Belarus photoseries 1

In mid-May, togheter with a photographer friend, I made a trip to Belarus also known as Belarus. This partly organized trip went to destination Krasny Bor, a virtually untouched Boreal forest in the far north on the border with Russia. The large tracts of forest, together with endless bogs are the two main habitats in this area. The scenery was very beautiful, a form as we do not know anymore in The Netherlands.  A true wilderness. The idea, that not long for our arrival a Brown Bear has walked around in the vicinity of the guesthouse, is quite special.
We agreed that we would focus mainly on photographing birds, and the organized part was mainly pointed on that. However, those plans were quickly put aside. For various reasons, including the very hot wheater, this was a task that would take much time and would yield only slightly. Because my annual photo trip is the only way to be just busy with photography, I simply do not have the patience to spend days on a subject of which it is uncertain whether it is at all going to cooperate or not. The result is that the focus is also focused on other issues, and despite the heat I keep searching for topics. This soon resulted in days of 16-18 hours of activity, with means returning home rested is out of the question.
And then what footnotes to the various topics. The location of the Ural Owl was very welcome. The juveniles were now at an age where they do not hang around the nest any longer, but wander around. Fortunately, we managed to follow them for a day. Father owl was otherwise not willing to coöperate very well, this in  contrary to what one would expect. The caterpillar of the Small Tortoiseshell, I found on a mid-afternoon and soon I had the idea that it was preparing to pupate. For sixteen hours I kept an eye on the process, but there was not really much happening in that period. When we returned after a tour of four hours, however, I was surprised that the caterpillar was completely transformed into a cocoon. To bad, a missed opportunity to capture this metamorphosis, but next time I know better.
On the Kegelmorielje (Morchella elata) I was alerted by Martin and he looked surprised to the little dance of joy I made. A beautiful fresh copy in a great setting. The species seems not very common in Belarus to because I found images in two nature books about nature in Belarus. Or maybe it is the appearance itself.
On the last day and the only day without burning sun, a well cooperative Shrike and Whinchat were found. The shrike managed, despite a slightly drooping left wing, still outwit lots of prey. Nice to see is the behavior when a potential snack is getting into attacking range. But even with this species the eye is sometimes larger than the beak and the spider used this opportunity by smack dropping himself. Stared at by a hungry bird.
The series of images taken during this trip I will show in two parts on the site.


Twin week at the Bargerveen reserve

In recent years, it is becoming a little tradition that I, along with my family spent a week’s holiday in the province of Drenthe. More specifically identified concerns mainly the area south of Emmen and in the vicinity of the bog reserve Bargerveen. Despite the natural existence in its present form, it owes it’s aura of virginity to large-scale human interventions in the landscape. Where in the Netherlands for example, we still find alive bog at such a large scale? It always gives me a sense of primeval nature, while in my mind I do know the origin of this is the result of human activity. The lakes and pieces of dead Birch Trees reinforce that feeling . What makes the area so interesting are the huge numbers of dragonflies that occur here. On good days the bushes hang sometimes literally packed with hatching Northen White-faced Darter and Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies. Because of all these dragonflies, this is the area where the only real population of the Red-backed Shrike is breeding in the Netherlands. And at migration time one has a reasonable chance to meet the beautiful Red-footed Falcon, attracted by the abundant food in the form of the same dragonflies. And all of that despite the fact that some of these dragonflies are not very common in Holland, but in this context it doesn’t make any sense.
Also, sometimes the small size of agricultural areas and just a bit friendlier way of how people interact with each other, making it a pleasant stay in this corner of Drenthe. It makes it easier to socialize with each other. And if you don’t feel the need, silence is not far away.
The weather conditions were not optimal in this week, but low temperatures and precipitation can provide different opportunities for photography. One morning I’m really rained wet down to my underpants, but well ……. one does not always find a pair of fresh Four-spotted Chaser in the same clump of grass. Unfortunately, my plans for landscape photography I had to put aside because of the weather and corresponding light. It was still mostly gray weather, which is often not ideal for landscape shots.
And then the title , ” Twin week at the Bargerveen”. In an area where so many dragonflies emerge, chances are pretty high that when searching well one will find ” couples ” of dragonflies togheter. I hope the images speak for themselves. Furthermore, the Viper was very welcome and we hope there are more to come. Against this, the caterpillars of the Six-spotted Burnet, found by my wife, were also very welcome. Although, the last still remains a pleasant ” DEVIATION ”.


Crossbill Guides brings two new titles

Poland_guide-coverAlthough a little late, Jan would still like to draw your attention to the recent release of two new titles by  Foundation Crossbill Guides. This non-profit organization publishes nature guides which draw attention to the many beautiful areas that Europe has to offer. The two new editions are about the Eastern Rhodopes, Greece, Bulgaria and North East Poland. In the latter guide the Bialowieza forests, the Biebrza marshes,  Augustow forests and Wigry and Narew National Parks are discussed.

The guides are characterized by their convenient sizes and easy reading. They contain lots of information about what you can find in these areas. In addition, it is not limited to a particular group, but both flora and fauna are extensively discussed. The guides entail several routes that can be taken on foot, by bike or by car. For each route there will be a reference to the most interesting species. The lists are in no way complete, but the routes have been chosen in such a way that there is also much more to be seen. The information comes from local nature lovers and other frequent visitors to the area. The guides have been illustrated with beautiful pictures.

Being a big fan of the Biebrza marshes, Jan was able to contribute to the release of the North East Poland guide. He edited the texts of various routes and nearly thirty of his photographs have been published in the guide.

For people who are going to visit this area, the guide is highly recommended, an amount of money well spent. For more information on the organization and the nature guides, see (English).