Common gulls nesting at Texel museum


This is a common gull video.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands (with photos there):

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

At Ecomare, we have had for years a group of special visitors. Since 1999, common gulls nest, first on the roof and now on and around our patio. That’s pretty special, because common gull colonies are normally in remote dune areas. Especially for these birds last year we created special nesting sites so that they can still sit a bit quieter. For several weeks the gulls have been busy again starting to use the nesting sites around Ecomare. It is very nice for the staff and visitors to see these special guests again!

For some years, a common gull couple nested in an Ecomare planter.

Barn owls on Texel island


In this 2013 video, a male barn owl brings a shrew to his partner in a nest box on Texel island.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel in the Netherlands today:

In 2009, 1820 barn owl couples were counted in the Netherlands, of which two on Texel. Barn owls like to eat common voles. This vole species is not present on the island. But since 2006 there are greater white-toothed shrews and barn owls think they are tasty as well. In 2014 there were 16 breeding pairs on the island, and 53 young owls hatched. Now 70 nesting boxes hang scattered across the island.

Rare butterfly for first time on Texel island


This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

A very rare butterfly, a scarce tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas), was present in the dunes of Klein Valkenisse on March 27, 2015.

You can hear in the background several birds from the area, including chiffchaff, robin, dunnock, blue tit, long-tailed tit, goshawk and great spotted woodpecker.

Warden Erik van der Spek reports that last Saturday, for the first time ever a scarce tortoiseshell butterfly was seen on Texel island: in De Geul nature reserve. Last year, this species invaded the Netherlands for the first time, but had not been seen on Texel then.

Red knot research on desert island Griend


This video is about red knots (and other birds, like oystercatchers and black-headed gulls) foraging near Texel island in the Netherlands. Kees Kuip made this video.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel:

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

How is it that we know so much about knots, while they are only in the Netherlands outside the breeding season? This is due to the extensive research carried out, where the ringing, and then the tracking of the birds is an important part of. Texel people Laurens van Kooten and Kees Kuip recently helped on the uninhabited Wadden island Griend with this research by reading rings a week long. They did not chose the best week with regard to the weather, but still, they have done useful work.

Unicellular organism’s first discovery in the Netherlands


Miniacina miniacea, photo by Foto Fitis, Sytske Dijksen

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Bucket with mini gems on Texel beach

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

It looks like a red coralline little fan. But this phenomenon is a graceful foraminifer, a single-celled organism with a calcium carbonate skeleton. It’s called Miniacina miniacea. Photographer and Ecomare assistant Sytske Dijksen found it on the Hors on Texel, near beach post 7. It is the first time that Miniacina miniacea was found in the Netherlands. Sytske is often found on the beach, rain or shine. There’s lots to explore. This time it was the discovery of a blue bucket associated with a lobster basket.

Plant or animal?

It is sometimes difficult to tell whether a single-celled organism is a plant or an animal. Scientists often use the term animal when an organism has no chlorophyll. Single-celled animals are in the category zooplankton. Miniacina miniacea has no chlorophyll, so you could see it as an animal. With its ‘feet’ it gathers food. In the picture it may look a lot, but in reality Miniacina miniacea is only 1 to 2 millimeters.

Miniacina miniacea lives in the Mediterranean and near the Azores. Probably, a marine current brought the bucket, with foraminifers, from there to Texel.

Eocene fossil seashell discovery on Texel island


Venericor planicosta

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands, 19 February 2015:

Never before had a Venericor planicosta seashell been found across the whole Wadden Sea region. The shell lived in the Eocene epoch, 56 to 42 million years ago.

Subtropical

Last year, Ms. Kenselaar found it on the beach at Den Hoorn. The shell for a while remained in her cottage, but last week she took it to Ecomare. Curator Arthur Oosterbaan showed it to various experts, and they all said the same thing: Venericor planicosta. It lived in our region in the early and middle Eocene. That’s about 15 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Europe then was an archipelago with a subtropical climate.

In the Netherlands, until this discovery, this fossil species had really only been known from the south-west of the country.

A sanderling’s life


Sanderling G3BGGW on Texel, 31 December 2014 (photo Micheal Hermes)

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

The life of G3BGGW – 12 February 2015

No, not a character from Star Wars. G3BGGW is a sanderling which was ringed in Iceland in May 2013. He was found dead on February 1, 2015 on Texel. What makes this bird so special is that he was not only seen several times in the past two years, but he was even seen alive a day before his death. So, the day of his death is very accurately known, something bird researcher Jeroen Reneerkens has experienced only a few times. Such small birds are almost never found when they die, let alone so quickly.

What’s in a name?

Thanks to his rings this sanderling was recognizable. When he came in sight of the telescopes of various bird watchers, viewers have noted the series of rings and passed the information on to the ring station. The letters in his name are about the colours: G = green, B = blue, W = white; the numeral 3 indicates that one of the rings is a flag, in this case a green flag, this was on “position 3″: above the rings on the left leg. Bird rings are read from left to right and from top to bottom.

Winter beach guest

Sanderlings are found on Dutch beaches outside the breeding season, so from late July to late May. The largest numbers you see on beaches in the winter months. They breed in the far north. … Those little birds that fast run back and forth with the surf – that are sanderlings. It seems like they are trying to go as close as possible to the water without making their feet wet. But actually they are looking for worms that appear quickly from the sand when the seawater flows over them. In the water there is plankton on which the worms feed. The birds try to catch the worms.

Lifespan

In Iceland G3BGGW was ringed and weighed. He weighed 71 grams and had OK fat stores to fly even further towards Greenland to breed. In winter sanderlings slim to about 50-55 grams. Five months later, he was seen on Texel, north of beach post 12. Then he came back a year later on the island, on November 5, 2014 at beach post 9. Presumably he remained until his death in this environment. Two days before his death he was seen on the parking lot near the beach. That is very strange for such a beach bird. There it cannot find food. The birdwatcher thought that he did not look too healthy there. The next day the bird was seen again on the beach and the next day he lay dead along the road to this beach.

Research

Jeroen Reneerkens for years has been doing research into sanderlings. To do that, he has a large network of people in many countries who help with the rings and retrieval of this species. Except for Iceland also in Greenland, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Mauritania, Ghana and Namibia research teams are involved. There are 6,000 birds ringed and 61,000 observations noted. A chore, but it provides a lot of information on which the survival of sanderlings can be mapped accurately. Furthermore, the scientists discovered that while most sanderlings are worm eaters, they eat shellfish only in Ghana! They swallow them in their entirety and so have strong stomach muscles. The life of bird G3BGGW is not over. Jeroen will investigate this bird further. By viewing its organs and fat, he hopes to find out why the animal died: by disease, age, something else? Such a fresh dead bird is an unique opportunity!