Nature-watching in Europe: issue 7

Scotland - photographing snow

The Straits of Gibraltar - orcas and other whales

Montenegro - National Parks

Estonia - bird-watching trip

Floral stories - Samphires and other salty plants

News & Research

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Nature-watching in Europe: issue six - FREE


Issue 6

Croatia - Kopački Rit Nature Park

Sweden - for dragonflies?

Portugal - Alvao Natural Park

Wales - the Great Orme

Chamois - life on the edge

Keeping a record - so you don’t forget

Index to all articles in issues 1 -6


Twenty-five years ago I was travelling through the Balkans, and listening to news reports of candle-lit vigils in Wenceslas Square and other eastern block cities.  I met a group of Hungarian birdwatchers who had an East German ornithologist with them.  He was the first in his state to have been given a travel permit to study birds outside East Germany.

Back in Britain a few weeks later, I watched the Berlin wall come down on TV.  How things have changed since then.  Places in those eastern countries are now so much more accessible.  The closest I could get on that trip was Kopački Rit in Croatia. 

But the news is not all good.  I was saddened to read about birds being “slaughtered” on wetlands in Albania.  Why has this happened?  Because the ordinary people suddenly had access to guns and activities such as hunting that had previously been the preserve of the rich. So they were taking advantage.  Shades of the French Revolution. 

How to change this?  If the wildlife and countryside has no economic value to “outsiders” then why should the locals care about anything more than getting whatever food they can from it.

We need to visit places in these countries, and show that it has as much value as the exotic resorts on other continents.



Late dragonfly

One effect of the mild autumn is that many insects are still active (at least, they are when the wind and rain stop).  So the sight of a southern hawker dragonfly this morning wasn't too surprising.  It did look the worse for wear, with chunks missing from its wings.

This one is relatively easy to identify, once it stops flying.  Even without worrying about whether the spots along the abdomen are green or blue, you can see the spots on the last couple of segments are fused rather than separate. This means it is Ashna cyanea, the southern hawker, and the colours show it to be a male.

It is a late summer dragonfly, flying well into the autumn, and November records aren't unheard of!

Photography details - the dragonfly perched on a branch above head height, so I used a Sigma 150mm macro lens on a Nikon D7000, with the pop-up flash because the light was poor and the camera was hand-held (using a tripod would have meant standing further out in the road)


Nature-watching in Europe: issue 5

A couple of weeks ago I received a request (one of many) to fill out a questionnaire.  This particular one was about eco-volunteering.  Had I done it, where, what kind, what did I think of it, etc, etc.  So that got me thinking about what I had done in the past as well as what I do now.

No, I haven’t been on an expensive eco-volunteer holiday.  That doesn’t mean to say I’m not an eco-volunteer at other times – I take part in various surveys organised by the British Trust for Ornithology, and for Butterfly Conservation, both of which get a mention in this issue.

In past issues I’ve tagged holidays with a recommended by badge.  For this issue, they’ve provided a few suggestions for what to look for when doing an eco-volunteer holiday.

If you’d like to add links, or make suggestions for places to visit, please write in the comments box below, and we’ll see what we can do.

Belgium - Kalmthoutse Heide

Butterflies - organisations, books, apps

England - Nunnery Lakes Reserve and the BTO

Greece - Delphi and Mount Parnassus with Naturetrek

Norway - Trondheimsfjord with Din Tur

Research & updates 

Spain - Teba Gorge

Volunteering - get involved

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Here come the bees - or not!

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Beyond the Bees’ Knees – How Colony Collapse Disorder affects our food supply
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