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Posts Tagged ‘Rouge-Cloître’

Many dragonflies are colored with muted shades of green and brown and blend in well with their environments. Some, though, are more boldly colored and are hard to miss when they are present.

That is definitely the case for this Scarlet Darter dragonfly (Crocothemis erythraea) that I spotted last week at the Rouge-Cloître Park in Brussels, Belgium. I first noticed the bright red color of this dragonfly when it zoomed across my line of sight and I was thrilled later in the day when one accommodated me by landing on the ground not far from where I was standing.

Scarlet Darter

Scarlet Darter

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I saw Eurasian Coots (Fulica atra) a few times when I was in Brussels, Belgium this week, I was especially thrilled to spot this juvenile coot interacting with one of its parents. The color pattern on the juvenile is quite different from the adult’s, but the shape of their bills definitely shows that they are both coots.

Eurasian Coots are similar in appearance to the American Coots (Fulica americana) that I am used to seeing, though it appears to me that the white frontal shield on the “forehead” of the coot seems more prominent on the Eurasian species.

As I was thinking about the word “coot,” I realized that most people use the word only in the expression “old coot.” It made me wonder why coots are associated with a somewhat disparaging term for older men. According to an article in the Hartford Courant newspaper, “If you’ve ever seen a coot — an ungainly marsh bird that bobs its head like a hen as it swims or walks — you can see why “coot” came to denote, by the 1700’s, “a harmless, simple person,” as in “an old coot.””

I love when I have the chance to photograph the interaction between two species or two members of the same species. In this case, the eye contact and body positions tell a story that scarcely requires words.

Eurasian Coot

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It’s amazing how many different species of dragonflies I have been able to spot and photograph during my brief stay here in Brussels, Belgium. One new species for me is the Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)—there were quite a few members of this species active at a pond in the Rouge-Cloître park. Unlike some of the species that I have seen here, this species is also found in North America, where it is known as the “Four-spotted Skimmer.”

This species is so popular that,  according to one website, it won a contest in 1995 to become the state insect of the state of Alaska. That may sound a bit strange to some readers, but personally I am happy that it beat out competitors that included the mosquito. (I have heard stories that mosquitoes in Alaska are large and aggressive and possibly are even larger than dragonflies, though that may be a slight exaggeration.)

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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One of the most exciting things that I have observed during this brief trip to Brussels has been a family of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) swimming in a small pond at the Rouge-Cloître park. I have seen swans a few times before in the wild, but I had never seen baby swans. As you might expect, they are really cute. Both of the parents seemed to be very attentive to the little ones and stayed close to them at all times. The baby swans, technically known as cygnets, seemed to be very curious and energetic and interacted a lot with each other as they explored the world.

Swan babies

Swan babies

Swan babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was exploring the Rouge-Cloître (Red Cloister) Park in Brussels, Belgium last weekend, I could hear some excited peeping coming from a heavily-vegetated area at the edge of a pond. Peering through the reeds, I could just make out the dark shapes and brightly-colored beaks of a pair of adult Common Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus).

As I kept watching I began to see several smaller shapes and realized there were baby chicks with the parents—there were at least three chicks and possibly more. The chicks and the parents remained mostly out of sight, but occasionally I got a partial glimpse of one of them through the vegetation as they moved about and managed to snap off a few shots.

I am also including a shot of an adult moorhen that I spotted earlier in the day at another park, in case you are not familiar with this bird species. In the photo you can’t help but notice that Common Moorhens have large feet that lack the webbing that we are used to seeing in ducks.

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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During this past weekend here in Brussels, I managed to find some really cool dragonflies, like this Green-eyed Hawker (Anaciaeschna isoceles or Aeshna isoceles) that I spotted at a pond in the Rouge-Cloître (Red Cloister) Park. This rather large dragonfly, also known as a Norfolk Hawker, is really striking as it flies, with a combination of colors that I have never seen before on a dragonfly.

With a bit of persistence and a lot of luck, I managed to capture an in-flight shot of a Green-eyed Hawker, but mostly I waited and waited for one to land. It was a little frustrating when one of them would land in a location that was too far away or in a location that did not afford me a clear shot, but eventually I was able to capture some images of a perching Green-eyed Hawker.

I was happy to capture the last photo that shows the yellow triangle on the upper part of the abdomen that is responsible for the “isoceles” portion of the Latin name of the species.

Green-eyed Hawker

Green-eyed Hawker

Green-eyed Hawker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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