maandag 28 november 2011

Two early winter visitors in the garden

In the form of a Redwing and a Fieldfare. Last Saturday I woke up and heard the call of a Redwing outside. I figured it was a fly-by but when I opened my curtains a little later I saw that the Redwing was sitting in our garden, and eating some of our berries. cool! Later in the morning I looked outside the window again and saw a Fieldfare foraging on berries, a first for the winter too! Yesterday it was still present and I saw it eating our small red apples in the front garden and through the window I was able to take a few pic's. This is the best one:
Especially the blackbirds like the apple tree in the front garden. In the winter there can be easily up to 15 blackbirds in the tree. But we've also had a few Fieldfares and Redwings in there. When there are Fieldfares around they always chase away the Blackbirds, apparently they feel superior... In winter I often drop apples in our back garden often resulting in long-staying Fieldfares. The apple tree in our front garden is also good for Waxwings;) Here a pic of a single bird present for only a couple hours in our front garden last year on 03-11-2010:
Made by Tammo

Also see:

maandag 21 november 2011

Beauty concealed in feathers

 Hidden colours:
In the wing of a Magpie.
Overall pic of the Magpie.

I caught this Magpie in my garden this morning. This was the second Magpie to be ringed in my garden. The first one I ringed was a juvenile and so was this one. It could be aged easily as a 1cy looking at the amount of white on the two outermost primaries P1 and P2 (or P10 and P9 the other way around.)
The white on the P1 and P2 doesn't come close to reaching the tip of the P, with an adult bird the two primaries would have a much larger amount of white.
Tammo with the Magpie.

I was also able to catch and ring some other birds. Check the totals below:

Blue Tit (Pimpelmees) 1 - 1
Blackbird (Merel) 1 -
Chaffinch (Vink) 1 -
Great Tit (Koolmees) - 2
Greenfinch (Groenling) 1 -
House Sparrow (Huismus) 6 -
Magpie (Ekster) 1 -

The Greenfinches have outsmarted me already.. Today was the first time again that I had my net up with Greenfinches around, and they already knew exactly the whereabouts of my nets, eventhough all of them were unringed! This morning I had up to five birds feeding next to the net..

I did catch this adult male though:
 Greenfinch, adult male
Wing of the Greenfinch

zondag 20 november 2011

Asio flammeus

My dad and I made a trip this morning to Zeeland, to see if we could see some cool birds. On the weather forecast we heard that there would be some fog this morning but that it would clear after a couple of hours. The entire drive to Zeeland we were covered in fog. We arrived at Colijnsplaat around 10.00, for the Greater Yellowlegs that already has been present for over a year now. But because of the dense fog, we weren't able to locate the bird... We decided to continue on, in the hope of seeing other interesting species. As we drove on, we saw that the fog had cleared a little and for a while, from 11.00 till 14.00, we had a view of 500-1000 metre, a lot better! During these hours we had incredible views of four hunting Short-eared Owls. I'd never seen them this well before. Two of them were hunting next to the dike, where the grass had just been mowed, which meant there were a lot of small rodents present. On the other side, down the insert, there were three other birds hunting. Some of them coming by really close. A couple of times they were mobbing a perched Buzzard and a couple of times we could see them mobbing each other. While mobbing the Buzzard they made a call, reminding me of a calling Snipe. Next to the owls, we saw about 4 Horned Grebe's, quite a few Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Peregrines, a Spotted Redshank, 2 Water Rails and lots of geese.
Just a few I picked out!
The one clear moment we had today. The rest of today was.......:
That's right, fog..
We ended the day accordingly, with a meal at the BurgerKing.

vrijdag 18 november 2011

The latest usual fare of garden birdies

This past week I've done two ringing session in my garden. One was on Sunday, the 13th of November, together with Bram, and the other one was yesterday, the 17th of November. On Sunday the first 1,5 hours of ringing were pretty good, but after those 1,5 hour the catching rate dropped and we only caught like one more bird the rest of the day! No unusual species were ringed although a Jay bounced against the net..

Sunday 13-11 with a 6 metre net opened from 7.30-14.30:

Blackbird (Merel) 4 -
Blue Tit (Pimpelmees) 3 - 1
Great Tit (Koolmees) 5 - 1
House Sparrow (Huismus) 1 -

Total 15 birds

Yesterday, after I got home from work at the Albert Heijn at 12.00 I opened my net as well. It was misty the entire day so the birds weren't really able to see the mistnet which resulted in good catches still in the afternoon.

Thursday 17-11 with a 6 metre net open from 12.00 - 17.15

Blackbird (Merel) 1 -
Blue Tit (Pimpelmees) 6 - 1 I was surprised by these good numbers of 'new' Blue Tits!
Great Tit (Koolmees) 3 -
House Sparrow (Huismus) 2 -

Total 13 birds

The Blackbird was a bit of a weird looking 1cy male, with some white feathers in the throat. There were some recent messages on the Ringersnet (the Dutch mailgroup of ringers) about dark looking 1cy females that some ringers had ringed recently. With that in mind I looked at this bird, but it still looks like a male to me (the black start for instance). Pictures below:

An example of a 1cy Blue Tit (male).

This morning there were four Greenfinches present, feeding on sunflowers seeds, hopefully I will catch some next time!

I still wanted to give a complete list of species banded/ringed during my two month lasting stay at Powdermill. Be prepared!!

American Bittern 1
Green Heron 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 
Wilson's Snipe 2
American Woodcock 1 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3
Black-billed Cuckoo 2 
Eastern Screech Owl 1 
Northern Saw-whet Owl 7
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 187
Red-bellied Woodpecker 4 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4 
Downy Woodpecker 6 
Northern Flicker 11 
Pileated Woodpecker 1 
Eastern Wood-Pewee 23 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 34
Acadian Flycatcher 21 
Traill's Flycatcher 9
Least Flycatcher 20
Eastern Phoebe 49
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
White-eyed Vireo 2
Yellow-throated Vireo 3 
Blue-headed Vireo 32
Warbling Vireo 3
Philaldelphia Vireo 16
Red-eyed Vireo 185
Blue Jay 16
Carolina Chickadee 1 
Black-capped Chickadee 20
Tufted Titmouse 16
White-breasted Nuthatch 7 
Brown Creeper 7
Carolina Wren 1 
House Wren 16
Winter Wren 53
Marsh Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 66
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 326
Veery 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 93
Swainson's Thrush 217
Hermit Thrush 75
Wood Thrush 50
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 228
Brown Thrasher 8
Cedar Waxwing 133
Blue-winged Warbler 8 
Tennessee Warbler 60 
Orange-crowned Warbler 6 
Nashville Warbler 91
Northern Parula 4
Chestnut-sided Warbler 61
Magnolia Warbler 402
Cape May Warbler 46
Black-throated Blue Warbler 95
Yellow-rumped Warbler 957
Black-throated Green Warbler 66
Blackburnian Warbler 6 
Pine Warbler 4 
Prairie Warbler 2 
Palm Warbler (Western) 61 
Bay-breasted Warbler 7 
Blackpoll Warbler 58 
Cerulean Warbler 2
Black-and-White Warbler 9
American Redstart 118
Ovenbird 58
Northern Waterthrush 48
Kentucky Warbler 1 
Connecticut Warbler 29
Mourning Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 196
Hooded Warbler 109
Wilson's Warbler 19
Canada Warbler 13
Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Scarlet Tanager 81
Eastern Towhee 50
Chipping Sparrow 19
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 36
Vesper Sparrow 1 
Savannah Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 11
Song Sparrow 188
Lincoln's Sparrow 27
Swamp Sparrow 179
White-throated Sparrow 287
White-crowned Sparrow 13
Dark-eyed Junco 115
Northern Cardinal 19
Indigo Bunting 85
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 63
Common Grackle 2
Purple Finch 5
House Finch 10
American Goldfinch 393
House Sparrow 4

6133 individuals (recaptures exluded)
100 species

PS. For a Sparrow Quiz and a Late Fall update, check the Powdermill website:

maandag 14 november 2011

Saturday: a coastal visit

Last Saturday I went birding at IJmuiden with Tim De Boer and Jo Bouwmeester. I got up at 6.00 and with my bike I drove to Tim's place where we left with his car. We picked up Jo at a carpool along the highway at Soest and continued to IJmuiden. We arrived at IJmuiden around 8.00. We witnessed the beautiful sunrise on a crystal clear November morning. It was a while ago for me that I had been to the Zuidpier at IJmuiden. (I just looked it up: 2,5 years ago!!)
The Zuidpier ( taking from halfway down the pier), looking back to the mainland.

The walk to the breakwater 'Zuidpier' took us about 15 minutes. As we arrived on the Zuidpier we heard our first Rock Pipits of the day. As we continued we saw some Red-throated Divers flying. A bit further down the Zuidpier we saw a Guillemot swimming next to the breakwater. Later it turned out that there were quite a few present along the Zuidpier. Pretty cool, because I'd never seen so many present along the breakwater here.

On the massive basaltblocks, halfway down the breakwater a Red Knot was foraging together with a couple of Oystercatchers:
Red Knot

Suddenly Joachim jelled: Red-throated Diver above us! A single Red-throated diver flew past us, from really closeby. We were too late, but I still manged to get a close pic with the beautiful morninglight included:
Red-throated Diver

The birding on the breakwater was really pleasant, eventhough there was a cold breeze blowing from a northeasterly direction.
Birding on the Zuidpier

As we were watching the sea we saw a raptor coming from the sea. It turned out to be a juvenile Hen Harrier. A colourful individual!
One of the two Hen Harriers we saw, coming from the sea.

Not only Hen Harriers arrived from the sea, we also had quite a few Blackbirds, Redwings, Songthrushes, a single Mistle Thrush, tens of Skylarks, a couple of Chaffinches coming from sea. On the blocks there were plenty of Ruddy Turnstones foraging, together with a few Purple Sandpipers.
Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones. One Ruddy Turnstone is ringed, with both a steel and colourring on the left leg. It seems though, that it might have lost its colourrings on the left leg, since a single colourring doesn't really sound probable..

As we reached the end of the breakwater there was plenty of bird activity at the end:
A group of 24 Pink-footed Geese together with these 2 Tundra Bean Geese flew past.
Gannets were hunting among the gulls.
Kittiwakes were present between the Black-headed, Common, Herring and Greater-black Backed Gulls.

As we were checking the sea we saw a Skua hunting and chasing all the gulls. From a distance it looked like an Arctic Skua. But then as we saw a (or the same) Skua again it looked much heavier. Then, it suddenly showed up in front of the lighthouse. I was able to take three sharp photos as it raged by!
It turned out to be a juvenile dark Pomarine Skua!!

There was a lot of auk activity on the sea but some were difficult to ID, most of them were Guillemots but probably there were some Razorbills amongst them as well. 2 Velvet Scoters flew past, together with a teal, as well as 2 Northern Pintails. A group of 20 Black Scoters and 3 Velvets Scoters were present in the bayof the breakwater:
Three Velvet Scoters

It was really busy with fishermen along the Zuidpier! Busier than usual!

After a couple of hours we walked back to the mainland and we went to check the Kennemermeer. A lake situated behind the dunes. The shrubs around this lake often hold good species. And every now and then a rare warblers turns up here. On the lake itself we had a group of 5 Greater Scaups, 2 males and 3 females. Always nice to see! In the reedbeds, we had about 4 calling Water Rails. The bushes around the lake held quite a few birds, mainly thrushes (Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare), but no rare birds were found. As I walked back to the parking lot I had a Grey Wagtail flying overhead, calling loudly. As I reached the parkinglot I noticed a group of birds foraging on the parking spaces: Snow Buntings! The group existed out of 17 individuals, with some bright coloured males amongst them:
The Snow Buntings.

While I was observing these beauties I heard some noise: wingbeats: I looked behind my back and a Woodcock flew past me, coming from a small patch of dunes...! Amazing!

So as you can see we had a great day with a really nice diversity of species. More over, I was able to take a lot of photos. The same morning I was doubting if I should take my camera with me... Fortunately, I did!

dinsdag 8 november 2011

I should've had my net open

I was looking out of the window this morning and was surprised when I saw this first year female Sparrowhawk sitting in our apple tree!
Searching the area for some tasty garden birds!

Last winter I had a Sparrowhawk sitting in our apple tree as well. They're so awesome! Then, as it was looking around it took off, right through my closed net.... Ohhhhhhhh, I hate it when birds fly through closed nets (11 Solitary Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Sandpiper and now this Sparrowhawk, haha!).
Taking off.

Afterwards I went to my own ringing site. I hadn't been there for a while. While checking out the netlanes I flushed a Woodock. I could see it very well as it was flying past me. They sure look bigger than the American Woodcock, they probably are. It's getting time that I will catch one! At the ringing site I had some gold/firecrests, most species of tits and some fly-overs of Crossbills and Siskins.

maandag 7 november 2011

Ringing in the garden: that's been a while ago!

It was time for some garden ringing again. I put my 6 m up this morning and had it open from 7.30 till 14.00. There was a strong NE wind blowing which wasn't really helpful for netting. Nevertheless I caught quite a few birds. I managed to ring 5 House Sparrows. I colourringed 4 of them. I didn't colourring the 5th because it had a bump on its right leg what looked like to be an old break, but it was totally healed again. A Collared Dove was hanging in the net for a while, it looked like it would stay in the net pocket, but I was just busy colourringing a House Sparrow so once I ran out the door for the dove it escaped from the net.. too bad, but I'll get them!


Robin 1 -
Dunnock 1 - 2
Blue Tit 1 -
Great Tit 3 - 1
House Sparrow 5 -
Chaffinch 1 -

15 birds, 6 species

 Chaffinch, adult male
 colourringed House Sparrow, male

On one of the male House Sparrow I noticed this weird primary covert:
A long primary covert.. I've never seen this with any birds before?
an adult Blue Tit

zaterdag 5 november 2011

Back home!!

After staying three days longer at Powdermill, Thursday was my second (and final) try to get to Holland! I banded a couple of hours in the morning before I took off with Brandon, who took me to the airport. 

My final morning we banded the following birds (birds after I left included):
Black-capped Chickadee 1 -
Golden-crowned Kinglet 3 -
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5 -
Cedar Waxwing 10 -
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 -
Song Sparrow 2 -
White-throated Sparrow 2 -
Dark-eyed Junco 5 -
Northern Cardinal 1 -
House Finch 3 -
American Goldfinch 44 -

Total 78, 12 species

We left Powdermill at 10.20 and arrived around 11.50. I said goodbye to Brandon. I had a really good time living together with Brandon the past two months. We had a lot of fun together!

Everything went smooth this time: the drive, the check-in, the security etc. Already after 20 min I could sit and wait at the gate, for the departuring flight at 3.05 pm. The flight from Pittsburgh to Philly was good, I was seated just behind the business class so I had a lot of space. I arrived in Philly around 4.30 pm. Here I had to wait about 3,5/4 hours for my flight to Amsterdam. In the mean time, I ate a slice of pizza, had a Dunkin Donut and drank a delicious strawberry smoothie. Then, at 8.50 pm, I flew home, to Amsterdam! This flight was less pleasant, as I was seated next to the lavatory, which was used frequently.. so you can imagine what that is like... Luckily for me, I slept most of the time and the time flew by so I was glad when I arrived at Schiphol at 9.30 in the morning! At Schiphol everything went fast, faster than usual! As I got out of the plane, I went through the passport check, arrived at the bagage claim where I could immediately grab my suitcase and left for the train to go to Apeldoorn. I arrived at 9.40 at the train platform where I had the train from 9.50 to Apeldoorn. Once I got home I had a shower and a two hour nap. I'm glad that my trip back has been so smooth!!
I was happy to see my family again (they were happy too ofcourse). I slept good last night (didn't wake up a single time!!). This morning I woke up at 7.30, to do some ringing (As if I hadn't done enough the last couple of months haha). I am now switching over again to the European terminology! So from now on you'll see me writing ringing instead of banding, first calenderyear instead of hatching year etc. hahah! I have difficulties with it already.  

It was nice to see Hans, Henri and Dirk again. It's been a good fall for the Meintjes with a lot of tits being caught! Last week, Hans caught more than 70 Blue Tits on three occasions. Hans told me that this year we've had more than 2000 new birds already in the Meintjes, which is really good.

Today was a decent morning too. When Tammo and I left around 13.30 the counter stood on 25 Blue Tits and 13 Great Tits, but Hans stayed a bit longer so he might have had some more. With our clap net we caught a Meadow Pipit, which was cool. 
Now some European bird species again!!!
Great Tit, 1cy
 Robin, 1cy
Meadow Pipit, 1cy

When I got home I saw that I had gotten my Nyjer feeder! So this afternoon I put it up in our backyard. I used a nice mistnet pole to attach the feeder on. With a bit of creativity it fit on, and this is the result:
Now let's hope that the birds like it too!