February 2009

Saw two nice bird species today. One I've seen before but still is very nice to come across: the Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Goudvink in Dutch). We were walking in the forest behind our house and didn't see much else, except for the beautiful landscape of course. But then I heard this beautiful bird's song. It didn't sound really familiar, as I haven't heard the song of a Bullfinch very often, but I did immediatly assume it to be one, as I've heard their calls before which have a similar sound. There were two birds among some brambles, a male and female. I noticed the male first, with it's very bright coloured chest. I'd have taken a short video to record the song, but all my batteries were dead unfortunately.
Then just now, here at home, I noticed a large group of birds landing in a Birch tree about 50 meters (?) behind our house. I thought they were Siskins (Carduelis spinus, Sijs in Dutch) first, but looking through my binoculars I couldn't find any yellow, but found some pink insted. These had to be Redpolls! (Barmsijs in Dutch). I quickly set up my spotting scope and saw they indeed were Redpolls. A look in my birdguide told me what to look for to distinguish the Lesser and Mealy Redpolls, which most noticably is a clear stripe on the wing of the Mealy. And these birds had that, so for the first time in my life I've seen the Mealy Redpoll :) (Carduelis flammea flammea, Grote Barmsijs in Dutch). No pictures, they were too far away and the 'digiscope' picture I took (a photograph taken through the spotting scope) is ehm, not worth showing here. Haha.

Went on an excursion with the Bird Workgroup Nijmegen today. We went all the way over to Zeeland, a provence on the coast in the south-west of The Netherlands. We left from nearby, at the pump house where I've photographed that Water Rail on January 17th (see diary entry of that day). After about 2 hours of driving we reached the well-known birding-spot Brouwersdam. We also visited what used to be an island by the name of Neeltje Jans and a polder area (Prunjepolder). We saw loads and loads of birds... I saw a couple of species I hadn't seen before like Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus, Kuifduiker in Dutch), Black-Necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis, Geoorde Fuut in Dutch), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax, Kemphaan in Dutch) and Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Kuifaalscholver in Dutch). Also a mammal I'd never seen before. We thought they were dolphins at first, but after some research they turned out to be Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena, Bruinvis in Dutch), a small whale species.
I didn't take any pictures, don't know, didn't feel like it, I was too busy with my binoculars and my spotting scope I guess.

During our walk in the forest today we heard some great ruffles by Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, always a joy to hear. I tried to take a picture of the tiny female flower of a Hazel, but it turned out a bit disappointing. Oh well, I'll post it anyway, maybe some of you have never seen a flower like this before?
Also photographed some mushrooms I'd photographed last year as well, but I don't think I've put that on my website. So here they are. Beauties, I forgot their name though...
And one more picture. I finally found the first Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum, Gevlekte Aronskelk in Dutch) in the 'Philosopher's Valley', a part of the forest Duivelsberg. It took some searching and I found these using my binoculars. Took the picture using max. zoom. :)


Went for a walk in Dal Palland today. I walked along a nice hedge for a bit and found these incredibly thorny Rose plants. I'm not sure of the species, I'll have to go back once there are leafs on them.

Also, I finally found the Lords and Ladies at the spot where I saw them last year. Still tiny, just half a centimeter high I guess, but still. :)


We worked in our back garden today. I finally dug in the second cement tub I'd gotten a while ago. It's a bit of an experiment... We've filled the tub with sand that came from under the terrace tiles when Lisette's dad did some work on that. I'm hoping it's a bit poorer in nutrition than the soil that naturally occurs in our garden. we want to saturate the sand with water, creating something of a mini-marsh, and then just wait what kind of plants (if any) the wind brings. Maybe it will be a big failure and only grass will grow in it... ;)
We also removed some 'fencing', small half poles that created a flower bed next to the garage. By doing so we enlarged the area in which we can sow and plant plants as we don't really value a big lawn. We plan on trading in more lawn for plant/flower-'beds' in the rest of the garden as well.


We worked in our back garden again today. We removed some of the grass sods that were still in the newly created 'plant bed' next to the garage and removed some of the Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis, Ijle Dravik in Dutch) I sowed last spring (it was doing very, very well...). We also removed more 'fencing', this time in the shape of railway sleepers. They were used to create two big flower beds, one behind the garage and another going round the corner along the side of the wall of the neighbour's garage (sorry, no map of our garden (yet)). Part of the 'lawn' (it was to moist there for a proper lawn) in front of the flower beds is now bare soil, ready for sowing/planting. Not completely sure what to sow or plant there yet, it's really moist loam/clay soil. The Wild Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum, Grote Kaardebol in Dutch) is growing at the edge of this bit of bare soil. It's a prickly plant, I think alongside it would be a good place to saw a new Spear Thistle. Maybe some Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium, Gewone Berenklauw in Dutch) and Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, Boerenwormkruid in Dutch) could grow around there as well. I'd like to get as many flowering plants to grow there as possible. We'll have to think about it a bit. But not too long, as march/april is the best time for sowing... We moved all the grass sods over to behind the shed, along with the railway sleepers, and placed them next to the little stone 'flat' (on the left on the third picture below). Now that I'm looking at the picture I think the flat needs a little bit of work. It's barely visible on the picture, but there's an open space below the bottom tile. We created that on purpose and filled it with small twigs and such. It's a place for insects and perhaps a toad or something. I suppose we could created another space like that between the next tile an the ones above that. Maybe I can create something tomorrow...
Something different, I photographed the Lords and Ladies that are growing near Ubbergen again today. I pass by these plants every day on my way to work and back. I photographed them back in January as well, if you'd like to compare take a look at the diary entry of January 27th.
Oh, and one more thing... I was able to add a new species to the list of birds I've seen in my life: the Crane (Grus grus, Kraanvogel in Dutch). Saw some flying at astonishing height, they actually disappeared behind the clouds after I only got a three or four second look at them through my binoculars... I hope to get another chance tomorrow, there ought to be less clouds, so I'll be searching the sky all day long...