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 www.facebook.com/IsleofWightNT. 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.

European, African, Asian birds spring migration


This video is called Spring Alive – Bee-eater feeding youngsters [in the Czech republic].

From BirdLife:

Spring comes alive with migrating birds

Tue, Feb 12, 2013

Europe, News

Spring comes alive with migrating birds

Spring Alive

The eighth edition of Spring Alive, a BirdLife International educational campaign that focuses on the observation and tracking of migratory birds, will be launched in February and continue until 21 June.

Spring Alive attracts participation from Europe, Central Asia and Africa and tracks the arrival of five well known and common spring migrating bird species: White Stork, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Common Cuckoo and Eurasian Bee-eater.

The participants follow spring as it arrives across the continent and record their observations online at www.springalive.net. BirdLife Partners across Europe and Central Asia from February on, and Africa from September on, will organise a series of events to welcome the arrival of spring and the bird migrations it brings with it. Birdwatchers, experts, children and families, teachers, everyone is welcome to enjoy the events and games, all mixing fun and education with activities such as field trips, species information and photo contests.

Last year the BirdLife Partner in Germany, Nabu, launched the innovative “bird reality-show”. For the first time anyone could follow the fortunes and everyday habits of two Swift families via live webcams. Every Spring Alive participant is also invited to write his own “Spring diary” online.

Caroline Jacobsson, Head of Communications and Marketing at BirdLife Europe says: “For most of the children participating in Spring Alive it is the first contact with nature and an opportunity to have fun by observing birds while learning more about them.” She continued ”The observation of birds migrating between Europe and Africa provides a unique occasion to create an understanding that birds cross many borders during their journey “.

The Spring Alive 2012 edition was the most successful in the project’s eight year history with more than 173,140 registered bird observations. BirdLife Europe hopes that the 2013 edition will be even more successful, bringing in new countries and reaching a wider audience.

Delivering an effective and collaborative new migratory bird conservation initiative in the Mediterranean Basin: here.

Gay Roman Catholic saints


This music video is called Good King Wenceslas; music by The Irish Rovers.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Gay king Wenceslas comes out…

Sunday 23 December 2012

Despite the Vatican’s rabid homophobia today, with persecution of gay priests and bishops as well as its campaigning against same-sex unions and marriage, the church actually has a rich history of gay players in its colourful history.

As it’s Christmas let’s start with Good King Wenceslas, who as everyone knows went out on the Feast of Stephen when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.

This Czech saint was declared king of Bohemia after a domestic coup.

He didn’t rule for long before he was killed by his jealous brother Boleslas. Wenceslas asked for forgiveness for his murderer as his dying wish. A saintly act indeed.

So what’s the story in the famous carol? The king went out on a frosty night with his page to collect logs.

His page Podiven had no shoes but the saintly king simply commanded him to walk in his royal footprints.

Miraculously the footprints proved hot and the page’s feet stayed warm and toasty “where the saint had treaded.”

Podiven, church history relates, was the most trustworthy and closest of all the king’s many young pages. But it seems he was bit special in the king’s affections.

The earliest accounts of Wenceslas’s life mention this close relationship with the page, who is described as a chamber valet to the king.

Wenceslas, it seems, used to wake his page in the middle of the night to join him in doing “charitable works.”

After the king’s murder Podiven was certainly overcome by grief.

Eventually Wenceslas’s brother had Podiven killed to stop him from spreading stories of the saintly Wenceslas and the page’s undying love for him.

Podiven’s slaughtered body, legend has it, remained incorrupt despite being hung outdoors on a gibbet for over three years.

Both Wenceslas and his beloved Podiven are buried side by side at St Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Now meet Sergius and Bacchus, one of the best-known gay couples in Christian history.

They were third-century Roman soldiers who are commemorated as martyrs by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Church history tells us the two were officers in Galerius‘s army, and were held high in his favour until they were exposed as secret Christians. They were tortured and beheaded.

The close friendship between the two was legendary in church records, making them one of the best-known examples of paired saints.

This closeness has led many historians to suggest that their relationship was a romantic homosexual one – common and totally acceptable in the Roman army – making Sergius and Bacchus great heroes in today’s gay Christian community.

Lastly let’s look at a more modern and more tragic story.

In 2010 Pope Benedict honoured the 19th-century English theologian cardinal John Henry Newman with beatification – the first step to eventual sainthood.

Newman was a good signing, as they say in the Premier League.

He was a leading Church of England cleric and writer who, in the ferment of discontent with the established church in 1845, jumped the Anglican ship and joined the Church of Rome.

His lifelong partner Ambrose St John went with him.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has made a study of Newman’s homosexual orientation.

“Newman and St John were mentally and spiritually in love, sharing a long-term same-sex relationship.

“They were inseparable. They lived together for over 30 years, like a married husband and wife,” says Tachell.

“Newman wrote in his diary about Ambrose’s love for him: ‘From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.’ He later added: ‘As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last’,” added Tatchell.

Reflecting on St John’s death, Newman stated: “This is the greatest affliction I have had in my life … he was my earthly light.”

Cardinal Newman and Ambrose St John were buried side-by-side in the same grave when Newman died in 1890.

It was what Newman wanted. He wrote to his executors shortly before his death, stating emphatically: “I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Father Ambrose St John’s grave – and I give this as my last, my imperative will.”

Prior to making Newman a saint and to clean up his image in its eyes, the Vatican sought to suppress knowledge of Newman’s relationship with St John.

In 2011 – against Newman’s direct instructions – it ordered that his grave be dug up to separate the two men and to turn Newman’s bones into holy relics.

However, the grave was empty. His remains had fully decomposed. The Vatican’s heartless plans were defeated by worms and decay.

The Vatican propaganda machine has gone out of its way to rubbish claims that Newman was gay. As a cardinal and deeply devout Catholic, they say he would never have a gay relationship.

This is nonsense. Thousands of Catholics including priests, bishops, cardinals and even saints are or were gay.

The Catholic hierarchy denies Newman’s homosexuality in the same way that it denies the existence of thousands of gay clerics.

The Vatican has form for lying and suppressing the truth. It lied, for example, when it claimed that condoms had tiny holes through which the HIV virus could pass.

Down the ages, lots of clergy have had gay relationships.

Many are in long-term gay relationships. Why should anyone be surprised by the suggestion that Cardinal Newman too was gay?

Perhaps we should look to Newman’s memorial stone at Birmingham Oratory for clues.

It has this Latin inscription.

“Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem” – from shadow and images into truth.

Was this Newman and Ambrose St John finally “coming out”?

‘Czech Breivik’ arrested


This video says about itself:

BREIVIK tribute, Hungary – Magyar Sziget festival

Reporter infiltrates international Nazi festival in remote Hungarian village.

BNP (British National Party) – Chris Hurst hailing with crowd while Saga sings Breivik (Norwegian mass murderer)’s favorite song Tomorrow belongs to me – Skrewdriver.

From the BBC:

18 August 2012 Last updated at 12:28 GMT

Czech ‘Breivik imitator‘ arrested in Ostrava

A man suspected of planning attacks similar to those carried out in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested in the Czech Republic, according to police.

Police said an assault rifle, explosives, ammunition and police clothing were found in his apartment.

The 29-year-old old man was detained in the eastern city of Ostrava a week ago.

Breivik, dressed as a police officer, shot dead 69 people on an island after setting off a bomb in Oslo last year.

The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says police in Ostrava were alerted to the suspect because he used the name of Breivik in email correspondence.

Police searched the apartment on 10 August, but have only now disclosed details of what was found.

Our correspondent says police raided the property after being tipped off that he was planning to detonate a large explosive device crafted from an aircraft bomb.

The man was carrying a remote controlled detonator when he was arrested, he says.

At a news conference, police said they did not know the suspect’s intended target, but said the explosives, weapons and ammunition were all functional.

On 22 July 2011, Breivik, a right-wing militant, killed eight people in a bomb attack in Oslo before gunning down another 69 in a youth camp on the island of Utoeya.

Judges are set to decide next week whether he is sane or insane, and therefore whether he will be given a long prison sentence or be sent to a secure psychiatric ward.