vrijdag 28 februari 2014

Snowy Owls & hundreds of Cranes

Last sunday, the 23rd of February, we went to see the Snowy Owls on Vlieland! Together with my dad and Henri. They've been present there for quite some time now, and we finally had the time to visit them.

We took the ferry at 10.40 from Harlingen and arrived on the island around 11.30. We rented a bike and then headed in the direction of the owls. There was a strong wind blowing so the 6 km drive took us about 45 minutes!

Arriving there we soon found a Snowy Owl perched on a dune, quite distant though, The view through the scope was great, but there was not much activity so we looked for the 2nd bird. I soon saw on waarneming.nl that the second bird had been seen. So we headed there. This bird was much closer - but still not really active. We spend the entire afternoon with the birds, very enjoyable!

Here are some shots:
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), first winter female, bird nr. 1
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), first winter female, bird nr.2 - much darker and more barred
Location of the 2nd bird

The next day (monday 24th) a huge wave a Cranes passed through NL, I was birding at Radio Kootwijk, looking for parrot crossbills - only finding common -when I got lots of messages reporting groups of Cranes passing by. At that moment, I immediatly left and went to a high point with a good view to look for the Cranes: with succes!
 Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), male
Look-out point from which I saw 320 Cranes, Achterste Steenberg, Hoog Buurlo
Cranes (Grus grus), distant and close-by!

donderdag 13 februari 2014

Repeat of the Day

I went back to the woodies, spent a couple of hours with them, enjoying myself!

 Middle-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), bird 1
 Bird 2
Also came across this Roe Deer, that didn't look too healthy after second inspection

dinsdag 11 februari 2014

Signs of Spring

As a result of the mild weather we're having, lots of birds have the feeling that it's spring already. I visited the Paleispark at Paleis het Loo this morning and had a great morning. Clear skies, with clouds every now and then, together with some slight wind gusts. The birds were in full swing: active Great Spotted Woodpeckers, most species of Tit, singing Chaffinches, Hawfinches, Mistle Thrush, displaying Goshawk and so on. Wonderful. The signs of winter were still conspicious however, with hundreds of Bramblings and Chaffinches. Also, groups of Fieldfares and Redwings were still present in the park.

My visit had a special goal: finding Middle-spotted Woodpeckers. It only took me about half an hour before I found them! I was walking along a lane with old oaks and suddenly I heard and saw two woodpeckers chasing each other. They turned out to be Middle-spotted!

The male showed well for a while, foraging in a oak at close distance. I lost the other bird as soon as I focused on the male, I presume it was a female because it was not really vocal, but I'm not sure. A bit later the male took off and started singing in a patch of oak trees a few 100m away from me. I enjoy the Jay-song of the woodpeckers, very distinctive.

Anyway, I got a couple of decent shots from the bird, if I would have my phone with me a good sound recording would have been collected as well,
 Middle-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), male
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla), male adult winter

maandag 27 januari 2014

Winter keeps getting better and better: White-billed Diver!!

We've had an unbelievable good winter for rare birds in The Netherlands so far, it's crazy. Today I saw my 4th lifer of the year already... Two-barred Crossbill, Brown Shrike, Caspian Plover (last Saturday) and now White-billed Diver. Incredible!

Just take a look at this list of (really) rare birds present in NL right now:
A printscreen of yesterday's homepage

Yesterday a White-billed Diver (or Yellow-billed Loon) had been found on the Rhederlaag, a recreational lake near Arnhem. It's a good place for seabirds. I've seen Velvet Scoter and Long tailed Duck there for example. And now this place strikes again, but this time with a real badass bird!

The bird was discovered late in the afternoon and we weren't able to twitch it, so we went this morning. Together with my dad and Tommy we arrived there at 9.40. Luckily for us (and lots of other people), the bird was still there and showed really well.

We first saw the bird at quite close range (~150m). Not much later the bird swam towards the sun, bad light, and the bird was swimming further and further away. We tried from the other side of the lake where we had good views, but more distant than before (~500-600m). The light was perfect, so that made up for the distance.

Tammo got a recordshot of the first moments:
White-billed Diver (Gavia adamsii), first winter; what an enormous, massive bill,

As Tommy and I had to go to the uni we took off. Hopefully the bird will stay longer so we can visit it again:)
By the way, here: http://waarneming.nl/soort/photos/812?from=2014-01-27&to=2014-01-27 are already lots of other good pics of the bird. Check it out whilst I'm still enjoying this lifer from behind my laptop!

zaterdag 25 januari 2014

Caspian Plover & Long-legged Buzzard Combo!

Today I went to the Caspian Plover that has been present for almost two weeks now at Wissenkerke, Zeeland. I went together with Reinoud Vermoolen. We left Wageningen at 8.00 and in the mid-morning we arrived there. At arrival the bird wasn;t active at all, it was sat inactively on a crop field. We decided to check Neeltje Jans for Shags, but we weren't productive. When we came back to look if the Caspian Plover had become more active, and indeed! The bird had flown to another crop field and was foraging actively. At a good distance we could observe the bird very well. I managed one record shot:
Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus), first winter; based on the light brown edging of the coverts

Next stop was the Snow Goose not far from the Caspian Plover. We soon found it together with Greylag Geese, for what's worth it...! 

As always, the Brouwersdam between the islands Schouwen-Duivenland & Goeree-Overflakkee. This is always a great birding place in winter, for waterfowl. 

We saw a Great Northern Diver, some Red-throated Divers, several Horned and Red-necked Grebes, some Common Scoters and 3 Long-tailed Ducks were also really nice. One male was sat on the side of the dam, nice!

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis), adult? male

Last but not least a stop was made at the Maasvlakte, where the longstaying (120+ days!!) is still present. We had perfect views as it flew past in front of the car and perched on a pole, not far in the field!

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), first winter

zondag 19 januari 2014

First for NL: Brown Shrike!

The weekend started very relaxed, but it would turn out to be a rather hectic saturday!

We decided to head for the Parrot Crossbills near Nijmegen that have been present there for almost two months. A group of 25 birds is being really cooperative and we decided we wanted to see them, I mean why not!

When we arrived there the birds also just arrived and flew towards us, landing in some pine trees further down the path. It was immedatly and nice oppertunity to record them:

And here some sonograms:
 Sonogram of Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus), mixed with Common Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra)

The only thing was: there were too many people around for them to go down and drink water from a small pool, so we only had views of them in flight, and in the pine trees.
Still quite happy with this flight shot!

Then in the afternoon things got exciting!

We got an alert that a possible Brown Shrike had been found near Gendringen, in the utmost south-east of the province of Gelderland. It was already late (not much light), but we decided to give it a go! We arrived there at 16.10, with still quite a bit of light. 

The bird was sitting in some small willows and thorn bushes, approximately 200-300m away from us. What bird!!! A first for NL, and that in winter time! 

The group of twitchers that had arrived by 16.30. Aprroximately 100-150 saw this first for NL yesterday before it got dark.

Here are some record shots from Tammo:
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus), first winter; note the striking headpattern: upperside head light brown, black eye stripe, white supercilium and whitish cheek. Back is brownish, secondaries form a light panel, brownish and rounded tail. Barring on the underparts make it a 1st-winter.

There was also this Long-eared Owl catching mice at a few metres distance which drew a lot of attention:
Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

donderdag 2 januari 2014

Can there be a better start of the year than this?

The 1st of January, birding wise, was an excellent beginning of the year 2014. The previous day two Two-barred Crossbills had been found in the forests near Maarn. The following day, whilst we were hiking on the Hoog Buurlosche Heide I saw an alert that the birds had been seen again. When got home around 12:00 my dad and I soon got into the car and drove up there.

We had to wait for an hour orso, but then suddenly an adult male Two-barred Crossbill landed in the top of larch together with some other crossbills, showing well for ca. 1 minute. We didn't get to enjoy our lifer for very long as the group took off again! Then a few moments later I discovered the second bird: an adult female, foraging on larch cones deeper in the bunch of larch trees. This bird also showed well for a short period of time and then took off as well! We didn't have the time to take photos but we were happy with wanted species!

Today, the 2nd of January we headed back to the Pygmy Owl again. The bird sat closer than the previous time and allowed is to take great photos! Other species observed today: a Great Grey Shrike, some Crossbills, Green Woodpecker and some other species that were new for the year 2014.

Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum), the last two photos taken when it was almost dark!