Blackbird, song thrush, great tit, dunnock singing

This is a video about a song thrush‘s singing and nest, recorded in Kroměříž in the Czech republic.

Outside my window, early this morning, a blackbird sang again.

A bit later, a song thrush sang.

Still later came a great tit.

Finally, a dunnock‘s song.

What southern European spiders eat

This video says about itself:

Arachnid Anatomy (Orb-weaving spider)

23 November 2012

A new spin on the usual anatomy video: field biology! Basic external anatomy of an orb-weaving spider, using a live, wild specimen. This is a Cat-faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides), a common species found near/on buildings in North America. I’ve used this as a model although typically the Garden Spider (Argiope sp.) is used in zoology labs.

Also: I let a giant spider walk on my hand. Ha! But it’s OK, they don’t bite.

This video was produced by C. Ernst, a Teaching Assistant.

From Wildlife Extra:

Southern European Spiders prefer a Harvester meal (Harvester Ant, that is)

The southern European spider, Euryopis episinoides, has a distinct preference for Harvester ants, researchers have discovered, and identify them without the benefit of guidance from their parents.

The young spiderlings innately have a nose for these ants, report Stano Pekár and Manuel Cárdenas of the Masaryk University in the Czech Republic in an article in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature – Naturwissenschaften.

Euryopis episinoides is a tiny, 3mm long spider that only catches ants – in particular members of the Messor group of which there are more than 100 species.

The female conveniently lays her egg sacks close to such ant nests but this is about as much parental care as she gives to her offspring.

Once hatched, the spiderlings fend for themselves and this includes recognising and catching prey, all on their own.

The Czech researchers wanted to find out if the Euryopis episinoides spiderlings’ hunting activities were driven by convenience or truly by an innate preference for Harvester Ants.

They tested how newly hatched spiderlings that had not yet gone on the hunt reacted to the chemical cues left by three types of prey: Harvester Ants, fruit flies and Nylander Ants.

In just under half the instances, the inexperienced spiderlings assumed a hunting position in front of a paper strip carrying the smell of Harvester Ants – even though they had never before had the slightest whiff of this type of ant.

The researchers also tested the reaction of more experienced spiderlings that had been raised on only one type of prey: again either Harvester Ants, fruit flies or Nylander Ants.

They found that food imprinting changed the spiderlings’ innate food preference. This was because the spiderlings more often than not chose the type of prey on which they were raised rather than Harvester Ants.

In another twist, the spiders used in the experiment fared better healthwise when they ate ants rather than fruit flies.

“Our findings suggest that prey preference is genetically based but also affected by the experience with the first meal,” says Pekár. “Such an innate preference enables Euryopis episinoides spiderlings to rapidly gain information about prey and to successfully locate their preferred prey on their own.”

“Innate preference is beneficial as it increases efficiency in prey capture,” adds Cárdenas. “It is, however, important that spiderlings hatch near to a place of high ant occurrence, such as ant paths.”

More great egrets wintering

This is a video from the Czech republic about a great egret and grey herons.

According to warden Martijn van Schie, about 270 great egrets winter now in Nieuwkoopse Plassen nature reserve in the Netherlands.

That is more than ever.

Diet variability in the White Stork Ciconia ciconia in eastern Algeria

Originally posted on North African Birds:

Cheriak, L., Barbraud, C., Doumandji, S. & Bouguessa, S. 2014. Diet variability in the White Stork Ciconia ciconia in eastern Algeria. Ostrich 85: 201–204. doi:10.2989/00306525.2014.971451

PDF disponible maintenant sur African Journals online.


The diet of the White Stork Ciconia ciconia was studied at El Merdja, Algeria, from 1997 to 1999 and in 2007 by analysing 240 regurgitated pellets. A total of 12 234 prey types were identified and classified into six categories. Insects dominated during each month and year of the study. Three orders of insects were mainly consumed. Coleoptera species were the most frequently consumed prey during all months and years, followed by Dermaptera species, except in 1998 when Orthoptera were more frequent. The frequency of families of prey insects varied considerably depending on the year: Carabidae were dominant in 2007, Tenebrionidae in 1999 and Carcinophoridae in 1997.

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Belgian bat news

This is a particoloured bat video from the Czech republic.

Bat researchers in Belgium report (translated):

Friday, November 21, 2014

The particoloured bat is a maverick amomg our native bat species. With barely forty sightings in Belgium it remains a very rare visitor. But there seems to be improvement coming: for 2014, the counter says eight observations. This autumn, the species was already observed seven times, and that’s a record. However, we should not just assume there is improvement because recently people have started to observe slightly more than previously.

Bird news from England

This video from the Czech Republic says about itself:

Little crake trapping

These birds are caught for scientific purposes – bird banding.

From RSPB Minsmere in England on Twitter:

Little crake still present today but elusive. Great white egret and otter at Island Mere. 12+ stone-curlews on Westleton Heath.