Fun sized…

It was an interesting morning in South Holland. The weather was as beautiful as last weekend, with clear skies and calm winds, but there was a noticeable difference in the wildlife. I suspect that most of this summer’s chicks have fledged by now and are starting to take care of themselves. Thus, droves of parents aren’t out slaving away in the fields searching for food where I can see them. In the area where I saw about a dozen grey herons last weekend, I only saw two today, and I spotted at least a half dozen cranes out foraging in the middle of pastures.

Anyway, I still managed to spot a few critters within range, and here they are. First up is our favorite European woodpecker and the only one we’ve seen so far, a great spotted, hard at work.


Here it is again taking a glance our way and showing off its “reddish crown”, which is supposed to indicate that it’s still a juvenile. “Welcome aboard, little buddy!”


I didn’t see anybody I could capture on film for a while after that, and I even started composing in my head how I would explain coming up empty, as I have done so many times before, but then I came across this beauty.


It was sticking deep in the tall weeds, so it was quite a trick to get a good look at it, and you might not recognize it yet. Luckily for us, it slowly turned around to sip nectar from the other side of that thistle blossom, and here we are.


Ta da! It’s a nice-and-fresh looking red admiral, just like the ones we have in Estabrook Park, and cousin of the painted lady, that we’ve seen both here and there. I read that stinging nettle is its “main host plant,” and there sure is plenty of that about. Best of all, at least for me, is that it finally granted me a glimpse, if slightly askew, of its fascinating ventral side.


After that, I started to make my way back to Delft, figuring that was all I was going to see, but this great egret had other plans. Despite not seeing one until two weeks ago, they were nearly as numerous as herons today.


Finally, as I neared the southern edge of Delft, I spotted a little motion in the newly mown hay lying beside the bike path up ahead, and I quickly hit the brakes on my bike. As luck would have it, I still had my camera out and strapped to my chest, so I held my breath and swung it up to see if I could get lucky again. Well, I really should go and buy a lottery ticket today because get a load of this cute little rascal.


That, ladies and gentlemen, is a stoat (Mustela erminea) also known as a short-tailed weasel or a Eurasian ermine. It’s a Mustelid, as are the mink and otters we see in Estabrook Park. I glimpsed one here once before while out riding my bike, but I didn’t have my camera with me, and it disappeared even before I could get a picture with my phone.

There were two of them poking their heads up out of the grass for just an instant at a time as they searched for something good to eat, and I didn’t dare move, so this is the only other presentable image I managed to capture.


But I’ll take it! As with the fox from just last weekend, I can’t believe I was lucky enough even to get an image at all.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

%d bloggers like this: