birdienl: (Summer)
It's been some time since I posted, I have been on holiday and after that, recovering from my holiday ;-)
As you might expect from me, first things first: my holiday pictures!!

This year, I went outside of Europe for the first time! I went to Canada, first four days to a scientific conference in Guelph, followed by a holiday in Toronto and Ottawa.



More pictures! )
birdienl: (LBD Jane and Lizzie)
 photo 11Mirabellgarten_zps6c411c87.jpg

Last week, I went on holiday. First, I visited the Austrian city of Salzburg, for the second half I went to Munich in Germany. Here I met up with a friend of mine who lives there. I had a really lovely time with lots of history, culture and beautiful nature and it was really nice to spend time with my friend.
I want to share with you some of the best sites I saw, I hope you enjoy it!
More pictures under the cut! )
birdienl: (History castle)
- 1-20: Regency Era icons for [livejournal.com profile] history20in20
- 21-46: Various icons made for [livejournal.com profile] downton_stills, [livejournal.com profile] ouat_stills, [livejournal.com profile] the_histories, [livejournal.com profile] greatbritain_ic, [livejournal.com profile] comeholdmyheart and [livejournal.com profile] seasons_contest
(21-28: Downton Abbey, 29-30: Pride and Prejudice '95, 31: Persuasion '95, 32: The Paradise, 33-34: The Other Boleyn Girl, 35-36: Red Riding Hood, 37-38: Enchanted, 39-44: Once upon a Time, 45-46: stock)



One man's ways may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best )
birdienl: (Default)
In the olden days, scientists looking for new species and habitats would simply trek into it. Nowadays, the Internet is an unmissable help even in these areas of science. In 2005, scientists using Google Earth to look for unknown wildlife hotspots 'discovered' Mount Mabu in Mozambique, the largest area of pristine medium-altitude rainforest in Africa. The rainforest is now frequently referred to as the 'Google rainforest'.

The Mount Mabu rainforest is so unspoiled, ironically, because it is surrounded by an area devastated by the Mozambique Civil War (1977-1992). Since 2009, the forest is a protected area under regulation by the Mozambique government.

Many new species have already been discovered in the rainforest, among which are a pygmy chameleon and multiple snake and butterfly species. In addition, the forest seems to be a refuge for many species on the Globally Threatened List, new population of at least seven threatened bird species have already been found.

birdienl: (Default)


I'm lucky enough to live across the road from a forest. As the autumn colours are at its prettiest at the moment, I took a good long walk last Sunday and also made some pictures. 


Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower )
birdienl: (Default)
When I found a fairy ring of fly agarics during a walk in the forest this week, I knew I had found the perfect subject for my next '100 things' post!

A fairy ring (also sometimes called elf circle or pixie ring) is a naturally occuring ring of mushrooms. Fairy circles start from one spore in the center of the ring. Underground, the fungal mycelia grow out in all directions. Where nutrients in the soil are depleted, the fungus dies, so only the outer ring of a fairy circle can be said to be alive. In autumn, the fruiting bodies of the fungus (mushrooms), poke their heads out of the soil, forming the fairy circle we see. These mushrooms are therefore not seperate organisms, but all part of the underground fungus. If a fairy circle is seen surrounding a tree, the fungus is living in a commensal relationship with the roots of the tree. 

There are about 60 species of fungi known which can grow in fairy ring pattern. The fungus Marasmius oreades is even known as the fairy ring champignon! Fairy rings can grow very large (up to multiple 100 meters) and in these cases the organism is also very old. 

Fairy rings have of old been surrounded by a great deal of folklore. Their name in all the major European languages points to supernatural origins: sorcerer's ring (ronds de sorciers) in French and witches ring (Hexenringe) in German. In German tradition, fairy rings where believed to be the site where witches danced during Walpurgis Night, in Scandinavian and Celtic tales, it was the result of elves or fairies dancing and in Tyrol, it was said a fairy ring was the result of a fiery tail of a dragon. Many folk tales consider fairy rings as dangerous places, best avoided. Multiple things are said to happen to those who enter a fairy ring: you will die young, you will become invisible to anyone outside the ring or may find it impossible to leave!


birdienl: (Default)
Various icons made for [livejournal.com profile] downton_stills, [livejournal.com profile] ouat_stills, [livejournal.com profile] botanicalstills, [livejournal.com profile] greatbritain_ic, [livejournal.com profile] belles_epoques, [livejournal.com profile] the_histories and [livejournal.com profile] comeholdmyheart


    

- 1-6: Downton Abbey
- 7-8: Emma (2009)
- 9: Emma (1996)
- 10-12: Pride and Prejudice (1995)
- 13: Northanger Abbey
- 14: Sense and Sensibility (1995)
- 15: Great Expectations (2011)
- 16: Our Mutual Friend
- 17-19: Cranford
- 20-21: North and South
- 22: Jane Eyre (2011)
- 23: Jane Eyre (2006)
- 24: The Young Victoria
- 25: Bright Star
- 26-27: Ever After
- 28: Breakfast at Tiffany's
- 29: Australia
- 30-33: Once Upon a Time
- 34-41: Art & Stock

A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live? )
birdienl: (Default)
The world is illuminated by glowing organisms. Glow-worms and fireflies are perhaps the best-known members of a group of creatures who glow in the dark - also known as bio-luminescence, but there are many more insects, jellyfish, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, fungi and microorganisms who possess this ability.

The chemistry of the glowing is similar in all these animals. Central are the molecules known as luciferins, which emit light when they are oxidated (a similar reaction to burning, but with all the energy released as light in stead of heat). There are different luciferins, which emit light of different wavelengths, meaning we can animals glowing with different colours. Glow-worm luciferin emits green light, while the luciferin found in most marine creatures produces a blue glow. Glows in yellow and red can also be found within the animal kingdom. The glow of deep-sea fish is usually not produced by the fish itself, but by bio-luminescent bacteria they house in a special organ. 

Glowing is done for a variety of reasons. Glow-worm females use it as a beacon to attract males, while glow-worm larvae seem to emit the light to warn predators they are toxic. Bio-luminescence in fungi probably serves to attract insects which disperse the spores. Anglerfish dangle a glowing lure in front of their mouth to attract prey withing striking distance!


birdienl: (Academia)
When people are asked what the largest organism on the planet is, most will answer the blue whale or some dinosaur. Not many of you were thinking of something as a fungus or a tree, right?

Still, it is the honey fungus Armillaria ostoyae and the quaking aspen Populus tremuloides who battle for the title of largest living organism!

Pando (Latin for 'I spread') is a colony of aspen trees in Fishlake National Forest in Utah. By researchers these colony was determined as one single living organism, linked by a massive underground root system and probably up to 80.000 years old (which causes 'Pando' to be also in the race for oldest living organism!) The colonly encompasses 43 hectares (103 acres) and has around 47.000 stems, who continually die and are replaced from the root system.

However, in 2003 a large fungal colony in Malheur National Forest in Oregon was described by scientists, which rivals the 'Pando's' claim. The colony, growing from hyphae underground, spans 2200 acres of area. The organism is estimated to be around 2400 years old and the total mass might be as large as 605 tons!

As it is hard to measure these things, it might very well be there are other, even larger colonies of trees or fungi in the world, but these numbers are already very impressive!

birdienl: (Default)
You probably all experienced it, the lovely smell of a forest after rain. It's very distinctive, but what makes it smell so good? 

It can be caused by multiple things. One of the main reasons is a group of bacteria called Actinomycetes. These very common bacteria grow in the soil, in damp and warm conditions. When the soil dries out, as in summer, the bacteria produce tiny spores. Rainfall kicks the spores up into the air and we breathe them in. The spores have a typical, earthy smell, which we associate with rainfall. 

Another typical after-the-rain smell comes from the volatile oils plants and trees secrete. The oils collect on the ground and on rocks and when the rain reacts with the oils, it is carried as a gas through the air. Most people consider this a fresh and  pleasant smell, and it even been bottled and sold for it's aromatic qualities!




At Ascension Day, I visited Amerongen Castle. I posted my pictures from the visit at [livejournal.com profile] all_castles. If you're interested, you can read about it here


birdienl: (Default)
Possibly some of you may know the answer to this day's question/fact from high school biology, but it was something I was thinking about this week as the trees get more and more green with every passing day here in The Netherlands.

Plants (or at least their leafs) are green because their cells are filled with a pigment molecule called chlorophyll. Then why is chlorophyll green? As you probably know, plants derive energy from sunlight by a process called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is central is this process, as it actually absorbs the light. However, it does not absorb all the light, but mainly the blue and red portion of the light spectrum. This means the green portion of the light is reflected and this why we/our eyes see plants as green. So what we actually see it the 'energy-waste' of the plant.

A green sea slug called Elysia chlorotica, has been found to use the chlorophyll from plants it has eaten to perform photosynthesis for itself! It is so far the only animal who has been found able to do this.

birdienl: (Default)
Various icons made for [livejournal.com profile] downton_stills, [livejournal.com profile] ouat_stills, [livejournal.com profile] belles_epoques, [livejournal.com profile] history20in20, [livejournal.com profile] the_histories, [livejournal.com profile] greatbritain_icand [livejournal.com profile] botanicalstills

   

- 1-6: Downton Abbey
- 7-8: Jane Eyre (2011)
- 9-10: Little Dorrit
- 11: Tuck Everlasting
- 12: Emma (2009)
- 13: Pride and Prejudice (1995)
- 14: Garrow's Law
- 15: The Duchess
- 16: Pan Am
- 17-18: The Tudors
- 19: The Other Boleyn Girl
- 20-21: Elizabeth
- 22: The Hunger Games
- 23-28: Once Upon a Time
- 29-30: Sherlock (BBC)
- 31-39: Art & Stock

- 40-47: Catherine Cookson adaptations (The Wingless Bird, Tilly Trotter, The Tide of Life, The Girl, The Round Tower, The Rag Nymph, The Dwelling Place, The Glass Virgin)


Now you've made your choice. And you're going to regret it. Forever. And all you'll have is an empty heart and a chipped cup. )
birdienl: (Default)
53 various icons made for icontests at [livejournal.com profile] the_histories, [livejournal.com profile] comeholdmyheart, [livejournal.com profile] period_rumble, [livejournal.com profile] ouat_stills, [livejournal.com profile] botanicalstills, [livejournal.com profile] greatbritain_ic and [livejournal.com profile] seasons_contest, requests and an icon battle at [livejournal.com profile] costume_awards


   

- 1-4: Downton Abbey
- 5: Our Mutual Friend
- 6: Sense and Sensibility (2008)
- 7-9: Pillars of the Earth
- 10: The Messenger
- 11-12: Once upon a Time
- 13-14: Colin Firth
- 15-28: Art, History and Stock
- 29-38: Tea
- 39-53: Icon battle at [livejournal.com profile] costume_awards (Atonement, Count de Monte Christo, Cranford, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Jane Eyre (2011), Little Dorrit, North and South, Pride and Prejudice (1995), Sherlock Holmes, The Tudors, The King's Speech)

+ 1 Return to Cranford William/Peggy picspam for [livejournal.com profile] comeholdmyheart
+ 1 coat of arms for [livejournal.com profile] period_rumble


I hope it is not vulgar in me to suggest that you find some way to overcome your scruples.  )

And, last but not least: check out this new icontest community for lovers of everything period, costume or fantasy related

[livejournal.com profile] belles_epoques     [livejournal.com profile] belles_epoques      [livejournal.com profile] belles_epoques

birdienl: (Default)
My European friends have probably already seen enough snow in their own surroundings (and maybe be inconvenienced by it), but I couldn't resist posting some snow pictures anyway.

The Netherlands is a small country, but still weather differences can be rather large. Monday I was at my mum's in the North of the Netherlands, where there was a small, civil layer of snow and a beautiful blue sky, which made for some lovely pictures.



It's an agricultural area, as you can see. Actually, it's very dreary in the winter usually, but snow makes everything look beautiful.

Walking in a winter wonderland... )
birdienl: (Default)


Hi guys! Like I said in some previous post, I went on holiday to England (Brighton to be precise) last week. Some of you asked whether I post about what I did, so here you go! (Not all of the pictures are very good, it's mainly because the weather was very clouded and rainy, leaving the pictures a bit bleak) 
No tender-hearted garden crowns, no bosomed woods adorn, our blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed Downs, but gnarled and writhen thorn )

birdienl: (Default)
This weekend, I went with my sister and a friend for a walk in a rather unique piece of nature. I grew up and my mother still lives at the Wadden sea coast, an intertidal area inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. At the small town of Peasens (I think in English it could be pronounced something like Paisence), there is a pier extending into the sea for about a mile. I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took with you!
Secretly trying to persuade you to visit this beatiful piece of nature when you ever visit The Netherlands )

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