Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Dark Variety of Silver-washed Fritillary in Bjerge skov south of Horsens.

Argynnis paphia: Silver-washed Fritillary/ Kejserkåbe; 
dark variety :  Argynnis paphia f. valesina
an orange male meets the valesina

In the month of  July the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)  is easy to observe in Bjerge/Bjerre skov, a forest south of Horsens. On this day in mid July there were numbers of the pretty orange male flying around among the brambles. The Danish name is Emperor's Robe, and the beautiful deep orange colour with the spots and stripes would fit an emperor very well.
But suddenly came a dark variety, which we had never seen before.There was even a date between an orange male and a dark silver-washed female upon the road. 

This dark variety was named by a famous English lepidopterist Frederick William Frohawk, who named it after his daughter Valezina and called it Argynnis paphia f. valesina.  This spectacular form occurs in a small percentage of females. It is quite distinctive in flight looking like an overgrown ringlet and has the common name of the Greenish Silver-washed Fritillary.

Argynnis paphia f. valesina
Frohawk was the author of Natural History of British Butterflies (1914), The Complete Book of British Butterflies (1934) and Varieties of British Butterflies (1938).  At seven he spotted and caught a rare Pale Clouded Yellow butterfly.  In ab. 1880 Frohawk concentrated on illustration and obtained his first commission for illustrating The Field. Frohawk was encouraged in his work by Lord Walter Rotschild, who later bought his water-colours of butterflies His butterfly collections are now part of the Rothschild collection in the Natural History Museum at London.

Argynnis paphia f. valesina

Silver-washed Fritillary/Kejserkåbe

The Silver-washed fritillary /Kejserkåbe in Denmark:
The spread of the Silver-washed fritillary is somewhat dispersed in Denmark. It has disappeared from large parts of Jutland and Funen. It was earlier widespread in hardwoods in all parts of Denmark.

Problems: The silver-washed fritillary is found in forest glades - and such glades should not be either drained, fertilized or sprayed with pesticides - but hay harvesting and extensive grazing during period would be beneficial. Livestock in the forest is also beneficial,since it brings light and warmth and improved conditions for the violet, which is the host plant of the Silver-washed fritillary.

In the last time of their flight period the Silver-washed fritillary flies often to other habitats, sometimes to residential areas.

The Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia)  is on the Danish red list, but it is neither protected or listed in Denmark.

Source: Fugle og Natur, Michael Stoltze; British wikipedia, 
photo: Bjerge/Bjerre skov July 2014: grethe bachmann     

Monday, July 21, 2014

Boller Castle Park, Roses

Louise Odier

I paid a visit to the lovely rose park at Boller castle the other day . The roses are beautiful  - of course they are - I love roses. They have a fantastic history and origin, and the scent of roses is the most beautiful scent in the world! 

The name of the rose in the first picture is "Louise Odier" -  and it is a socalled Bourbon rose.
The Bourbon rose derives from a small island close to Madagaskar, Ile de Bourbon (Its name today is Reunion).

It was a tradition upon this small island to plant roses as a hedge between the fields. The roses used for this purpose were the damascene rose "Rose des Quatre Saisons"  and  "Parson's Pink China". The China rose came to Ile de Bourbon in the end of the 1700s from China via India.

The French botanist Breon found in 1817 a plant with very beautiful flowers in one of the hedges upon the island, where the two rose species grew. He moved the rose back to his private garden and sent seeds to the royal gardner in Paris. From these seeds came the rose "Rosier de I'lle de Bourbon". It was a very vigorous plant with shiny pink half-filled flowers. From the damascene roses it had inherited a fine scent and its blooming in autumn.

The Bourbon roses were used for new crossing experiments by the European rose breeders - and in the 1800s several new Bourbon roses  arrived.

One of the most famous Bourbon roses is "Souvenir de la Malmaison". The name is a memory of empress Josephine, who  laid out a magnificent garden at the castle Malmaison outside Paris.

Below: various roses from the garden: 

Isabella Rossellini

Kitty Harkness
Astrid Lindgren

photo Boller Castle, 19 July 2014. grethe bachmann

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Eurasian bittern / Rørdrum

 Botaurus stellaris


The Eurasian bittern or great bittern  is one of the most peculiar birds in Denmark. The Danish name is Rørdrum.

 It is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, and it is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds AEWA applies.

The Eurasian  bittern is a medium-size heron with a lenght-striped,  goldenbrown pliumage. When it is disturbed it shows its striped underside and stretches the head and neck up into the air. This makes it almost invisible in the reed beds. The bittern is a rare sight, it is extremely well camouflaged, it lives very hidden and is very shy - but in return the male bittern delivers the mystic song in spring  -  in Denmark called PAUKEN - which is so strong that the sound can be heard for miles. 

The Eurasian bittern is spread in Europe and in a broad belt through Asia and North Africa, except in the northerh Scandinavia. It breeds spread in most of Europe, but is most numerous in eastern Europe, while it breeds only sporadically in the British Isles and in southern Europe. 

In Denmark the bittern breeds spread in most of the country, except Bornholm. The bird occurs in large reed beds and marshlands, and it is common at the fjords of West Jutland. The best locality in Denmark for the bittern is the birds sanctuary Vejlerne. Here are about one hundred pauking males. There is a good chance to experience these birds, especially in July, where they are flying around a lot. 

The Danish Eurasian bittern is probably a resident bird as far as the winter climate allows. If the habitats are frozen, the bittern has to seek other habitats, or it might overwinter primarily in western and southern Europe. 

The bittern's food is fish, amphibians and other little animals.  

photo:  habitat of the bittern in Lille Vildmose

Folklore/ Legend
No other bird in Denmark is surrounded by so much mystery as the bittern. Both the hidden ways of living, the owl-like flight and the strange voice, which sounds like the roar of a bull, have contributed to this mystery. People were scared of this mystic bird who had a voice as strong as any mammal, and furthermore it was  prancing around in the night hours - and when people met it in the dark of the night they were convinced it was a ghost.

The voice of the bittern created legends about the farmer's water cows roaring and yearning to get ashore.
A brutal landlord from Limfjorden was hated by everyone, and after his death his spirit was hazarding like a big black bird across the landscape, flying with silent wing beats and crying the hoarse scream of the bittern.

In the 1600s the voice of the bittern was compared to the roar of a bull, which is also seen in the Latin name Botaurus. With its beak stuck under wing or down under water, mud or eath its roar could be heard far away. 

The sound is also compared to deep tones from a far away bell buoy, or a foghorn, as when the wind is howling into a barrel. The voice of the bittern was called the rarest sound in Denmark, a strange hollow voice like the hooting of a distant steamer ,or the sound you made as child when you were blowing into an empty water bottle.  it is called the rarest sound in denmark , a strange hollow voice like the hooting of a distant steamer or like the sound you made as child when you blew in an empty water bottle, but only much more powerful.

The farmers took many omens from the voice, if it was heard early spring it would be a fertile harvest.
If the bittern was pauking in the reed rain and storm would come. If the bittern was pauking for a long time it meant that war would come. 

The claws were  - mounted in gold or silver- used as toothpicks. 

 photocopy: wikipedia

source: Brøndegårdsamlingen, folk og flora 2 ; DOF Danmarks fugle,

photo: grethe bachmann, Lille Vildmose, July 2014.