dinsdag 31 december 2013

Final birding moment 2013: Hawk Owl

My last post of 2013!

This last day of 2013, the 31st o f December was spent in Zwolle, where the Hawk Owl - that has been present since mid-November - was still showing exeptionally well!

I went together with my dad. It was the 3rd visit for me, but the first visit together with my dad. We spent a few hours with the bird, photographing it from every possible angle. It perched in  a tree, a soccer goal, another tree, some poles, electricty buildings and so on - very confiding!

At one moment the bird took off from a tree, flying out of sight a few 100 metres to the north. Then a few minutes later, from the corner of my eye,  I see the bird flying towards us, with a prey! It turns out to be a young male blackbird. This is the first time (as far as I know) that the bird has been seen with a bird as prey, instead of a mouse.

The bird didn't seem to mind all the fireworks in the city, there were even some people firing carbid in the fields next to the bird!

Below the photo series: enjoy! And best wishes & a Happy New Year!

Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula), the bird with prey!
Last photo: spitting out a pellet

maandag 30 december 2013

December birding: Pygmy Owl & Parrot Crossbills!

Since the beginning of October there has been an unprecedented invasion of Parrot Crossbills in the Netherlands. Many groups of varying sizes were seen throughout the country. In my region the observations were spread rather thinly - there was a group present on NP de Hoge Veluwe but not anywhere else. I tried to see this group once and had birds, just taking off from a pine tree: not a really satisfying observation. Since you have to pay an entrance fee for the park I didn't visit them more often - I wanted to find them myself!

And thus, almost every weekend in November and December I did a lot of cycling through the forests, surrounding Apeldoorn. It wasn't succesfull until last week. My dad found some Parrot Crossbills early December, but we could not relocate this group.

Last Thursday, the second Christmas day, my dad and I did a search for Crossbills again. After a few hours searching we still hadn't seen any Crossbills. When we were close to Kootwijk there was one more place I wanted to check with my dad for Parrot Crossbills: to me this would be the perfect place for them!

Once we arrived there I noticed a Crossbill perched in a pine tree. One look through my binoculars and I knew enough: Parrots! Full of exitement we started taking photos. A bit later the bird flew off with a second one and started foraging in some pine trees further down the path. So there were two birds, a male and a female!

Finally after so many hours of searching I'd found my own!
 Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus), male (photo taken by me)
Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus), male and female (both photos taken by Tammo).
Kootwijk - Regelbergen - the pine forests to the right is where I found the Parrot's

Now time for another story:
Since a couple of weeks a Pygmy Owl has been present not far from my house. It had been really hard to find the last few weeks but since last weekend the bird has been observed continuously. Yesterday I visited the bird with my dad, and indeed: we had fantastic views of the bird! My second observation ever of Pygmy Owl and that only 20min from home!
Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum), last photo taken by Tammo
The group of birders at the Pygmy Owl

zaterdag 7 december 2013

Classical Redpolls!

For more than a week now a group of 30-40 Redpolls have been visiting our garden and surroundings. It's a mixed group with both Lesser and Mealy Redpolls. Today I succeeded in catching one of each species. Both were classical examples of both species! Below of short photo study of the birds:
Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret), looks like a 1cy with a moulted GC9 (see arrow), male (hint of pink in rump)
 Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea), 1cy male, note the 5 retained outer-GC and tertails
I would be happy with unstreaked undertailcoverts in combination with a white rump:)
 And a nice comparison of the two species!

maandag 21 oktober 2013

Combo Twitching - Daurian Shrike & Black Guillemot

Together with my dad, Jurgen v/d Meer and Maarten Kaales we decided to have a twitchday on yesterday. Last time we did it was very succesfull with Steppe Grey Shrike and two Olive-backed Pipits, so our expectations were high :)

On Saturday the 19th of October a group of birders discovered a Daurian Shrike near Vinkeveen, in the western part of the Netherlands. The previous years we've had good twitchable individuals (mostly on the isles) but this is still the 12th record orso for the Netherlands. I'd never seen one before so this was our target species number one.

We arrived at Waverhoek around 7.20 and it would still take half an hour to be able to scan de area for the shrike. During the sunrise we walked to the location, observing hundreds of geese and ducks departing from the lakes nearby. Also many Snipes. Arriving at the location we were the only ones present. As the light got better we started scanning. One hour later we still didn't have the shrike, and a group of ca.30 twitchers had gathered. We decided to go to IJmuiden since we could always do the bird on our way back home. As we walked back the same way we came we didn't find the shrike and got in the car. We drove away when I suddenly see a small group of people actively staring through their scopes and photographing something... a quick look from the car reveals the shrike! It had been present along a path where most of the twitchers had walked past during the morning when heading for the ''old location''!We had walked another path (so no blaming us for not finding it earlier haha).

The bird showed wonderfully, shifting between perching in a reedbed, some small bushes and undergrowth. Initially there were some doubts about the ID of the bird (either Red-tailed or Daurian). In the end the conclusion was Daurian Shrike.

Observations on the shrike: small shrike, lightbrown plumage, crown seemed a bit darker, with a more greybrown tinge, faint barring on the underparts, no barring uppertailcoverts, eye-stripe brownish, reddish orange tail. Amongst others light tips on greater coverts and pattern of tertails make it a 1st-winter. In active tail-moult. 3 old feathers with 7 new ones growing.
Daurian Shrike (digiscoped by Tammo)
Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus), 1st winter

Next stop was the Zuidpier near IJmuiden. The last time I visited the place was already two years back. It was pleasant birding there. We soon located the Black Guillemot that has been present  there for a while, great bird and great views! 
Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle), first winter

Other birds observed: 1st winter Shag, Rock Pipits, Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Pontic Gull, Yellow-legged Gull.
Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)
 Gannet (Morus bassanus)
 Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
It was a fantastic day, great company and wonderfull birds!

zondag 13 oktober 2013

Ignored by Waders

Have you ever felt ignored by birds? Well I have! Last week when I was strolling along a shoreline of a large recreational lake a small group of waders, excisting out of 2 Ruff and 4 Dunlin landed in front of me and started foraging along the shore. I looked for tactical place and positioned myself there. Slowly they started foraging towards me as if I wasn't there. It was really great! Curious birds that didn't care of my presence. In harsh/cold conditions I can imagine that birds will be tame but not when the weather is just standard.

Below the result of my small fotoshoot with the birds:
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
 Dunlin (Calidris alpina), one individual had what it seemed like a longer bill and weird colouring on the bill (as you can see in the above images)

zaterdag 5 oktober 2013

Lanceolated Warbler! 4th record for the Netherlands!

I was awake in bed early this morning when I suddenly saw my phone lightening up: a call from Bram! ''I think I just caught a Lanceolated Warbler''!!!! Whaaaat? Seriously? He was serious... As soon as I could I alerted my dad and 45 minutes later we arrived at the Ooijse Graaf near Nijmegen.

The 4th Dutch record, the second ''live'' sighting of this species; earlier records were 2002 (one ringed along the Dutch coast), 1958 (found dead), 1912 (found dead). So an extremely rare catch!

 Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata), 1st winter
  Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata), 1st winter with Grashopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
 Open wing photo of the Lanceolated Warbler
Many thanks to Bram!!

donderdag 15 augustus 2013

Poland, July 15th-17th: First days

We departured from Apeldoorn at 6.30 in the morning on the 15th. Our plan was to drive to Bialowieza in two days. After driving 700km through Germany, passing the German-Polish border at Frankfurt a/d Oder, we arrived at Pozradlo where we had picked our campsite, a dutch campsite called De Kroon.  In Germany we had seen quite a few Red Kites along the highway and also a Black Kite. Along the highway near the Polish border we saw an Osprey nest from the driving car with a bird sitting on the nest. We'd them at exactly the same place three years earlier as well. In the morning of the 16th we woke up with the sound of Cranes, Corn Buntings, Golden Orioles and in the mean time the Fieldfares had replaced the Blackbirds.

We packed our stuff and continued our journey to Bialowieza. After a full day drive with some breaks in between we arrived at Bialowieza around 5 in the afternoon. We camped at the campsite next to the campsite U michala. We liked this campsite more because of the space and it was less busy.

In the evening we had a short trip with our bicycles. We drove to Pogorcelze, north of Bialowieza. On the way there we had several singing Rosefinches, a singing Savi's Warbler and a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. In the city of Pogorcelze we had another Rosefinch and we had fine views of our first Wryneck of the trip.

17th of July

We decided to have a bit of a sleep-in this morning. Because of the light we already woke up at 4.30 but a relaxing day would do no harm. At the campsite, during breakfast, we had Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Icterine Warbler and a welcome surprise was a Wryneck in front of the tent.

Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
After breakfast we cycled to Teremiski. On the way we had nice views of Rosefinches. In the clearings of Pogorcelze and Teremiski we had a couple of Lesser Spotted Eagles. At Teremiski a Great Grey Shrike was perched on a wire.
Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus)
Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina)
In the afternoon back at the campsite Serins and Siskins were foraging at the campsite, offering some photo oppertunities. In the Bialowieza village we heard and saw our first Collared Flycatcher of the trip. A female type.
Serin (Serinus serinus)

The evening was spent in the eastern part of Bialowieza, in Wysokie Bagno Reserve. At the site where we had Three-toed Woodpeckers before we found them here again! Two Three-toed Woodpeckers were seen foraging in dead trees. In the dead trees we also saw some Pied Flycatchers.

 Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), the bird dissappeared too quickly before I could take a decent picture. It disseappeared to the back of the tree and we didn't find it again!

 Evening on the eastern side of the Bialowieza village
Pierogis at noon