Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beavers: European v Canadian

I recently took this photo of a birch tree in the Patvinsuo National Park in Finland. It shows the work of a beaver, but this is not the work of a European Beaver Castor fiberis as you might expect, but rather that of a Canadian Beaver Castor canadensis (aka North American Beaver). Such field signs are identical for both species but it is know that this area and indeed most of Finland only has the Canadians, which where introduced to Finland when the locals became rare due to trapping.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brown Bear at dawn

Another photo from my recent Finland trip. A Brown Bear in forest near Lieska at dawn.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Back From Finland

Another great trip in Finland with the Karelia region once again turning up the goods! In the border zone between Finland and Russia we saw 11 different Brown Bears and 5 different Wolverines, at 3 different places. Including, incredibly, a male Wolverine that hopped, in that funny way that they do, through the forest before us as we ate breakfast! The clip below (sorry for the poor quality, I just had to grap it quick on a small camera when the Wolverine appeared) is of another one we saw from a hide. We also saw Forest Reindeer and Arctic Hare and birds such as White-tailed Eagle, Waxwing and Hazel Grouse.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Off to Finland again

So I am off to Finland. Guiding a similar trip to the one I did last year (time has flown... again) to the Karelia region in the border zone between Finland and Russia. Main targets are Brown Bear, Wolverine and Wolf. Hopefully I will have some photos to put on here when I get back...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Board or Bored Beaver?

Just sorting through a few photos and I came across this from my recent trip to Poland. It shows the gnawed wooden planks on a birding trail board-walk... the work of a European Beaver. Why do they do this ? There is nothing to eat there! They cannot be trying to fell a board-walk! Are they simply sharpening their teeth ? Do they gnaw timber for fun ? I await your answers...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Purple Emperor

Another great European butterfly is the Purple Emperor Apatura iris. This one, snapped in the Bull Hills recently, is a bit scruffy and it looks like a bird has taken a peck out if its right wing, but it is still a stunner!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The "Butcher Bird"

When out birding or butterflying or just walking, you find all sorts of things and learn much about other aspects of natural history. For example last week when in the Aggtelek National Park in NE Hungary I found this.... a Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita impaled on a thorn by Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio. This small shrike is known as the "butcher bird" in folk-English because of its habit of storing prey in this way, on thorns, sharp twigs, barbed wire, etc. The victim is half-eaten and there is a parasitic wasp on the exposed flesh near the thorn. Aggtelek, Hungary, June 2010.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Butterfly Trip

Just finished a trip around NE Hungary with a group of butterfly and moth enthusiasts. We ran up a spectacular list of these amazing invertebrates including some large colourful species like this Swallowtail Papilio machaon in the Bukk Hills.