Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Well Tuesday was my last day in Holland and Jim had some work to do in the afternoon so we planned the day around me finishing with some Gooses action nr Rotterdam.

First though knowing my addiction to buying outdoor clothing Jim took me to what must be the biggest outdoor shop.....................................................................IN THE WORLD (that last bit should be read in the style of Clarkson).
It's unbelievable, it took us about an hour and a half to walk round it, they stock everything, even stuff for proper expeditions that I didn't even know existed like down lined boots for wearing in the tent when its about -300. I somehow managed to refrain from buying anything at all which I still can't quite believe, Jim bought a pair of down lined mittens which looked good, and apparently keep his hands warm, judging by how cold mine were later that day I should have maybe bought some too! Although judging by the prices trying stuff on then sourcing it back home here would be a better bet, a Mountain Equipment jacket was £80 more than it sells for here!!! Anyway here's the website if anyone fancies a nose.

Just round the corner from this shop was a big lake which had an American Wigeon on it but we couldn't find it despite looking for about 5 minutes. As time was getting on Jim had to set off for his survey site so we said our emotional farewells and I headed to Rotterdam.

Once in Rotterdam I quickly found this

And a couple of these

The Buffleheed has been returning each winter for about the last 4 or 5 and sometimes shows really close to the bank, obviously it didn't this time.

From here it was a short drive to the site for Lesser White Fronts which were in the exact field Jim had told me they would be in, also here were about 20 unphotogenic Buzzards and millions of Barnacles and White fronts. Jim had said there would be Great White Egrets in the ditches next to the tracks at this site, well they aren't great and they weren't there either!

Within 10 minutes of arriving I'd connected with about 60 lessers which got flushed pretty quickly by two women on hosses and then all the other gooses started to drift off so with almost 2 hours of light left there was nothing to see! I made my way back to the ferry terminal and had a kip.

So 4 days winter birding in Holland,I think you'd have to say it's a pretty good list of tackle. I really was surprised by how good the birding was it's such a small country as well that we covered most of it in the 4 days and I've almost forgotten about my experience on Texel, it certainly beats birding in Britain in winter, I was even impressed with the Gooses!

Monday, 22 February 2010

These next two are for Jack!

I've never seen an adult male Rough Leg before so this was a really nice bird to catch up with. Amazing how dark it looked with the head and breast merging into the underwing covs and mottled belly. When seen sat it was striking how big the shoulders and head looked compared to Common Buzzard, a right monster of a bird.

After the rough leg which was nice cos we could watch it from the car Jim made us get out and walk round a big wood where you apparently get some birds. We didn't, and it was freezing, more freezing than I've ever been even with 3 pairs of good gloves on my hands were cold after about 5 seconds. It was also the quietest wood I've ever been in, it took ages to find the first bird, a Marsh Tit I think, I can't be sure cos my eyes had frozen and I couldn't see! We also saw Crested Tit and Short toed Tree but none of them showed very well they were all moving around a lot frantically looking for grub. It was below minus 5 with a wind chill that must have been minus 25.

Right then here's the good stuff.......

Nice 2nd cal Caspian

And a few of a smart Mich.

The tip here is fantastic the rubbish is all dumped on a concrete area surrounded by walls. The Gulls just sit on the walls waiting for the trucks to move off then it's chaos. There is a bank adjacent to this tipping area you can stand on, the views are incredible as the birds are only 20-30 metres away. If it hadn't been so cold my hands would have been a bit steadier and I might have got more sharp pics. Although on the other hand it might have been the 8% grog the night before!! No on second thoughts it was the cold, Jim bottled out and went to sit in the car for the last hour pretending to be tired, think he lived down south for too long.

In the evening Remke cooked us a traditional dutch dish of malaysian curried rice or something! Which was really good and we went to a pub quiz, which was in Dutch! despite the obvious handicaps of Jim, who's been learning Dutch for about 18 months, and me, who doesn't speak a word of it, we came second by one point!!!
I should have said earlier that I was in Holland over the weekend of 6th-9th Feb

Here's a few Goose shots, it might be a while before I add the next day, it's when we went to the tip. I've got a lot of pics to sift through!!!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

After a few really good dutch beers last night we had a leisurely start this morning and headed to the Baikal Teal in the east of the country (well I think it was east) lets just come out and say it looks plastic as feck on a canal with various hybrid Mallards and such like.............but there's also Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck on the same canal, and everything but this canal was frozen just a few days earlier so who knows.

I'll say one thing about it wherever it's come from it's an absolutely cracking looking bird. At the same site there were Middle spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch calling but we couldn't see either of them.

I'm really amazed how much I enjoyed all the Gooses in Holland, I'm not really a goose kind of birder but out there you can't fail to be impressed there are literally thousands of them everywhere. Next on our agenda was an area with thousands of Tundra Beans. In with these birds is a massive one which had been mooted as a middendorfi which I was keen to see, we didn't but found a pale bellied Brent instead, which is rare. We also had a Great white Egret here.

Then it was onto what for me was bird of the trip, the Oriental Turtle Dove. I've seen the race orientalis before in China, they are massive Wood Pigeon like bulky things. This though is a meena and if I'd seen this at Spurn in Oct I'd have overlooked it as a Turtle Dove so I was really pleased to get a bit of experience of this race. Jesus it was cold though!

After the Pigeon we went for a bite to eat in a dirty bastard stinking fish restaurant, I had chips and a burger surprise or something! Lauwesmeer in the north was almost empty of birds, we did have the most ridiculous views of a Bittern tho as it sat on the roadside next to the car before being flushed by a cough!!!

Today I learnt that the literal translation of the dutch name for Hen Harrier is 'blue chicken thief' which I love I think we should start calling them this all the time it's class. Also saw Black Woodpecker today fly over the motorway in front of the car! and tens of thousands of Barnacle Gooses. A few more cracking Dutch beers were consumed including some at 8%!
It's been a while since my last post, after getting back from Holland I've been flat out for the last week and a half, plus I've been getting my laptop updated (cheers Darren).

So anyway Holland.....

Last year I went to see Jim, it was mostly for a party and we did very little birding, we did however go to Texel (pronounced tessel, think of nipple) where we saw a Snedge Owl and sod all else but horizontal rain, it was without doubt the worst days birding I've ever had. So when Jim told me the weather forecast was for rain I was overjoyed, Gooses and more fecking rain......sweet.

I arrived at the ferry terminal to be greeted with gorgeous bright fog, and set about trying to find my way to Eindhoven without a map, where Jim was going to meet me to look for Crested Lark (his idea not mine). After only one wrong turn I got to the station which was bathed in blue skies and sun and met up with Jim who immediately pointed out a black guy who appeared to be feeding the ducks whilst facing a stone wall!!!

The Lark was seen within a minute or two and then we set of for Maastricht to look for Eagle Owl.

The Eagle Owls are in a disused corner of a massive quarry that's been allowed to scrub over and viewing isn't easy with only a few good vantage points, the first point we came across had well worn earth so we had a look, there were some blokes in the bottom making some noise so we didn't hold out much hope and Jim walked off in search of a better place to look from just as he did a maseeve Owl flew across the quarry, I couldn't see where it landed from my position but the racket the corvids made for the next 10 mins gave us a good idea, despite searching though we couldn't see it. We went to look at some Gooses and saw 3 Red breasted and lots of Barnacles and White fronts. We returned to the quarry later but there was no further sign despite staying til dark.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

finally got my car in something like working order, in addition to the clutch going I've had to put two new tyres on it, change the oil, get some work done to the steering, fix a leak on the rear wash wipe that was filling the boot with screenwash and replaced the seal on the door which was filling the drivers side footwell with rainwater!!!! Feckin thing seems to be costing me an arm and a leg lately.

As for birding I've not really done a lot, managed a day in fife whilst on stand by with work so saw plenty of sea duck, and went out with Towel and Jack last weekend and saw a couple of Hen Harriers including a cracking ad male, but that's about it. I'm off to see Jim (sorry James now he's gone posh!) in Holland at the weekend so should have plenty of pics of gooses to put up next week!!