You do not have to travel far to see wildlife. I have said it before and I will say it again and my articles are here to demonstrate this. It is a common misconception that in order to see wildlife you have to travel, that is because the vast majority of the documentaries and pictures are with animals from exotic places but every corner of this earth is more or less inhabitant by animal ready to be discovered. I currently live in Denmark, not the most biodiversity country, but I have managed to discover until now almost 200 species of insects, birds, mammals, and other critters. For sure I will like to travel in the near future to discover wildlife in other places too but I still have plenty to discover here also. And there is the practice of photography which allows me to portray my subjects better and better. Next, I will describe some species seen at a lake that is 15 minutes, by car, away for where I live.
I have already put pictures with the Mute swan (Cygnus olor) (3)before but this time I have been lucky to see and photograph them flying quite close to me. I do not know if you have seen, or heard, a swan flying, it is loud and it seems to fly effortlessly considering the weight and height of these animals. You can definitely tell when a swan is flying by because of the loud sound that it creates when flapping the wings. Adults can range from 140 to 160 cm (55 to 63in) long and have an impressive 200 to 240 cm (79 to 94in) wingspan being, on average, the second largest waterfowl species after the Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) found in North America. The Mute swan is also one of the heaviest flying birds, males weighing from 9.2 to 14.3 kg (20 – 32lb) while the females range from 7.6 to 10.6 kg (17-23lb).
Also in flight, same day, I’ve seen for the first time the Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) although there was much further than the swans so I will add some better pictures from another day. The Shelduck is a beautiful duck with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly, and a dark green head and neck. To avoid predators the young will submerge under water while the adults will fly away to act as decoys.
Here is another species report, but this time a female instead of a male, Blackbird (Turdus merula)(1). I like this photo of the female blackbird and it is one of the only one made because the females are in general much harder to spot then the males. This one flew in front of me while I was heading home and offered me a nice composition before deciding to fly away. It is not absolutely known why it is called Blackbird and this name was not attributed to other common black birds like the crows, the raven or jackdaws. One explanation is that up to about the 18th century, the name ‘’bird’’ was attributed only to small or young bird and larger ones like the crow were called as ‘’fowl’’. Another fact is that the female blackbird is not black, it is a brown with a dull yellowish-brownish bill, a brownish-white throat, and also the juvenile is similar to the female.
While I was busy trying to photograph a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) in flight, which is one of the hardest things to photograph, my girlfriend was busy using my almost new phone macro lenses. I obviously did not succeed in my mission but my girlfriend did and got two new species for me to show to you. I did not manage to identify them to the species level and meanwhile I’ve learned how hard it actually is to do that in the insect world but nevertheless still intriguing.
The first bug came herself to the photo shoot, it landed on my girlfriend’s hand and stayed there for few pictures. It was part of the Small Squaregilled Mayflies (Family Caenidae) which is composed of 26 individual species. There is not much to find on internet about this family other than that it occurs in slow or stagnant bodies of water and it is often overlooked because of their small size. I would say that once it is spotted it can be quite interesting especially with those 3 white ‘’tails’’.
The other bug that had his/her picture taken is a Flower or Minute Pirate Bug (Family Anthocoridae). Bugs from this family have soft, elongated oval, flat bodies, 1.5-5 cm long. They can feed on plant material but they prefer other small arthropods often acting like biological control agents. For example, Orius insidiosus is often used in greenhouses against mites and thrips. They can also bite humans and there bite can be quite painful although they do not release any venom or saliva.
I will end this article with another bird spotting, on a different day, morning, when it was the only one so close to be able to get acceptable photos. It was a Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) gathering material for the nest that was being built by his partner. I’ve first seen him with this long stick in his beak and amused me by looking like a dog that happily carries a stick back to his partner. Then he found leafs bigger than his head and kept on being busy all the time that I was there. This bird is well known by its mating display, unfortunately, I’ve missed it this year but that is one more reason to be excited for the coming years. The male of this species is unmistakable, especially in summer, due to the head and neck decorations.
Here are some other species that I’ve photographed those days: Black-headed gull(Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Grey heron(Ardea cinerea), Hooded crow(Corvus cornix), Magpie(Pica pica), Mallard(Anas platyrhynchos), Reed warbler(Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Reed bunting(Emberiza schoeniclus), White-tailed eagle(Haliaeetus albicilla), Tree sparrow(Passer montanus) and some unidentified bugs :D.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look at INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.