zondag 30 december 2012

Review of the year 2012: what remains!

To follow up on my previous post on Israel, now a post including my other personal highlights. Starting with the discovery of the Baird's Sandpiper!

13th of May Bairds Sandpiper
On the 13th of May, this year, my dad and I decided to some birding. It was a nice and sunny day. A Red-throated Pipit had been present near Wageningen. It was a singing bird, showing well on some occasions! A singing Red-throated Pipit is quite an exception so we went there. We didn't have to wait long for the bird to show up. It gave a fantastic show, singing in a tree just a few metres away from us.
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus), male; singing

After this succes we went to Brummen, where we got lucky ticking a new county species: a Middle-Spotted Woodpecker! A species I'd wanted to see in my county for quite some years now. We still had some time left and went to check the IJssel near Deventer. We said to each other: ''It's May.... one of the best months of the year for rarities.. Why shouldn't it be possible to discover one along the IJssel??'' We paid a visit to the Veenoordkolk where we started a walk around one of the waters. There weren't that many birds around, just the ordinary stuff, but then my dad noticed a sandpiper.. It was a bit distant but with the scope on it I could see the bird well. A weird thing, first thing that came up in my mind was Temminck's Stint. From a distant my dad thought it could be a Sanderling but it wasn't. It also wasn't a Temminck's Stint because it didn't have green legs.. The bird started to walk and we started to see more features. I started writing them down, as I was becoming sure we were looking at something rare! In the mean time my dad had made some decent photos with his camera. With my phone I took a picture of those photos and sent them through on Whatsapp for opinions. I also called Maarten, to help us with the id, since we didn't have any guides with us. In the back of my mind I was thinking of Baird's.. While we were looking at the bird I searched some pictures of Baird's Sandpiper on my phone.. and indeed, 'our' bird looked very much like one! Once we'd gone through all the features with Maarten we were pretty sure it was a Baird's. Soon our reinforcements, Jurgen, Tim and Maarten arrived to confirm the id of the bird. As that was done, and everybody agreed it was a Baird's we alerted all the other twitchers through Dutchbirdalerts, and the fun could start! 
It was a weird experience discovering a 6th record for the Netherlands, first spring record and first inland record, because usual you visit rare birds found by other birdwatchers.. The bird itself may not be that exciting, but the discovery sure was!!
Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii), adult
Jurgen, Tim, Maarten (reinforcements) and Tammo

20th of June: Manx Shearwater
Laying in the grass in the middle of the night, waiting to hear the first call of a Manxie, waiting for them to come in an be caught! What a moment that was.. Being surrounded by many Manx Shearwaters, shearing low over your head, calling. And ringing those unique, scratching, screaming, fiesty creatures is a thing apart too :) 
One of the fourteen Manx Shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus) we ringed.

26th of July: Houbara Bustard
We'd seen Houbara's already, even flying over the highway just above our car, but the 'real' Houbara moment was still missing. On one evening we went back to the place where we saw them on our first evening on Lanzarote. And with result.. We found 5 Houbara's foraging just next to the road, at close range. We stopped the car just off the road. The first few minutes I wasn't able to get satisfying photos: the adrenaline was going through my entire body!! Only after I'd calmed down a little bit I could start taking acceptable photos. We didn't have all the time of the world, since the place we'd parked the car wasn't the safest in the world... Every time we drove past this location over the next few days, we saw the Houbara's foraging there!
Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuerteventurae)

30th of August: Dotterel
It was a day, just in between the introduction week in Wageningen and the introduction of my students union, that I had some free time. And of course there were some exciting birds in my county! Dotterels were around! And I wasn't planning on missing out on them! I went to the Kootwijkerzand where they had been seen the day before. After some intensive searching I suddenly found them (by accident, just scanning on part of the area one last time). For a couple of hours I was just lying next to them, enjoying, studying, photographing the birds. It was great, alone time with Dotterels, can't get enough of them!
Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), juvenile bird

14th of October: Great Tit invasion
Never will forget the day that we broke the nation record (it was broken a few days later but nevermind haha) of ringed Great Tits.. The tits started their invasion early, with Coal Tits dominating in September and the other two species Blue and Great Tit increasing late September. My trainer, Hans, had already caught many tits in the week preceding the 14th of October. Since we were with enough people we had put more nets on with tapes, still we only had tape of Great Tit on at three nets. Throughout the morning, and part of the afternoon the tits kept coming! Ending the day with 233 Great Tits..!! 
Great Tits (Parus major) everywhere

Not to forget all the other cool birds I saw in the Netherlands this year: Gyr Falcon, Great Yellowlegs, Citrine Wagtail, Wilson's Phalarope, Woodchat Shrike, Steppe Grey Shrike, Olive-backed Pipit and so on..!

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