Species of the month archive
Common Raven Corvus corax Linnaeus, 1758
Common Raven is the largest passerine bird who is known to humans from ancient times. Many if not all birdwatchers are acquainted with the all-black colour of Ravens’ plumage which glossed purple and dark blue especially on head, neck and chest. ‘Krook’, the Ukrainian name of the species, is an onomatopoeic word reflecting typical Raven sound which can be heard throughout the year.
Chalk hyssop Hyssopus cretaceus Dubjan.
You can barely imagine chalk hills without a bunch of spectacular endemic plants but one of them is especially significant. It is a species whose name was used by renowned botanist B. M. Koso-Polyanskiy to mark a group of endemics of chalk hills in Don & Volga rivers’ basins. It is a so-called ‘hyssop flora’, a cohort of species of southern origin, derived from Mediterranean antecedents, and namely a chalk hyssop.
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster (Linnaeus, 1758)
European Bee-eater is a flamboyant bird. It is familiar for its brightly coloured plumage and slow melodious nice sounds heard from the skies in summer time. European Bee-eater has multi-coloured plumage like other species of bee-eaters. Crown, nape, and mantle are dark chestnut, throat is yellow, breast and belly are green-blue, back and rump are brownish-yellow, blue-green predominates over other colours of wings. Yellow throat is clearly seen in flying birds.
Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo (Linnaeus, 1758)
It’s hard to imagine a Ukrainian who doesn’t know Eagle Owl, one of our bigger owls. This bird appears in a number of fairy tales and legends. But a few people know that Eagle Owl lives nearby though is rarely seen due to crepuscular way of life. But who is this bird?
House Sparrow Passer domesticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
House Sparrow is a well-known bird. Its natural range included Eurasia and North Africa. Since the mid-nineteenth century House Sparrows were introduced in many countries of Africa, North and South America, in Australia and New Zealand and also to several oceanic islands. Later on the birds spread on their own thanks to unwitting assistance of humans.
Dione rat snake Elaphe dione (Pallas, 1773)
Dione rat snake is a widely spread species of the genus Elaphe which includes 11 members according to the latest expert estimates. The range of the species extends from Eastern Ukraine and Transcaucasia to Far East through Iran, Central Asia, Mongolia and Northern China.
Ladybird spider Eresus kollari Rossi, 1846
The scientific name of the spider Eresus (Eresus kollari) has many synonyms. In Russian it was called Black Eresus (E. niger), as females and immature males of this species are completely black, and Carmine Eresus (E. cinnaberinus), since adult males have bright belly decorated with four black dots. That is why in English it was called ladybird spider. The species is widely spread in Eurasia to the south of forest zone and to the north of tropical belt.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (L.)
Many birds with insectivorous habits spend considerable part of their life on vantage points which are generally called perches. These points are suitable to watch for prey, to keep an eye on neighbours, or to notice the approaching danger in time. Whinchat, a quite common bird, is one of such species.
Yellow Pheasant’s Eye Adonis vernalis L.
Yellow Pheasant’s Eye is a perennial plant. The lifespan is very long. It is assumed that the oldest plants are well over 150 years old (!), and usually an individual plant reaches maturity only to 40-50 years. The range of Yellow Pheasant’s Eye covers a vast area from Spain to Lena river basin in Russia mainly in forest-steppe zone in hilly terrain with sufficient water drainage.
Steppe viper Vipera renardi Christoph, 1861
Steppe viper is a small venomous snake, widely distributed across steppes of Eurasia from Ukraine to China. This gray with dark zig-zag band on dorsal side snake inhabits open habitats – usually different kinds of steppes, sometimes semi-deserts; in southern forest-steppe zone it also occurs in meadows and forest margins.