Smile! The world is a beautiful place (^_^)

Fujinon XF 18-135mm Ois R WR F/3.5-5.6

2018-25

Today I want to share FIVE FUN FACTS about dragonflies 🙂 A beautiful Common darter lady (Sympetrum striolatum) kindly agreed to demonstrate the facts in my pictures!

FACT 1: They were the first insects to inhabit this planet – 300 million years ago! In other words: they’ve had a looong time to perfect the art of flying and hunting.

Pioneer

FACT 2: They are flat out terrifying if you’re a mosquito or other kind small bug, because they don’t simply chase down their prey but they snag them from the air with a calculated aerial ambush! Dragonflies can judge the speed and trajectory of a prey target, and they’re so skilled they have an impressive 95% success rate when hunting.

Hunter

FACT3: They can fly in any direction, including sideways and backwards! (How cool is that!) Plus, they can hover in a single spot for a minute or more. But that’s not all. They’re also fast – some species reach almost 30 km/h (18 mph) – and one species (Globe skimmer) flies almost 18,000 km (11,000 miles) during migration which is the word’s longest insect migration. (Compare this with the famous Monarch butterfly migration of 2,500 miles.)

Wings

FACT 4: Both dragonflies and damselflies are in the order Odonata, which means “the toothed ones”. When hunting, they can catch the prey with their feet, tear off its wings with their sharp jaws (so the prey can’t escape) and scarf it down – all without needing to land. In short: Their ability to rip apart their prey takes their predatory prowess to another level.

Jaws

They have nearly 360 degrees vision! The enormous compound eyes contain 30,000 facets and they can see the world in colors we can’t even imagine. (In depth read here)

Eyes


2018-22

The Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella) is quite common here in The Netherlands, and always a pleasure to see!

At first glance it could be a bit tricky to distinguish the Azure from a Common blue (Enallagma cyathigerum) damselfly, but if you look at the antehumeral stripe (that’s the long blue section on the thorax), the Azure’s blue stripe is narrower than the black stripe beneath it, and there’s an extra black line, a “spur” extending from the wing base towards the legs. The Common blue’s antehumreral stripe is broader than the black stripe beneath it and there’s no “spur” on the thorax.

Another thing to look at is the second segment of the males’ abdomen (just behind the thorax): both are blue but the Azure has a black U-shape and the common blue has a black mushroom-shaped mark.

And now I need your help! Please take a look at the second photo below, it’s not a great shot but I hope someone can help me identify this little damselfly.. I’m doubting if it’s either a Variable damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) or perhaps a female Azure in blue form. Anyone? Or, is it perhaps a Who Cares (Whogives ashit) kind of damselfly.. Well, if you think you know which one it is, please leave a comment below!

Male Azure damselfly

Female Azure damselfly in blue form (?)


2018-21

The cardinal beetle is actually three different species of beetles.  The most common one is the Red-headed cardinal (Pyrochroa serraticornis), which is an orange-red beetle with a – duh – read head. It’s about 2 cm long and easy to spot as it kind of glows (in the closeup shot below you can see the color is kind of red metallic). The Black-headed cardinal (Pyrochroa coccinea) has a – uhm – black head and is rarer, slightly larger and its body has a deeper blood-red color. The third kind is the Scarce cardinal (Schizotus pectinicornis), it also has a black head but is less than 1 cm long.

Cardinal beetles prey on other insects, while their bright red color prevents them from being targeted by other predators because red usually means toxic in the bug world.

If you see a beetle with red wings and black underside and wonder if it’s a cardinal beetle or not, the easiest tell is to look at the antennae: Cardinals have toothed antennae. It’s often confused with the Scarlet lily beetle, which is smaller and usually found eating lily leaves.

Black-headed cardinal (Pyrochroa coccinea)

Red-headed cardinal (Pyrochroa serraticornis)

Orange-red metallic

Those toothed antennae

A failed attempt of photographing a flying cardinal beetle, but ended up with an interesting bokeh shot instead


2018-20

Two different takes on two different kinds of butterflies-

(1) Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), photographed today with Fuji 18-135 mm + Raynox 150. Goal was to get close to the butterfly and capture as much detail as possible. Picture not edited except it’s been slightly cropped.

(2) Green-veined white (Pieris napi), photographed with Pentacon 50 mm. Goal was to capture the moody light in the forest, not so much details in the butterfly (although enough to determine that it’s a female spring brood). Picture not edited or cropped.

Would you do me a favor and let me know which one you prefer? Not saying one is “better” than the other, but just curious to know your preference. You can use the voting buttons below! Thanks 🙂


2018-4

Things aren’t always what they seem –

“Mountains”

“Flowers”

“Clouds”


2018-2

Cute little fallow deer (Dama dama) I saw in the Waterleidingduinen outside Amsterdam today 🙂


w47

It’s wet and quite cold here in Amsterdam.. Here are some of the last mushrooms of this season, helicopter view 🙂 I especially like the turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) from this angle.

(Versicolor means ‘several colors’, which reliably describes this fungus that displays different colors.)


w46

Things you need to take good mushroom pictures: A tripod, flash + reflector, a macro lens, and post-processing skills. Dutch photographer Daniel Laan is very good at all of this, check out his portfolio on 500px!

Unfortunately, I have none of this but that doesn’t stop me from photographing anyway 😉 Here are some pictures from today’s walk-


w45

Small Mycena mushrooms on a sunny autumn day 🙂

Mycenas are hard to identify to species and some are distinguishable only by microscopic features such as the shape of the cystidia. Over 33 species are known to be bioluminescent, creating a glow known as foxfire (sometimes called “fairy fire”). I’ve never seen it in real life but you can read more about it in this article published by University of Chicago.


w44

A Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) sitting on a waste basket. Isn’t he beautiful! Look at those coloured feathers and intelligent eyes.

Magpies are often maligned as pests, but they’re actually very interesting birds that are usually overlooked for both their beauty and their intelligence. They are closely related to crows, jays, and ravens; thus among the most intelligent family of birds (Corvidae). And after studying them, I’m convinced that magpies have a great sense of humour too! 🙂

Because magpies are often misunderstood, here are 3 interesting facts about them:

(i) Magpies don’t steal shiny objects. This has been established in several experiments, for example research published by Science Focus and the BBC.

(ii) Magpies recognize themselves in mirrors. European magpies have demonstrated the remarkable ability to recognize their own reflections in mirrors, something that was once thought to be a defining characteristic belonging only to humans. This might not sound that amazing, but out of countless species tested, only four ape species, bottlenose dolphins and Asian elephants have demonstrated this ability.

(iii) A group of magpies is called “a parliament”. They earned this title from often appearing in large groups, looking stately and cawing at each other.

And a little flower…