Week 44! A couple of days ago, I attended a workshop called “Moonlight with owls”. It was really nice, although a bit too dark to take pictures. But I got to see and hold a few owls, they’re such impressive and beautiful birds. Here’s a picture of Bean, a beautiful Bengal eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis)
It’s cold here in Amsterdam! People (and some birds, see below) are ice skating on the canals (link) 🙂
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:
(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…
Week 43! Two photographs of Grey heron (Ardea cinerea), the first one shows a juvenile individual and the second one an adult.
The grey heron is very common here in The Netherlands, also in urban environments. Here in Amsterdam, they are ever present and well adapted to modern city life. They hunt as usual, but also visit street markets and snackbars.
The Eurasian treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) is a small passerine bird. They are quite common here, but often difficult to spot because they’re so well camouflaged (as demonstrated in the lower picture).
They are often confused with the Short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla), the easiest way to tell them apart is by song. The Eurasian (common) says “srrri” and the Short-toed says “tyyyt”.
The rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) is a common bird here in Amsterdam. There’s a group of them in my backyard, and they wake me up every morning! It’s a noisy species with an unmistakable squawking call. Without exaggerating, there can be 30 of them (sometimes more, especially in the winter) in one tree. They’re nice to look at, but I do wish I had mute button (or at least a snooze button) for them 😉
Here’s a cute little female, she didn’t scream but just sat there talking to herself (who doesn’t sometimes) which seem to be typical for them.
A Eurasian common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) with chicks, enjoying a sunny Sunday here in Amsterdam 🙂
In case anyone’s interested: There are some subtle differences in bill pattern, eye color, and shield shape between the American and the Eurasian moorhen. The easiest signs when it comes to identification are that Eurasian adults have mostly yellow lower mandibles, and a large and flat-topped shield is an indication of American.
A male Eurasian Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), photographed yesterday. Isn’t he beautiful! 🙂 I don’t have a long zoom lens; the first picture has been cropped (he has a small fish in his beak), the second one not (you have to look for the bird in that one).
About the scientific name: Alcedo is Latin and means “kingfisher” and Atthis was the consort of Cybele in Greek mythology. Atthis was also a Phrygian god of vegetation and represented the fruits of the earth, which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.
Going on an egg hunt 🙂 Happy Easter everyone!
A cold and foggy morning.. This picture was not taken today, because today is a beautiful sunny spring day here in Amsterdam 🙂