Before starting to describe the weekly spotted species I want to set a bit the dates and times of when the pictures were taken. If you haven’t read the first blog post you probably don’t know that I have started photographing wildlife since March this year and I started this blog only on 15 September. So I still have a lot of photos that I want to show and right now I am uploading photos from early July. Since I present one species almost every day and the summer was busy with lots of insects, if you continue following me, you will see posts of insects even though they cannot be found in nature anymore.
That being said let me tell you what I have found in a summer morning in the woods. It was early in the morning, right after sunrise, when I was looking for subjects in the woods and all of the sudden I heard a strange sound coming from a part of the woods. It was some kind of a screeching sound that I’ve never heard before and even though the forest was quite thick in that part I still cannot resist trying to find out what was the source of the sound. Because the sound was coming from the ground level I’ve figured it must be some kind of a game bird like the Pheasant but after walking a bit towards the sound a bird took off from the ground level and perched on a tree trunk. Then I’ve realized it’s an owl that made those sounds and while waiting to form a strategy I’ve noticed that there was a second sound but could not see the second owl and I’ve also realized they are young owls that were probably practicing their first flights. When trying to get closer for a clearer picture the owl would move further so I have decided not to force them to go in places they may not want to go and end up staying put for about two hours listening to where they move and hoping they would come towards me. That never happened and when they stopped making sounds I’ve tried walking around a bit in hope that I would find the nest. I did not found any nest and because in the summer there are many more species, especially insects, I have decided to not spend my time trying to find what I’ve later identified as juveniles Tawny Owls (Strix aluco) (also appeared in 1’st article) and leave this endeavor for the winter season when it’s also much easier to spot birds sitting up in trees.
After giving up the intent to find the owls nest I have went to one of the forest’s edges where there are two small lakes and where I knew that many species of insects would enjoy the summer’s warm sun. I was entirely right and because it was a sunny, warm and still day I have managed to shoot many pictures from which I will share some. I have very quickly spotted a lot of blue damselflies which at a closer examination turned out to be this tree species, Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella), Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) and Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) which are almost impossible to tell apart without a closer examination. The principle differences stand in the distribution of the black patterns on their bodies, some behavioral differences and the periods they are active.
The male Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) has on the second abdominal segment a black making in a U-shape that is separate from the narrow black band at the end of the segment. Differences from the Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) can be found in the three to five segments where black terminal bands are broader and lack the forward-pointing projection the upper surface. Females replace the blue coloring with a glossy-green and the abdominal segments are largely black in coloring, with narrow pale markings at the junction between each segment. This species is not as common in August and September as the common blue is, June and July is their peak season. They also have a behavioral difference as they, unlike the common blue, rarely fly out over large bodies of water.
The Blue-tailed Damselfly(Ischnura elegans) adult male have a largely black abdomen with very narrow pale markings where each segment joins the next and segment eight is entirely pale blue. Female blue-tailed Damselflies come in a variety of color forms which makes the identifying even more difficult. They can be found from April to September and sometimes in October depending on conditions. An interesting new study suggests that I. elegans can compensate for a full wing loss still being able to do all the complicated flight maneuvers and also hunt.
That time of the year was also full of white butterflies from which I got on camera the Green-veined White (Pieris napi) and the Cabbage White (Pieris rapae). There are many white butterflies across Europe but only about 5 species can be found in Denmark. The Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) is widely distributed through Europe, Asia, and North Africa and was also introduced to North America, Australia, New Zeeland, and the Bermudas. The caterpillars of this species are considered to be agricultural pests because they feed on cabbage and other mustard family crops. It is a highly successful butterfly that besides being a past they represent a good source of food for many bird species in the urban areas and mostly arthropods in rural areas.
The Green-veined White (Pieris napi) is best identified by the veins on the wings that are more heavily marked which also gives their name. This species prefers wild plants from the cabbage family to lay eggs on instead of the garden cabbage. The female lay’s a single egg on a variety of food plants. When the caterpillar emerges it feeds on the host plant and is protected by the fact that is green and well camouflaged and by resting on the underside of the leafs. Like other Pieris species, it overwinters as a pupa which is green in color with yellowish and brown parts.
When I’m in an open field I always keep an eye on the sky, especially for predators. Sometimes I know a predator is in the air by its calling or because of the agitation of other birds. On that specific day, besides the owls from the forest, I was lucky to spot a Western Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) so I can easily say it was a raptor day. The Western Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) flew pretty close to me so I was able to get acceptable shots with my 300mm, one in a great composition with the typical hunting method of a marsh-harrier: flying low over open ground with the wings held in a shallow V-shape. They hunt for divers and small prey like birds, mammals, reptiles, and frogs. Like many other predators, C. aeruginosus was in decline in many areas, in some was extinct, between the 19th and 20th century due to persecution, habitat loss and use of pesticides. Now the species is classified as last concern as it had a comeback but it still faces a number of threats like the shooting of birds that migrate over the Mediterranean sea.
Here are some other species photographed that day: Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata).
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment below with any suggestion, information, story… anything.
Please follow on social media, share if you enjoyed and support if you really enjoyed. Have a great spotting!
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.