Barnacle geese and Caspian terns

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese, 7 September 2018

7 September 2018. On our way to Lauwersmeer national park in the Netherlands. This photo shows part of it, with barnacle geese flying.

Before we arrived in the Lauwersmeer, we saw grey herons in North Holland province. Along the Afsluitdijk causeway, great cormorants sitting on poles. Black-headed gulls. Herring gulls. Two great crested grebes swimming near the monument for the dike construction.

Flocks of scores of starlings.

Near Dokkum, in Friesland province, a buzzard on a meadow. A kestrel hovering. Lapwings.

We arrive at the Sylkajut hide, on the edge of the Lauwersmeer. Usually, one can see birds swimming there close to the hide. However, the dry hot 2018 summer means the water level is much lower than usual. So, water birds are rather far away. On the now dry land close to the hide, quite some white wagtails and meadow pipits.

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese, on 7 September 2018

We see many barnacle geese there. Sometimes standing in the water …

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese flying, on 7 September 2018

… sometimes flying. Also some grey lag geese.

At the water’s edge, Caspian terns on autumn migration. Visible with a telescope, too far for binoculars. Mute swans.

Lauwersmeer, 7 September 2018

We continued north, along the western border of the Lauwersmeer, to the Ezumakeeg-Noord – Kijkheuvel. It is a hill with a good view on birds in the wetlands around it.

Red-necked phalarope and shoveler, 7 September 2018

We saw, eg, this red-necked phalarope. With a northern shoveler duck feeding behind it.

Also gadwall ducks. And a little stint.

Many barn swallows flying. And some house martins.


White wagtail, 7 September 2018

And we saw this white wagtail.

Marsh harrier, 7 September 2018

A male marsh harrier flying.

Ringed plover. Common sandpiper.

A wood sandpiper close to a little ringed plover.

Konik horses, 7 September 2018

There were konik horses.

Cows, 7 September 2018

And cows, in the Lauwersmeer to prevent overgrowing of plants, making the area unattractive for some animals.

Lauwersmeer, on 7 September 2018

Six curlews on a meadow.

Finally, we arrived as far as north as possible: on the shore of the Wadden Sea.

Mudflats, 7 September 2018

Mudflats there.

Six eider ducks flying over the water.

Black-headed gull, 7 September 2018

And this black-headed gull flying.

Stay tuned, as there will be more photographs and stories from that area on this blog!


Botanical garden flowers, insects and birds

Water lily leaf with pondskater, 10 August 2018

Still 10 August 2018, in the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands. After the Chinese garden, we continued to the pond near the source of the stream: where we saw these green water lily leaves with a black pondskater near the upper water’s edge.

Like all photos in this blog post, this is a macro lens photo.

A great crested grebe swims in the canal.

Chrysanthemum, 10 August 2018

Near the old astronomical observatory, these Chrysanthemum flowers.

Bladder campion, 10 August 2018

Not far away, these bladder campion flowers.

Great spotted woodpecker male, 10 August 2018

On an old, nearly dead, tree, this sign explaining why it is not removed. The bird on the sign is a male great spotted woodpecker, a species living in the botanical garden.

Rough horsetails, 10 August 2018

Then, these rough horsetails. At 90 centimeter, they are now one of the taller horsetail species. During the Carboniferous, long before the age of dinosaurs, some horsetail relatives were 30 meter high.

Flowers, 10 August 2018

We continued to the systematic garden, to the many flowers near the bust of Linnaeus.

Butterfly on flower, 10 August 2018

One of these flowers attracted this white butterfly.

Wild pansies, 10 August 2018

Among the other flowers, these two wild pansies.

Lichens, 10 august 2018

We left the botanical garden, and saw these lichens on this wall.

Water lilies, 10 August 2018

Finally, these water lilies in the Doelengracht canal.

Flowers in Leiden botanical garden

Eryngium planum, 10 August 2018

This 10 August 2018 photo (made with a macro lens like all photos in this blog post) shows flat sea holly. Its scientific name is Eryngium planum.

Complete name: Eryngium planum L. The L. stands for Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of systematic biology. Linnaeus published that scientific name, which is still valid, in his 1753 book Species Plantarum.

However, Linnaeus must have known this species years before publishing its scientific name in Species Plantarum.

Eryngium planum, on 10 August 2018

Where did he first see it? Very probably, at about the same place were this flat sea holly was photographed. It is in the Clusius garden in the botanical garden of Leiden in the Netherlands. The Clusius garden is a reconstruction with the original traditional medicinal plant species at the original spot, where botanist Carolus Clusius founded the Leiden Hortus Botanicus in 1590. Then, the garden was still small. In Linnaeus’ eighteenth century, the garden had already expanded a bit, but Clusius’ medicinal plants were still present. Linnaeus visited the Hortus Botanicus regularly in 1735-1737, and there he probably got his first ideas for naming Eryngium planum and other species.

Yucca aloifolia

Already, before we were in the Clusius garden, near the Hortus entrance, we had seen another plant species originally named by Linnaeus in 1753: Yucca aloifolia, the aloe yucca. The photo does not show the plant itself, but its reflection in water.

Dasylirion glaucophyllum, 10 August 2018

Next to it along the water was another plant: Dasylirion glaucophyllum. That species was not named by Linnaeus; but by William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865), director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England. Like the aloe yucca photo, this photo does not show the plant itself, but its reflection in water with much duckweed.

We continued. Close to the eighteenth century orangery building this beautiful red flower.

Red flower, 10 August 2018

Lesser black-backed gulls flying overhead. A ring-necked parakeet calling.

Agapanthus, 10 August 2018

Next, these flowers, Agapanthus; meaning ‘love flower’ in Greek. Known in English as ‘lily of the Nile’, though they are not lilies, and are from South Africa where the river Nile does not flow.

Agapanthus, on 10 August 2018

Agapanthus likes hot weather; it got plenty of that in the 2018 summer in the Netherlands. It hates dry weather, also plentiful in the 2018 summer; however, the botanical garden people water it regularly.

A male blackbird not far from the Japanese garden part of the botanical garden.

Dahlia, 10 August 2018

Along the canal, many dahlias flowering.

Sacred lotus flower, 10 August 2018

We continued to the Chinese herbal garden part. Sacred lotus flowering in a small pond.

Sacred lotus bud, 10 August 2018

There were not just sacred lotus flowers, but buds as well.

Stay tuned, as there will be another blog post on the Leiden botanical garden!

Crested tit, damselfly, butterfly, flowers photos

Crested tit, July 2018

This early July 2018 photo shows a crested tit near Gorsselse Heide nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Water lily, July 2018

The Gorsselse Heide is a wet heathland area. Meaning flowers like these water lilies were there as well.

Water lily flower, July 2018

Shy emerald damselfly, July 2018

So was this shy emerald damselfly.

Flowering grass, July 2018

Many plants, like these flowering grasses.

Sundew, July 2018

And these sundew plants.

Sundew, in July 2018

Green-veined white, July 2018

Finally, this green-veined white butterfly.

Beautiful flowers and butterflies, photos

Rammelwaard, July 2018

The early July 2018 photos in this blog post are from the Rammelwaard nature reserve (shown on this photo) in the Veluwe region, near the IJssel river in the Netherlands.

Grass rush, Rammelwaard, July 2018

There were many beautiful flowers in the Rammelwaard. Like these grass rush flowers.

Grass rush, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

Chamomile fowers, Rammelwaard, July 2018

And like these chamomile flowers.

Chamomile fowers, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

Brimstone, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

These beautiful flowers attracted beautiful butterflies. Like this male brimstone on a purple lythrum flower.

Common blue male, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

And this male common blue butterfly, also on a purple lythrum flower.

Common blue butterflies mating, Rammelwaard, July 2018

These two blue butterflies were mating. Usually, it is difficult to photograph butterflies, as they move often and fast. However, these two stayed at the same spot for half an hour. Still, it was not easy to tell which species this male (left) and female (right) were: common blue or brown argus? Common blue, I think after all. The photo shows fluid passing between the bodies of these two butterflies.