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.
 Guillemot

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!

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