Cuban flowers and birds, bye bye!


This 2014 video is called Landing on Varadero Airport, Cuba with beautiful views on Varadero.

On 16 March 2017, the day after 15 March in Havana, our plane did not land at, but left Varadero airport in Cuba.

Before we went to the airport, early in the morning house sparrow sound.

We stopped at the lake we still knew from our first day in Cuba.

Brown pelicans. Ring-necked ducks.

A great egret on the opposite bank. A night heron a bit further on that bank.

An American coot, and two shoveler ducks swimming.

A common gallinule, and a ruddy duck as well.

A Neotropic cormorant.

A palm warbler in a bush.

We continued our journey. 11:39: cattle egrets in a meadow in Matanzas province.

Turkey vultures.

When we arrive at Varadero airport, we hear about delay, like the day we arrived at Varadero. Then, the plane made an unexpected detour because a passenger had heart problems. Now, we hear that the plane has not arrived at the airport yet, so is not flying yet. Outside the airport terminal, three cattle egrets do fly. And three northern mockingbirds sing.

Flowers, on 16 March 2017

And beautiful Cuban flowers are still there.

Flowers, on 16 March 2017

We won’t forget Cuba and its wildlife!

Cuba, Havana flowers and street photographs


Flowers, 15 March 2017

This photo shows beautiful flowers on a tree on the hill in Casablanca, a suburb of the Cuban capital Havana; where we were on 15 March 2017. As I wrote, after Casablanca we went to the old city center.

This video says about itself:

La Habana Vieja is the proper name for the central neighborhood Old Havana in Havana, Cuba. If you visit Havana for the first time, this is where need to go. If you’ve visited before, you probably still want to return – even if only to sip a cold beer in the shade and watch the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Everything was filmed in April 2016.

Major sights in this video:

Castillo del Morro Castle and Lighthouse (seen from our balcony)

La Cabaña Fortress (seen from La Habana Vieja)

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

El Templete

Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis on Plaza de San Francisco

Catedral de San Cristobal

Plaza Vieja (including Factoria Plaza Vieja, Cervezas y Maltas)

Hotel Ambos Mundos (Hemingway Hotel) on Calle Obispo

Plaza de Armas (where I got the Obama poster for my birthday)

La Floridita (where Hemingway and us had delicious daiquiris)

La Bodeguita del Medio (where Hemingway hung out, but we didn’t)

Parque Central

Payret Cinema and Capitolio

Prado (Paseo de Marti) street

Museo de la Revolucion

Memorial Granma

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana

The song in the video is “El Pescador” by Bruno Bassi of Los Hermanos – from the royalty-free music website http://GoSoundtrack.com. Their collection is available via a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Havana sign, 15 March 2017

This photo from the city center shows a sign, celebrating Havana’s 497th birthday. Still three years until the big 500 years celebration.

Havana car and bike taxi, 15 March 2017

In old Havana, there are several means of transport.

Havana cars, 15 March 2017

From these vintage cars …

Havana cars, on 15 March 2017

Havana bike taxi, 15 March 2017

to these bike taxis…

Havana empty bike taxi, 15 March 2017

Havana bike taxi, on 15 March 2017

Havana boats, 15 March 2017

to these boats.

This video says about itself:

26 August 2014

In this film you will get an impression of what there is to see in the Calle Obispo.

It`s the number one shopping street of Havana Vieja. This is the place where girls are shopping and meet their friends. You can buy a lot of things here, eat something or go to the hairdresser. … The street has dilapidated buildings but also well maintained and beautifully decorated houses.

Havana clothes, 15 March 2017

Clothes hang out to dry from various windows in old Havana.

Havana clothes, on 15 March 2017

Havana drainpipes, 15 March 2017

People are at work putting new drainpipes underground.

Havana children, 15 March 2017

While the pipes are still above ground, Havana children use them in play.

Havana children, on 15 March 2017

Dinosaurs extinct, buckthorn flowers survived


Two fossilized flowers next to each were discovered in shales of the Salamanca Formation in Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina. Credit: Nathan Jud, Cornell University

From Cornell University in the USA:

Oldest buckthorn fossilized flowers found in Argentina

May 11, 2017

Summary: Around 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, a giant asteroid crashed into the present-day Gulf of Mexico, leading to the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. How plants were affected is less understood, but fossil records show that ferns were the first plants to recover many thousands of years afterward. Now, a team reports the discovery of the first fossilized flowers from South America, and perhaps the entire Southern Hemisphere, following the extinction event.

Around 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, a giant asteroid crashed into the present-day Gulf of Mexico, leading to the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. How plants were affected is less understood, but fossil records show that ferns were the first plants to recover many thousands of years afterward.

Now, a team including Cornell researchers reports the discovery of the first fossilized flowers from South America, and perhaps the entire Southern Hemisphere, following the extinction event. The fossils date back to the early Paleocene epoch, less than one million years after the asteroid struck. They were discovered in shales of the Salamanca Formation in Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

The researchers identified the fossilized flowers as belonging to the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae). Today, the family is found worldwide.

The study was published May 10 in the online journal PLOS One. “The fossilized flowers provide a new window into the earliest Paleocene communities in South America, and they are giving us the opportunity to compare the response to the extinction event on different continents,” said Nathan Jud, the paper’s first author and a postdoctoral researcher in Maria Gandolfo’s lab, a senior research associate at the L.H. Bailey Hortorium and a co-author of the paper.

The finding also helps resolve an ongoing debate in the field of paleobotany on the origin of the Rhamnaceae plant family. Scientists have argued about whether early buckthorns originated in an ancient supercontinent called Gondwana, which later split and includes most of the Southern Hemisphere landmasses today; or whether the family originated in another supercontinent called Laurasia that accounts for most of today’s Northern Hemisphere landmasses.

“This, and a handful of other recently-discovered fossils from the Southern Hemisphere, supports a Gondwanan origin for Rhamnaceae in spite of the relative scarcity of fossils in the Southern Hemisphere relative to the Northern Hemisphere,” Jud said.

Fossils found in Colombia and Southern Mexico offer evidence that plants from the Rhamnaceae family first appeared in the Late Cretaceous epoch shortly before the extinction event, Jud said.

Though there was likely some extinction when the asteroid struck, especially near the crater where everything was destroyed by impact-generated wildfires, he added.

One scenario is that Rhamnaceae first appeared in the tropics of Gondwana, but survived the extinction in Patagonia, and then spread from there after the extinction event as plants re-colonized the most affected areas, Jud said.

The Salamanca Formation is among the most precisely-dated sites from that era in the world. The age of the fossils was corroborated by radiometric dating (using radioactive isotopes), the global paleomagnetic sequence (signatures of reversals of Earth’s magnetic field found in the samples), and fossil correlations (age of other fossils).

“These are the only flowers of Danian age [an age that accounts for about 5 million years following the extinction event] for which we have good age control,” said Jud. Researchers have discovered other fossilized flowers in India and China from around the Danian age, but their dates are not as precise, he said.

To determine that the fossilized flowers from Argentina belonged to the Rhamnaceae family, the authors noticed that the organization of the petals and stamens in the fossil is found in Rhamnaceae and a few other families. They found examples of 10 of the 11 living Rhamnaceae tribes in the L.H. Bailey Hortorium Herbarium at Cornell University, which then were compared with morphological features in the fossil flowers to identify them.

Wild flowers in spring, video


This 26 April video shows wild flowers in spring.

Roel Diepstraten in the Netherlands made this video.

Moss ‘flowers’ and Egyptian geese in love


Moss, 2 May 2017

This photo from the small lakes north of the Wooldse veen nature reserve shows moss plants. Some people would call this ‘flowering’ moss. However, mosses are ‘primitive’ plants, which have no seeds or flowers, but spores.

The photo is from 2 May 2017; two days after 30 April 2017 in Winterswijk.

Earlier that day, we had heard a chiffchaff, a blackbird, a song thrush and a pheasant.

Near the farm, the tulips still flowering.

A buzzard flies.

In the Buskersbos, ragged-robin flowers.

A large earth bumblebee on a white nettle flower.

Great spotted woodpecker and green woodpecker sounds.

A whitethroat sings near the Oude Borkense baan bridge.

In the afternoon, we went to the Wooldse veen.

Willow warbler, chiffchaff, cuckoo sounds.

On the boardwalk, a big spider: a raft spider.

A tree pipit flying and singing.

A male stonechat on a shrub.

Two goldfinches in a tree.

As we go back, we arrive at the two small lakes.

Moss, on 2 May 2017

In the northern lake, a female tufted duck.

At the southern lake: a grey heron. Barn swallows flying.

Egyptian geese, 2 May 2017

The two Egyptian geese come back; still much in love with each other.

Two starlings bathing.

Willow warbler, cottongrass, amorous Egyptian geese of Winterswijk moorland


Cottongrass, Wooldse veen, on 29 April 2017

This photo shows cottongrass in Wooldse veen nature reserve, south of Winterswijk, near the Dutch-German border. We went there on 29 April 2017; the day after 28 April.

Wooldse veen, 29 April 2017

A willow warbler sings. So does a chaffinch.

Wooldse veen, on 29 April 2017

Green woodpecker sound.

Cottongrass, on 29 April 2017

A singing whitethroat.

Wooldse veen, dead tree, 29 April 2017

A cuckoo calls.

A blackbird sings.

Cottongrass, 29 April 2017

A moth lands on cottongrass.

We arrive at the German border.

German sign, 29 April 2017

A German signs warns this is hazardous moorland; only accessible outside the birds’ breeding season.

German and Dutch sign, 29 April 2017

There is a lookout tower, with a bilingual Dutch and German sign.

Boardwalk, 29 April 2017

We continued on the boardwalk.

Boardwalk cottongrass, 29 April 2017

And saw more cottongrass.

And more young willow and birch trees.

Willow trees, 29 April 2017

After leaving the Wooldse veen, we go north.

East of the Harkel Wassinkweg road are two small lakes.

Lakes, 29 April 2017

On a bank, an Egyptian geese couple, very much in love.

Also, two northern lapwings. Mallards.

On another bank, a little ringed plover.

A little grebe swims.

A brimstone butterfly flies.

Birds, butterfly and plants of peatland


Korenburgerveen, 26 April 2017

This photo from 26 April 2017, the day after 25 April, is from the Korenburgerveen, a peatland nature reserve near Winterswijk.

As we traveled to the Korenburgerveen, near the Borkense baan flew a male bullfinch.

Near the old Berenschot water mill and its fish corridor, a grey wagtail near the bank.

A hare crossing the bicycle track.

At the Korenburgerveen, a green woodpecker calls.

Near the Rommelpot restaurant, a buzzard calls.

We follow the trail in the Meddose Veen, the northern part of the Korenburgerveen.

A willow warbler, and a blackbird, singing.

Meddose Veen, 26 April 2017

We arrive at a lake. This photo shows common cottongrass on its bank.

A relative, tussock cottongrass, grows in the Meddose Veen as well.

Meddose Veen trail, 26 April 2017

Great spotted woodpecker sound.

The trail was sometimes dry …

Cottongrass, 26 April 2017

… sometimes muddy, eg, if water-loving cottongrass grew near it.

Cottongrass, on 26 April 2017

Cottongrass, Meddose Veen, on 26 April 2017

A male orange tip butterfly sits down near the trail.

Orange tip butterfly, 26 April 2017

As we walk back, a great egret and a grey heron at a wetland. And greenshanks.