This morning I was on Dutch radio with a small interview concerning my research on ticks on medium-sized mammals in the Netherlands with the use of traffic victims. It is in Dutch, and can be found on the Vroege Vogels Website.
If you find a traffic victim of a hare, pine marten or polecat, in a forested area please contact me, as it could be interesting for my research!
Last month I organized a field excursion for the Youth group of the Dutch Association for Nature Photographers (NVN). With a group of about seven youngsters we got up really early to make the most of the beautiful light before sunrise. I had chosen the Kootwijkerveen as a location for the excursion, as it will provide plenty of photographic opportunities, also in winter. We had a lot of fun photographing the landscape and birds on the water. The most outstanding bird was definitely the little grebe. We saw multiple fights, a lot of calling, and all kinds of other spring behaviour. Just before sunrise, I took my favourite picture of the day of a little grebe on the water. I really like the juxtaposition of the blue and orange tones, together with the small grebe in its surroundings.
I have been working on Mustelids for several years now, mainly focussing on the study of traffic victims collected by volunteers throughout the Netherlands. Since I started my PhD research, another aspect of Mustelids has caught my attention, and that is the ectoparasite burden of Mustelids, with of course ticks as a main interest.
Although my sample size is still quite small, I can say that most Mustelids I have studied so far are parasitized by ticks. I have hardly found an individual without ticks! Even a picture I took several years ago of a female pine marten looking out of her denning tree includes a tick! Most individuals however are parasitized by only a few ticks, of two species: Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes hexagonus.
I found that badgers, pine martens and stone martens feed several ticks on average, with a nice distribution of both tick species. The few polecats I studied, however, were infested with many ticks (one individual carried more than 600 ticks!), mainly Ixodes hexagonus. It seems that polecats are important hosts for this tick species, although very little is known about it (I have yet to find a published study on polecat tick burdens). Seems like there is enough to do in the coming year on this front! I will try to keep you updated.
Spring is in the air! Last weekend multiple records were broken, as the highest temperatures for this time of year were measured in the Netherlands. This also means that all of a sudden flowers are popping up everywhere, birds start singing and ticks are active again. Good for my research, but also great for photography. A winter without snow and ice is not very interesting for photography, so I am happy that spring has arrived.
I found some Ficariavernanext to a ditch near my home, which gave me some ideas for photographs against the sun with reflections. Unforunately, a small dike next to the ditch blocked the setting sun, so there were no light reflections, which meant I had to try some other things. In the picture above, you see the last sunlight on the trees on the dike, some reflections of the sky in the ditch, and of course many of the flowers. In the picture below, you see some of the flowers in the blue light after sunset, changing the mood completely.
Both pictures are taken with my Canon 5D mIII and Canon 100mm macro lens.
Last month I spend most of my days working in the field, finding new sites for my PhD research. One of the new sites is located in the Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes, one of the areas in the Netherlands with the highest deer densities. The main deer species in this area is fallow deer. You can’t go for a walk without seeing at least a couple of them grazing next to one of the many roads. There are some plans to start culling this population as it has increased tremendously over the last few years, but culling has not started yet. Therefore, this area is very interesting for my research, as I want to know what this high deer density does to rodents and ticks.
Also this picture depicts my latest ideas for photography projects for this year. I am going to work on two projects, one which has something to do with mammals, and the other will focus on the many shapes and forms made by trees. For me, both of these elements come together in this picture.
This morning I visited the Dutch nature reserve Deelerwoud to search for a field site for my research. While walking in the forest, I encountered a herd of red deer crossing the road. Deer are not hunted in the Deelerwoud, resulting in a relatively high density, which makes seeing deer during a walk a lot easier compared to some other areas in the surroundings.
As I wrote in the text of my last Photo of the Month, I have been exploring new ground as a photographer on my last trip to Norway. Inspired by the dark forest, the few hours of sunlight and the snow I made this little series of four photographs. It portraits for me the dark days of winter.
This year started for me in Norway, and therefore, I chose another Norwegian landscape as my Photo of the Month. This picture is part of a series I will post on the website somewhere this month. On my way to Norway I read a book by Freeman Patterson entitled “Photography and the Art of Seeing“, which made me think about photography, and the road I want to take to become a better photographer. I have always believed that making pictures is something personal, and therefore, a picture should, in part, reflect something of the photographer. I think that intuition, and feeling are just as important when deciding what to photograph, as composition, visual design and the story. Therefore, in Norway, I went on a different tour. I took pictures of everything that caught my eye, taking the pictures quickly and without thinking (consciously) about composition. What I ended up with is a series of photographs which I would never have made if I had not decided to enter this road, as most of them are taken at moments which are not most suitable for photography, during a walk, without a tripod, in the middle of the day (if you could call 3 hours of daylight a day anyway).
This picture was taken during a hike, leaning against the wind (there was a strong wind that day) and being a little bit frustrated that we could not reach the fjell we wanted to go to, because of the high amount of snow on the road. It was a dark cloudy day, which resulted in a dark, noisy picture, which beautifully portraits my feeling at the moment.
During the Christmas Holidays I went to Norway to visit my girlfriend who is doing voluntary work at a research institute in Trondheim. Lucky for me, because the weather in the Netherlands is far from winter like, so I had a white Christmas and some snow to photograph. The only down point was the little amount of sunshine at that latitude, the sun rose above the hills around 11am and went behind the hills around 2pm. So little light for photography.
This picture was taken at 2.30pm near the National Park Forollhogna during a snow drift. It was the most beautiful day of the trip, although it was very cold with a very hard wind. As the sun coloured some of the clouds red, I could not believe my luck and took the picture.
The autumn went by in no time this year for me, as I had very little time to go out and take pictures during the weeks with the most intense autumn colours. Fortunately, I did bring my new G15 (see previous post) with me during my last week of field work for the year, and I was able to take some pictures in between work.
The above picture shows exactly that feeling, that the autumn has already left before I could really enjoy it. Fortunately, next year there will be another autumn with new opportunities! And for now, I have to do with the memory I still have of some beautiful patches of forest I visited during fieldwork, some of which (such as this birch forest) were beautifully coloured and lit by the sun.
Canon Powershot G15, 27.8mm, 1/500 @ f/2.8, iso 80