What is this? Even Frans Captijn doesn’t know

Forest ranger Frans Kaptijn shares his knowledge of nature on the radio every week. Listeners can ask questions at [email protected] This time in Stuifmail takes notice of, among other things, a blackbird with a white tail, a deer print and a big chest pulling at the bark of a hibiscus tree.
Profile photo of Peter de Becker

What’s in my roof?
Jane Kesters saw something yellow decomposing near her hut. I wondered if this was a fungus or a fungus. I wonder if this is a fungus ovary. For me, a mushroom is a mushroom ovary with a hat and a leg. For convenience, I call the stemless ovary mycelium. In which case I will not know. It looks a bit like a yellow potato cow, but I can’t explain the white stuff in the back. In addition, the opening of this object is too large for a mushroom. It can also be a fruit, but the question is which tree nearby has this kind of fruit. Hopefully one of our listeners knows this.

A white-tailed blackbird (Photo: Will Pennings).
A white-tailed blackbird (Photo: Will Pennings).

White-tailed blackbird in the park
Will Pennings regularly saw a white-tailed blackbird in his garden. He wonders if this is an albino blackbird. It is definitely not an albino blackbird, because all white blackbirds are white – not a small part – and have orange eyes. We’re dealing here with blackbirds with loess. The loess blackbird has white feathers in addition to the black feathers. The eyes, beaks and legs of this type of blackbird are natural in color. Leucism is a pigment disorder. This anomaly occurs in all animals. In birds, the coloration of feathers is caused by melanin, which is a natural pigment in the body. In birds with leucism, melanin is produced, but it is not expressed in the plumage. The reason for this is the lack of certain proteins, so some feathers – like the blackbird in the photo – remain colorless. This protein deficiency is often caused by a one-sided diet or lack of food, which puts the bird in a bad mood.

Flip de Nijs made a video of a blackbird with Leucism in his garden.

Deer print (Photo: Martien Michielse).
Deer print (Photo: Martien Michielse).

Deer hoof print
In the photo that Martien Michielse sent me, you can see a hoof print in the sand. I think we’re dealing with a deer footprint here. This print, also known as the hoof print, is an indication that at least one deer is present in an area. Usually you can tell by the pattern — the shape, size, and depth of the print — whether it’s an adult deer or a fawn. With a slightly harder print, but I still appreciated that this was an adult animal. If there are many prints that you can see, you can also infer whether the deer is walking quietly or running away. The Germans use the name tritsiegel for such hoof printing. This led us to the words seal and print.

Eating in a hedgehog's home covered in leaves (Photo: Eleonore Nielsen).
Eating in a hedgehog’s home covered in leaves (Photo: Eleonore Nielsen).

Who covers the food in the hedgehog’s house with leaves?
Eleonore Nielsen has a beautiful hedgehog house in her garden. In this house there is a bowl in which you put food regularly. What was remarkable when I opened the house was that the bowl was still full of food. So it is not eaten. The most amazing thing is that the leaves were put on the food. Her question: Who does this? I’ve never heard or seen anything like this before. It mustn’t be a hedgehog because if it’s good, it’s hibernating. Now temperatures have been often over 10 degrees lately and hedgehogs may have woken up. The first thing they do is find and eat food. So that was not the case. I think of mice myself. Mice like to store food sources and then cover them well. Maybe the mouse thought of doing it in the hedgehog’s house with leaves. I’m curious if other listeners have also experienced something like this and seen the culprit.

The photo above is also from Eleonor. She was able to catch a sparrowhawk on this. This sparrowhawk is a regular visitor in her garden.

Marching oak caterpillar tanks along the Eindhoven Canal (Photo: Anke van der Meulen).
Marching oak caterpillar tanks along the Eindhoven Canal (Photo: Anke van der Meulen).

What kind of box is hanging in the tree along the Eindhoven Canal?
Anke van der Meulen saw strange boxes high in the trees along the Eindhoven Canal on the Gulbergen estate. Later, she also saw these reservoirs in Helmond. You wonder what this could be. These tall round chests seem to hang in oak trees, so I’m thinking of chests to combat marching oak caterpillars. I think oak maggots are trapped in these boxes. These larvae cannot escape because the holes are too small. But their natural enemies, such as parasitic wasps, can enter through those holes because they themselves are so small. Various species of parasitoid wasps are natural enemies of acorn caterpillars. Then these parasitic wasps lay their eggs on the caterpillars and the larvae of those parasitic wasps then eat the acorn caterpillars. The result: fewer marching oak caterpillars.

Hibiscus branches cut off (Photo: Leo Valenting).
Hibiscus branches cut off (Photo: Leo Valenting).

Great tits bare the boughs of the Hebron tree in all seasons
Leo Valentijn sees great tits regularly stripping a Hebiscus tree in his garden. Those great breasts strip the young twigs of bark and then remove the very fine white threads from those twigs. I think they do because these are delicious sweet foods. I also see that with hawthorn and not only the tit species do it there. I also regularly see pigeons stripping the upper branches. I know that hawthorn juice is sweet and contains a lot of sugar. This should also be the case with the Hebiscus tree.

Waiting for privacy settings…

Sparrowhawk in the Garden – Mark Gornes
In the video above, a sparrowhawk successfully catches sparrows in a beech hedge in Mark Gornes’ garden in Olighem. This feeding table in the conservatory could easily become a daily landing spot for sparrowhawks. In this park, the sparrowhawk finds prey of the appropriate size. Because small birds such as sparrows, tits, sparrows, starlings and thrushes are what the sparrow hawks live on. males at least. Females feed on larger prey, including pigeons.

A dead turtle (Photo: Tamara).
A dead turtle (Photo: Tamara).

Who killed this turtle?
Tamara came across a dead turtle at the fen during a walk in the woods. I wondered if this was the work of humans or animals? I believe this is a dead turtle that was released into the wild by humans. Perhaps the animal has become too big or too dangerous for the pond or garden. Unfortunately, you often see these types of turtles lying around in nature. Often the question is whether they live in the winter. I think they are dying of cold or starvation. Our native animals are looking forward to attacking a live turtle. These turtles are fearsome predators. However, if the animal dies, herons as well as mammals will sometimes try to eat that animal.

Nutcracker near a vetbol (Photo: Tom and Nellie van den Heuvel).
Nutcracker near a vetbol (Photo: Tom and Nellie van den Heuvel).

Beautiful pictures section
In the photo above, you can see a hazel grouse near a fat ball. Beautiful portrait of Tom and Nellie van den Heeuvel.

Nature advice
Next Saturday, January 21st, you can take part in a winter walk through the Oisterwijk forests from ten in the morning until twelve in the afternoon. What does the winter period actually mean for nature? Our foresters are happy to show you around this private nature reserve.

more information:
• The starting point is the visitor center at Van Tienhovenlaan 4 in Oisterwijk.

• Registration is required and can be done via this link.

• Visitor Center phone number: (013) 591 50 00

• This trip is for adults. Older children are welcome to be accompanied by an adult.

• Adults pay ten euros for membership and seven euros for members.

• Wear sturdy walking shoes.

• Dress appropriately for the weather.

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