If you have read the previous articles, you know by now that I live near a forest where I do a lot of wildlife spotting. In this one, I will show you some of the critters that I’ve found at the edge of this forest. There is a trail going out of the forest and passing between a cow pasture and a wheat field. It also passes between two ponds where the bird activity is higher as well as the water-loving insects like dragonflies.
The Orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) is one of the many butterflies that invaded those parts this past summer. I have rarely seen this species of butterfly and only managed once to take photos of it, and that is to this male that you see here. The females have black tips instead of orange, like the males have, and inhibits a different habitat than the male, preferring open meadows instead of forests edges. Studies in Britain have shown that the orange-tip butterfly is affected by temperature change shifting its first appearance in spring with 17 days later. Also in Britain, it has a rather unusual predator, the Muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi), which grazes the butterfly’s host plant in the period of egg laying. This way the Muntjac is responsible for up to 19% of A. cardamines death by indirect predation.
I have mentioned that the dragonfly’s love this parts because of the ponds, here is one of the first spotted and photographed. It is a beautiful Black-tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) but exactly as in the case of the orange-tip butterfly, it was one of the few times I’ve spotted one and the single time I’ve photographed one. This is a reasonably big dragonfly measuring 47-53 mm in length and an average wingspan of 77 mm. In the photos is a female or an immature male, a full grown male having a bluish or blue-grey body. The mating occurs on land or in flight than the female lays the eggs onto the water surface, in flight, by dipping in the abdomen. The larvae live in the bottom derbies from where it emerges after two or three years.
Unlike the last two critters described, I’ve seen the Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) pretty often, but this was the first time I’ve seen it and the only time it was relatively close to me. It is a highly migratory bird, wintering in North Africa, north India, Pakistan and parts of China so I will not be able to see it again this winter but I will definitely look for a closer look next summer as it has some very beautiful plumage. It time I have learned to recognize the calls of the Lapwing being a vocal bird in the breeding period and also when defending its territory. On top of that it also teams up with the black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), another loud bird, so they have more eyes watching out for pray. The lapwing’s eggs were considered a delicacy in Victorian Europe and in the Netherlands there is a cultural competition to find the first egg of the year. In present, the harvesting of the eggs is forbidden but the lookout is allowed between 1 March and 9 April.
I guess this is the article of my personal rarities as I have one more to show you. This time a small bird, around 12 cm long and weighing 12 g, that, despite its name, can be found in dry woodland like the one I’ve found. Not quite at the forest edge but I’ve slipped it here as it was spotted approximately in the same period. The Marsh tit (Poecile palustris) is an omnivore’s bird with a habit of storing food, especially seeds, which he hides in the ground, in tree stumps or under mosses. He uses he’s hippocampus, which is bigger with 31% than that of a Great tit (Parus major), to remember the places in which he has hidden food and consumes it from the oldest to the recent one. Marsh tits often pair for life being monogamous and they are also o sedentary species rarely moving on a distance greater than 5 km. The only exception to this it’s made by the tits from Northern Europe, some moving south in winter.
Next two subjects are quite the opposite of the previous ones, I have seen them plenty of times and I have many pictures on many occasions with them. The Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) as both the English and the Latin species name suggests it’s a common, widespread bird that has a distinctive white throat. It prefers cultivations and open countries and builds its nest in bushes. The one in the pictures decided to sing me a song and also pose for me, he even made a bit of a flying show. Ok, was more than certain not singing for me but I’ve managed to get some good pictures of him, too bad he was so high in the tree.
The White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), the national bird of Latvia, is the next bird that pose for me on the same day. The white wagtail is a migratory bird in Northern Europe, but this summer I had the chance too see it many times and in many places, even when traveling. I consider this particular photo shoot to be the best in most part because of the place where the subject stood. The picture would have been much better if I could lay down but the tall grass from where I was standing did not permit that. Maybe that place was a perfect spot to lay and wait for another chance but I was not in the stage of prepping for a shoot, I was and still am in most part just shooting what I can find. This is a very energy bird with a habit that is characteristic to her and actually gave her the name, the constantly tail wagging, a characteristic that is poorly understood.
Here are some other species that I’ve photographed those days: European Hare (Lepus europaeus), Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae), Hoverfly (Family Syrphidae), European Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).
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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.