An illuminated restaurant is reflected in Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Brightly coloured buildings, reflected in Lake Birksø, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is native to northern North America, where it is very common. It is very bold and has been able to establish populations in urban areas, where it has no natural predators.

It has also been introduced to Britain, Sweden, New Zealand, Argentina, and other places, and in many places it has been declared a pest because of its noisy and aggressive behaviour, and its droppings are a nuisance in parks and on golf courses.



Tree trunks, reflected in Buttle Lake, Vancouver Island, Canada. The birds are Canada geese with goslings. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Masts of fishing vessels, reflected in harbour water, Gudhjem, Bornholm, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) is a common breeding bird in subarctic areas of Alaska and Canada, wintering in southern United States, Central America, and all of South America. It is a rare visitor to Europe. Apart from the leg colour, it is very similar to the Old World greenshank (T. nebularia), which, however, has greenish legs.



Greater yellowlegs, feeding in the Salt River, near Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The Llaima Volcano (3125 m) is situated in Conguillio National Park, east of the town of Curacautin, Chile. In this picture, the volcano is reflected in a small lake, Laguna Captrén. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The generic name Phalacrocorax is derived from the Greek phalakros (‘bald’) and korax (‘raven’), thus ‘the bald raven’, where bald refers to the white crown of the great cormorant (P. carbo) during the breeding season, whereas raven refers to its predominantly black plumage.

This bird has an extremely wide, but rather patchy, distribution, found all over Europe and most of Asia, in Australia and New Zealand, and in north-eastern North America and Greenland.

In the 1800s, it was persecuted all over Europe, partly because it was competing with fishermen, partly because its guano destroyed the trees, in which it was breeding.

More about this bird is found on the page Nature Reserve Vorsø.



Reflection of a young great cormorant, subspecies sinensis, in a pond, Nature Reserve Vorsø, Horsens Fjord, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Evening light on the extinct volcano Hverfell (left) and the mountain Bláfjall (1222 m), near Lake Myvatn, Iceland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The western yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) is found in the Mediterranean Sea. It resembles the herring gull (L. argentatus), but can be identified by its yellow legs and very powerful beak. This bird is extremely common in Istanbul, Turkey, where it often breeds on house roofs, and if a window is left open, it may enter to search for edibles.



This narcissistic western yellow-legged gull is gazing at its reflection in a window pane, Istanbul. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Buildings, reflected in the moat surrounding Nyborg Castle, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The large sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) is widely distributed in Asia, on the entire Indian Subcontinent, including Sri Lanka, and thence eastwards to southern China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Sumatra, and Borneo.

The weight of a stag is typically around 350 kg, although large specimens may weigh as much as 550 kg. Hinds are smaller, weighing 100-200 kg. Populations of this deer have declined substantially in most areas, mainly due to hunting and habitat destruction. It has been introduced to various countries around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

The common name is derived from Sanskrit sambara (‘deer’).



Sambar calf, gazing at its reflection in a lake, Ranthambhor National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Mount Sinai (2285 m), in Arabic Jebel Musa (‘Mountain of Moses’), is one of several high peaks situated near the monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai. As legend has it, this was the mountain, where Moses received the tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed.

“And he [God] gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” (Exodus, 31:18)

This peak is ascended by 3,750 steps, known as the Steps of Repentance, carved by devout monks. The path leads past the Spring of Moses and a chapel, dedicated to Virgin Mary. Closer to the summit is the Spring of Elijah, according to tradition the place where the prophet Elijah was hiding when fleeing from his enemy Jezebel. (First Book of Kings, 19:8-9)



Mount Sinai, or Jebel Musa, reflected in the Spring of Moses. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) breeds mainly in the Rift Valley Lakes of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, and three smaller breeding populations occur in West Africa, Namibia, and Gujarat, India. When not breeding, this species occurs in virtually every sub-Saharan country, across the Arabian Peninsula to India and Sri Lanka. The global population has been estimated at between 2.2 and 3.2 million. (Source:



Resting flock of lesser flamingos, Lake Natron, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Feeding lesser flamingos, Lake Abietta, Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus) is restricted to a rather small area in extreme southern Peru, south-western Bolivia, north-eastern Chile, and north-western Argentina.



Andean flamingos, feeding in Laguna de Chaxas, Salar de Atacama, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Boys, playing in the Rapti River, southern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Manicaria is a genus of only two palm species, occurring in Central America and the northern part of South America. They grow in freshwater swamps or estuaries.

M. saccifera, in Spanish called palma real (‘the royal palm’), occurs in Central America, Trinidad, and northern South America, southwards to Peru and north-western Brazil. It has one of the largest known leaves, up to 8 m long. In several areas, these leaves are regarded as the best material for roof thatching.



Leaves of Manicaria saccifera, reflected in water, Tortuguero National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Most authorities recognize 3 small herons of the genus Butorides as separate species, the green heron (below), the widespread striated heron (B. striata), and the lava heron (B. sundevalli), which is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Others regard them as being conspecific.

The green heron (B. virescens) is widespread in America, from southern Canada southwards through Central America and the Caribbean to Panama. Northern populations are migratory, spending the winter in Mexico and Central America.



Green heron, Everglades National Park, Florida. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Trees, reflected in Holtum River, near Lake Ejstrup, Jutland, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The small black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) breeds from southern Greenland and Iceland across most of Europe and temperate areas of Asia eastwards to Kamchatka, Russian Ussuriland, and north-eastern China. It is also a rare breeding bird in north-eastern North America. It winters in Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast and East Asia, Japan, and along the east coast of North America.

The specific name is from the Latin ridere (‘to laugh’), referring to one of its calls, ke-ke-ke, mostly heard in the breeding colonies. Despite its common name, the head (in the breeding plumage) is not black, but a dark chocolate brown.



This black-headed gull is feeding in the moat surrounding Nyborg Castle, Funen, Denmark, in which buildings are reflected. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Gravel hills, reflected in a lake, Háafell, near Akureyri, Iceland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is distributed in most of Asia, Europe, and Africa, and also occurs in Madagascar.

Other pictures, depicting this bird, may be seen on the pages Animals: Urban animal life, and Animals – Birds: Birds in Taiwan.



This grey heron is looking for fish in a moat near Christianshavn, Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) is a large tree, native to swamps and floodplains in the south-eastern United States, from southern Virginia to eastern Texas. It is characterized by a swollen base, which tapers up to a long, straight bole, and its root are often under water.

The generic name relates to the nysiades, Greek nymphs of the mythical Mount Nysa. They were entrusted with the care of the infant god Dionysos. The common name is derived from the Creek ito (‘tree’) and opilwa (‘swamp’).



Swamp with water tupelos, Congaree National Park, South Carolina. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Pennent, reflected in water, Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Trees, reflected in a mill pond, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Ruff and reeve (Calidris pugnax) are the names of a peculiar bird, where the male is called ruff, the female reeve. It is unique among waders in that the male in breeding plumage has a huge ruff of feathers around the neck.

When the breeding season begins, the males gather on an arena on a grassy spot, a so-called lek. When a female arrives at the arena, the males start fighting (in deep silence) to attract the attention of the female. She walks around to survey the entire group before choosing a male, which will mate with her. She then leaves to take care of nest-building, incubating, and chick-rearing by herself.

Formerly, this species was named Philomachus pugnax, but genetic research has shown that it is closely related to Calidris sandpipers. The former generic name is derived from the Greek philos (‘loving’) and makhomai (‘to fight’), whereas the specific name is derived from the Latin pugno (‘I fight’) and ax (‘inclined to’).

This bird is widely distributed in Arctic and Northern Temperate areas, from eastern England across northern Europe and Siberia, eastwards to around the Kolyma River. The wintering area includes southern and western Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and Australia.



Ruff in winter plumage, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Dead grey poplars (Populus x canescens), reflected in a pond, Nature Reserve Vorsø, Horsens Fjord, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Alpine grassland around Lake Michaelson, Gorges Valley, Mount Kenya, at an altitude of about 4,000 m, with many giant groundsels of the species Dendrosenecio johnstonii ssp. battiscombei. In the background Mount Batian (5199 m). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Conifers and birches, reflected in a lake, Vejlsø Mose, Silkeborg, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




In southern Nepal, a huge marsh area is found along the great Kosi River. After a night’s catch in these marshes, fishermen are hanging up their nets to dry in the sun. The grazing animals are water buffaloes, described on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Trees, reflected in Lake Brassø, central Jutland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Common alder (Alnus glutinosa), also known as black alder, belongs to the birch family (Betulaceae) and is native to the major part of Europe, south-western Asia, and northern Africa.

This tree thrives in wet locations, living in symbiosis with a nitrogen-fixing actinomycete bacterium, Frankia alni. These bacteria cause the growth of coral-like nodules on the roots of the trees, inside which thick-walled cells are formed, housing the bacteria. Protected here against the harmful oxygen of the air, the bacteria change nitrogen into nitrates, which can be utilized by the alder trees. This is the reason that these trees are able to grow in oxygen-poor soils. The nitrates enrich the soil, making it possible for other plants to grow in these poor soils.

Pictures, depicting a couple of old specimens, may be seen on the page Plants: Ancient and huge trees.



Common alders, reflected in a pond, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Alder, reflected in a mill pond, Funen. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The Indian pond heron (Ardeola grayii), also called paddybird, breeds from southern Iran eastwards to the Indian Subcontinent and Myanmar.

It is very common, but is easily missed in its drab winter plumage when standing at the edge of lakes, ponds, or paddy fields. It relies on its camouflage to a degree that it can be approached closely before taking to flight. This behaviour gave rise to the Hindi name andha bagla (‘blind heron’). (Source: H. Yule & A.C. Burnell 1903. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive. John Murray, London)

Formerly, this bird was shot for meat. In his book A New Account of the East Indies, from 1744, Alexander Hamilton writes the following: “They have also Store of wild Fowl; but who have a Mind to eat them must shoot them. Flamingoes are large and good Meat. The Paddy-bird is also good in their season.”



Indian pond heron, walking along the rail of a partly sunken boat, Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Trees, reflected in a pond, Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The little cormorant (Microcarbo niger) is widely distributed, found from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards to Southeast Asia, with an isolated population on the Indonesian island Java.



Little cormorant, resting on a rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Ripples on a lake surface create wavy patterns in reflections of common club-rush (Schoenoplectus lacustris) and broad-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton natans), Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The silver birch (Betula pendula) is widespread and common in Europe, in the Caucasus, and eastwards across Siberia to the Pacific, China, and Japan.

The specific name pendula, meaning ’pendulous’ or ‘hanging’ in Latin, refers to the pendulous outer branches of silver birch.

In Norse religion, the birch represented Freya, the Great Mother Goddess, and among Celtic peoples the star goddess, Arianrhod, whose caer (‘throne’) was situated in the Corona Borealis (northern lights). She was invoked through the birch to assist in births and initiations.



Silver birch, reflected in a pond, Funen, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The huge saddle-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), which may grow to 1.5 m tall, and with a 2.7 m wingspan, is a widespread resident south of the Sahara, from Gambia eastwards to Ethiopia and thence southwards to Namibia and north-eastern South Africa. It avoids rainforest and deserts.

The generic name is derived from the Greek ephippios (‘saddle’) and rhynkhos (‘bill’), alluding to the yellow, saddle-shaped shield on the bill.

It is a close relative of the black-necked stork (E. asiaticus), found in tropical Asia and Australia – the only other member of the genus.



Male saddle-billed stork, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. The female has yellow iris. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




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(Latest update September 2022)