Belgian bat news

This is a particoloured bat video from the Czech republic.

Bat researchers in Belgium report (translated):

Friday, November 21, 2014

The particoloured bat is a maverick amomg our native bat species. With barely forty sightings in Belgium it remains a very rare visitor. But there seems to be improvement coming: for 2014, the counter says eight observations. This autumn, the species was already observed seven times, and that’s a record. However, we should not just assume there is improvement because recently people have started to observe slightly more than previously.

Bird news from England

This video from the Czech Republic says about itself:

Little crake trapping

These birds are caught for scientific purposes – bird banding.

From RSPB Minsmere in England on Twitter:

Little crake still present today but elusive. Great white egret and otter at Island Mere. 12+ stone-curlews on Westleton Heath.

Rare butterflies in the Netherlands

This video from the Czech republic says about itself:

Large Copper – Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803) – male

Large Copper – Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803) is quite common in SE Moravia where I live and expands from there to the North and also to the West.

SE Moravian population is a part of the continuous range from there to the north of Greece and through Russia to the Far East.

In SE Moravia lives its subspecies Lycaena dispar rutilus (Werneburg, 1864).

Dorsal side of male’s pterygia is fire red with goldy yellow lustre and black comma on the front pterygies.

There are three large copper subspecies. The subspecies rutilus, or rutila, of the video lives in large parts of Europe and Asia.

The subspecies batava lives only in the Dutch provinces Overijssel and Friesland.

The third, smallest, subspecies, Lycaena dispar carueli lives only in the Ardennes hills in the south of Belgium.

The Dutch Butterfly Trust reports today about rare butterfly species. They write that on 8 August 2014, a Lycaena dispar carueli butterfly was seen in Limburg province, closest to the Ardennes in the Netherlands. This was the first time ever for this subspecies.

This video from the Czech republic is called High Brown Fritillary – Argynnis adippe – perleťovec prostřední.

In Groningen province, recently a high brown fritillary was seen. Ever since 1976, only a few vagrants of that species had been recorded in the Netherlands. Maybe, this Groningen butterfly came from the Ardennes as well?

Bee-eaters nest on Isle of Wight for first time

This is a bee-eater video from the Czech republic in 2013.

From the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain:

Bee-eaters breed on Isle of Wight for first time

A pair of European Bee-eaters that have set up home on National Trust land on the Isle of Wight have the potential to become only the third record of this exotic southern European species to breed successfully in the UK in the last century. Bee-eaters, which would normally be found nesting in southern Europe, were last recorded breeding successfully in the UK in 2002, when a pair nested in a quarry in County Durham and two young successfully fledged. Before that, two pairs were recorded raising seven young in a Sussex sand pit in 1955, though a pair failed in Herefordshire in 2005. The species, with their kaleidoscopic plumage, are one of the most beautiful birds in Europe.

The birds were discovered on the island in mid-July, have set up home in the sandy hills of the Wydcombe Estate (in the south of the island) in a small valley where the soft ground, rolling landscape and stream access provides ideal conditions for their nest burrow, which can be up to three metres long. Ian Ridett, National Trust Isle of Wight Ranger, said: “We have set up a 24-hour surveillance operation around the site to protect these rare visitors, as any unhatched eggs could be a potential target for egg thieves. We have had incredible support from the RSPB, Isle of Wight Ornithological Group and our volunteers and staff, some of whom have travelled from the mainland to help. The hot temperatures since spring have helped an above average arrival of Bee-eaters, with more than ten seen along the south coast since May. With rising temperatures, the varied landscape and bountiful supply of insects on the Wydcombe Estate was obviously enough to tempt the Bee-eaters to nest here.”

The adult birds have been spotted delivering food into the nest, which indicates that the eggs have hatched. The chicks will not leave their underground nest site for another fortnight or so, so the number of chicks hatched is still not known. Bee-eaters traditionally lay clutches of four to nine eggs, and the first chick sighting is eagerly anticipated.

Matthew Oates, National Trust’s nature and wildlife expert, said: “The Bee-eater is arguably the most stunning bird on the British list; it looks tropical. It’s really exciting to have these birds breeding on National Trust land and we are pulling out all the stops to help the chicks safely fledge, while keeping the public up-to-date with their progress.”

Keith Ballard, the site manager at the RSPB’s Brading Marshes reserve on the Isle of Wight, added: “It’s the stuff of dreams to have a rare nesting event like this on the Isle of Wight; and it’s looking like the initiative by the National Trust rangers to make the nest site safe is going to lead to success for these birds. There was a very real threat that these nesting birds could have been targeted by egg thieves, so it’s been quite a nervous period over the last 12 days. It has been a pleasure for the RSPB staff and volunteers to help with this operation.”

Further information on the Wydcombe Bee-eaters can be found on Ian Ridett’s blog at News updates will appear at least daily on the BirdGuides Bird News Extra page.

A designated public viewing point has been identified overlooking the birds’ favourite feeding area so that visitors can get the best possible sightings of them. This will be carefully managed though, as the birds’ well-being and welfare takes priority. The Wydcombe Estate is located at PO38 2NY (grid reference SZ511787).

White stork builds nest, video

This video is about a white stork taking off with nesting material near a farm in the Netherlands.

Marjanne Luiten made this video.

July 2013. White storks suffered their worst breeding year on record in the Czech Republic, as the cold weather put paid to nearly a whole generation. Almost all of the chicks that did hatch didn’t survive the severe weather which prevailed in Bohemia just as the birds were nesting: here.

Czech film on anti-nazi resistance

This is the trailer of the Czech film Zelary, with English subtitles.

By Virginia Smith, New York City, USA:

Letter from a reader on Zelary, a Czech film set in World War II

28 March 2013

Zelary is a remarkable 2003 film from the Czech Republic, directed by Ondrej Ontran (and available from Netflix and Amazon). It is the story of a woman who escapes from the Gestapo crackdown on resistance groups in Prague during World War II by the only way possible at the moment: moving to the small mountain village of Zelary, there to pass as the wife of a sawmill worker who is being treated at the hospital where she is a nurse.

Eliska (Anna Geislerova) had carried messages for the resistance, with surprising insouciance, which comes crashing down when she is followed, her mission suspected, and members of her group begin to be executed.

In this desperate situation Eliska agrees to the plan proposed by a colleague, and the film becomes the story of her life as a member of the mountain community of Zelary. Eliska endures a traditional marriage ceremony—costume and cart—and moves into the home of the selected husband, who offers her “kitchen, bedroom, front room and shed.” Fortunately for Eliska (now known as Hana), her husband Joza (Gyorgi Cserhalmi) says “she is one of us” when questioned.

The film, set in 1942, is based on the novel and short stories about the town of Zelary by Kveta Legatova, who died only last year at the age of 93—a witness, obviously, to the chaotic and tragic history of the region.

Czechoslovakia came into being as an independent republic in 1918 when the victorious powers carved up the former Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Under the post-World War II Stalinist regime, it eventually became the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Capitalism was restored in 1989 and the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

The powerful theme of Zelary is the support of a community and its recognition of common humanity with a stranger in peril. Eliska/Hana’s survival depends wholly on the villagers’ tacit collusion with the fiction of her belonging in Zelary. Even as the Nazis call the villagers out of church to witness the execution of someone for “hiding an enemy of the Reich,” they do not give her up. Whatever glimmerings of her past may appear, the villagers protect her, and finally befriend her.

Another theme is the saving friendship of women to another woman in difficulty. One such is Joza’s former lover who provides a room for Eliska on her arrival. Another gives her clothes and dresses her. An old woman, Lucka, a wise “crone,” cures Hana when she is injured. A measure of Hana’s integration into the village is evident in a scene when she sits around the table with a group of women and drinks from the bottle with them, as they string beads, sing and laugh.

A village boy, Lipka, is the son of Hana’s new friend, Zena, remarried to a drunk who beats him and chases him out of the house. The boy hides in a swamp hut, where he is visited only by the old crone, who brings him food, and the little girl, Helenka, whose function in the film is ingenious; she wanders everywhere with her grazing goat and observes actions she conveys to villagers, such as the attack on Hana by a drunk at the sawmill, leading to pursuit and rescue by Joza.

Throughout the film the actions take place in beautiful mountainous settings where the unthinkable looms up suddenly. Hana becomes lost gathering berries on the green hills, and comes upon three corpses hanging from a tree, the nearby cottage still smoking. Partisans discovered. But the director’s view of the conflict is honest: the partisan army, when it appears, is far from ideal; drunk, quarrelsome and quick to shoot. The ragged group rampages and moves on and the remaining villagers move to Lipka’s swamp for eventual liberation.

Why is this 10-year-old film relevant today? Because it is the story of a real, not manufactured, struggle to survive, with believable people, not super-heroes, and an enemy whose malevolent presence is felt overall, erupting in short bursts of violence: the hangings, the execution. The enemy is a real, not a fictional evil. Under this oppression, genuine character is revealed. Hana, Joza, Zena, the boy Lipka and the crone Lucka are the heroes whose actions save what can be saved.

Czech Lion awards went to the leading actors in Zelary, and as well as an international award for the director, Ondrej Trojan. The film qualified as a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards in 2005.