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: 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!