Category Archives: Uncategorized

RED-BILLED FIREFINCH

Binomial Name: Lagonosticta senegala
Common Names: Red-Billed Firefinch, Senegal Firefinch

The Red-billed Firefinch belongs to a group of small Passerine birds of the Family Estrildidae. They are characteristically gregarious (social animals, existing in communities) and often colonial seed eaters with short, thick, but pointed bills. They all build large, domed nests and lay five to ten white eggs. They are typically tropical birds.

The red-billed firefinch captured on a manicured lawn
A Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)

Did you know:
– The nest of this species is parasitised by the village indigobird.
– Like most birds, color is the quickest identification for sex. Male fire finches are varying shades of red accented with black, gray or brown. Some species have tiny white- or ivory-colored spots on the breast or flanks. Female birds are mainly earthy brown in color and some have a pinkish wash to the face or breast

A Red-billed Firefinch captured pecking through the grass of a lawn
A pecking Red-billed Firefinch. Note white spots on flanks.

Word of the day: Dimorphic (meaning that males are easily distinguished from females)

The Village Weaver

A location in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many nests hanging from one tree. Nests are large and coarsely structured, made from woven grass and leaf strips, with a downward-facing entrance and hanging from tree branches. Inhabitant species form large noisy colonies.

Suspect: The Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus

A village weaver
A Village Weaver, also called Black-headed Weaver

Weaver

AGRICULTURAL IMPORTANCE

The Village Weaver feeds primarily on seeds and grains, making them agricultural crop pests. However, they make up for some of the damage by feeding alternatively or additionally on insects, which may be agricultural crop insect pests.

They don’t just shoplift. At least they pay for half of their shopping 😀

Identity In Name

The Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) is one of at least four blue damselflies with black markings that seem similar at a quick glance. The others include the:

– Common Blue Damselfly (male has a domed mushroom-like black mark on abdominal segment two)
– Azure Blue Damselfly (fine “U” shaped mark which has no stem on abdominal segment two)
– Variable Damselfly (wine glass or “U” shaped mark on abdominal segment two with a stem at its base)

A Male Southern Damselfly (Mercury Bluet) spotted in Spring on the leaf of a plant
A male Southern Damselfly

The second abdominal segments bear the most distinctive markings that help in the identification of the different species.

Like its specific name suggests, the Southern Damselfly spots a distinctive marking on the second abdominal segment that resembles the astrological symbol for the planet Mercury (☿). It’s alternative name “Mercury Bluet” is therefore more fitting and descriptive.

Other identification characteristics include:

– Elliptical spots behind the eyes
– Blue bar between the eyes
– Abdominal segment 9 is 80% black

The Southern Damselfly bearing identification features
A close-up shot of the Mercury Bluet showing part of the mercury symbol on the second abdominal segment as well as other distinctive features

To the untrained eye, these species all appear the same. But it can be even more fun looking out for these unique markings that give the different species the identification they possess

Asian Willow

Pink and white leaves typical of the Salix integra
Pink and white leaves typical of the Salix integra

“Hakuro Nishiki”. Sounds like a character from a Manga (Japanese comic) 🙂

An ornamental plant, the dappled willow (“Hakuro Nishiki” in Japanese)is a species of willow native to northeastern China, Japan, Korea and Primorsky Krai in the far southeast of Russia. It is widely grown for its variegated foliage, with the leaves strongly mottled with patches and blotches of white and pale pink, as seen in the photo.

Armor of Gold

An adult male Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
An adult male Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

Nostalgic of my entomology roots, I researched some interesting facts about the species.

Identification:
39-48mm in length, the brown colour and the four spots at the nodus of the wings make them unmistakable.

Sexes can be differentiated by closely observing the structure of the appendages at the end of the abdomen. The upper appendages are more ‘separated’ in the females than in the males.

Habitat & Behavior:
Found mainly by ponds, vernal pools, and slow flowing rivers between the months of May and September, the male is considered to be highly aggressive and will defend a given territory from incursions from other males of the species. The male is known to form preferences for prominent perches and will often return to the same perches around the margins of pools and ponds whilst it patrols for intruders.

Photo taken in early May 2014, Remshalden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Resource:
1,http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/f/902/t/106254.aspx
2, http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/species/four-spotted-chaser
3, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-spotted_Chaser