Exactly one week ago it was still winter with freezing temperatures and fresh snow. Last Sunday the snow melted and in the afternoon spring arrived. I've rarely experienced such a big difference!
After some warmer days nature has awakened and I was glad that some caterpillar nests of the Glanville Fritillary survived winter. Unfortunately their enemies survived the winter too as around almost each nest I noticed a parasitoid wasp.
Some of them were already busy infecting a caterpillar en some of them were sitting in the grass around the nest. I guess that it is no coincidende from mother nature that the wasps (I assume pteromalus puparum) have the same colours as the caterpillars...black with red eyes.
By the end of January I discovered a Little Owl on the roof of my neighbours garden house. The experience around this time of the year shows that one owl means two owls and very soon I discoverd the second, very shy one. I guess it is the Belgian owl from last year who lost the partner by death.
Fingers crossed that after four years of 'making plans' they will breed successfully.
In spring 2010 I visited Les Chauffours in the Dordogne, France, where a family of Long-eared Owls lived in the trees around the terrace of the accommodation. During my two weeks stay I had some opportunities to photograph the adult owls. Photographing their offspring was an other story as the were hiding during the day high in a Norway Spruce. On the last day of this holiday I noticed that they were gone and finally I found them back high in a cherry tree. I often told friends that I would never forget how they all looked down to me but I completely forgot that I photographed this scenery. Until today, I never believed stories of other nature photographers that they found photos back on their harddisk(s) that they had completely forgotten. Yesterday I noticed a Little Owl in my garden and for some reason I took my 2010 harddisk and discoverd forgotten photos of the Long-eared owls......I welcomed myself to the world of amnesia!
On Thursday 18th January a storm, called Friederike in Germany, 'visited' the Netherlands and caused a lot of chaos and damage. The next day I walked with Wanda through the forest and noticed that a lot of trees had fallen down and that the paths were covered with branches. The majority were pine trees and branches but inbetween I discoverd one oak branch. I took him home and with the help of my magnifier I found one eggs of the Purple Hairstreak. A few days later I found on an other path some oak branches on which I found two eggs. A hand full of branches earned three eggs!
So if there are butterfly lovers who like to 'breed' purple hairstreaks.....the floor (forest paths) is yours!
Since I can remember, I'm collecting blue wing feathers of the Eurasian Gay. Although I'm out in the forest very often, I guess that I found one feather every two years. I keep them in a special jewelry box.
Yesterday, on my tour with Wanda, I found more than one feather.....a complete wing with bone. Although I was a little bit sad that this bird had come to an end, I gathered the wing and took it home as these blue feathers have kind of irresistible attraction to me....and for the first time since weeks I touched my camera.
Again a year has passed and it's time to review 2017 and to slow down and enjoy the quality time with family. After a long search I found in 2017 'my little house in the forest' and I 'm privileged and feel blessed that I have a place to relax and where I'm completely connected with nature.
2017 was a year with worries about decisions of our world leaders, about the decline of insects like butterflies and bees, about the renewal of the licence to use the weedkiller Glyphosate in the EU for another five years, about my experience that too many people are too indifferent regarding nature/animal issues, about my encounters with very agressive people in traffic, about the growth of intensive animal farming. When I was little I learned that when I wanted something to change I must start with myself and so I did.....I stopped eating meat.
The amount of butterflies was dramatically low in 2017, in my garden during the summer season I counted only a few specimens and during my annual holiday in Germany I found ONE resting butterfly. Fortunately some other visits and trips to nature areas recovered the balance of my desire to find butterflies and I have some nice memories of 2017.
The visit to the Alcon Blue area was a special one as I was afraid to find none. In 2016 big parts of their habitat was drowned for weeks. Finding this species within a few seconds after entering the area gave me hope! Hope that the brink of extinction is not reached yet....hope that we can change it....hope that we can change more things to save our planet.....we only must start with ourselves!!!
I wish you all Merry Christmas and the very best for 2018!
Merry Christmas - Prettige kerstdagen - Frohe Weihnachten - Joyeux Noël!!
Last Friday the world transformed into a white fairytale after I left Liege. Driving through the High Fens was not a punishment (normally this highway is boring). Near Nancy the snow was gone and it was exciting if there would be snow in the Vosges.
As soon as I left the highway, the forest was covered by a thick layer of snow and it was magical arriving at the house under these circumstances.
When I stepped outside the next morning to photograph this setting, a sign 'Attention Chasse en cours' was placed a few metres in front of my house and a lot of hunters + dogs were very busy finding/tracing wild animals. I was forced to stay near the house until the 'çhasse' was finished.
By that time the sun had climbed over the hill and the first snow started melting.
I was impressed by the atmosphere of the path/road to my house and installed my tripod on it, normally I do not see anybody for days. Exactly at the moment I pressed the shutter button, I heard a noise (actually 'bonjour') and a jogger ran into my picture.
Today it's two years ago that true friendship came into my life with a dog called Wanda.
Thanx to her I have a reason to make tours through the forest almost every day and we both love remote places. One weekly route ends near a chapel and sometimes we light a candle for the people which we have lost......still loved....still missed!
During my two weeks stay in the Vosges I granted myself one 'free' day after the big 'colour the ceiling white' job was done. It was autumn and the first trees were already leafless but catching this mood with the camera is an other thing. On my way back from a walk throught the forest part behind my house, I saw Laurel and Hardy and immediately I cheered up, first because I loved the light situation and second because Laurel and Hardy made my laugh when I was a child.
About three weeks ago my 'holiday' started with a trip to my birth town for a reunion of 'my' primary school class and ended with a two weeks stay in the Vosges. The weather in the Vosges was fabulous in the first week. With temperatures above 20 degrees a lot of jobs have been done outside......like cutting the bramble bushes. After this job was done my son discoverd a little snake between my house and the path. The little snake was a grass snake who is living in a hole of my housewall; during my complete stay the snake stayed on the same place. Taking a photo of the snake without brown cutted bramble branches was a challenge but after some attempts/days the snake was not using his 'reverse' immediately when I came closer.
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.