37 little grebes, one great crested grebe, wheatears


This is a little grebe video from Belarus.

On 21 September 2014, to Voorne island.

Between The Hague and Rotterdam, a grey heron on a lamppost. Not so unusual. However, on lampposts next to it: two white storks, more unusual.

A few kilometer more south: again, three white storks on lampposts.

Near Rotterdam, again a stork on a lamppost. As it is still rather early in the morning, are they waiting for higher temperatures, with better conditions for soaring, continuing their autumn migration to Africa?

On Voorne island, first to Strypsche wetering nature reserve.

This is a video about ruff mating season at Strypsche wetering on 2 May 2014.

We saw ruffs on 21 September there too. Not in mating season mood and plumage, but in autumn migration mood and plumage.

Other Strypsche wetering birds: redshanks, ruff relatives. Northern lapwings, more distant relatives. A big golden plover flock landed. Egyptian geese. Mallards. Snipe.

Four great cormorants flying overhead.

Again and again, flocks of scores of barnacle geese, maybe just arrived from the Arctic, fly, calling, to a field where hundreds congregate.

Shoveler ducks flying.

On the bank, yellow common fleabane flowers.

A barn swallow flies.

A buzzard sits on a fence.

We continue to another fence: a male and a female kestrel sitting next to each other.

We arrive at another part of the Strypsche wetering. Many Canada geese. Some of them look like being injured. Probably because of hunters who can’t shoot straight.

Ten gadwall ducks flying. Five grey lag geese flying.

We arrive at the sand dunes closest to the beach. A flock of common linnets. A blue tit.

On rock in the water, a great black-backed gull.

Closer to us, swimming, a big surprise: at least 37 little grebes, probably many more. Such a big flock is unusual for this species. Every now and then, some of the birds fly a short distance and land again. A great crested grebe swims along with them.

At nature reserve Hoekje Jans, a Cetti’s warbler sings. Also unusual at this time of the year.

A little egret flying.

A red admiral butterfly on a bush. Which species of bush? Elaeagnus multiflora, or Elaeagnus umbellata?

A smaller butterfly: a speckled wood.

A comma butterfly.

At the Slikken van Voorne nature reserve, flowers of yellow-wort and seaside centaury.

This is a video about the Slikken van Voorne.

A green-veined white butterfly.

Corn sow thistle.

Northern wheatears between the sparse sand dune vegetation.

A meadow pipit.

Oystercatchers on the mudflats.

Sea spurge.

A dead northern wheatear.

Finally, near the south coast of Voorne, pintail ducks.

Save monarch butterflies, petition


This video is called Amazing Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly.

From eNature.com in the USA:

Save Monarch Butterflies Sign Our Petition To Help Protect This Iconic Species! Take action today!
Monarch

Their fluttering migration covers wide swaths of North America. But now their populations are crashing.

Please sign our petition encouraging measures to protect our remaining Monarchs!

Dear Friend,

Monarch butterflies urgently need your help. This iconic, orange-and-black beauty was once common in backyards across the country… but its population has plummeted by 90 percent from the 20-year average.

You can help protect our Monarch butterflies by signing this petition!

Monarch

These delicate creatures weigh less than a gram, but every year they travel thousands of miles — from Canada down to Mexico — in an incredible, multigenerational migration. Generations of schoolchildren have learned about metamorphosis by watching monarch caterpillars transform into butterflies.

But the milkweed that monarchs depend on for survival is now being wiped out by genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops, as well as pesticides, human development and climate change

Please sign our petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act before it’s too late. A “threatened” listing (not as dire a listing as “endangered”) will allow important research and educational activities to continue while protecting this iconic pollinator for future generations.

Will you sign our petition urging action to protect our remaining Monarchs from the threats that may bring their extiction?

Adding your voice to the effort to protect Monarchs will make a difference. Don’t let our Monarch butterflies become only a memory in regions where they were once ubiquitous.

Sign this petition if you agree that our world would be a poorer place without Monarch butterflies.

Thank you for your help– it really can help make a difference!

Sincerely,

Robin McVey

Robin McVey
Public Editor, eNature.com

Take action today!

British Big Butterfly Count results


This video from Britain is called Big Butterfly Count with Sir David Attenborough.

From Wildlife Extra:

Results of the 2014 Big Butterfly Count

The results are in for the 2014 Big Butterfly Count, held over three weeks in July and August and involving nearly 45,000 people spotting almost 560,000 butterflies.

The big winners were the Common Blue (up 55 per cent), Red Admiral (up 43 per cent), Speckled Wood (up 28 per cent) and Small Tortoiseshell (up 22 per cent). The summer was also good for Peacock, which was the most abundant butterfly in this year’s count.

The Small Tortoiseshell, one of the UK’s favourite butterflies, continued its fight back this summer after years of decline, despite enduring the coldest August since 1993.

This is the highest-ever ranking for the Small Tortoiseshell in the Big Butterfly Count and represents an amazing comeback for a species that had become scarce in parts of southern England.

This little butterfly, the populations of which have declined by 78 per cent since the 1970s, saw numbers rise by almost a quarter compared to last summer.

The drop in temperature in August had a knock-on effect on the majority of the UK’s common summer butterflies, curtailing the flight period of some species and hastening others into early hibernation.

It wasn’t all good news, in that the average number of individual butterflies seen per-count dropped from 23 in 2013 to 15 in 2014.

And, in all, 15 out of 21 of the target species decreased compared with 2013, only six species increased year-on-year.

The common white butterflies all recorded a disappointing summer. The Large White was down by 65 per cent, the Small White by 60 per cent and the Green-veined White by 47 per cent. The count’s two migrant species – the Painted Lady and the Silver Y moth – also had a lacklustre year.

Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager Richard Fox says: “After a good summer in 2013, the big question this year was whether butterflies would continue to recover and build up even greater numbers or slip back again.

“Thanks to another amazing turnout from the public, we know that the answer is a real mixture. The Small Tortoiseshell had a good year in 2013 and this seems to have acted as a springboard for the species, enabling it to increase massively again this summer.

“It’s fantastic news for a species that has lost three-quarters of its population since the 1970s.

“Others such as the Gatekeeper held their ground this year, but sadly, many common butterflies appear to have sunk back from last year’s peak in numbers.”

Results can be found here.

Dutch butterflies have a good September


This French video is about male and female speckled wood butterflies.

The Dutch Butterfly foundation reports about butterflies in the Netherlands, so far this September.

Usually, in September butterfly numbers go down.

However, so far this month, the numbers go up.

Especially speckled wood butterflies contribute to this rise, being much more numerous than in previous years.

Also, map butterflies.

Tropical butterflies in the botanical garden


This video is called Butterfly ‘Morpho peleides’ in the Botanic Garden of Belgium.

Today, to our botanical garden.

In the Victoria amazonica hothouse, we met the garden’s beekeeper. Two months ago, he was put in charge of the garden’s butterfly breeding program as well.

Various South and Central American butterfly species live in this hothouse. Including Dryas julia. One individual sat on top of a plant. However, another one had died of old age, and drowned. Fish had eaten parts of its wings. The Dryas butterflies lay their eggs on Passiflora plants in the hothouse.

Two beautiful blue freshly hatched Morpho peleides butterflies took off for a flight together over the Victoria amazonica pond. Mating takes about 30 hours. Females lay their eggs only on Mucuna atrocarpa plants, of which there is only one in the hothouse. So, the beekeeper knows where to look for eggs to bring to safety in the caterpillar box. Next to the caterpillar box is a pupa box, which is opened when butterflies hatch.

Other species in the hothouse are Caligo owl butterflies, even bigger than Morphos. And glasswinged butterflies (Greta oto).

The best season for butterfly reproduction in the hothouse is summer. They are sensitive to temperature change.

Years ago, there were smaller butterflies from Africa in this hothouse. That did not work well: sometimes, the hothouse windows were open and the butterflies escaped. Now, when windows are open, there are butterfly nets to prevent escapes.

In the Victoria pond are a Pangasius shark catfish, at least one goldfish, and various small fishes.

Outside, two ring-necked parakeets on a tree in the fern garden. Great tit sound.

A pondskater in the stream.

Two butterflies, not as big or spectacular as their relatives in the hothouse, but still beautiful: speckled wood.

In the water near the exit of the garden, two coots feeding on duckweed.

Birds, butterflies and fungi


This video is about an Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).

On Sunday 7 September 2014, to two pieces of woodland on the outskirts of Leiden city.

In a ditch near the Bos van Bosman, two coots and a moorhen swimming.

Sounds of nuthatch, great tit and great spotted woodpecker.

Two speckled wood butterflies flying.

A robin on the footpath.

A magpie on a lawn.

On another lawn, fungi: common ink cap and amethyst deceiver.

Later, in Rhijngeest woodland, porcelain fungi growing on a fallen branch.

Hundreds of mud-puddling Dutch butterflies


This is a map butterfly video.

Dutch entomologist Marlie Huskens described nature reserve De Meinweg in Limburg province, on last Tuesday, 2 September 2014.

To her surprise, she counted over 250 map butterflies. Most of them feeding on horse and roe deer manure. Others fed on hemp-agrimony flowers. Yet others were resting, or drinking from puddles.

Such big congregations of butterflies are called mud-puddling. It is unusual for the Netherlands.