donderdag 31 mei 2012

Pica pica

It had been a while since I had the time to have a proper ringing session in my garden. Not that it's extremely exciting to ring in my garden in May, but anyway. So I had a session yesterday. I got up early and opened my net at 6:00 and had it open for six hours. So I closed around 12:00.

I ringed my first 'garden juvies' of the year in the garden, 1 Dunnock and 2 Blue Tits. Next to that I ringed a new female Blackbird with a broodpatch. I've ringed practically every Blackbird in the neighbourhood but I'd seen this unringed female for quite some time now, hopping through the garden, and now it finally got a ring :)

But the best bird of the morning was undoubtly a Magpie. It's the 3rd Magpie I've ringed in my garden. Also a female with broodpatch. The bird had already started its summer complete moult.

I'll show some pics below.

 The old primaries are still juvenile, according to the pattern; with an adult the white should extent far more to the tip of the wing, both on P1 and P2.
 A wing photo, sorry for the terrible holding of the wing but the 2 moulting (actually 3 but one is not visible) primaries are visible.
In conclusion: a 2cy.
 1cy Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Recently fledged (or should I say 'jumped out of the nest') Blackbird (Turdus merula)

zondag 27 mei 2012

Time for Pullus

When there's not much to ring from the  mistnets, during this time of year, one can always ring some pullus! Yesterday we had our 4th CES of the year at Radio Kootwijk. We didn't ring many birds, just the ordinary stuff. Below the totals:

Blackcap 3 -
Blue Tit 1 -
Great Tit 4 - 5
Pied Flycatcher 1 - 1
Robin 1 -
Willow Warbler 1 -

Total 11 - 6 (17)

Apart from the mistnetting we ringed 23 more pullus of Great and Blue Tit. That being said I've now ringed over 100 young Tits (75 Great Tits and 26 Blue Tits).

We also had some nice observations, such as a Black Woodpecker close to the nets, and a Hobby hunting above us. There were also several Wood Warblers singing.

This week I've also ringed 3 young Blackbirds in my garden. They've fledged recently, one is still perched next to the nest whole day, but where the other two have gone two I have no idea. I thought I heard some young Blackbirds in the gardens next to us, so hopefully they'll be there and not eaten by a cat!

 Blackbird (Turdus merula)
 Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major)
 Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), adult male
Eresus sandaliatus, a rare small spider, in the Netherlands, only occurring on the Veluwe.

vrijdag 25 mei 2012

Females on the nest, males in the net

This was very apparent today, as it should be during this time of year! Our majority of birds today - during a ringing session in the Ooijse Graaf with Bram - were males. It was a calm session with many retraps but also a good variety of species. We caught 57 birds spread over 18 species. 


Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 1
Barn Swallow 1
Blackbird - 1
Blackcap 3 -
Blue Tit 1 1
Yellow Wagtail 2 -
Bluethroat 1 -
Chaffinch 1 -
Chiffchaff - 5
Garden Warbler 2 2
Grasshopper Warbler 1 -
Great Tit 1 2
Marsh Warbler 11 2
Reed Bunting 2 1
Reed Warbler 4 7
Whitethroat 1 1
Willow Tit - 1
Willow Warbler - 1
Total 32 - 25 = 57

 White-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica cyanecula), 2cy male
 Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), male; rather dark head with some greenish feathering
 Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), male
 Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)
 Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)
 Grashopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
Sleepy head Bram!

maandag 21 mei 2012

Hemelvaart 16-20 May

Returned home yesterday after four fantastic days up north in Drenthe, in Norg. Every Hemelvaart we have a family weekend, which is always really nice. The past few years the family weekend has been held in Norg, but we've also been to other nice places in the Netherlands, such as Beerta in Groningen, or Ootmarsum in Overijssel. In between the family time my dad and I always try to squeeze in some quality birding hours, since the northern part of the Netherlands is one of the best birding places for sure!

We arrived in Norg on Wednesday evening. A Wilson's Phalarope had been around in the Ezumakeeg in the Lauwersmeer for three days already so my dad and I decided to give it a try early Thursday morning. We left at 6.00 and arrived at the Ezumakeeg just before 7.00. There were already birders present so it was a quick tick. This female Wilson's Phalarope was such, such, a pretty bird! Never thought I would see one of these in this kind of plumage here. Really cool. The light was crappy though (looking to the east, straight into the rising sun), but through our telescope we had perfect views of the bird, foraging with Ruffs not too far away from us. Other birds included a Cuckoo, some Temminck's Stints, Curlew SandpipersSpotted Redshanks and a pair of Arctic Terns.

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), male
Some recordshots (made by Tammo Meijer) of the Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

We were back early, to join the familiy, but the family was still a bit asleep. We did some hiking in the late morning/early afternoon. I didn't see too much, just some regular stuff. In the evening we drove to the Breebaartpolder, near Termunten, the outermost north eastern edge of the Netherlands probably. We were there for the reported Terek Sandpiper. The bird wasn't present however.. Nor were the reported Broad-billed Sandpipers or Greater-sand Plover that has been present for a week.

The morning of Friday, the 18th of May, my dad, my mom and I went to the Fochteloërveen, close to Norg. We did our usual walk there, seeing quite a few pairs of Whinchats, the Fochteloërveen is one of the very few sites in the Netherlands where we have breeding Whinchats. Also, we discovered a beautiful male Red-backed Shrike, a nice surprise. And above that we had calling Cranes. Probably from the couple of pairs that are breeding closeby. 
 Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), male

Later in the evening, I saw a nice male Bullfinch foraging on the ground, from inside our house.

Saturday we had a calm day, concerning birds, so there is nothing of interest to tell about.

Sunday would be our last day in Norg so made dad and I did some birding in the Lauwersmeer again in the morning. We started at the Jaap Deensgat, on the eastern side of the Lauwersmeer. The birding started with a singing Turtle Dove and a singing Bittern. A good start. Next to that, good numbers of Bearded Tits were showing well in the reeds. Also I met a male Bluethroat, that was singing from up close. I photographed it from every possible position, so I'm quite pleased with the result!
 Bearded Tit (Panurus biarmicus), male
 White-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica cyanecula), male

The rest of the morning brought 3 Montagu's Harriers, hunting above the fields. I was happy to see some Montagu's Harriers, since I've only seen a handful in the Netherlands. Near Anjum we observed a migrating Merlin. Other than that we didn't see anything rare, just some waders in the Ezumakeeg, like Little Stints, Temminck's Stints, Curlew Sandpipers etc. but no sign of the Phalarope anymore. 
 The pair of Montagu's Harriers (Circus pygargus), male above and female below.

After we returned to Norg we packed our bags and started our journey back. We made a little detour so we could stop by at Borger, where a Pallid Harrier had been reported. The bird was very mobile, I discovered the Pallid Harrier attacked by a Marsh Harrier from a distance. We drove to the place but the bird had gone. Later we found out the bird had flown by from close at the place where we were just standing. Luckily we still saw it hunting above the fields through the telescope, be it from a large distance. We didn't stay too long since the ladies were waiting for us! A good end of the day!

maandag 14 mei 2012

It is proven, everything is possible!

At the start of the morning, we didn't know yet how spectacular this day was going to end. That's what I like about birdwatching, surprise surprise!

My dad and I had made plans to visit the Red-throated Pipit that has been present at the Bennekomse Hooilanden near Wageningen for a few days now. The bird is present in some pitrus fields and is very territorial. Every now and then it's singing and shows well while displaying. Often it attacks other birds, such as Lapwings, Black-tailed Godwits and so on, one very confident bird!
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus), singing

Around 8:05 we arrived and it didn't take long before we heard it calling and saw it land on the fence, some 30 metres away from us. It showed really well in the morning sunlight and we also heard it singing. I took a few recordshots and the bird flew back into the fields. It wasn't until 10 minutes later that the bird landed right in front of us in a small tree, and started singing from up close. I was able to take some really satisfying photos of this little stunner! Pretty exceptional, since most Red-throated Pipits recorded in NL are of those flying by, not perched! Nearby, there was a Snipe singing, a Hobby migrating by, and some very close Black-tailed Godwits.
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

After this succes we went back to our own county again and try for Middle Spotted Woodpecker at Voorstonden, a beautiful estate near Brummen. We walked into the estate and after hearing Black Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker, the Middle Spotted Woodpecker showed up. It landed in front of us in an oak tree, foraging actively and showing well. Cool, a new county tick!
Middle-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), male

Then we gave the Yperenplas near Wilp a visit. Not much of interest, though a pair of Black-necked Grebes was nice, a good bird for our county. Here I also saw my first pulli of Lapwing for the season, cute!

When birdwatching along the IJssel, the Veenoordkolk is one of the places we always check. It's probably the best place to see rare species that, for example only occur along the coast. Every year we have records of Snow Buntings here. Further species observed in recent years here are Rock Pipits, Bar-tailed Godwit, Lapland Longspur, Knot, Sanderlings, Mediterranean Gulls, Arctic Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern, Grey Plover and so on. A pretty good list for one site!

This year we'd already seen Sanderling and Med Gulls here (both county tick), so that asks for more!!

We arrived at the Veenoordkolk around 12:00 and started walking around the Kolk. There was not much around, and we were pretty tired, but still, we walked on.  My dad walked in front of me and he found a sandpiper walking along the shore. I arrived with the scope and we started to look at the bird. My dad thought (from a distance) that it was a Sanderling orso but once we had a better look through the scope - we could only see the breast and the head - we thought it was something else. Temminck's Stint seemed the best option, as we could cleary see a well defined breastband, a bit yellowbrown coloured, an average bill, a supercilium and an overall beige kind of colour. Then the bird started walking and that's when we knew it was not something normal. The sandpiper was middle sized - not as big as a Sanderling nor as small as Temminck's - and had a very long primary projection. The legs of the bird were black, which I knew had to be greenish for Temminck's. The bird was moulting into summer plumage, showing black centres with a yellow edging on the scapulars. As already said, the bird had a well defined, poorly striped breastband with a light throat. My dad started taking photos while I observed the bird, and wrote everything I saw down.  We didn't have birdguide with us so we called Maarten Kaales to help us. I described what we were seeing and very carefully I opted: it looks a bit like a Bairds.. But since our experience with Bairds is 0,0% we weren't sure enough.Through Whatsapp I send Maarten the photos of Tammo, and that's when the real fun started.

In the mean time, the bird had flown off  to the Teugse Kolk. During its takeoff we could see the weak defined wing bar, and we heard the bird calling several times. Tammo was also able to photograph the wing, a very good ID-feature. I also called Tim to tell him, we probably had a Baird's Sandpiper!

Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii), adult summer plumage. Images by Tammo Meijer. Also see: and

We relocated the sandpiper pretty soon and looked at the bird again and went through all ID-features. One very important thing we noted (after a question from Jaap Denee if the bird's belly was flat or round) was, that the bird's belly (including the breast), was entirely flat; when the bird was positioned right in front of us.
Half an hour later Maarten, Tim and Jurgen arrived to help us confirm the ID. Not much later we reported the bird as a definite Baird's on the Dutch Rare Bird Alert system. Two other good county species were a Ringed Plover and a Med Gull present at the Teugse Kolk.
The reinforcements arrived. On the photo (left to right) Jurgen, Tammo, Tim and Maarten.

From 14:30 on birders/twitchers started coming. Around 15:00 the bird took off and dissappeared, but was later found again at the place of discovery. The entire afternoon and evening the bird was twitched by many birdwatchers. It is currently still present (14-05).
 First twitchers arrived, just after the bird had dissappeared.
Looking for the Baird's!

If accepted, this is the 6th record for the Netherlands!

A full description will follow and the bird will submitted to the Dutch Rarity Comittee (CDNA).

woensdag 9 mei 2012

First pulli of the season

This morning (after the many millimeters of rain in the early morning) I went with Tim to ring some nestlings. We checked a few nestboxes of Great Tits of which I knew the pulli would be old enough to ring. The result was 22 Great Tits, not bad for just a few nests. One nest contained 10 chicks, pretty nice. Further birds of note that we observed were 2 singing Wood Warblers, 2 singing Firecrests and a female Goshawk.
 Great Tit (Parus major), pulli of 7 days old.
Nest of Great Tit with 10 pulli inside.

In the afternoon I went to Zuidbroek, a new neighbourhood/business area with some waste land. The area can be quite nice sometimes with some migrants around. There were quite a few pairs of Lapwings around, but there was no sign of any Little Ringed Plovers, which really suprised me since I've always seen at least 3 pairs around here, too bad.. Last year there was also a pair of Redshanks, but I haven't seen any of those here yet.
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

First migrant I had was a male Wheatear, Zuidbroek is always a good place to see them during migration. A little bit later I had 3 more on a cropfield on the northern side of Zuidbroek. At some sand hopes there were at least 8 Sand Martins present. They had made nests already in a steep sand heap.
Sand Martins (Riparia riparia)

The best birds were two singing Icterine Warblers, one showed itself pretty well. Getting good views on those is pretty hard, let alone taking photos. I managed to get a proper shot of one of them though. Here I also had my first singing Garden Warbler of the year.
Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)

As always, there was a pair of Kestrels and Buzzards present.

zondag 6 mei 2012

It feels like winter..

Second CES ringing session of the season was held today. The conditions were horrible, strong northeastern winds blowing right on the nets and us, plus temperatures in the morning reaching 5 degrees, but later it turned a bit warmer, 10 degrees at least!! Not only we were cold, but the birds also. It was also nice to have some more company, with John Mulder and Tim de Boer joining my dad and I.

As expected with these conditions, we didn't catch too many birds, but we had some nice species. In the early morning a Woodcock was displaying above our nets, but we weren't lucky enough to catch it.

There were still many Pied Flycatchers around, we caught 5. One was a bird ringed somewhere else in the Netherlands. After I'd entered the record into our Dutch database called GRIEL, I immediately received the requested information: the bird was ringed as a nestling on 03-06-2010 on the Hoge Veluwe. So the bird is now in its 3rd calenderyear and returned close to where it was born.

We ringed the first two Redstarts of the year, both of them being 2cy males. New species for the year were also 2 Long-tailed Tits, a Song Thrush.

Below the totals and some photos.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) 1 -
Great Tit (Parus major) 3 - 3
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) 2 -
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) 4 - 1
Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) 2 -
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 2 - 1
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) 1 -
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) 2 - 1

Total 17 - 6 (8 species)

 Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), >1cy male
 Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), male.
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), >1cy male; probably the brownest male I've ever seen. Note the lack of white spots on the forehead (just some buffish on the base of the bill), something that should rarely occur with male Pied Flycatchers. But note the black tail, which reveals its sex.

woensdag 2 mei 2012

Province twitching

The first two days of May have been great with birding in my province Gelderland.

Two days ago 2 Citrine Wagtails had been discovered at the Azewijnsche Broek, a great birding place south-east of Arnhem, close to the German border. Yesterday there was still one bird present (adult female). Tim de Boer sent a text message to our local 'message group' if anyone was interested to go with him, and ofcourse I was!;) So around 17:45 I drove to Tim's place from where we left to the Azewijnsche Broek. After one hour orso we arrived there. We parked the car a bit at the wrong place so we had to walk for 20 min, but who cares haha. On our way we saw 5 Whinchats. When we arrived there, there were 10+ birdwatchers present. The female Citrine Wagtail was foraging actively along the edge of the water, showing well. What a nice bird! Citrine Wagtails are not that easy to see in the Netherlands, certainly not in my province, so this was a nice oppertunity. It's my second Citrine Wagtail in the Netherlands, my first one was in 2008 (ironically also in my province), which was a 1st winter female in August. A Temminck's Stint (Gelderland-tick I think!) was also present there, together with 2 Wood Sandpipers and some Little Ringed Plovers. On our way back to the car we saw at least 31 Black Terns hunting above the big lake near of the Azewijnsche Broek. We heard that there was a Crane present, a kilometre away from the Citrine Wagtail palce, so on our way back to Apeldoorn we took a quick look and found the Crane immediatly, foraging. 

A succesfull evening twitch!

This morning my dad and I decided to go to Kamperhoek, one of the best migration hots spots in the Netherlands in spring, in the province of Flevoland, 50 mins drive from Apeldoorn. The weather was great, but the wind direction spoiled the good migration, as - instead of a northeastern - we had wind coming from a northwestern direction. We did some hours of counting together with a few other birdwatchers. We still had some nice birds, such as 3 Merlins, 10 Whimbrels, 1 Garganey, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Wood Sandpiper, several Marsh Harriers, 1 Mediterranean Gull and migration of more common species, like Yellow Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. In the reedbed in front of the migration post there was a Savi's Warbler singing, continuously. On the Ketelmeer there was a huuge flock of ca. 800 Little Gulls, feeding and resting on the water. Probably the highest number of Little Gulls I've ever seen. Above that, all the birds were in summer plumage too, an extra!

While we drove back to Apeldoorn, along the Vossemeerdijk I saw an alert on my phone saying that a singing male Bonelli's Warbler had been found at Westervoort, a village near Arnhem, approximately 20 min driving from Apeldoorn. We decided to try for this bird as it's a very good bird in the Netherlands, even more so for the province! While driving back I discovered a nice hunting 2cy Red Kite, along the Vossemeerdijk.
Red Kite (Milvus milvus). My fair share of what a Red Kite looks like in flight ;) (Too bad I was only able to take a shot when the bird was really distant already...)

Around 12:15 we arrived at Westervoort. Seeing the number of cars we knew where we had to be. As I stepped out of the car I already heard the Bonelli's Warbler singing. Arriving at the crowd I could immediately look through a scope, to see the bird singing in a leafless tree, great! For the following 45 minutes the bird was singing actively and showing well every now and then. The bird is probably the Western Bonelli's Warbler (ssp. bonelli) but as for as I know the bird hasn't called yet, but the song has been recorded so as soon as there is a sonogram of the song we will know the species for sure :)
 My terrible recordshots of the Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli). On the last photo note the brownish tinge on the head, good for Western.
Twitchers at the Bonelli's Warbler, Westervoort.

A very good beginning of the month May!