vrijdag 31 december 2010

A happy new year

The last day of the year 2010 was spent near Bremen, in Germany. Here near Bremen it seems that all the birds have fled the snow, almost no special birds were seen here.
Today we had a short walk along a river called the Wümme. This river held 12 beautiful Goosanders (probably more) and furthermore a huge flock of ± 200 Redpolls together with 100 Siskins. We were able to have a good look at the group and most Redpolls could be identified as Mealy's. In addition, during this short walk I saw a nice but distant Rough-Legged Buzzard, probably a female or 1st winter bird. At the end of the walk, near our Fehrenwonung, we saw a rushing Merlin, a female bird. I am fascinated by the distinctive shape of these Merlins, very swift-like, with a short tail and rather pointed wings. I really like these tiny raptors.
Well this was my final post for this year. A wonderful year with plenty of good bird species. It was also a good ringing year with a lot of new birds handled!
I wish you all a happy and healthy newyear!

zaterdag 25 december 2010


Christmas means that birdwatching will be very difficult for a 1-2 days, it does not mean however, that you cannot photograph or watch birds during Christmas dinner with your family or whatsoever! That proved to be the case today as well. While drinking coffee with the entire family at my grandparents in the Achterhoek I kept an eye open for the garden of my grandparents. The garden is always filled with Tree sparrows and Greenfinches and the usual garden birds so when I'm there I always keep an eye on the birds. Also during Christmas. While sipping my coffee I suddenly noticed a small raptor landing in a tree in my grandparents' garden: a female Sparrowhawk! Quickly, I grabbed my camera and walked upstairs so that I would have a better sight on the bird. The entire afternoon the Sparrowhawk kept returning to the tree for a couple of times. The result was satisfying! :

woensdag 22 december 2010

Some more fieldfare

Still present, today however, I found out that this one is another individual than the one photgraphed last week! So this means there were/are at least 2 Fieldfares present in our back garden. This bird has got whitish fringes on its tertails and greater coverts, something the other individual lacks, moreover this bird has got a more distinctive grey head.

dinsdag 21 december 2010

What a coincidence..!

This morning my father and I had made some plans to check some spots in our county again, along the IJssel, because in this time of  year you really want to spend a lot of time near the IJssel, the beautiful scenery, everything covered in snow, and last but not least: most birds have lost their shyness. Today proved to be another good day for photo oppurtunities! Our startingpoint were, as usual in this time of year, the small streams south of Apeldoorn. Arriving there it seemed that there was nothing interesting present there,  I could only find a single resting Snipe along a stream. Afterwards, we drove back, in the opposite direction, then suddenly my father noticed a Jack Snipe sitting next to our car!
Then, after photographing ''Jack'' we headed to the IJssel. Along the way we had a nice Great White egret which we flushed at another small stream, just a few metres away from the car. Also, we encountered a Snipe very closeby:
While driving to Voorst we kept our eyes open for photographing oppurtunities of ''birds in the snow''. The light conditions were excellent, very soft, diffused light. This gave a unique grey/white colouring. For example these starlings in a birch tree:
Around 12 a.m we arrived at Empe. From Empe we drove to the Rammelwaard. We checked the canals for species such as Goosanders, Smews, Great white egrets, or maybe even Bitterns. 
We found 2 Smews and 1 male Goosander:
Near the Rammelwaard we checked a canal where a Bittern had been seen a few days ago. We did not find the Bittern but we did find its footprints in the snow! In the same (luckily  still open) canal we saw a splendid male Kingfisher (it was alive!) together with a Great White Egret. While walking back to the car, my eye was struck by a large raptor, sitting in a tree, at 500 metres distance. I grabbed my bins and checked the raptor. It seemed very big, but at such a distance it was impossible to identify with only my bins. So I grabbed the telescope and checked the bird through the scope.... it appeared to be a immature White-tailed Eagle!! How awesome. And the funny thing was that only 10 minutes before this discovery I was saying to my  father that it would be nice if this winter a White-tailed Eagle would turn up again in our county, because it had been such a long time ago that we had seen one here!! So what a coincidence that only a 10 minutes later I discover a White-tailed eagle. We quickly made a recordshot:
(Tammo Meijer)
We wanted to approach the bird, so that we could take a look from a closer distance, but that did not happen  because the eagle was rushed by a tractor... It flew away in a Southwesterly direction and it was not to be seen again..
We continued our way north seeing a Hen Harrier, 8 Whooper Swans, an odd Nuthatch foraging on the road:
In addition, we checked some canals north of Twello, resulting in 2 Little Grebes.

All in all, a quality day, with good birds and plenty of photo oppurtunities!!

maandag 20 december 2010


We went for a little walk near Bussloo, heard a Black Woodpecker and found this foraging male Bullfinch:
together with this Marsh or Willow Tit?

zondag 19 december 2010

First try!

The last days we've witnessed quite a few inches of snow falling here in the Netherlands. Chaos everywhere, delayed and cancelled flights, delayed and cancelled trains, traffic jams of over 700km... It is clear that we are not adjusted to snowfall... However, snowfall is a magic oppurtinty for seeing birds you normally don't see that close-by etc. For example snipes or jack snipes. With snowfall also big numbers of Skylarks can be seen and trapped, see for example yesterdays totals here: Trektellen.nl .
We figured that today we would give it a try as well. We'd never done something like this before, we weren't even sure if we would be able to trap anything, this far inland. Near the coast, a lot of birds are ''pushed'' along the coast, resulting in large numbers of for example larks. We are situated along the IJssel, we figured that maybe there would be some snow/frost migration there.
So this morning we went to our ringing site and arrived there we soon noticed that the lock of the gate was frozen.. this meant we could not drive to our ringing site, we had to walk with all our stuff to the ringing place, quite an operation.. Finally we had built up the clapnet including the tape and the real trapping could start. We threw some apples and bread on the clapnet hoping for all kinds of birds to get attracted to the clapnet. The first 10 minutes nothing reacted on the tape of Skylark but then suddenly I saw a bird walking on the clapnet! I pulled the cable and I caught the bird, it turned out to be a Meadow Pipit, nice! without tape! The following seconds I saw 2 Common Gulls flying above the clapnet, I soon lured them and they came down, 1 Commun Gull was on the clapnet for 2 seconds, I could have trapped it... It did not happen. The following minutes they sat next to the clapnet and  after a quarter of a hour they flew away. What a pity.
The following hour no reaction of Skylarks whatsoever. Then after a period of tranquility I suddenly saw to Skylarks coming down. They landed in the snow, a couple of metres behind the clapnet. It took some time but after 10 minutes both birds were feeding on the clapnet and we could trap them both!
We did not get 100s of Skylarks but our first try ever was not bad at all...

zaterdag 18 december 2010

Snowy Scenery

This afternoon we did the usual track, first checking the stream for Snipes, with the only noteworthy bird being a Goldfinch:
Then we moved forward to the IJssel where we so thousands of White-fronted geese, feeding on the unfrozen parts of lands along the IJssel. I saw a couple of Tundra Bean Goose. Furthermore I noticed to Little Grebes, as well as 15 Curlews and 30 Barnacle Geese.
The birds of most interest were the 2 Hen Herriers, a female-type and a nice adult Male. I only managed to get a sloppy shot of the male:

vrijdag 17 december 2010

Fieldfare in the snow

The fieldfare is still present and it snowed which gave it a wonderful setting.

woensdag 15 december 2010

A scarce garden visitor

My mother had already seen this winter visitor yesterday, but I didn't. This morning I woke up late (8.45 am ..) and took a shower. Whilst I opened the bathroom window I saw this particular bird again: a Fieldfare! The bird saw me as well and flew to our apple tree at the end of the garden.

I was already hoping that we would have a Fieldfare this winter again because last winter, we had at least 4 individuals along with 2 Redwings. You need cheap apples for this though! So after I got dressed I decided to make some recordshots since it is always fun to have a Fieldfare in your own garden.
This are the results:
So above you see a Fieldfare from this winter, now I'll show some photos of the Fieldfares and Redwings of the previous winter:

zondag 12 december 2010

(Un?)succesful day in Limboland

Today we chose to visit the Wallcreeper, present at the ENCI-quarry near Maastricht for over 3 weeks now. The bird had been seen yesterday, quite regularly from 10.45 till 14.00 (with intervals). We left Apeldoorn around 7.10 am and arrived at the ENCI-quarry around 9.15 am. The bird hadn't been seen yet. We  scanned all the cliffs (visible) from 9.15 till 12.45, but without succes. We weren't bored however, during this 3,5 hour Wallcreeper-less period. There plenty of birds around. The well-known Eagle Owls (best place to see Eagle Owl in the Netherlands atm) were present at their usual spot. Jays were acting like Wallcreepers on the cliffs (keeping us awake) and at one time we saw a Green Woodpecker (heard all morning as well) drilling holes in the merlwall instead of drilling holes in trees.. A calling firecrest was nearby and a group of Long-tailed tits came by in those 3,5 hours as well. Suddenly all the LT-tits got mad and we saw the cause: a Merlin flashing by. It was briefly seen, but we saw clearly a tiny falcon, pointed wings and a short tail. 2 Bullfinches and 3 Hawfinches were seen as well, as you can see above.
At 12.45 we decided to undertake some action as we headed to a special reserve, a so-called reserve for European Hamsters. Plenty of birds were feeding there! As we stopped at the southern part of the reserve I immediatly saw a strange buzzard: it turned out to be a splendid first calenderyear Rough-legged Buzzard.
It had been sighted yesterday so we hoped we would see it today, and we did. Then we decided to go a little more north where a huge flock of Linnets, numbering in the hundreds to a thousand, 300 Greenfinches, 60 Yellowhammers, 15 Bramblings etc were present. We were actually searching for Corn Bunting, as this is the one (and only?) of their known wintering areas in the Netherlands. I soon found a bush with ca. 15 Corn buntings present there, accompanied by some Yellowhammers.
                                                                      (Tammo Meijer)
They were showing well not too far away. A little later ca. 10 of them flew away and 6 stayed in the bush, calling and showing well. Every now and then the big flock of Linnets and co were rushed by some predators: sometimes Hen Harrier but also a juvenile Goshawk. Here, in the reserve we saw a Merlin aswell. It rushed us, and a few minutes later it caught a Linnet. Panic all over the place. Here we had Corn Buntings as well. 6 of them flew by, distinctively calling. The shape/jizz of the birds was very obvious: 'chubby' buntings with a typical way of flying: a kind of 'swinging' flight. Clearly different from Yellowhammer. And last but not least with saw a hunting Red Kite!! In only a few hours time we saw 8 species of birds of prey in this area: Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Merlin, Buzzard, Rough-Legged buzzard and a Red Kite! Remarkable for this time of year, in Zuid-Limburg!

It was around 16.00 pm when we decided to go home to Apeldoorn again. We dipped the Wallcreeper but we still had a wonderful day!

Below some shots of Eagle Owl (Tammo Meijer), Rough-legged Buzzard and a group of 39 Linnets and Greenfinches

zaterdag 4 december 2010

A mixture of geese near the IJssel

Today, my father and I did a small tour in our county to see if  we would find any unexpected winter guests. We started at one of our usual winter patches: a small stream of water where we've seen Water rails, Snipes, Woodcocks, Jack Snipes past winter. Today, we did not find anything worth mentioning. We decided to drive towards the IJssel. Our first stop was Empe, a good spot for Bitterns, Smews, Goosanders etc. The water had turned into ice so no birds were found there unfortunately. There were only tiny openings in the ice but nothing unusual was found there. Our second stop was a place near Voorst where we always find good amounts of geese. This time, lots of geese were found as well. In total we saw 5 (excluding Egyptian geese) species of geese. Approximately 4000 White-fronted geese, 8 Tundra Bean Geese (scarce winter visitor here), 15 Barnacle Geese, 30 Greylag geese and the best goose I found there was a Pink-footed Goose! A nice addiotion to my county yearlist. Another funny thing we noticed was that regularly/constantly small groups of White-fronts (including some Bean Geese) flew to the river and landed in the IJssel to quench their thirst!
Around 12.00 p.m it started snowing and soon everything was covered with snow again. The ''snowstorm'' lasted till 17.00 p.m. There's a thick layer of snow (more or less 10 cm) now.