Archive for the Concedii Category

Window to Summer

Posted in Concedii, Plimbari on March 4, 2018 by maxpho

A shot from 2015 from the Danube Delta…

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Vipers

Posted in Canaraua Fetii, Concedii, Plimbari, Specii rare on December 1, 2017 by maxpho

For some time now I’ve been waiting for the right moment to write a post about some of the reptiles I’ve met during my field trips in Romania.

I believe that the “right moment” is close, so I’m slowly starting to post a few shots of some of the vipers and other snakes.

The first one, showing perhaps the smallest of the viper individuals I’ve ever, a young Vipera berus, with an interesting “scale bar” near-by:)

It was found in the Retezat Mountains, near the “Pietrele” cabin.

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And another Vipera berus individual, also from the Retezat Mountains, this time a fully-grown adult, of a very interesting coloration:

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One of the first Vipera berus found in the Retezat Mountains, back in 2011. This specimen was again found in 2012 and 2013 at the same location.

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A shot of my very first viper species ever found in Nature, back in 2010. This individual is of the species Vipera ammodytes mondandoni. It is found only in Bulgaria and South-Western Romania. I think that after meting this guy, handling it and take a few photographs, I was totally devoted to finding vipers and snakes in general wherever I went. “Thank you little one!”. It is also quite sad to find this shot, since, after 2011, I was not able to find any other vipers at the same location…I do suspect human activities were the main reason.

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A few shots of a young Vipera ammodytes ammodytes, a species found in south-western Romania, and one of the most recognizable vipers in Europe due to that little horn on its nose. This individual was found in 2013 while basking in the Sun; when approached it remained perfectly still, playing dead. It took some time to have it move and be friendly enough for some closeups.

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And another young of the same species, at almost the same location, but this time in 2016.

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And this time a large, actually very large, individual of Vipera ammodytes ammodytes. This guy was found hiding under a large boulder; after persuading him to come out, I’ve noticed that it was badly injured. Apparently it did recover, at least partially, and now was preparing to molt.  This is the reason for its blue eyes:

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Another viper species, one that made me travel a few hundreds of miles from home in order to find it. Rather difficult to observe due to its small size and perfect camouflage, so after two years only two individuals were found. One of them was spotted as it was rushing towards me in the grass. Its name: Vipera ursinii moldavica.

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Snakes, butterflies, birds and places

Posted in Concedii, Specii rare on July 29, 2016 by maxpho

Long time since my last post…

For the last two months (June-July) I’ve been very busy exploring places and finding new species, and not photographing as much as I would have liked. Nevertheless, here are some shots.

First, some shots from the Retezat Mountains:

Bucura Lake at an altitude of 2040 m:

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-A remote location with plenty of rare butterfly species:

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-The Retezat mountains in the morning, as seen from some distance:

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-The Moon and some flowers, from 2000 meters above sea level; our natural satellite doesn’t seem larger from that altitude unfortunately :). The shot is a composition from two differently focused images.

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-And an inspiring location, the Sarmizegetusa Regia capital:

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And now for some butterflies:

Apatura iris:

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Aglais urticae (a female with open wings, laying eggs, and the eggs):

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Neptis rivularis:

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Limenitis populi (with an “old” female up in a tree photographed by my wife, and a male on a dead frog; both male and female are of the form tremulae):

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And some shots from the Cheile Nerei area:

Argynnis paphia:

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Heteropterus morpheus:

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Polygonia c-album:

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Pieris napi:

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And some snakes:

Zamenis longissimus:

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-The horned viper (Vipera ammodytes ammodytes):

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And a large beetle, Carabus gigas:

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Finally, the last visited region, Dobrogea, with the superb area of the Macin mountains:

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A White Stork (Ciconia ciconia):

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A young Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo):

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Eudia (Saturnia) pavonia larva:

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And one of the most restricted butterflies of Europe, Apatura metis. Despite being restricted to a few locations in Romania, this individual was one of more than 80+ individuals flying around us in one small area near the Danube river.

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And with slightly opened wings, next to a dead frog:

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Nice way (this last species) to end the holiday (for now) 🙂

Retezat Mountains – August 1/5, 2015

Posted in Concedii, Plimbari, Specii rare on March 30, 2016 by maxpho

The second trip of 2015 inside the Retezat National Park. The following shots span on a period of five days and present some of the butterfly species that may be found in different areas, as well as two individuals of the species Vipera berus. This trip was focused on different activities regarding insect species mostly, not so much on photography. This year (2016) it will be a little different I think…

First, some mountain views:

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And the two Vipera berus individuals:

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And the second one, perhaps the most beautiful individual of this species ever found by me (and I did find around 20 in the last few years):

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And now, for the butterflies…

Aglais urticae:

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Apatura iris:

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Apatura ilia:

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Thecla betulae:

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Nymphalis antiopa:

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Papilio machaon:

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Nymphalis polychloros:

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Minois dryas:

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Superb few days…with superb many species…

A few days in the Retezat Mountains – 2014

Posted in ASTRO, Concedii, Plimbari, Specii rare on March 6, 2015 by maxpho

Last year, in 2014, I was lucky enough to travel a few times in the Retezat National Park. The following shots depict different species of reptiles, insects and also a few targets from the night sky. The previous year saw a lot of rain, especially up to July, thus not to many days were fruitful in terms of nature or astro-photography. Nevertheless, for me at least, it was the “year of the vipers”, since in all of the three short trips there, I had the pleasure of observing a large number of individuals of the species Vipera berus, some in a now well-known nest location, while others in different places on the road back home, but still in the same general region of Romania.

I must apologize to those viewers that expect some Astronomy-related images, but sometimes (actually most of the time) I look downwards here on Earth, not in the jungles of the cities, malls and offices, but in the natural environments in which species of insects, plants, reptiles, birds are still far (for now) from the truly destructive species that is Homo sapiens sapiens.

WARNING! This is the longest post I’ve created until now; viewing all the images posted here might take a long time…it surely took me a very long time to process and comment them.

I shall start with the first trip…

June 21-25, 2014

First, some views of the landscape, and some of the sky-scape:

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stele si munti The Milky Way with the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae, with a 100mm lens (a few frames of course, no technical details required)

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IMG_8944 In those days a comet was visible after sunset. I couldn’t miss this opportunity, so 22 frames (again with the 100mm lens) had comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS as the main subject:

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And now some of the subjects for which I’ve really went to those places: the insects.

First, the “butterfly of the year” for me: Aporia crataegi. This was the first time I’ve seen this species in Nature, despite the fact that it should have been rather common.

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Another butterfly species, quite common in these places, Zygaena osterodensis, found in rather large numbers in the grass:

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Another not-so-rare species: Coenonympha arcania arcania:

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And now one of the most abundant species in that period: Aglais urticae urticae. This species was found in adult form (butterfly) but also as crisalis and even caterpillar. Many tens of individuals were observed each day, with around 40 caterpillars and crisalis found on Urtica.

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Another not-extremely rare species: Parnassius mnemosyne transsylvanica, toghether with one egg. This egg was found by my wife indirectly while photographing an adult butterfly; she observed that the individual (obviously a female) was laying her egg, and so we could both see for the first time how a Parnassius sp. egg really looks like. Look at the details, which makes this egg look a lot like a golf ball.

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Other more common butterfly species:

Pararge aegeria tircis:

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An individual of Pseudopanthera macularia:

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We’ve also observed different caterpillars (Arctiinae sp.)…

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…like this “fluffy” and lovely-colored individual from the species Arctia caja:

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Other insects and arachnids were of course around us, but not easily visible…

Saperda scalaris

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IMG_9181Coccinella septempunctata (larvae):

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…and also a lot of snails, slowly making they way towards different food sources…

Helix pomatia:

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And now for the reptiles that we’ve met…starting with the lizards:

Anguis fragilis, the leg-less lizard.

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Zootoca (Lacerta) vivipara:

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Podarcis (Lacerta) muralis muralis:

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An amphibian: Salamandra salamandra.

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And a snake species: Natrix tessellata.

A large individual…

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And a very small individual:

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Now for a long series of images showing different individuals of Vipera berus berus:

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And three videos showing some of the individuals found in this period:

Second trip: July 17-21, 2014

In this trip we’ve traveled a lot in the area, in the Gura Apelor area (in the south-west part of the Retezat area) and even as far as Cheile Nerei in Caransebes.

Some views from Gura Apei:

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Beside the beautiful scenery of that region there are also a lot of interesting species of animals, like this rather small individual of Vipera berus berus:

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In the Nera Gorges (Cheile Nerei) area we found this curious individual of the species Natrix tessellata…

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…and some individuals of the species Rosalia alpina, one of (if not “the”) the most beautiful beetles in Europe:

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Back in the Cabana Soarelui – Carnic area in Retezat, where we’ve found, once again, some individuals of Vipera berus berus, but this time of a rather superb and a bit strange color (kind of greenish-red):

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And now for the insects, mostly butterflies:

Erebia ligea nikostrate

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An aphid colony:

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Aglais urticae:

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Cordulegaster bidentata:

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Nymphalis antiopa antiopa:

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Brintesia circe pannonica

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Apatura ilia ilia:

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Apatura iris iris:
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Melanargia galathea satnia:

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Neptis rivularis rivularis:

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The last trip: 15-17 August, 2014:

This was the last time in 2014 when we’ve visited this superb area. Unfortunately it was not a truly fruitful trip, with not so much insect or reptile species observed. Still, it was interesting to find some caterpillars preparing for transformation.

The view, as always, was a memorable one:

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First, the butterflies, in different forms:

Polygonia c-album:

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Despite finding several vipers, the only reptile photographed this time was one large individual of the species Anguis fragilis, the leg-less lizard.

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On the road back, near the Jiu River, we’ve stopped for a short trip and found a few scorpions of the species Euscorpius carpathicus with the young on their back:

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It was nice to see in all these trips that the observed species are doing quite well in places where humans (for now) don’t interfere too much. Nice to see also that scorpions have a rather large area of distribution, despite being found in small numbers.

Can’t wait for this year’s trips in the Retezat Mountains!

Max

P.S: Some of the species identifications were done by my uncle, who’s help is highly appreciated!

Cyprus insects and reptiles – October 4/10, 2014

Posted in Concedii on February 1, 2015 by maxpho

I’m taking a small break from the “Astro” posts and I’m presenting now some photographs with very different subjects from the ones in the Cosmos. There is an entire microcosmos at our feats, which in some ways is much more dynamic compared to the one above our heads.

While together with my wife on a one-week holiday in Cyprus, I had the pleasure to encounter some (a small part) of the insects and reptiles inhabiting this beautiful island.

Before I start with the species photographs, a few panoramas made by both of us in different regions and in different days.

Larnaca salt lake:

pano LarnacaKavo Greco near Ayia Napa:

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On the road towards Prodromos in the Troodos Mountains:

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And the Kouris Water Reservoir:

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As you can see, Cyprus has a lot of relief, and some very good insect and reptile habitats.

And now I will start with the first reptiles observed near Larnaca, at the Salt Lake location.

One of the first lizards observed was this very fast moving individual from the species Stellagama stellio cypriaca:

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Two other species first found near Larnaca, and afterwards also in Ayia Napa and Troodos Mountains, are the following Gecko:

Cyrtopodion kotschyi:

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And the slightly larger one, Hemidactylus turcicus:

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And now for the insects near Larnaca and Ayia Napa.

The first butterfly observed, and quite a nicely-colored one, Utetheisa pulchella, a species which might also be still present in Romania.

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And another butterfly species, this one a pair of Zizeeria karsandra, found quite often in Ayia Napa, near a small pond:

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And now for the mantis of Cyprus. These unique insects are interesting whatever habitats they are living in. In Cyprus we found all of the species present, but just for some we have photographs.

The first one, Sphodromantis viridis, found both in the populated streets of Larnaca, and in the hotel room in Ayia Napa:

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I’ve also succeeded in taking a short movie (in Full HD) of this individual:

Another mantis species, Iris oratoria:

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And another HD video, of this brown form:

And besides the species Ameles heldreichi (no photos) and perhaps the endemic Ameles cyprica (might have been observed by us, but we don’t know for sure), yet another mantis species was found, something very similar (if not a local subspecies) to the european Empusa fasciata. This one also has two general forms, one almost white, while the other brownish.

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Of course, I have an full HD video of this species also:

And my wife gathered a lot of short films also, which she assembled in the following video:

Some of the food larger mantids pray on...Truxalis eximia cypria:

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And the largest of the Cyprus locusts (Anacridium  aegyptium), found in rather large numbers in Ayia Napa:

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One of the main species I’ve wanted to find in Cyprus, was Buthus occitanus, a scorpion, found in the Troodos Mountains, near Prodromos.

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And a centipede, near Ayia Napa, possibly Scolopendra cingulata:

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And since I’m posting non-insect images, a crab found near Kavo Greko:

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Again among the reptiles/amphibians, a small tree frog (Hyla savignyi), near Ayia Napa:

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And now for the best-looking species of this short trip: the common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon), found near a small pond just outside Ayia Napa. This was a small (~7.5cm long) individual, with very nice manners, and quite friendly in front of the camera, displaying color changes as it was traveling between the branches:

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Both myself and my wife had a great time for one hour with this small green animal, and of course we couldn’t take only photographs of it, so here is also a short Full HD video:

My wife also filmed this little creature, but from many more angles and with different magnification factors:

And the last photo, showing an individual of the Cyprus ibex, found in the Troodos mountains:

IMG_5259pThis trip proved to be a very fruitful one in terms of Cyprus species found in such a small period of time, proving that the island is a very good location for wildlife photography, especially from an entomologist point of view.

Despite not having found the largest European vipers (Macrovipera lebetina lebetina), some large shedded skin parts of an approximately 1 meter individual near Ayia Napa convinced us that this is a good location for vipers. This will be one of the targets for our next trip to Cyprus.

Max

(February 1th, 2015)

In cautarea lui Osmoderma eremita – 26 Iulie 2014

Posted in Concedii on August 1, 2014 by maxpho

In fauna Romaniei exista specii de nevertebrate, in special insecte, de care majoritatea populatiei nu au auzit si nici nu vor auzi prea curand. Si asta pentru ca pe locuitori ori nu ii intereseaza cadrul natural in care se afla ori speciile respective nu sunt usor observabile. Una dintre cele mai importante astfel de specii, si foarte rara in acelasi timp, este Osmoderma eremita (Scopoli 1763), un coleopter de talie medie inscris (din pacate) in lista rosie IUCN a speciilor amenintate cu disparitia.

Unul dintre motivele acestei amenintari este taierea arborilor batrani din padurile rezervatiilor naturale. Taieri ce pe langa ilegalitatea de rigoare sunt executate si intr-un mod stupid si rauvoitor, fara cunostiinta de cauza si fara alt interes in afara banilor…Astfel de cazuri am cunoscut pana acum destul de bine, insa de departe cea mai sustinuta operatiune de acest gen am intalnit-o in Padurea Comana, la sud de Bucuresti.

Un motiv al observarii foarte rare a acestui coleopter este localizarea pe/in arbori, inaltimea, orientarea si perioada de activitate.

Avand ceva informatii in legatura cu preszenta acestei specii in zona Rezervatiei Naturale Cheile Nerei (Jud. Caras-Severin) dintr-un articol scris de Florin Prunar et al., cu care am avut placerea de a schimba si cateva mesaje in legatura cu aceasta specie, am plecat cu noaptea-n cap impreuna cu sotia si fratele ei spre aceasta zona superba. Pe traseu am oprit si la celebra Cascada Bigar:

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Dupa inca o ora si jumatate am reusit sa ajungem in chei, si sa ne asezam cortul nu foarte departe de Cantonul Damian, pe traseul ce strabate cheile de la vest la est. Dupa pregatirile de rigoare am inceput cautarile.

Primele exemplare de coleoptere gasite au apartinut speciei Rosalia alpina Linnaeus, 1758, o alta specie inclusa in lista amintita mai sus:

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Dupa nu foarte mult timp de la gasirea exemplarelor de Rosalia, stand mai mult cu ochii in sus, pe la scorburile aflate in trunchiurile copacilor, observ o sclipire metalica la aproximativ 8 metrii inaltime pe trunchiul unui arbore batran. Prima impresie a fost ca gasisem un exemplar de Cermabix cerdo, umbrele ducand la simularea aspectului unui astfel de gandac-croitor. Totusi, ma gandesc sa fac si cateva fotografii cu obiectivul de 100mm plus teleconvertorul 2x, deci la o distanta focala suficient de mare pentru a-mi permite identificarea coleopterului:

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Succes !!! Exemplarul in cauza, aflat chiar la gura propriei “case” era un Osmoderma eremita.

Evident ca doream sa il fotografiem/filmam de la o distanta mai mica, astfel ca “asamblam” o unealta specifica entomologilor cautatori prin copaci, si incercam sa il convingem pe Osmoderma sa o ia in jos. Scena cuprinzand cei doi protagonisti (eu si cumnatul meu) a fost fotografiata de sotia mea (in cateva cadre, deoarece scena se intindea simtitor pe verticala):

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Dupa aproximativ o ora de chinuri, de la ruperea betelor folosite, pana la manipularea nereusita a “uneltei”, dupa cateva intrari si iesiri din casa ale exemplarului de coleopter, avem parte de un imens noroc: un gargaune (Vespa crabro) testeaza vizuina coleopterului, iar acesta, intr-un gest de aparare, isi da drumul de la acea inaltime apreciabila, fara zbor, aproape direct in palma mea. Evident, am inceput sarbatorirea evenimentului prin cateva (zeci) de fotografii si scurte filmulete:

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Fiind destul de multa umbra in zona respectiva am fost nevoit sa apelez si la flash-ul din dotare:

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Un scurt colaj de filmulete cu subiectul in cauza:

Lasandu-se deja seara ne-am intors la cort, unde am asteptat lasarea intunericului, si am plecat la o foarte scurta plimbare prin imprejurimi, pe langa peretii calcarosi.

Aici, intalnim diferite specii de carabizi…

carab

si multe exemplare de Euscorpius carpathicus cautandu-si prada:

eurosco b

euroscorpionus 1

Si ceva lepidoptere, printre care si un exemplar de Lymantria monacha:

f1

Somnul ne copleseste la un moment dat, astfel ca scurta plimbare ia sfarsit.

A doua zi, frontul de nori ne alunga din chei, nu inainte de a mai realiza o ultima fotografie:

poiana nera

Pe drumul de intoarcere ne mai oprim in zona Portile de Fier, din nou pe un drum laturalnic, unde pe langa cateva exemplare de Cerambix cerdo, gasim si o omida de Mimas tiliae:

omida 1

Un week-end superb, in ciuda drumului de intoarcere lung atat datorita aglomeratiei cat si ploilor masive…

De abia astept sa ma intorc.

Max

(1 August 2014)