It has been quite some time since I last displayed my pictures at a photo exhibition and I wasn´t planning on doing that any time soon. However, one of my (photography) friends, Bart van Engeldorp Gastelaars convinced me otherwise. Together we will be jointly exhibiting at the Leiden University College (The Hague). It will show a collection of photo´s of biodiversity that one can find close to The Hague. Today´s (October 16) blogpost show the shots and accompanying subject esplanation displayed at the exhibition. Hope to see you there!
The black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), known in North America as the eared grebe, is a member of the grebe family of water birds. It occurs on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. This species breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe, Asia, Africa, northern South America and the southwest and western United States. Since, The Netherlands has invested a lot of time and finances in increasing water quality of water bodies, such as freshwater lakes, Black-necked Grebe populations started to increase from the 1970´s onwards. The black-necked grebe is essentially flightless for most of the year (9 to 10 months), and is one of the most inefficient fliers among avifauna. Generally, it avoids flying at all costs and reserves long-distance flight exclusively for migration. However, when migrating, it will travel as much as 6,000 km (3,700 mi) to reach prosperous areas that are exploited by few other species. Like its cousin the great-crested grebe is well known for tis courtship behaviour. This shot caught these two grebes right in the middle of their dance. To me it displays the intemacy of their courtship behaviour really nicely.
This picture shows a backlit flower, or is it a common tern diving for a fish? The common tern (Sterna hirundo) is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. Like most terns, this species feeds by plunge-diving for fish, either in the sea or in freshwater, but molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrate prey may form a significant part of the diet in some other areas. The common tern has a circumpolar distribution, breeding in temperate and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. It is strongly migratory, wintering in coastal tropical and subtropical regions. Breeding in a wider range of habitats, the common tern nests on any flat, poorly vegetated surface close to water, including beaches and islands, and it readily adapts to artificial substrates such as floating rafts. In The Netherlands the common tern is a breeding bird of man made landscapes such as Agricultural grasslands and flat rooftops of buildings as well. The nest may be a bare scrape in sand or gravel, but it is often lined or edged with whatever debris is available. Up to three eggs may be laid, their dull colours and blotchy patterns providing camouflage on the open beach. Incubation is by both sexes, and the eggs hatch in around 21–22 days, longer if the colony is disturbed by predators. Eggs and young are vulnerable to […]
The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known as the European starling, or in the British Isles just the starling, is a medium-sized passerine bird in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts, with an unmusical but varied song. Its gift for mimicry has been noted in literature including William Shakespeare. This species is omnivorous, taking a wide range of invertabrates, as well as seeds and fruit. It is hunted by various mammals and birds of prey, and is host to a range of external and internal parasites. Large flocks typical of this species can be beneficial to agriculture by controlling invertebrate pests; however, starlings can also be pests themselves when they feed on fruit and sprouting crops. Common starlings may also be a nuisance through the noise and mess caused by their large urban roosts. Introduced populations in particular have been subjected to a range of controls, includiing culling, but these have had limited success except in preventing the colonisation of Western […]
The great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) is a member of the grebe family of water birds noted for its elaborate mating display of which the ‘weed dance’ is the spectacular finish. The great crested grebe (GCG) breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes. It winters on freshwater lakes and resevoirs or the coast. GCG’s feed mainly on fish, but also small crustaceans, insects and small frogs. Like all grebes, it nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set relatively far back and it is thus unable to walk very well. During territory establishment GCG’s tend to get very aggressive. During this time GCG’s are mostly busy fighting, fencing off intruders to their territory, displaying their impressive manes and copulating. The fights can get pretty bloody with sometimes death as a result. Due to their particular leg position they are able to jump out of the water which they do in an attempt to get the upper hand and take out their opponent. Such a moment was captured in this picture. After the territory fights are over usually two to four eggs are laid, and the fluffy, striped young grebes are often carried on the adult’s back after hatching […]
One of the most common spiders of The Netherlands is commonly called the European garden spider, diadem spider, cross spider, or crowned orb weaver (Araneus diadematus). It is an orb-weaver spider found in Europe and North America. In The Netherlands we call it crossspider for the cross like markings on its body segment. The legs of orb-weaver spiders are specialized for spinning orb webs. The webs are built by the larger females who hang head down in the center of the web or remain hidden in nearby foliage, with one claw hooked to a signal line connected to the main orb waiting for a disturbance to signal the arrival of prey. Prey is then quickly bitten and wrapped in silk before being stored for later consumption. The initial bite serves to paralyze the prey and minimize the danger of the spider herself being stung or bitten, and the enzymes thus injected serve to begin liquefaction of the prey’s internal structures. It is a reclusive creature and only bites humans if cornered or otherwise provoked. The bite is not unlike a mild bee sting. Some orb-web spiders routinely recycle the metabolically costly silk by disassembling and eating their webs in the morning or evening, depending on the species’ diurnal or nocturnal […]
Have you ever walked over the beach during winter and feeling your mind played tricks on you? You thought that you saw a white speck moving back and forth in the surf but at the same moment it was gone. Chances are pretty high that you saw a sanderling. The sanderling (Calidris alba) is a small wader bird. It is a circumpolar Arctic breeder, and is a long-distance migrant wintering south to South America, Southern Europe, Africa, and Australia. It is highly gregarious in winter, sometimes forming large flocks on coastal mudflats or sandy beaches. Sanderlings feed on invertebrate prey buried in the sand in the upper intertidal zone. When the tide is out, these crustaceans live in burrows some way beneath the surface. When the tide comes in, they move into the upper layers of sand and feed on the plankton and detritus that washes over them with each wave. They then burrow rapidly down again as the water retreats. They leave no marks on the surface, so the sanderlings hunt for them by plunging their beaks into the sand at random, consuming whatever they find. SInce they have to consume a lot of prey items to fill their bellies they move at incredible speed. Sometimes it seems like they are almost floating above ground because […]
The Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is one of the most colourful birds of Europe. The Kingfisher is actually a really appropriate name for this little blue extremely efficiënt fishing machine, unlike the name the Ducht have given it. Loosely translated it is called ´Ice bird´ in The Netherlands. However, if there is one thing these birds hate, it is ice. Kingfishers need open water to attain their food and they don´t migrate during winter. This is probably why you see the kingfisher most often during winter when it seeks out the warmer canals and streams which don´t freeze over. Apparently, this is why people in The Netherlands have started to call the kingfisher ´icebird´, because whenever ice was around they would bump into it every now and then. Another name for it is ´electric blue flash or blue lighting´ which refers to the streak of highly cyan feathers which gives of an electric blue when it flies over the water rapidly in search of a new fishing spot.
The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a highly oppertunistic and generalist species with great adaptability, which is displayed by its food pallet. It prefers small rodents and bird eggs, but it may also target rabbits, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates and young ungulates. Fruit and vegetable matter is also eaten sometimes. If it can not see or smell its food item it detects its food item through sound. Right before the moment that I took this shot it seemed that this red fox was just sitting in the snow, howerver looking more closely it became clear that it was listening. It started creeping around very slowly and suddenly it jumped up and threw itself facedown in the powdery snow. It ran off with a Mouse in its beak. This hunting technique is called pouncing and is an excellent example of how adaptable this species is. After fox hunting got largely banned in The Netherlands and its surrounding countries the Red Fox started spreading throughout The Netherlands. Currently, it can be found basically everywhere, from the dunes to forests and even in cities. The urban fox has become quite a problem for some people. Disrupting rubbish bins, stealing chickens and wrecking gardens, the urban […]