in the field of reptiles. According to RAVON staff member Annemarie van Diepenbeek it’s probably a young wall lizard.

Stony environment

Wall lizards are found in rocky environments in France and neighboring countries in southern Europe. In the Netherlands this species lives in one place, in Maastricht. Texel is not a suitable habitat for a wall lizard. They love a stony environment and not all that sand! Sand lizards do live on Terschelling and Vlieland, and on Terschelling, also the viviparous lizard. These species would also be able to live on Texel, but then you would expect them in the dunes, not in a house in Den Burg!

Alone or more of them

To find out whether this is a lone adventurer or whether there might be a population living on the island, Pierre advised Hans to also look in the garden. Among the stones he turned were there plenty of smooth newts, but no lizards. How the wall lizard came to Den Burg is unknown. It was probably taken along by people accidentally. Maybe it hitched a ride from a French campsite.