What is this? Even Frans Kapteijns doesn’t know that

Forest rider Frans Kapteijns shares his knowledge about nature on the radio every week. Listeners can ask questions at [email protected] This time in Stuifmail, he is aware of, among other things, a sun black with a white tail, a print of a deer and large breasts pulling the bark of a Hebiscus tree.
Profile picture of Peter de Bekker

What’s in my shed?
Jeanne Keusters saw a yellowish decayed thing near her shed. She wondered if this is a fungus or a mushroom. I wonder if this is the ovary of a mushroom. To me, a mushroom is the ovary of a mushroom with a hat and a stalk. For simplicity, I call an ovary without a stalk a mushroom. In this case, I wouldn’t know. It looks a bit like a yellowed potato wedge, but I can’t explain the whitish substance at the back. In addition, the opening of this object is very large for a mushroom. It could also be a fruit, but then the question is what tree is nearby that has that kind of fruit. Hopefully one of the listeners knows this.

A white-tailed deer (photo: Wil Pennings).
A white-tailed deer (photo: Wil Pennings).

Blackbird with white tail in the garden
Wil Pennings regularly saw a white-tailed blackbird in his garden. He wonders if this is an albino variety. It is definitely not an albino, because albinos are completely white – not a small part – and have orange eyes. We are dealing here with a sun black with leucism. Blackbirds with leucism have white feathers in addition to black feathers. The eyes, beak and legs of this type of blackbird are normal in color. Leucism is a pigment disorder. This abnormality occurs in all animals. In birds, the color of the feathers is caused by the substance melanin, a natural pigment in the body. In birds with leucism, the substance melanin is produced, but it is not expressed in the feathers. The reason for this is that there is a lack of certain proteins, so some feathers – such as the blackbird in the picture – remain colorless. This protein deficiency is often due to a too one-sided diet or a lack of food, which puts the bird in a bad state.

Flip de Nijs made a video of a sunflower with leucism in his garden.

Print footprints of a deer (photo: Martien Michielse).
Print footprints of a deer (photo: Martien Michielse).

Hoof prints of a deer
In the picture that Martien Michielse sent me, you can see a hoof print on the sand. I think we are dealing here with a print of a deer. Such a print, also known as a hoof print, is an indication that at least one deer is present in an area. You can usually tell by the pattern – the shape, size and depth of the print – whether it is an adult wild game or a slurry. With a print that is a little more difficult, but I still estimate that it was an adult animal. If there are several prints to be seen, you can also infer whether the deer walked calmly or was on the run. The Germans use the name tritsiegel for such a hoof pressure. This has led us to the words seal and print.

Food in a hedgehog house covered with leaves (photo: Eleonore Nelissen).
Food in a hedgehog house covered with leaves (photo: Eleonore Nelissen).

Who covers the food in a hedgehog house with leaves?
Eleonore Nelissen has a beautiful hedgehog house in her garden. In this house there is a bowl that she regularly puts food in. The striking thing when she opens the house is that the bowl is still full of food. So it doesn’t get eaten. What is even more striking is that leaves are placed on the food. Her question is: who is doing this. I have never heard or seen anything like it. It must not be a hedgehog, because if it is good, it is dormant. Now the temperatures have often been above 10 degrees lately, and hedgehogs may have woken up. The first thing they do is look for food and eat it. So it wouldn’t have been. I think of mice myself. Mice like to store food sources and then cover them well. A mouse may have thought of doing this in the hedgehog house with leaves. I am curious if other listeners have also experienced something like this and have seen the perpetrator.

The picture above is also of Eleonore. She was able to catch a sparrow hawk on this. This sparrow hawk is a regular visitor to her garden.

Cabinets to combat oak processionary caterpillars along the Eindhoven canal (photo: Anke van der Meulen).
Cabinets to combat oak processionary caterpillars along the Eindhoven canal (photo: Anke van der Meulen).

What kind of box hangs in the tree along the Eindhoven canal?
Anke van der Meulen saw strange boxes high in the trees along the Eindhoven canal at the Gulbergen estate. Later she also saw these cupboards in Helmond. She wonders what it could be. It looks like these long round boxes hang in oak trees so I’m thinking boxes to combat oak processionary caterpillars. I think oak processionary caterpillars are trapped in these boxes. These larvae cannot escape because the holes are too small. But their natural enemies, such as parasitic wasps, can penetrate through these holes because they are so small themselves. Various species of parasitic wasps are natural enemies of oak processionary caterpillars. These parasitic wasps then lay their eggs on the larvae and the larvae from these parasitic wasps then eat the oak processionary larvae. Result: fewer oak processionary caterpillars.

Severed branches of a Hebiscus tree (photo: Leo Valentijn).
Severed branches of a Hebiscus tree (photo: Leo Valentijn).

Great tit removes the twigs of a Hebiscus tree in all seasons
Leo Valentijn sees titmice regularly stroking the Hebiscus tree in his garden. The great tits strip the young twigs of the bark and then remove very thin white threads from the twigs. I think they do this because they are delicious sweet foods. I also see that with my hawthorn and not only the titmouse species do it there. I also regularly see pigeons removing the top branches. I know that hawthorn juice is sweet and contains a lot of sugars. So must it be with the Hebiscus tree.

Awaiting privacy settings…

Sparrowhawk in the garden – Marc Gorrens
In the above video, a sparrowhawk successfully hunts sparrows in the beech hedge in Marc Gorrens’ garden in Oelegem. Such a feeding table in the winter garden can easily become a daily landing place for a sparrow hawk. In this garden, the sparrow hawk finds a prey of the right size. Sparrowhawks feed on small birds such as house sparrows, titmice, finches, starlings and thrushes. The males, anyway. The 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 by a fen during a walk in the forest. She wondered if this was the work of humans or animals? I think this is a dead snapping turtle that was released into the wild by humans. Probably the animal has become too big or too dangerous in their pond or garden. Unfortunately, it is more and more often seen that these kinds of turtles are dumped in the wild. Whether they survive our winters is often the question. I think they die of cold or hunger. Our native animals appear to attack a live snapper turtle. These turtles are fearsome predators. But if the animal is dead, herons but also mammals will sometimes try to eat this animal.

A nut tree near vetbol (photo: Tom and Nellie van den Heuvel).
A nut tree near vetbol (photo: Tom and Nellie van den Heuvel).

Beautiful photos section
In the picture above, you can see a nut tree close to a fat ball. A beautiful picture of Tom and Nellie van den Heuvel.

Nature tip
Next Saturday, January 21, you can take part in a winter walk through the forests and marshes of Oisterwijk from ten in the morning to twelve in the afternoon. What does the winter period actually mean for nature? Our forest ranger will be happy to show you around this special nature reserve.

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

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

• The visitor center’s telephone number is: (013) 591 50 00

• This excursion is for adults. Older children are welcome accompanied by an adult.

• Adults pay ten euros for participation, members seven euros.

• Wear sturdy walking shoes.

• Wear clothing that suits the weather.

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