50 Red crosbills!

While walking in the woods of Gees (Drenthe, the Netherlands), to our surprise we noticed several groups of crossbills flying between firs and oak over our heads.

RikenMon's Natureguide Red crossbill Loxia curvirostra P1090993

Red crossbill males are orange-red with some gray stripes on the chest.

Crossbills have a crossed tip at their thick bill enabling them to get seeds out of cones. Thes smart birds breed early in the season because in winter thick fir cones provide plenty of food. And if they run out of fir cones they move on to pine cones.

RikenMon's Nature Guide crossbills Loxia curvirostra P9025692

Several crossbills between the branches, up high the colors are not very clear.

Apart from the bill, they are very colorful birds. Unfortunate up in the tree the colors disappear and turn to grayish like so many other birds. However close inspection learns they are red-orange and bright yellow.

RikenMon's Nature-Guide crossbill Loxia curvirostra P1090995

This young male becomes red already (unfortunately the crossed bill tip just behind a branch )

The arrival of a dog pack meant they moved out of our vision, but they were still noisy for a while. For us, it was our first encounter, but in the Netherlands, they are doing fine in the local fir and pine forests.

Bug fix report FIXED!

New version available!

Below bug is solved in version 2.4 (available from the AppStore)

To our App users on iPhone:

We found a small bug in our App!

On our data page, one can pre-load photos so one can work offline when on a trip. There is also a button "check for new info" to make sure all animals have the latest data. Now, pre-loading photos without doing first the "check for new info" can, in fact, result in unexpected behaviour.


We will correct this in our next App release.

Best regards and happy discoveries, Erik and Monica

The Camargue

The Camargue is an area in southern France on the Mediterranean coast, right next to Marseille. For years, it has been an area known for bird lovers because there is such a variety of birds. So it was about time we visited the Camargue!

Flamingo,Flamingoes,  Phoenicopterus ruber RikenMon's Nature- guide  P6124473

There are large groups of flamingos in and above the lakes.

When we told friends about our plans, they responded differently, but none got excited or strongly recommended our visit. Some remarks we received: boring, much of the same, lots of mosquito bite and that it would be hot.

Pond turtle, Emys orbicularis, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090183Coypu, Myocastor coypus, RikenMon's Nature-guide P6124516

1) Pond turtle is easy to miss because only their head protrudes above water level except when the level is low. 2) Coypus resemble beavers but have a thin round tail.

Well, we went anyway, and the first day we found no truth in our friend's advice. It was not dull, hot or mouldy. But a lot of other tourists were present, and it seemed as though the whole area was only furnished to support the beach fever. On the coast, we found large parking lots full of huge campers, hotels and mega campsites. The whole beach as far as you could see populated with umbrellas, the chance of seeing a bird looked very slim. We wondered why we were here!

Night heron, Kwak, Nycticorax nycticorax, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090221African sacred ibis, Heilige ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090188Goldfinch, Puttertje, Carduelis carduelis, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090057

1) The Night heron belongs to the Herons, 2) The African sacred ibis is a lot bigger than the Glossy ibis, 3) Goldfinch like to eat the seeds of thistles and wild teasel.

We went inland, towards the lakes. In the distance, we saw the first flamingos already, and before we got there, we noticed several little reed singers as well as Goldfinches who fed on Thistle seeds. The particular white horses and black cows of the Camargue and several different seagulls, terns, butterflies and flies. In the evening, one of our friend's advice came right; we fled into our van to escape the mosquitoes!

Cows of the Camargue RikenMon's Nature-guide P6134534

Horses of the Camargue, RikenMon's Nature-guide P6114399-003

The Camargue is famous for its black cows and white horses, rice fields, olive groves and salt mining.

The next day it was time for the bird park. The first thing we saw inside was a sick stork in a cage; this is not what we wanted to see! But luckily, this was an exception, the rest of the animals were outside, they were only lured with food to stay in the park. By lunch, we left because some school classes arrived and tranquillity for animal observation is difficult with the enthusiasm of children that watch them as well.

Etang de Vaccares, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090131

Etang de Vaccarès

We decided to drive around the largest lake, the Etang de Vaccares, to visit the information centre. Passing rice fields on the way we discovered it was closed for the day leaving us with a walking path. Here we saw a beaver, a Scarlet dragonfly, Glossy ibis, Black-winged stilt and many herons. Strangely with all those big birds, you tend to forget the smaller birds. You can hear them in the trees, but they are difficult to spot between the leaves. While the herons just can not be missed on the ground or in the sky. We went back to the bird park for a second walk around. But in the heat of the day at 37 degrees with our photo gear, it was a bit much, considering we also had a lot of drinking water as well! This evening also ended in the car with mosquitoes trying to get to us.

Camargue Mosquitos RikenMon's Nature-guide P6124487Scarlet dragonfly Vuurlibel, Crocothemis erythraeal RikenMon's Nature-guide P6124501.Red-veined darter, Sympetrum fonscolombii RikenMon's Nature-guide P6134546

1) Translation: It is a fact that mosquitoes are more useful than pink flamingos and other strange birds, 2) Scarlet dragonfly in the rice field, 3) Red-veined darter on guard in its territory, usually returning to the same spot.

On the third day, we decided to visit the west side; this part is less touristic. This also means a lack of parking spots, where you can stop for a while to look around, so often we stopped at roadsides of house entries. But we saw lots of animals, the Night heron, Yellow wagtail, Sanderling, flying flamingos, eagles, falcons, butterflies and dragonflies. We became more and more impressed with the diversity of the Camargue, so not boring at all. But the evening approached, and the mosquitoes became active again, so we decided to grab our belongings and come back in another season. Because for birdwatchers the Camargue is a perfect place.

.rice of the Camargue, RikenMon's Nature-guide P6124491cattle egret, Koereiger, Bubulcus ibis, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090122Black-winged stilt, Steltkluut, Himantopus himantopus, RikenMon's Nature-guide P1090116

1) Rice field in the Camargue, 2) Cattle egret in breeding plumage, with yellow feathers on the head and back, 3) Black-winged stilt checking her eggs.