donderdag 8 april 2010

A long Easterweekend on Schiermonnikoog

It was Easter last weekend, and this always means: Eastercamp on Schiermonnikoog! Every year I go to Schiermonnikoog during the Easter holidays with the JNM (Jeugdbond voor Natuur-en Milieustudie). Schiermonnikoog during spring is always fun. It was a pity that the Easter holidays were a bit early this spring season because if it falls just two weeks later (mid-april), it can be fun! You will have lots of warbler/wagtails/pipits/swallow + raptor migration. But fortunately this Easter camp wasn't bad ! From all the Dutch islands, I like Schiermonnikoog the most. It has got a lot of different areas. You have the Westerplas (a large pond). On the Westerplas there are always tons of Ducks present. Often Pintails, Shovelers, Teals, Goldeneye's, Gadwalls, Shelducks, Little Grebes and occasionally Greater Scaup. We had all of these Ducks except for Garganeys which was strange because there are always Garganeys present! Furthermore one can find good numbers of Bluethroats, Sedge Warblers, Sand Martins and also later on in April Ring Ouzels. Then you've got the Westerstrand, this is a long stretching hoarse of a couple of miles. During fall, winter and early spring this can be a good spot for Twites, Snow buntings and Lapland buntings as well as Horned Larks, Short-eared owls and Jack snipes. In Spring this is definitely the best place for Kentish plovers. When you go West you reach the Banckspolder, this is a polder where lots of geese are present each year. Often including scarcities such as Red-breasted geese, Lesser White-fronted geese, Black brants and Pale-bellied brants. I estimate that there were at least 3000 Barnacle geese and 1000-1500 Brants were present this Easter. Amongst all the geese we had an incredible amount of Red-breasted geese, namely 5 birds! Probably a pair, a single bird (male) and 1 adult + one 1st winter present. What I love about Schier is that all the geese aren't shy at all! You often see them at several meters distance.

 Here you see the pair

And here the adult + 1st winter bird

The other geese we found on the island were 2 Black Brants and 1 Tundra bean goose (scarce):

Surprisingly there were no Pale-bellied Brants present. The Banckspolder is always a good spot for Pied Wagtails, Wheatears and for Ring Ouzels (NONE SEEN THIS CAMP). We also had a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge group of Golden Plovers. We estimated the group at at least 10000 individuals.

When you are finished with birds in the Banckspolder you have got a couple of other good birding areas: go to the forests to see Coal tits, Gold and Firecrests and other forestbirds, and in autumn search for Treecreeper, Yellow-browed or Pallas' warbler. Or you go to the Bunker (highest place of the island), this is THE place to watch migration raptors, you got an overview of the entire island. This camp we had a beautiful Red kite, a gorgeous White-tailed eagle and an early (distant) Black Kite! Not bad at all for early April!Then can you go to the Kobbeduinen, near the salt-marshes on the eastern side of the island. The Kobbeduinen are good for Ring ouzels, Rough-legged Buzzards, Short-eared owls. From here you can also see a couple of Spoonbills colonies, which is very nice. Furtheron you have Avocets, Little Egrets, Peregrines and a variety of Waders.
Oh, when the weather sucks you can also do some sea-watching near the Marlijn. Not very succesfull with nice weather, nevertheless, we had about 10 Gannets, 5 Red-throated divers, 200 Scoters and a Sandwich Tern.
I will now give you a list of birds seen this camp:

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