December 2010

A Jay (Garrulus glandarius, Gaai in Dutch) visited our seed feeder again today. I managed a somewhat better picture than last time (see the diary entry for November 22nd). They're a bit clumsy on there, but they manage to get some things to eat. So did a Blackbird, but it did so looking much less clumsy. It was enjoying the apples that have been laying there for quite a while now. This ringed male Blackbird's territory includes our back garden, so we see it very often, not rarely chasing away congeners of course (even females).


I went along on an excursion of the bird workgroup Nijmegen today. We went to IJmuiden, a city on the coast of the Netherlands. There were seven of us and we left at 7 'o clock in two cars from Hollandsch-Duitsch gemaal (a pumping station) in Nijmegen, at the edge of the Ooijpolder. It was raining slightly when we left and on the way, but by the time we reached IJmuiden it was dry thankfully. We started at the North-pier. Watching Grebes (Futen) and Cormorants (Aalscholvers) I noticed a thumping sound coming from behind. I looked around and saw a bird going pretty much straight down from a turning windmill. :( Always sad when that happens. Solar energy seems a lot more friendly...
We walked onto the pier where we saw Turnstones (Arenaria interpres, Steenloper in Dutch), Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima, Paarse Strandloper in Dutch), Rock Pipits (Anthus petrosus, Oeverpieper in Dutch) and a Knot (Calidris canutus, Kanoet in Dutch) among others. It was quite windy and every now and then a wave would hit the rocks on the side of the pier and water would splash onto the pier itself. I don't think anyone got wet, though there were some close calls... We did cut our walk on the pier short though. Around halfway down the pier the waves went over the pier more and more often, so we turned around rather than risking wet clothes.
We got back into the cars and went on our way to the South pier, taking a route through the harbor area hoping for some more nice birds, but we didn't come across anything special. On the South pier we saw the same birds I mentioned above, including another Knot that alowed us a very nice look at it from only a couple meters distance. We also saw a single Redshank (Tringa totanus, Tureluur in Dutch) and two Dunlins (Calidris alpina, Bonte Strandloper in Dutch) in a group of gulls. On this pier too quite some waves of course, so we went far from all the way to the end.
After the South pier we drove to the area called Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen (AWD). A couple of Dippers (Cinclus cinclus, Waterspreeuw in Dutch) had been reported on the internet ( Quite rare birds in the Netherlands, so we went looking for them. It wasn't very easy... We met people that had seen one and they told us where, but we just couldn't find it. Using mobiles the internet was consulted, but it wasn't much of a help. I went along with someone who decided to follow someone who looked like a birder that knew where to go. And indeed he did! We ended at a small overflow basin of some kind, with a waterfall in the middle. The Dipper sat at the bottom of the waterfall, often taking very short dives, clearly succesfully foraging. Every now and then it went up to sit on the edge of the waterfall and on a concrete pole where it sung! Our excursion group and the man we followed weren't the only ones that came to take a look at this bird. At one point there were people on all sides of the square basin, including people with kids with binoculars and cameras. Really nice that this bird allowed such a good look at it for so many people. :) Thanks to the excursion leader and the fellow bird workgroup members that went along for this very succesfull day!





When we woke up this morning Lisette and I noticed a lot of snow has fallen this night. I'm guessing something like 10 centimeters? I took some pictures before getting to work sweeping it off the terrace and pavement in front of our house and after that I took a walk. Yesterday on our way from Nijmegen back home Lisette and I saw a large group of birds foraging in a fallow field at the edge of Beek. I only looked at them with my naked eyes and they were quite a distance away, so I wasn't able to make out any species. I guessed there were probably a lot of Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs, Vink in Dutch), but who knows what else. So today I walked back to that field armed with binoculars and my camera. The first birds I saw through my binoculars were Reed Buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus, Rietgors in Dutch), but soon after I saw lots of Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla, Keep in Dutch, such beautiful birds!), Chaffinches, more Reed Buntings, House Sparrows (Passer domesticus, Huismus in Dutch), Tree Sparrows ( Passer montanus, Ringmus in Dutch), Blackbirds (Turdus merula, Merel in Dutch) and a single Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella, Geelgors in Dutch). It was really nice to see so many birds in this field that many people probably think of as messy or useless or something. Back home I wrote a bit about this for the local newspaper De Rozet. It's in Dutch of course and can be found here. But before that, I walked back through Beek toward the latteral moraine (stuwwal in Dutch) for a walk in the no doubt beautiful landscape there. On my way I heard a calling House Sparrow in the Esdoornstraat which I found in a rose. I didn't walk very far onto the lateral moraine but took a picture of the nice orchard on the slope so near our house. :)



More snow... It looks beautiful, but it's not very handy... Cycling here in Beek for example is no fun at all and I must say I don't really enjoy sweeping the terrace and pavement every day.
What is fun is seeing a Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla, Keep in Dutch) in our back garden! First time this winter. At first I spotted just a single male, but later there were three more in a tree of the back neighbours. All males. Such beautiful birds... Also beautiful are Greenfinches (Chloris chloris, Groenling in Dutch) of which at one poing I counted nine. I guess all this snow makes it harder for these birds to find food on for example that field I wrote about in the previous entry, so they visit gardens where people like me offer them food that is easier to reach. I also dug and apple out from under the snow. I placed it there last Wednesday-evening, hoping to see birds feeding on it the next day, but the during the night it snowed. So Thursday I dug it out, but later it snowed again... After digging it out this morning I did see a Blackbird (Turdus merula, Merel in Dutch) enjoying it though.


After that last entry I took a couple more pictures I'd like to show. A group of birds in the tree in the back garden of the back neighbours. Clearly different in that group is a Brambling. The majority of the rest of the group are Greenfinches and I think there's one other bird there, a female Chaffinch (the one sitting lowest and on the left). I also photographed something VERY different. A 1,5 - 2,0 mm long insect belonging to an order known to me only as a Stofluizen. A quick Blackle-search showed me they're called Booklice in English and the scientific name of the order is Psocoptera. I don't know much else about these tiny creatures though. Just tried getting a nice picture of one using the super-macro setting of my camera.
Also, I noticed a Great Tit (Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch) that is tailless! Guess it had a close encounter with something like a cat perhaps.


I noticed it a while ago, when the snow was still a thick layer, but today I finally took a picture of a nice mouse hole in the back of our back garden. It's pretty much directly below the seed feeder, where I saw a mouse back in November (see the diary entry for Novermber 26th). Haven't seen it since, but I'm guessing it, or some other mouse, is still there.

This is the last time I'm writing an English diary entry for now. I'm going to continue in Dutch starting tomorrow. You may want to take a look at the video in the diary entry for January 1st 2011 of a Great Tit (Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch) that spent an uncomfortable night in one of my Swift (Apus apus, Gierzwaluw in Dutch) nest boxes this new year's eve.

I wish you all the very best for a happy, heTITLEhy, nature-rich and animal friendly 2011!