Last week I’ve shown you what I have spotted around the house so far. This week I want to show you what I have spotted will being away from home with other occasions than going express for wildlife spotting. If you are aware that you never know what can show up and pay the minimum amount of attention you will be surprised by what you can find in different situations.
In this article, I will show you pictures from a trip to a castle, to the sea, from the roadside or just a simple trip to the mechanic.
To go on the highway I usually use the same entrance every time. This summer I’ve noticed a colony of seabirds has made nests on a small lake at the roadside. One day I’ve stopped there to properly inspect the species and what other inhabitants use the lake. There was a colony of Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) that were nesting there, a Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) pair and some ducks that I could not properly photograph even for identification. Both species have made their appearance in previous articles (1.2), but there is always more to say about both. The scientific name of the Black-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus comes from ancient Greece khroizo meaning ‘to color’ and kephale-‘head’. ridibundus comes from Latin word ridere which means ‘to laugh’. The laughing gull name makes sense when you hear them calling, being a noisy species especially in colonies like the one I’ve found.
In their breeding period, the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) becomes pretty bold and a bit reckless I would say. The one in the pictures I’ve photographed from the car while driving on a countryside road. Fortunately, there were no cars on the road and I could stop a few second. He was not disturbed at all even if we were 2 meters away and the hunting season was close. The Pheasant is another example of an introduced species that thrives in the territories it was introduced. Phasianus colchicus is an Asian species that was introduced in Europe and North America as a game bird and it is since then one of the most popular, being also one of the most hunted species of birds. Denmark is full of these birds and other species with hunting interest like deer or rabbits because they have only small predators like the fox and because of the hunting interests. The ironical thing is that most hunters prefer hunting in wilder areas from East Europe, where the ecosystems are not totally destroyed yet, even though they have more than enough game here in Denmark.
As I was saying at the beginning, with wildlife, you can never know what and when you will find. To demonstrate this let me tell you a story. One day in spring I needed to go to the mechanic to fix something in the car. The job took one hour and the good thing was that I took my camera with me, so I’ve thought that I should explore the area and see what I can find. It was one of the first times I have found a dragonfly, a Common blue damselfly (Enallagama cyathigerum) in this case. This one is an endemic European species with territories in all Europe except Iceland. It has a bright blue color and it can easily be mistaken with the Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella), but can be told apart by the fact that the Common blue has more blue than black on the back and thorax while the Azure has the opposite. It is a pretty common sighting in a wide range of habitats, usually near water, especially in spring and early summer.
The bird that I found at the near lake, in Horsens, is one that I’ve only seen that one time until now (October) and will probably only have the chance to see it again at the Baltic or North sea where it usually winters. For breeding, the Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) prefers shallow bodies of freshwater, lakes, bays or marshes. An interesting behavior of the Red-necked grebe is that they leave their nests at night and it is not known if they do that for their self-protection or to divert the predator’s attention from the nest. Either way, this behavior doesn’t affect the clutch. Their diet is formed from invertebrates, adults or larva, fishes or crustaceans but also includes a not so classical meal. They, like other grebes, ingest a significant amount of feathers, that remain in their stomachs where they decompose into an amorphous mass. They also feed their chicks with feathers, not totally known what is the role but suspected that it might protect the lower digestive system from hard stuff like fish bones.
On a trip to Egeskov Castle on Southern Funen in Denmark, I took the camera with me for the obvious pictures with the castle but turned out to be amazed by the number of animal photos made that day. The first animal in my camera’s range was this nice Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris), not too bothered by human presence like all the animals that made a home here. The Fieldflare is a migratory, omnivorous, 25 cm (10in) long bird that often breeds in small colonies for protection for the predators. The English name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word feldefare which probably meant ‘traveler through the fields’. Turdus pilaris usually inhabits mixed woodlands often near the open ground but do not avoid gardens, parks or cultivated areas.
This next fluffy round ball caught my attention while waiting in front of a shop. I have soon discovered it is a Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) baby bird by the presence of his/her parents. Coots are small water birds from the rail family. They have a prominent featherless frontal shield that apparently gave rise to the expression ‘’as bold as a coot’’. An interesting fact about the coots is that most of their chicks die of starvation and not of predation because they usually cannot feed their large family on the insects they can gather. When the resources are scarce the parents become brutal with the begging chicks leading to the death of the weaker ones. In this particular situation, two baby coots seem to be out of starvation danger since they can now feed for themselves and their territory is big enough.
Here are some more pictures that I’ve taken that day at the castle. In the picture: Wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) and Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment below with any suggestion, information, story… anything.
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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.