Holland varia 2016

A season where many people are looking forward to is spring. And despite the low temperatures at the time of this writing, it is still undeniable that spring has arrived. Trees are getting green again, the first butterflies fly around for some time now and more and more species of birds return from their wintering grounds. The fact that you can walk outside without your winter jacket give our winter-haters hope. And that while in the Netherlands, we have a mild winter compared to many other countries in the world. I’ll wonder how this group would deal with winter as it would take four full months and with severe cold and a lot of snow?
But admittedly, spring releases us from an often less appreciated season. As if the world comes back to life. In fact it only is getting more visible again.
The selection of images mirrored below gives us feeling of a returning ”better time”; courting birds, lambs in the pasture and orchids showing their attractive flowers. The ‘scary, dirty’ caterpillars have yet to transform into the more beloved butterflies, but that also is a harbinger.
Personally, I hope that temperatures stay ”normal”. In late April I’am going for a short trip back to Poland and I hope to experience the awakening of ” life ” there in full glory. The weather obviously plays a big role, but also determines the extent to which the area is flooded with water. And that’s something I’ve not seen for a long time. It is precisely these circumstances that cause the Biebrza area are often crowded with birds. Should it not be so, there are many other subjects who I want to pay attention to. As always, I will have a great lack of time because new opportunities will show up all the time.
Witoogeend

Polen, Biebrzanski Park Naradowy 2016

Every year we let our now eight-year-old daughter, choose where we spend the summer holidays with the family. As a photographer, I can only adapt myself into this, but it should be clear that I have no problem if her choice falls on Poland. Despite the many times we have now visited the area, in terms of nature and ​​photography there is plentiful to keep myself busy.
Because of my stay there last spring, I knew that for the third consecutive year the park was experiencing a serious drought. Pity, because from one of the authors of the Crossbill guide on North Eastern Poland, I received information about a still unknown bog area for me. And despite that was dried up also, it was a wonderful place. An area which I will visit more often, especially considering that it is surrounded by beautiful Birch Forest. Scenically a small gem. However, the characteristic flora and fauna has been suffering from the lack of rain water. The big question is of course how much time is needed by the various butterflies and dragonflies to populate this area again.
The surprise this time was the large number of caterpillars which were to be found everywhere and in particular, the diversity. Often I find the same species, but this time I managed to add seventeen new species to my database. The weather conditions of the present period, it is expected to have a major influence. Incidentally, I owe some of the findings to the rest of the family. The reading glasses has become an indispensable tool for this activity. Various types are so well camouflaged that without this tool changes are very small to find them. A necessary evil so to speak. The local people sometimes do not know what to think of it, three people pointing their nose to the ground, wich at first glance, seemes like a otherwise meaningless field of weeds!
And then the temperature ….. which was in one word blissful. Last year it seemed more like a pressure cooker last, but now temperatures dis not rise above twenty degrees Celsius. Ideal weather to undertake some activities. A climb around a bunker complex from World War I was one of them. And the search for edible mushrooms is always a success. The latter, of course, under the expert guidance of our friend Jan. A rare visit to Warsaw made our holiday complete.
We are already looking forward to the surprises of the next Biebrza trip.
Ligusterpijlstaart

Poland, Biebrzanksi Park Narodowy 2016

It was quite some time since I had posted a news item. However, the holiday season is there again and the hard followers of this site are likely to explain the link of the title. The Biebrza National Park is finally a place which I visit almost every year. This year, even two visits. When we askes our daughter Merel where she wanted to go with the summerholiday, she was very firm with her answer, “Poland”.
This first visit, around mid-May, I made along with a colleague. His interest was piqued by my enthusiasm when I talked regularly about the area. I understand that he’d wants to go back again to the area.
Like in my own country, the Netherlands, Poland also faced a cold spring. The impact was particularly seen in the low numbers of butterflies, as well as the flora had yet to begin. Another striking phenomenon was that as usual, the area was completely flooded with water by the end of april, but in a few weeks time al that was gone. In particular, the numbers of waterfowl and marshbirds therefore were also very low. Again, I had not experienced this before in all these years. But when we arrived, it was over with the cold. And although I often complain about summer temperatures, for nature and photography in generality this obviously was welcome. We saw the area getting to life so to speak. The low water level reduced the numbers of amphibians and certain species of dragonflies clearly. The year 2015 also was particularly dry, but that is likely to again create opportunities for other species and areas.
Worryingly, however, is that Poland are also significant ” has gone loose ” with things like verge management. Unfortunately, this one hits on by and it does not stop a strip which, for example makes mile markers are more visible. Fortunately, there is already a national action group that denounces these practices, but if one can expected much of the current Conservative government is the question. The ” creation ”, ….. from my point of view still managed very nice, seems to be primarily a failure by many others and needs to be minimized. All things considered, a still strange position, and which would indicate the creator himself that this is the intention. Interpretation is a big word.
Fortunately, the Polish countryside is so sparsely populated that there are everywhere forgotten spots and therefore plenty of opportunities for all the beauty. And often I see coaches in the Biebrza National Park with schooling children who get a piece of information on the Polish natural pearls. There must be a good balance possible between prosperity, well-being and nature? Na Zdrowie, on everyone’s sanity !!!
Dalkruid

Caterpillars in 2015

I hope that regular visitors of this website have noticed, that I’ve been photographing caterpillars for a longer period now. The intention is to eventually build up a database of any significance. It is a subject that not many photographers are up to doing and where still is much to discover. Complete works are for example not available yet, but there are a few people imagined hard working on one. On the Internet, some forums are active and where many images are brought together. The Dutch Butterfly Conservation is one of them, but that image file is still far from complete.

The ease of this issue is that you won’t have to go far away from home. In each green strip of any scale you can find a number of instances throughout the year. And when on your own balcony, the vegetables overshoot, you’ll find to your amazement feeding lines one day. Figuring out what kind of caterpillars it concerns is another story, especially since many species are active only during the night. And especially in a young stage, many species of caterpillar are ” transparent ” green without any recognizable details. The appearance often changes drastically after the successive molts.
That the vegetable named Broccoli was very popular, shows that besides a dozen Cabbage Moth, also the Small White did found the plants. Pity was that despite some preparatory work, the larvae before pupation have sought refuge elsewhere. Time to build up a suitable incubator.

My activities in the ecological green also contribute to collect new species. And because colleagues are now aware of my ” strange hobby ”, it often happens that I’ve been called to take a look at a find. A little help is always welcome in such a difficult topic.

Klein koolwitje

Poland, Biebrzanski Park Narodowy 2015

In 2014, the destination of our summer vacation was the Aosta valley in Italy. By choosing this destination, we interrupted a long continuous series of visits to the Biebrza marshes in north-east Poland. However, when asking our daughter in the spring of 2015 where she wanted to spend her holiday, her response was very positive, I want to Ella and Janek in Poland. This couple are the hospitable owner of the guesthouse Carskit Trakt, located in the southern part of the Biebrza area. An excellent location where many of the specialities of this famous swamp can be find in a short distance. The agricultural areas in the neighborhood also offer plenty of nature and provide a great variety to find species of plants and animals.
But like many parts of Europe, Poland also had to contend in 2015 with a great lack of precipitation. This resulted in a historically low water level for me. Waterways and sedge marshes were dry and the inputs of many beaver lodges sticking out above the water. The number of dragonflies was markedly lower than usual and a species like the Large Copper butterfly was missing completely. A local friend and lover of nature told me that he had hardly seen also a butterfly species like Swallowtail. The quest for edible mushrooms also delivered though not much. And a very strong heat wave in the second week brought no improvement to it.
Partly because of the high temperatures, the days mainly consisted of looking up for shade or swimming in the river. Remarkably was the strong cooling in the early evenings. By having supper early, we had the opportunity to use these cooling and spend some time in the surrounding nature.
With the aforementioned friend, I’ve been on a one day excursion, including to the national park. This we had already planned in 2013, but by then it could not go on due to private circumstances. Because of the drought it was now possible to leave the trails. The result was that we soon were lost and we had to end up using the sun to determine our direction. On return we appeared on the road and came out just a kilometer south of our car. Actually, not even a very bad result considering the vastness of the area.
A change in the area which I’m less happy with is mowing the roadsides. Until recently beautifully overgrown and as a result plenty of butterflies and caterpillars that made use of them. Is this required by the EU’s morbidly overregulation , or a result of increased prosperity wherever it apparently belongs to ???
Perhaps I may make a request, ……… Poland, please keep your country as natural as possible. It’s one of the things that makes it so beautiful.

KINA 2015

Barrow – North Slope, Alaska, part2

Here the second series of images from the trip to Alaska, which I have previously made this year in June. Just three months ago, when the winter had just lifted her heels. And now winter is almost upon us with temperatures that are just above zero, the realization emerges from the particular circumstances of what the locals call their ‘home’ ‘. In the local museum, which depicts ancient culture, one can admire the resourcefulness that the Inuit have developed to survive with relatively simple toos in such a harsh climate. One may wonder what one pervading inspired to live there. In our present luxury living, who can imagine a live like that?.
In photography, there is much to experience, even though the time available is very short. The birds were the main purpose of the trip. The expectation in such an area is often that each species is tame, but do to hunting, waterfowl especially is quite shy. Here the necessary time should be inserted and often a lot of persistence brings in results. In particular, the advantage of circumstances, raises the chances. At a possible future trip to this destination, I will change a few things.
Because of the necessary internet work i managed to stick all names on the plants / flowers photographed. Often these specific subspecies found only in narrow Arctic strips. Adapted to the same harsh conditions.
At the time of our trip, the day and night rhythm was overturned. The light conditions during the evening and night are better and also it is quieter with other traffic and nature lovers. Because Barrow is located pretty far south, mid-day sunlight is not pretty. Characteristic of arctic area in the spring is the frequent occurrence of clouds and fog. Often this results in gloomy weather and where it often rains. A stay for extended periods in an environment like this would be the best, but that remains most likely a daydream. But there should be left something to be desired.
Koningseider

Barrow – North Slope, Alaska, part1

Barrow, the northernmost point of the United States. A destination that had long been on my wish list, and especially because of its location in the Arctic. With a winter that lasts eight months, it is one of the areas where the soil is permanently frozen, the so-called ”Permafrost zone”. Typical of an arctic environment is that winter is followed by a hectic spring in which there is no room for ” life ” to take a moment to relax. The plants and animals rush to populate the tundra and to ensure that this abundant time is maximized to provide for offspring. When temperatures are rising, the first green blades do prick through the snow. And for the birds it means hard work.. They must occupied a territory in a few days time, followed by courtship, nesting and mating. The hatching of the eggs begins immediately. The eggs, although slightly more resistant to low temperatures, must stay warm in order to avoid a failed clutch. Summer is too short to undertake a second breeding attempt, while there is always the danger of hungry predators like Arctic Fox and Skua’s.
The surrounding area of Barrow consists only of flat tundra and is mainly inhabited by the indigenous population, the Unuit. But the name ”Eskimo” is also used by themselves. Remarkably, as in other arctic areas this name is considered an insult, meaning ‘raw meat eaters.
The site Barrow has a population of 5,000 people, including many foreigners. Naturally, because this kind of settlements always attract people who want to train a different life. From the old culture, not many is noticable at first sight. The ancient traditions are mainly reflected during the hunt. The Inuit population is allowed to hunt for their own food on wildlife, including bowhead whale. They also hunt seal, walrus and several species of birds. What is striking is the openness of the people when the subject Whaling is mentioned. The spear has been replaced by a metal pin with a warhead to avoid suffering of the animals. Only trained and designated snipers may operate the weapon and the rules must be applied tightly. All this out of respect for the whales.
The main purpose of this trip was photographing the bird species that inhabit the tundra. The endangered Spectacled Eider is one of the major attractions, but also species such as Pomarine Skua and Snowy Owl can be found. To see the latter species in large numbers requires a good Lemming year, but that was not the case. Because of hunting pressure especially duck species were very shy and perseverance was required to keep good footage at the end. And to illustrate the short spring, in a week the situation of ‘birds everywhere and many puddles” turns into a sometimes abandoned green plain. Any luck with planning is definitely needed. The sunny weather was doubtless remarkable and only during the first and last days we saw the typical arctic weather like fog, rain and heavy clouded skies. In order to maximize our benefit from improved lighting situations, we have reversed the day and night rhythm. Coming home in a great condition was not the case , but it was already taken into account in advance. All in all, my Jetlag was not to heavy.

With this I want to thank both my companions for the success of this particular trip.

Stellers eider