Bird, bug, butterfly and a wild variety of photos from Belarus, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland and Spain by Irish wildlife photographer Patrick J. O'Keeffe and invited guests

Sunday, 17 July 2016

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) Palaiochora Harbour, Palaiochora, Crete, Greece


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The Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is a large wading bird of the family Threskiornithidae which is in the genus Plegadis. This migratory species occurs in the warmer regions of North America, Eurasia, Africa and Australia.
 
Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds

Saturday, 16 July 2016

PALE SHOULDER MOTH (Acontia lucida) Moni Gouvernetou Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece


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The Pale Shoulder (Acontia lucida) is a macro moth in the  family Noctuidae which is in the genus Acontia. This day flying moth is commonly found in southern Europe and western Asia as fast east as India. There are also records from northwest Africa and from further north in Europe where it has occurred as a rare autumn migrant. There are two generations which are on the wing in April/May and again in July/August. The wingspan is 26–30 mm. The food plants of the lavae include Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) and Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis). 

Text © Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds.com

PALE SHOULDER MOTH (Acontia lucida) Moni Gouvernetou Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece 



Saturday, 9 July 2016

PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLY (Vanessa cardui) Moni Gouvernetou Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece


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The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) is a migratory butterfly in the family Nymphalidae which is in the genus Vanessa. It is one of the most widespread butterflies in the world and occurs on every continent except the Antarctic. 
Having over wintered in North Africa, this species migrates north and arrives back in Southern Europe in early spring. It then gradually progresses further north and recolonizes the rest of Europe over a number of generations, reaching the extreme northern part of the range by July. In the autumn, it migrates south at higher altitudes where higher wind speeds greatly assist this southerly movement to its overwintering areas. 
In the rest of its World range, similar spring and autumn migrations are undertaken but as is the case in Europe there are small sedentary populations in the tropical parts of its range.  
Alternatively known as the Thistle Butterfly and the Cosmopolitan Butterfly in North America. 

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Thursday, 7 July 2016

PURPLE MILK THISTLE (Galactites tomentosa) Pelekaniotikos River, Koundoura, Crete, Greece


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The Purple Milk Thistle (Galactites tomentosa) is a biennial herbaceous plant in the family Asteraceae which is in the genus Galactites. The genus name derives from the Greek γάλα meaning milk and refers to the dense white hairs covering the stems and leaves. The species name tomentosa means hairy in Latin. It grows up to 1 metre tall and the flowering period extends from April to July. The flower colour varies from white or pink to lilac-purple. It grows on uncultivated or barren ground, waste places, well-drained soils, pastures and roadsides. It occurs in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactites_tomentosa

Saturday, 2 July 2016

COMMON CHAFFINCH [Female] (Fringilla coelebs subspecies F. c. schiebeli) Agia Marina, Crete, Greece


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The Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) or Eurasian Chaffinch is a small tree nesting finch in the family Fringillidae which is in the genus Fringilla. It is found throughout Europe but is absent from Iceland and also occurs in Western Asia as well as parts of North Africa. The northern populations are migratory and winter in the southern part of it's range. There are many subspecies recognised including Fringilla coelebs schiebeli which occurs on Crete and also in Southern Greece and Turkey. 

Text © Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds.com

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

CLEOPATRA BUTTERFLY [Male] (Gonepteryx cleopatra subspecies G. c. insularis) Moni Gouvernetou Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece


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The Cleopatra Butterfly (Gonepteryx cleopatra) or simply called Cleopatra is a medium sized butterfly of the family Pieridae which is in the genus Gonepteryx. It occurs in Southern Europe, Northwest Africa as well as Turkey and parts of the Middle East. In Europe, this long lived species is on the wing from April to August. There are 10 subspecies recognised and the subspecies Gonepteryx cleopatra insularis is endemic to the Greek island of Crete.

Text © Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds.com

The Cleopatra Butterfly is divided into the following subspecies:
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra cleopatra  – North Africa, Portugal, Spain, Sicily
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra balearica  – Balearic Islands
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra petronella  – Ibiza
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra italica  – Italy, France, Corsica,  Sardinia
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra dalmatica  – Dalmatian coast, western Balkans
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra citrina  – southern Greece
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra insularis  – Crete
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra fiorii  – Rhodes
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra taurica  – Anatolia, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus
  •     Gonepteryx cleopatra palmata  – Cyrenaica, Libya
 Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonepteryx_cleopatra 


 CLEOPATRA BUTTERFLY [Female] (Gonepteryx cleopatra subspecies G. c. insularis) Moni Gouvernetou Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece

Saturday, 25 June 2016

WESTERN HONEY BEE (Apis mellifera) on PURPLE MILK THISTLE (Galactites tomentosa) Pelekaniotikos River, Koundoura, Crete, Greece


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The Western Honey Bee or European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is the most common of the seven species of honey bee, though historically, from six to eleven species have been recognized. The genus name Apis is Latin for "bee" and mellifera means "honey-bearing", referring to the species' tendency to produce a large quantity of honey for storage over the winter. Like all honey bees, the Western Honey Bee is eusocial, creating colonies with a single fertile female (or "queen"), many sterile females or "workers" and small proportion of fertile males or "drones". Individual colonies can house tens of thousands of bees. Colony activities are organized by complex communication between individuals, through both odors and the dance language.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_honey_bee

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa striata) Pelekaniotikos River, Koundoura, Crete, Greece


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The Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) is a small Old World passerine in the family Muscicapidae which is in the genus Muscicapa. It is the commonest and the most widespread flycatcher found in Europe and western Asia. It is one of five species of migratory flycatcher which are summer breeding residents in Europe. In late spring, it returns from its wintering areas in southern Africa and southwestern Asia. Its preferred habit is open deciduous woodland. Main prey items include small flying invertebrates and caterpillars. By September with its food supply in decline, the return migration south begins.  

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Saturday, 18 June 2016

(EASTERN) SUBALPINE WARBLER (Sylvia cantillans subspecies S. c. albistriata) Moni Gouvernetou Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece


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The Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans) is a migratory passerine in the family Sylviidae which is in the genus Sylvia. It breed in Northwest Africa, Southern Europe and Western Turkey. It feeds on small invertebrates as well as soft fruits. In the autumn, it migrates south to spend the winter in sub Saharan Africa. 
There are four subspecies which are divided into two groups: 
  •  The Western Subalpine Warbler includes both S. c. inornata which breeds in northwest Africa and S. c. iberiae which breeds on the Iberian Peninsula, in southeastern France and northwest Italy.
  • The Eastern Subalpine Warbler includes both S. c. cantillans which breeds in the southern half of Italy and S. c. albistriata which breeds in the Western Balkans, Greece (including the island of Crete) and Western Turkey. 
 The Moltoni's Warbler (Sylvia subalpina) which breeds in Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia and parts of northern Italy is a closely related species that was previously treated as a fifth subspecies S. c. moltonii. In northern Italy there is zone of intergradation between Moltoni's Warbler and Eastern Subalpine Warbler. 

Text © rawbirds.com 

Map of the breeding ranges of all five former taxa of the Subalpine Warbler complex. The grey zone in the north of Italy is of the intergradation between subalpina and cantillans. The points are locations with proven cases of sympatry. The map constructed by Lars Svensson from Shirihai et al (2001), Brambilla et al (2006), and comments from M. Ullman (© Lars Svensson).

Source:
Svensson, L. (2013a): A taxonomic revision of the Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 133: 240-248.
Svensson, L. (2013b): Subalpine Warbler variation and taxonomy. British Birds106: 651-668.

Friday, 17 June 2016

PHALASARNA, Cape Kutri, Kisamos district, Crete, Greece


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The Secrets of Ancient Phalasarna (Falasarna)
For most people Phalasarna is one of the best beaches in Crete and nothing more. And yet, right there on the core of the Gramvousa Peninsula, the ruins of ancient Phalasarna reveal a secret millennia-old world.
 


Source: http://www.crete-kreta.com/phalasarna

Saturday, 11 June 2016

COMMON MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus) Palaiochora Harbour, Palaiochora, Crete, Greece


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The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) or Waterhen is a member of the rail family Rallidae which is in the genus Gallinula. Its name derives from the old English name word 'moor' meaning 'marsh' as it doesn't occur on moorland. It is commonly encountered in marshlands, ponds, lakes, canals, estuaries as well as wet areas in reed beds. This species is a partial migrant and the northern populations move south for the winter. It occurs in most of Europe and in many parts of Asia and Africa. There are several sub species recognised. The former sub species found in the Americas, the Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata), is now treated as a full species.

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) world distribution map
Yellow: breeding summer visitor. Green: breeding resident. Blue: non-breeding winter visitor
 Source: Map By Viktor Kravtchenko - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) world distribution map based on data from Handbook of the Birds of the World (del Hoyo et al), Birds of the Western Palearctic (Snow et al) and regional field guides. Updated with the split in 2011 by the American Ornithologists Union of Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) which occurs in the Americas that was formally treated as a subspecies of Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

ITALIAN SPARROW [Female] (Passer italiae) Palaiochora Harbour, Palaiochora, Crete, Greece


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The Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae) or Cisalpine Sparrow is a small perching bird in the family Passeridae which is in the genus Passer. It is very closely related to and is intermediate in appearance between House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis). Some authorities treat it as a subspecies of House Sparrow but recent DNA research strongly supports its status as a full species. The Italian Sparrow occurs in Italy and small populations are also found in the adjoining countries of Austria, France, Slovenia and Switzerland. It is also resident on the Greek island of Crete and other Mediterranean islands including Corsica and Malta. 


Text © Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds.com

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON [1st summer] (Nycticorax nycticorax) Palaiochora Harbour, Palaiochora, Crete, Greece


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The Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), more commonly known as Night Heron, is a medium sized heron in the family Ardeidae which is in the genus Nycticorax. It is the most widespread heron in the world but is absent from large parts of North Africa, Northern Eurasia and Australasia as well as the more northern and colder regions. There are four subspecies or races generally recognised. The northern populations are migratory and winter in the southern parts of the range.

Friday, 3 June 2016

PERSIAN BUTTERCUP (Ranunculus asiaticus) Cape Kutri, Kisamos district, Crete, Greece


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The Persian Buttercup or Turban Buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus) is in the family Ranunculaceae which is in the genus Ranunculus. This perennial plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, including the Greek island of Crete. It is in bloom from March to May, height from 25 to 70mm and flower colour can be white, yellow, pink, purple or scarlet. It is widely grown as a garden cultivar.

Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds

Saturday, 28 May 2016

DRAGON ARUM (Dracunculus vulgaris) Akrotiri Peninsula, Crete, Greece


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The Dragon Arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) is a tuberous perennial
plant in the family Araceae which is in the genus Dracunculus. Alternative names include the Black Arum, Black Dragon, Black Lily, Common Dracunculus, Dragon Arum Lily, Dragonwort, Ragons, Snake Lily, Stink Lily and Voodoo Lily. It is the largest arum found in Europe with a height of up to 1.5m and a spread of 1.0m. It is native to Southeast Europe and occurs in the Balkans, Greece including the island of Crete, Southwest Turkey and the Aegean Islands. It is absent from Cyprus. It has been introduced to other parts of Europe as well as Canada and the USA. It also grown as a ornamental garden plant.
Text © www.rawbirds.com

Monday, 23 May 2016

BLUE ROCK THRUSH [Male] (Monticola solitarius) Kokino Chorio, Crete, Greece


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The Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) is in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae which is in the genus Monticola. Although superficially thrush-like in appearance, it is a species of chat that was formerly placed in the thrush family Turdidae. It breeds in  northwest Africa, southern Europe and across central Asia in a narrow band to Japan. There are five races or sub species recognised. The western population is sedentary but the eastern population is mainly migratory, wintering in sub Saharan Africa and southern Asia.
 Text © www.rawbirds.com

Friday, 20 May 2016

EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) Palaiochora Harbour, Palaiochora, Crete, Greece


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T
The Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) is of the family Columbidae which is in the genus Streptopelia.
Over the last 150 years or so this dispersive species has greatly expanded its original range which stretched from Turkey eastwards to southern China and the Indian sub-continent. The first record for Europe was from Bulgaria in 1838 and by the end of the 20th century it had colonised the rest of Europe with the exception of Iceland but including the Canary Islands as well as the North African countries from Morocco to Egypt and parts of the Middle East. First record for Britain was in 1953 followed by the first for Ireland in 1958.   
To the east of its original range, it has also spread northeast to most of central and northern China as well as Japan. 
In 1974, less than 50 escaped from captivity in the Bahama Islands and from there it spread to Florida. It is now found in nearly every state in the USA, as well as in Mexico. 
 
Patrick J, O'Keeffe / Raw Birds

Saturday, 14 May 2016

(EASTERN) BLACK EARED WHEATEAR [Male] (Oenanthe hispanica subspecies O. h. melanoleuca) Cape Kutri, Kisamos district, Crete, Greece


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The Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) is a migratory passerine in the family Muscicapidae which is in the genus Oenanthe. Two subspecies are recognised, the Western Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica hispanica) breeds in Northwest Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Southeast France, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. and the Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica melanoleuca) occurs in the rest of the Balkans eastwards to the Caspian Sea and south as far as Iran. Some males of both subspecies are of the pale throat-ed form. It winters in sub Saharan Africa.

Monday, 2 May 2016

CRETAN FESTOON BUTTERFLY (Zerynthia (Allancastria) cretica) male at Cape Kutri, Phalasarna, Crete, Greece

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The Cretan Festoon Butterfly (Zerynthia (Allancastria) cretica) is an Old World swallowtail butterfly of the family Papilionidae which is in the genus Allancastria. This endemic species is found only on the Greek island of Crete but some authorities consider it to be a subspecies of the Eastern Festoon (Allancastria cerisyi) and give it the scientific name (Allancastria cerisyi cretica).  
Having overwintered as a chrysalis, the butterfly emerges from mid-March. The flight season can extend into early June. Eggs are layed on Birthworts (Aristolochiae).Two species occur on Crete which are also the larval food plants, Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia sempervirens) and Cretan Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia cretica) which is endemic to Crete as well as Karpathos.
 
Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds

Sunday, 1 May 2016

POPPY [CROWN] ANEMONE (Anemone coronaria) Samariá Gorge, Mousoures, Crete, Greece


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The Poppy Anomone (Anemone coronaria) is a perennial plant in the family Ranunculaceae which is in the genus Anemone. Alternative names are Crown Anomone or Spanish Marigold. This tuberous herbaceous flowering plant is the commonest anemone that occurs over most parts of the Mediterranean Region. The flowering period is January to April. Height is 35 to 75mm and flower colours include blue, lavender, pink, purple and red. It is widely cultivated as a garden plant.