The Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens, is a very common and easily identifiable species of damselfly in the UK and adjacent parts of Eurasia, with a range extending all the way to northern China. The video below shows the process of mating and egg laying, while the links below the video will give you much more information about this intriguing species. Check out how the mating couple form the shape of a heart!
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Kenilworth Ivy or Ivy-Leaved Toadflax, Cymbalaria muralis, was originally native to Mediterranean Europe but has been naturalized to the UK and parts of the USA for hundreds of years. It is widely planted in rock gardens and along garden pathways. This hardy snapdragon-like plant is an edible and a Stepable Plant that matures to just a few inches tall, but is often found creeping along or cascading over a stone wall or ledge, the whole plant being several feet long. The purple toadflax-like flowers have two lips with bright yellow spots on the lower one. Flowers draw back into the soil or rock crevice once fertilized.
Common Heather, Calluna vulgaris, is a dominant plant in European moorland, and can also be found in some bog areas and pine forests. This hardy species of heath has come to be naturalized in parts of North America and Asia and is often cultivated in rock gardens around the world. There are close to 1000 different cultivars of this once-humble species, varying in growth form, flower color, flowering time, and other features. The natural species has tiny scale-like leaves and mostly pink flowers, and blooms in late summer.
The stickpins or stubble lichens are 30 species in the genus Calicium, which often grow on live branches of trees such as giant redwoods. Below is a closeup of the fruiting body of Calicium adaequatum, sometimes called the “tiny daisy” lichen. Click the links below the pic to see just how minute these bodies really are…! Our Creator sure likes to put a lot of detail into tiny structures! 😀
This uniquely patterned flower goes by several names including Checkered Lily, Snake’s Head Fritillary, and Guinea Hen Flower. It is Fritillaria meleagris, the genus name meaning (basically) checkered and the species name referring to guinea fowl. This plant is native to Eurasia from the UK across into western Russia. It is also widely grown as a spring bulb in gardens all across the USA. Certainly planting a few of these bulbs would provide a new conversation starter for any garden!
Great (or Northern) Crested Newts, Triturus cristatus, large for their type, are found across northern Europe from the UK to Western Russia. Females are larger than males and sport a bright yellow and black-spotted underbelly. Males have the bright belly plus two separate crests: a more scalloped or tufted version down their back and two smoother ones on the top and bottom of the tail. You may also be able to spot a silvery stripe running along the sides of the male’s tail. Watch the video below and check out the links to learn about this unique amphibian species!
Great Crested Newt
Up in the rugged, unforgiving mountains of Scotland, can any wildlife make a living? This BBC free full-length documentary film is presented on YouTube by AnimalLife. In these Scottish hills, we see that red deer and pine martens join many hardy bird species such as black-throated divers, hooded crows, ptarmigans, and reintroduced sea eagles. Follow a family of divers from a late second laying to the fledging and beyond. And follow the migration of salmon to the highest points in the river. At the end of the film is an entertaining filming diary.
The Pyrenean Desman, Galemys pyrenaicus, is one of only two species of desmans in the world. This small aquatic insectivore lives in Spain and northern Portugal, near the Pyrenees mountains. They use their long, sensitive, flexible snout to search for underwater prey — tiny invertebrates such as insects, snails, and small shrimp. Desmans are related to moles and share several characteristics with them, including poor eyesight. Desmans, however, have more powerful hindquarters for propelling them through water.
The Eurasian harvest mouse, Micromys minutus, is not only Europe’s smallest rodent, but it is also the continent’s only animal with a prehensile (grasping) tail. The nest this tiny one weaves also takes the prize for the most complex of any European mammal. The little harvest mouse splits and bends stalks of grass, eventually forming a spherical structure about 4 or 5 inches wide. These tiny rodents live only about 6 months, and even in captivity 18 months is the record.
Europe’s Smallest Rodent
This appealing little fungus, Geastrum quadrifidum, is a type of Earthstar. Some people call it the “four-footed earthstar”, more due to its vertical dancing posture — on its toes — rather than to the NUMBER of “feet” it has. Click the links below the pic to see the development and variety of this widespread earthstar’s forms, while learning more about its habitat and other specifics.
Orange Peel Fungus can be quite reddish and cup-like!
Most are more orange and have less of a cup form — click the pic to see over 150 more pics.
This is one highly variable fungus species!