Dutch crane flies having a good year

This video says about itself:

Large Crane Flies Mating

20 January 2014

The Crane Fly has a number of different nicknames around the world including mosquito eater and gallinipper. There are over 4,000 different species of crane fly in the world that have been identified at this time, making them the largest family within their genus. The winged adult crane flies usually do not eat, and spend their brief time mating and laying eggs.

Dutch entomologists report (translated):

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Because of the very favourable weather conditions this year leatherjackets, the larvae of crane flies, are already strikingly large and come with hundreds of specimens per square meter in grasslands. 2014 is the fifth year in a row with many crane fly larvae. Various birds will benefit in the coming time.

At present, especially the leatherjackets of the European crane fly (Tipula paludosa) and Tipula oleracea can be found easily.

Many Dutch butterflies this November

This is a video of a geranium bronze butterfly in Spain.

Translated from the Dutch entomologists of the Vlinderstichting, Thursday 20 November 2014:

The continuing mild weather and lack of significant frost during the nights ensures that many butterflies are still there to see. Nearly 3,000 butterflies were reported until November 18, many more than normally for all of of November. On Monday, November 17th, as many as eight species of butterflies were reported, and last week the very rare geranium bronze.

Nearly sixty percent of these 3,000 butterflies were one species: red admiral.

Little fly on mushroom, video

This video shows a fly on an amethyst deceiver mushroom.

The video was made in Amelisweerd woodland near Utrecht in the Netherlands, by Marieke van der Doef.

Origins of insects and flying

This video from the USA is called Evolution – Part 2 of 7 – Great Transformations (PBS Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Insects were first to fly

Insects were the first type of living creature to develop wings and learn to fly, new research shows.

“Our research shows that insects originated at the same time as the earliest land-based plants, about 480 million years ago,” Director of CSIRO‘s Australian National Insect Collection and one of the authors on the paper David Yeates said.

“Then, about 400 million years ago, ancient ancestors of today’s dragonflies and mayflies were the first to develop wings – giving them the ability to fly long before any other animal could do so.

“This was at about the same time that land-based plants developed height, showing they were able to rapidly adapt to their changing environment.

The findings also confirm that while biodiversity crises led to mass extinction events in many other groups, such as dinosaurs, insects continued to survive and diversify by quickly adapting to new situations and opportunities that arose.

Lead researcher for the study, Professor Bernhard Misof from the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn, Germany, said that insects were the most species rich organisms on Earth.

“They are of immense ecological, economic and medical importance and affect our daily lives, from pollinating our crops to vectoring diseases,” Professor Misof said.

“We can only start to understand the enormous species richness and ecological importance of insects with a reliable reconstruction of how they are related.”

See also here.

Alpine accentor in Aragon, 2 November

This video shows Alpine accentors in the snow.

After the morning of 2 November 2014, the afternoon. No snow yet, quite the contrary: rather high temperatures for November. Still, we would like to see whether birds like Alpine accentors had already arrived from their high summer homes to their lower summer abodes.

Near Riglos village, in the Sierra de Guara, mountains south of the highest Pyrenees.

Alpine accentor, 2 November 2014

Fortunately, an Alpine accentor was present, close to the footpath under the steep cliff faces.

Alpine accentor, looking up, 2 November 2014

It was looking upwards …

Alpine accentor, looking down, 2 November 2014

.. and downwards, to see if there was any food.

Alpine accentor, still looking down, 2 November 2014

Alpine accentor, looking up again, 2 November 2014

The bird looked up again …

Alpine accentor, looking down again, 2 November 2014

… and down again.

Alpine accentor, still looking down again, 2 November 2014

Alpine accentor near plant, 2 November 2014

Sometimes, the Alpine accentor was close to the sparse vegetation.

Alpine accentor still near plant, 2 November 2014

Alpine accentor on rock, 2 November 2014

Sometimes, it was on rock, seemingly bare except for small bits of lichen. Nevertheless, it did manage to get food.

Alpine accentor still on rock, 2 November 2014

A clouded yellow butterfly flying.

Wildlife at British RSPB reserves

This video series from Britain is called RSPB and Nature Reserves.

From Wildlife Extra:

RSPB records successes and declines of species on its reserves

Although best known for their work to conserve birds, the RSPB in fact monitors a broad range of species. They have recorded a staggering 16,006 species across their 212 reserves covering 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) of wildlife habitats in the UK, and a very substantial 97 per cent of these species are not birds.

The organisation has reviewed how the diverse wildlife on its reserves has fared during 2014, and has reported instances of both successes and species declines.

It has been a good year for the rare Ladybird Spider, which has benefitted from good numbers of its beetle prey. The spider, which gets its name from its bright red body and the black spots of the male spider, was thought to be extinct until a small number were rediscovered in 1980 at a site in Dorset. They have been reintroduced to several more sites in Dorset, including at RSPB Arne, where a higher number of the spiders’ distinctive webs were observed.

There has also been success for the Water Vole in Scotland where they have recolonised RSPB’s Insh Marshes. Their numbers decreased by a concerning 90 per cent over the past four decades due to the introduction of the American Mink, who preys on the small mammal. Their increase in numbers at Insh Marshes is thought to be a result of work done by the Scottish Mink Initiative, who are working to remove the mink from northern Scotland and have put in place measures to control mink in Cairngorms National Park.

There was also a noticeable increase of Irish Lady’s Tresses on some RSPB reserves. The flower is a rare orchid more commonly seen in North America, but has been seen in higher numbers in northwest Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The last success story reported by the RSPB was of the Marsh Fritillary, which saw a good year on the Scottish island of Islay where two reserves provided the lightly grazed meadows needed by the insects.

But the news wasn’t all positive, and there were a number of declines of certain species reported.

The Great Yellow Bumblebee, one of Britain’s rarest bees, is found on 13 RSPB reserves in the north and west of Scotland. It is reported to being doing well on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, but the population on the island of Coll has decline. RSPB scientists think that it is due to a lack of early flowers such as red clover at the time the queens emerged in June.

Britain’s most endangered butterfly, the High Brown Fritillary, was also found to be in decline, with numbers down by around 80 per cent since the 1970s. It is now found at 50 sites in Wales and in the west of England, where the caterpillars feed on violets. Last year a count of these butterflies in Leighton Moss found 78, but during 2014 only four were found. The reason for this dramatic decline is not clear as the habitats appear in good condition.

Numbers of black-and-blue striped Southern Damselfly also saw a drop at several sites in East Devon, while on Havergate Island in Suffolk the nationally scared Yellow Vetch (a member of the pea family) vanished from the area following severe winter storms.

Commenting on the findings, RSPB Conservation Director Martin Harpersaid: “Last year’s State of Nature report showed that 60% of UK species are declining. This year some have done well, largely because of a combination of good weather and the right management of a network of protected areas, such as our nature reserves. These can help wildlife flourish even if the intervening countryside is inhospitable. Climate change is already having an impact on wildlife and this affects decisions on our reserves. It also intensifies the call for more, bigger and better connected protected areas. Our best sites must be protected and budgets to support wildlife-friendly farming must be bolstered.”