April is usually one of the best months for photographing plants and animals. I show some plants and insects that were photographed in gardens, parks and in the forest called Nagyerdő in Debrecen (some insects where collected when I did not have my camera with me and photographed later). Among the plants there will be quite common herbaceous ones that can be found all around Europe in ruderal plant communities - but I'll try to show them in a different perspective. Most people never notice how nice these common plants may be. And by showing some rare insects, I'd like to demonstrate that sometimes there is a suprising, hidden biodiversity even in cities. Sustaining a healthy environment in city parks and gardens (e.g. avoiding insecticides, leaving some decaying wood in parks, propagating native plant species, etc.) may be a great help for animal and plant biodiversity. Beside its intrinsic value, insect biodiversity has an economical value also: different bee and fly species pollinate different types of garden and agricultural plants; many insects prey on agricultural/horticultural pests; many help by accelerating the decomposition of dead organic material, etc.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
At the beginning of March, there are usually still only common spring insects that are active in lowland forests, like in the so-called Nagyerdő forest (part of the Natura 2000) at the northern edge of the city of Debrecen. Most beetles have not yet ended their winter hibernation and this makes them quite easy to find, if one knows where to look for them. The Nagyerdő has many different tree species - it is partly a park, so there are many alien trees as well. The most important tree species for the insects are the old Pendunculate Oaks that grow here in a large number. These trees support a suprising diversity of insects. Many wasps, ants, bugs and beetles require oaks: either they feed from the oaks, or they prey on the plant-eaters. Also, decaying oak wood is the sole food source for many endangered beetles. And in winter, many arthropods hybernate under the barks of old oaks. The majority of these is still inactive in March, and one can find many rare species under the pieces of bark. Some other trees like pines and sycamores host an entirely different collection of arthropods under their barks.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
In January, there's usually not much to photograph (in Europe), mostly not when one spends his time in a city. But there are some opportunities to blow off the dust on the camera. In winter I regularly collect small pieces of moss from house walls or from tree barks so that I can search for microscopic animals in them later. For that, I use a stereo-microscope and if I find something, I make photos of it.
Monday, December 26, 2011
At the end of November, we traveled to Ómassa, a small village in the Bükk mountains to make a small trip in the beech forest. The temperature was -6 °C, here it is always a bit colder than in other parts of the Bükk. Different types of frost crytals covered the fallen leaves and stones on the ground...
Friday, December 23, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
In the middle of September I went on a cycling tour to the Aggtelek National Park in north-eastern Hungary. I took all my photography equipment with me, because I wanted to take some pictures in the unique peat bogs of Kelemér and at a little lake in Jósvafő. I started my tour in the town of Putnok and cycled up towards the peat bog. There are two such bogs close to each other near the village called Kelemér, and both of them are strictly protected. There are very few peat bogs in Hungary and these are the easternmost ones. The bogs are hidden in a dense forest and inside them so many trees (Downy Birches, willows, poplars) are growing that it is quite easy to walk past them without even noticing them. That is probably one of the reasons that these bogs remained quite intact throughout the ages. They are truly unique habitats in Hungary, where climate and the lack of high mountains do not favour the persistence of such bogs (see here).
Saturday, December 17, 2011
On the last day of August we drove out from Debrecen eastwards, towards Újléta, to a characteristic sandy habitat surounded by lowland forests and agricultural landscape. On the way we stopped at the Fancsika lakes where we searched for insects and spiders using a sweeping net in the patches of swamp habitats and the cattail vegetation by the water. Even here numerous spectacular species were found that I've never seen before, but the real sensation was found during the night-lamping.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
In the second half of August we drove to the Keleti Canal, near the town Balmazújváros (at the edge of Hortobágy National Park) for night-lamping. Countless biting and non-biting midges were swarming near the water and the lamp attracted many other insects. Only common moth species came, but from other insect groups a couple of rarer species showed up.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
In the middle of August, with some friends we traveled to an area of the Great Hungarian Plateau quite well known among tourists: the Puszta. We spent 2 days in a nature reserve called Bugac-Puszta near the village of Bugac. The nature reserve is part of the Kiskunság National Park, which is in turn part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. There are characteristic sandy plains and patches of White Poplar - Juniper woods which form a floristic association. The climate is arid and very hot in the summer. These characteristics and the unique fauna make Bugac-Puszta an excellent destination for nature photographers (but the best time to travel here is probably not August).
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I spent only one and a half hour in Kisgyőr this summer. This is a small village near Miskolc in north-east Hungary that I regularly visit for taking photos. It is surrounded by a protected landscape of warm, submediterranean slope-steppes, bush-forests and old orchards, called The Galya. The area constitutes the southernmost part of the Bükk-mountains, but its flora and fauna is more like that of the submediterranean slopes in the Balkans. Despite the very short trip, I managed to find several nice themes to photograph and I think this is a good proof that one does not have to travel far from home to find an astonishing nature.