Stop Antwerp, Belgium harbour militarisation

This December 2019 video in German says about itself, translated:

The United States troops with their war equipment and military units from other NATO countries are to be transported between April and May by air, water and the chronically overloaded road and rail systems in the Federal Republic of Germany. In its answer, the government lists the affected airports, seaports and inland ports and also lists the planned axes for the transfer of soldiers across the road, which lead to Poland in the north via Frankfurt (Oder) and Görlitz.

The relocation of thousands of soldiers and heavy military equipment by the Federal Republic demonstrably goes hand in hand with an enormous additional emission of CO2 and other environmental pollution. In times of increased environmental awareness, officially declared fight against CO2 emissions and “climate emergencies“, RT German editor Florian Warweg wanted to know at the federal press conference how the Federal Environment and Defense ministries evaluate the ecological footprint of the major Defender 2020 manoeuvre in Germany.

Translated from Veronique Couteur of the peace movement in Belgium today:

Defender2020: No Belgian participation in the NATO war games

This weekend a US ship calls at the port of Antwerp to unload a first load of material for the largest NATO war game of the last 25 years Defender2020. We do not wish them a warm welcome. Are you coming to the port this Saturday? Give a call to or via 0473/287673. #stopnato

Students’ pro-climate strike in Antwerp, Belgium

This 21 February 2019 video shows young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaking at the Brussels, Belgium march of striking students.

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard today:

Pro-climate truants gather in Antwerp

In Antwerp, a climate march by striking young people takes place for the fifth time.

The climate march will, just like the previous Antwerp editions, depart at the Operaplein square at 9 o’clock, and then go through the city center to the Groenplaats square. The Antwerp versions of the climate actions so far attracted ‘only’ a few hundred participants; this time a larger number is expected.

For the first time it is not a purely local initiative, but the main initiative of Youth for Climate with inspirer Anuna De Wever and also the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. …

Also the grandparents who stand up for the climate are back again. ‘Every time we as grandparents stand with them and encourage them’, says Elka Joris. “Hold on. That is our message. It is needed.” …

Next week, the climate march will probably take place in Louvain-la-Neuve.

This tweet is about student’s pro-climate strikes in the Netherlands today.

Achieving the Paris Agreement global warming target could protect millions of tonnes in annual worldwide fisheries catch, as well as billions of dollars of annual revenues for fishers, workers’ income and household seafood expenditures, according to new research from the University of British Columbia: here.

Climate change is leading to unpredictable ecosystem disruption for migratory birds: here.

Birds of prey shows banned in Antwerp, Belgium

This video is called National Geographic Wild Birds of Prey (Raptors, Hawks, Falcons) Documentary.

On 19 May 2017, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio reported that Antwerp city in Belgium has banned shows with birds of prey and owls.

BirdLife in Flanders had campaigned for years against these shows. They agree with the ban, and say it should be extended to banning having owls or birds in prey in captivity. Having these birds in captivity is already illegal in some European countries, like Estonia, Sweden and Cyprus. Trade in owls and birds of prey is often connected to crime like stealing eggs or nestlings.

Painter Jan Brueghel and birds

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Allegory of Air, 1621

This painting is Jan Brueghel the Elder, Allegory of Air, 1621 version.

Translated from Leiden University weekly Mare in the Netherlands, 16 June 2016:

Escaped from Noach’s ark

How depicting animals came into its own

In the sixteenth century in the Southern Netherlands, a number of new art genres developed, including depicting animals. PhD Marrigje Rikken investigated this development.

1550. Antwerp – then still part of the Netherlands – one of the most important centers of Europe. For trade, but also for arts. The city had since 1531 the first art fair in Europe, and rich traders bought art for collections.

In the preceding Middle Ages, the church had been the largest client for artists. “From these Bible stories developed in the Southern Netherlands of the sixteenth century new artistic genres,” says art historian Marrigje Rikken. “Landscapes, still lifes and depictions of animals. My PhD research focuses on the latter genre. Struggling to free itself from biblical paintings of Noah’s Ark, or the Garden of Eden. That religious motive moves increasingly into the background. Later it is no longer necessary, because the genre is established. Buyers do not necessarily want an ark, they just want an attractive painting with lots of animals on it.”

But that brings up a problem: how do animals look like? Painting an elephant is difficult if you have only heard descriptions. Fortunately, in the same period also the first animal encyclopedias were published. Those were real status symbols, luxury goods, not always accessible to artists. Nevertheless, they knew the natural history works. They take motifs from these books: giraffes look like a cross between a camel and a leopard and are always in the same position. How could they do that?

By finding out whom the artists contacted, Rikken discovered a pivotal role in the network for mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. He corresponded with both the artists and the natural historians, and was a kind of bridge between the two. “Cartographer Ortelius was also a merchant and collector of prints. He seems to have actively encouraged artists to make drawings of animals: a lot of them only depicted animals after they had come in contact with Ortelius.

Another key figure did not live in the Southern Netherlands but in Prague: Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg. Rudolph was not really successful as a ruler, but was a great patron of the arts and sciences. His court was full of the big names of the time: astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler came, the Dutch inventor Cornelis Drebbel, and a huge list of artists. Among them were a number of animal painters of the Southern Netherlands, who took full advantage of Rudolf’s natural history collection.

Starting in 1630, the depiction of animals as a genre was quite mature, Rikken explains: “The important developments that at first quickly succeeded each other, then stopped.”

The bird collection

“There are three versions of the painting Allegory of the Air. The version at the top of this post is the last one in which everything worked. Brueghel added more birds in each new version, as more species were discovered. The Senegal parrot (right, with the yellow patch on the chest, ed.), and the yellow-crested cockatoo were at the time new birds for Europeans. The penguins do weird with their wings, though.

Below left you see two birds of paradise. According to the myth these birds did not land, but always remained in the air. They, according to that story, had no legs, and the female laid her eggs in a cavity in the back of the male. Brueghel prominently pictured them here with legs and visible eggs, to debunk the myth. Had he seen a bird of paradise? The collection of Emperor Rudolf II had one, which explicitly states that it had legs. Other Prague artists, however, depicted them without legs, so it remains mysterious.”

There will be more on ancient depictions of animals, so stay tuned!

Birds depicted in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum: here.

Grey wagtail video

This is a video about a grey wagtail.

Niels Schild, fifteen years old, made this video in Wilrijk, Antwerp province, Belgium.

New grasshopper species discovery in Antwerp harbour

This is a video about the newly discovered grasshopper species.

Sphingonotus caerulans in Antwerp, photo Ruben Foquet

Translated from Natuurpunt Studie in Belgium:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“Who will discover the first Sphingonotus caerulans grasshopper in Flanders?”, the locust study group Saltabel asked itself. Of this species, only a few sites are known in Belgium, all in Wallonia. In August 2012, the Sphingonotus caerulans grasshopper was discovered and documented for the first time in Flanders. This unique find in the Antwerp port invites further investigation.

Sphingonotus caerulans for years now has been expanding to the north, possibly partly due to climate change. The natural habitat of this grasshopper consists of dry, rocky terrain, similar to railway embankments. In the Benelux countries it is almost exclusively found along railways. …

UPDATE: On September 9, 2012, a month after the discovery of the Sphingonotus caerulans grasshopper in the port of Antwerp, the second Flemish population was discovered in the Ghent port. There at least 5 specimens were found in a railway embankment.

Two grasshopper species have been examined to see if they modify their fleeing strategies when repeatedly approached by a predator: here.

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First birth of arrow poison frogs in Antwerp zoo

Epipedobates hahneliTranslated from Het Laatste Nieuws daily in Belgium:

In Antwerp zoo, for the first time an Epipedobates hahneli or Brilliant Thighed Poison Frog has bred in captivity.

According to Antwerpen zoo, this is important, as the frog is a threatened species. …

The frogs are from Peru and are on the CITES threatened species list.

They are in the zoo since September 2006 and have unique aspects. “Like, they are only as big as my little finger’s fingernail”.

Flemish painter Catharina van Hemessen

Catharina van Hemessen, self-portrait

Like many women painters of the sixteenth century, Catharina van Hemessen was the daughter of a painter, Jan van Hemessen.

She was born in Antwerp, in her time an important center of both commerce and art, including Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

A century later, as the armed forces of the Dutch republic emerging from Spanish rule had cut off Antwerp from the sea, the city had lost most of its economic importance, though art still flourished with Brueghel’s sons and Rubens.

As with other daughters (and sons) of sixteenth century painters, we are not sure what Catharina painted exactly, as she colloborated anonymously on her father’s work.

Only ten paintings signed by her are known.

Not one of them is from after 1556, when she returned from a stay at the Spanish court, where she worked like her Italian colleague Sofonisba Anguissola.

Wikipedia writes:

Van Hemessen is often given the distinction of creating the first self-portrait of an artist, of either gender, depicted seated at an easel.

This portrait, created in 1548, which shows the artist in the early stages of painting a portrait, now hangs at the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung in Basel.

The self-portrait has a monochrome (dark) background.

In this, Catharina van Hemessen was “traditional’, as other artists then started painting more complex backgrounds.

Matthias Grünewald: here.