Forests and lakes are my two favorite places to go wildlife spotting. I sometimes go at the seaside also, but I haven’t been so lucky there until now. I will probably favor the mountain if I would have one close, I had a blast when I was in Romania last time, and I can’t say anything about the jungle, savannah or arctic as I’ve never been yet.
This time I’m going to show you pictures from a different lake than the one that I usually go to. It’s the Solbjerg Sø, a lake that I and one of my friends decided to explore as it is a pretty big lake and not so far from where I live also.
The first thing that I’ve managed to properly capture with my camera was a Canada goose (Branta canadensis) and it was the first time I’ve seen one. They are quite easy to recognize thanks to their black and white patterns, they can only be confused with the Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) but more likely the confuse is made the other way as the Canada goose is more famous. Their name gives up the location of their original breeding grounds, Branta canadensis being an introduced species in most part of Europe, in some parts arriving naturally. As you can see it the case of the one in the picture, the Canada goose is a well-studied species mainly because it reached the high population in most of Northern Europe and now is considered a pest. They have an impact on the local species, they destroy crops and vegetation, they pose a threat to the aviation and they have an aggressive behavior especially in human environments. The neck tag that you see on this goose is a field-readable marking that is used only for larger birds, for the smaller birds being used different types of rings. Field-readable tags are used to the disturbance of the bird is minimum, researchers being able to identify and study it without having to recapture it every time.
For the next bird, I’ve photographed that day I had only one chance as it was hidden at the lake bank and we saw it only when it flew away right in front of us. It was a very lucky shot, I just put the camera at my eye and pressed the shutter button instinctively and was surprised by the result. It was actually a good photo, the first good one of a Grey heron (Ardea cinerea), this long-legged water predator. It makes part of the heron family, which along with the crane family are ones of my favorites with many interesting looking members all over the world. Every time I see one I think about the first birds from the dinosaur era, especially when seeing ones from other continents. The Grey heron is pretty common in Denmark and you would probably see more pictures of it if you will keep reading this blog as I have heron encounters quite often.
Another first for me on this trip was photographing a butterfly. It was done with my ‘’long’’ lens and discovered that insect photography can be done with a long lens too, especially that you can shot from a distance without disturbing the subject. I should be finding the Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) in the wood as the name suggest, instead, I found it at the edge of the lake where some trees were separating the road from the lake. Because this species larva is adapted of eating many species of grasses they can occupy a different kind of habitats having a big distribution across Europe. Not the same can be told by the more specific butterflies which are highly affected by the habitat loss around the world.
The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is the bird of my childhood. It was and probably still is the easiest and common bird to spot in the places that I’ve grown up, everywhere you look there was at least one. And this is probably because they are not as shy as the other common species, they get way closer to humans there forth they are more easy to see without any tool, sometimes coming in an arm’s reach if they can get some food from you. Completed by the daily spotting of a pigeon, this is why I was surprised to learn later on that we also have a bunch of colorful species in Europe not only brown and grey ones. The house sparrow is also the moats wildly distributed bird in the world. The one in the picture shows how they manage to stay so wildly distributed, by being a great insect hunter, but they also have a varied diet.
Unlike going to see wildlife on a lake where I’m happy to have some company, in the woods I always go alone. When having company I am always tempted to talk and that is not so great when you want to sneak up on animals that have a great sense of hearing. From this particular day that I’m going to describe, I was in the forest for about an hour and I haven’t got any photo.
I was hiding behind a tree scanning the meadow when I’ve noticed some kind of insects on the tree itself. A bunch of Red-breasted carrion beetle (Oiceoptoma thoracicum) where mating and I nearly spotted them. The Red-breasted carrion beetle is part of the Silphinae subfamily which is composed of burying beetles and carrion beetles, and they are usually found on decaying matter such as dead animals which is their food. The family Silphidae is of great importance to forensic entomologist being used to determine the post-mortem interval when they are present on a decaying body.
While taking pictures of the beetles, a wasp-like sound but much more intense got my attention. A wasp indeed, a big wasp, a huge wasp, the European hornet (Vespa crabro) was visiting the tree back and forth to gather the tree sap near the beetles. It was the first and the single hornet I’ve spotted my entire life and I was impressed. It is the largest wasp in Europe and it is a social one, meaning that from where that came from there are others, probably it wasn’t a single one I’ve seen. The average worker size is about 25 cm while the queen can get up to 35 cm. This one seemed queen sized to me, I’ve put a finger next to the sap to try to determine its size. Is noted that they can be more aggressive next to the food source so it’s good that I had the ‘’long’’(70-300mm) lens.
I’ve photographed other animals too those days that you can always go and see on Inaturalist, but no one worth sharing here except the one of a common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). It was almost sunset and I was walking on a road when I’ve heard a beautiful song from the trees and bushes on the side of the road. I’ve decided to enter in an opening in the bushes and after a few moments of localizing the sounds I’ve spotted this beautiful bird above me. In this species, the sexual dimorphism is pronounced which makes it easy to tell the sex difference. The males, like the one in the picture, are brightly colored with a blue-grey cap and red-rust underparts while the females are duller colored. I will not be seeing this species in the winter because it’s a partial migratory bird, migrating from the colder parts of Europe to sunnier places.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look on INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.