Amanita muscaria at Dunedin Northern Cemetery

Regardless of the season, there is always something interesting to see at Dunedin Northern Cemetery. This remarkable graveyard, one of the city’s oldest, has become a wonderful park in nearly 150 years of existence. Its luxuriant, diverse vegetation, its abandoned graves and, first and foremost, its tranquility have created a rich environment for many New Zealand and introduced birds to thrive. Over twenty bird species can Continue reading

Fifth instar Monarch larvae

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are famous for the epic annual fall migration they undertake to Mexico and Southern California. What is little known is that their range extends beyond North America to the Pacific, as far south as New Zealand. North American and New Zealand monarchs are the same species, so biologists believe that Continue reading

Quiberon: a former French island turned presque-isle

Presqu'ile de Quiberon

A NASA screenshot of the Presqu’ile de Quiberon

Situated in the Morbihan region of Brittany, the Presqu’île de Quiberon is a small French peninsula that used to be an island. Long ago, strong winds and currents formed a flat sandy isthmus that reattached the 9 km² territory to the mainland. Dubbed Isthme de Penthièvre, the narrow arm is no wider than 22 m in parts, just enough for cars and trains to circulate. Vulnerable to storms, it has been enlarged and reinforced by man-made dikes on several occasions since the 19th century.

Nowadays, Quiberon is a restful, invigorating and somewhat picturesque sea resort that welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Yet, tourism has not always been the dominant sector. From the second half of the 19th century fishing, especially sardine fishing, and canning concurrently developed as core industries leading to the peninsula’s Continue reading

A bow to the hard-working parents

By now, many breeding birds in Germany have seen their first clutch of the season fledge and grow to weaning age, a moment not all chicks are looking forward to. The many great tits born around my block from at least three different clutches are unwilling to embrace independence and claim it conspicuously. Parents can be seen escaping swarms of hungry juveniles, now master of flight, loudly and relentlessly gaping for food.

The young already know how to pick up food on their own but prefer it served on a plate beak, so much that they sometimes beg great tits other than their parents and even blue tits!

Parents are now cutting loose Continue reading

Return of the mystery bird

This post is related to: Guest of Honor (additional hawfinch photos)


Despite ranging extensively across Eurasia and north Africa and current population estimates reaching up to 5 millions for Europe alone, hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) are commonly known to be shy, elusive and unobtrusive birds—they are sometimes called “mystery birds” for that reason. None of these qualities seem to apply to Continue reading