Woodlarks, goosanders and great grey shrike


This September 2017 video shows the nature reserves Kikkervallei and Ganzenhoek near Wassenaar in the Netherlands from the air.

Today, 9 March 2019, with special permission to the Ganzenhoek, an area usually closed to the public.

In the beginning, already song thrush, dunnock, chaffinch and great spotted woodpecker sounds.

A great cormorant flies overhead.

A greenfinch sings.

Woodlarks fly, singing.

A singing robin.

A flying grey heron.

On a lake: tufted ducks, Canada geese and a great crested grebe.

At the next lake, two male goosanders fly away.

Grey lag geese swim.

This 2015 video is about Poronia erici fungi.

We found that small species here on horse dung.

On a third lake, coots swim.

Long-tailed tits on a tree.

A bit further, a great tit.

A chiffchaff calls. Remarkably early for that species. Maybe a bird that is just back from wintering in Africa.

In the next lake, a gadwall couple.

Roe deer footprints.

We are now in the Kijfhoek and Bierlap part of the Wassenaar sand dunes.

A bit further, red fox dung, with remains of mice.

Then, one of the highlights of this morning: a great grey shrike on a treetop.

Cladonia foliacea lichen grows here.

So does heath star moss. An invasive species, originally from the southern hemisphere. Called ‘tank moss’ in Dutch, as it was probably was brought to the Netherlands by World War II tanks.

Nearly at the exit: a green woodpecker calls.

See also here.

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Botanical garden snowdrops, crocuses and birds


Snowdrops, 24 February 2019

After 23 February 2019 in the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands, we went back there the next day, 24 February. And saw these snowdrops.

Sounds of magpie, greenfinch, ring-necked parakeet.

On a branch of a tree in the Japanese garden, a robin sits, singing.

Crocuses, 24 February 2019

Not far away, these crocuses.

A blackbird sings.

A carrion crow flies to a tree.

Crocuses and winter aconites, 24 February 2019

On the hill, close to the source of the stream, these crocuses; with winter aconites in the background.

Golden crocuses, 24 February 2019

Near the astronomical observatory, these white golden crocuses.

Golden crocuses, on 24 February 2019

Botanical garden flowers, birds, butterfly


Snowdrops, 23 February 2019

This 23 February 2019 photo shows snowdrops in the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands.

On that day, we heard great spotted woodpecker, greenfinch, great tit and rose-ringed parakeet sounds there.

On the roof of the garden’s eighteenth century orangery, a herring gull. Growing up its wall, a Maule’s quince plant. Famous naturalist Von Siebold brought this plant, the oldest Maule’s quince in the Netherlands, from Japan in the nineteenth century.

Under the Gingko biloba tree, flowers of snowdrops and crocuses. And of giant butterbur: also a plant first brought here by Von Siebold.

The axolotls are no longer in their terrarium in the hothouse. Given away, as caring for them was too complex.

The giant Australian stick insects are still in the other hothouse, but difficult to spot. The inhabitants are still present in the two hothouse aquariums, one for small fish, the other one for bigger fish; but the signs naming the species are gone. As the species sometimes change, probably the new signs are not ready yet.

Yellow crocuses, 23 February 2019

Not far from the hothouses, these yellow crocuses; attracting honeybees.

Edgeworthia tomentosa, 23 February 2019

And these orangeish-yellow Edgeworthia tomentosa flowers; with a palm tree in the background.

Scores of jackdaws fly overhead, calling.

Purple crocus flowers, 23 February 2019

On the hill near the source of the stream, these purple crocuses, besides many winter aconite flowers.

Siberian squill, 23 February 2019

And these Siberian squill flowers.

In the canal, a swimming moorhen.

On a branch next to the canal, a female chaffinch.

In the pond, a juvenile grey heron tries to catch fish. Someone saw the first pondskater of the Netherlands in 2019 this week, but I don’t see any in the stream here yet.

Blue morpho, 23 February 2019

Finally, to the Victoria amazonica hothouse; where we saw this blue morpho butterfly from its non-blue side.

Stay tuned, as on 24 February, we went back to the botanical garden!

Wildlife crime against plants, video


This 20 Febuary 2019 video from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden in the Netherlands says about itself:

Wildlife crime fighters, episode 4: Pills

Wildlife crime fighter Barbara Gravendeel studies traditional medicines! At Naturalis Science we help out Schiphol Airport, to monitor what medicines are made of. Spoiler: endangered plants and animals. Learn more in the fourth and last episode of our series regarding wildlife crime.

Flowers and insects in Canada, video


This 2018 video says about itself:

One hour video footage compilation in 4K Ultra High Definition of closeups and macro shots of flowers, bugs and insects present in mixed and deciduous forests of Eastern North America in the summer.

Exact filming locations are in Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec during the months of April through September.

New aloe species discovery in Somaliland


This 14 February 2019 video is called Aloe sanginalis, a new red Aloe from Somaliland.

From ScienceDaily:

Aloe sanguinalis, a new red Aloe from Somaliland

February 14, 2019

Aloe sanguinalis, or Somali Red Aloe, forms large, conspicuous clumps and has blood red sap. Its can easily be spotted from the road, but the species has only just been named and described in the open access journal PhytoKeys.

It remains a mystery how this beautiful and showy aloe species has remained undescribed by science for so long, but one of the theory is that the plant was ‘hiding in plain sight”‘ in an area not usually known for its hight biological diversity.

The locals in the area have long known that the plants were different from other kinds of “Dacar”, (the Somali name for Aloes) in the region and were referring to them as “Dacar cas” or “Red aloe.”

Similarly, the scientific name for the new species — Aloe sanguinalis — is based on one of its most distinct characters, its bright red color, coming from the peculiar blood-red sap the plant produces. The leaves also become reddish as they mature.

The story of the formal recognition of “Dacar cas” or Aloe sanguinalis, however, began when Ahmed Awale, a leading Somaliland environmentalist, spotted the large, reddish clumps plants, while driving through the country on behalf of Candlelight, an NGO focused on the environment, education, and health.

Later on, when the plant came to the attention of Mary Barkworth, a botanist interested in building botanical capacity in Somaliland. After listening to Ahmed, the two of them began looking formally into the possibility that “Dacar cas” was, indeed, an undescribed species. They were soon convinced it was. After the initial excitement, the next step required demonstrating that “Dacar Cas” differs from all the other 600+ known species of Aloe. That step took longer, but finally it has been done.

“This news comes from a region which had experienced periods of conflict and instability, climate change effects and accelerated environmental degradation, whereby much of the people’s attention has been focused on promoting livelihoods and resilience. With this positive piece of information we hope that we inspire scientists to further explore the area,” explains Dr Barkworth.

The new species is currently known from only two locations, but it is hoped that naming and sharing pictures of it online will encourage discovery and documentation of additional locations.