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

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