November 2010

After putting the Swift nest boxes again last week, I took a look at the camera'-images from nest box 1 this evening. And there it was, just like last winter, a Great Tit (Parus marjor, Koolmees in Dutch), looking like a ball of fluff, sleeping in the corner. :)

The evening after I first saw the Great Tit (Parus marjor, Koolmees in Dutch) sleep in the nest box again she wasn't in the number 1 box. So I went up to the attic, switched some plugs and started on my way down. Lisette called up that the Great Tit was indeed in box number 2 this time. So today I started recording the images of the number 2 box camera at around dusk. Just after 5 'o clock she (or another female Great Tit of course, no way to be sure) entered the box. After preening a bit, she put on her down coat and sat still on one legg. Outside the view of the camera for the most part unfortunately, but still a nice video I think.

I went for a walk this morning. First I cycled to the base of the lateral moraine that lies pretty much behind our house. I parked my bike and walked up the trail a bit so I could look at the orchard on the slopes to the right of the trail. I thought I had heard a Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris, Kramsvogel in Dutch) while still back in our back garden. They love apples and I thought the calls came from the direction in which the orchard lies, but I couldn't find any Fieldfares. I did see the Sessile Earthstars (Geastrum fimbriatum, Gewimperde Aardster in Dutch) I found on October 10th, but there were much less of those and they weren't looking very photogenic anymore.
Back onto my bike I cycled to the nearby lake Wylermeer. Walked around there a bit and saw a female Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Goudvink in Dutch). I tried to photograph her, but my camera insisted on focussing on the tangle of bramble branches in front of her. Too bad, but I've photographed them before, so it's no more than just a pity. Also tried to photograph Goldcrests (Regulus regulus, Goudhaantje in Dutch). Such restless and motile birds, it's always quite an effort to photograph one. Did manage one ok shot though. :)
After the walk at Wylermeer, I got back onto my bike and cycled into the Ooijpolder, mostly agricultural land, but with a lot of nature as well and always good for birdwatching. I'd heard and seen a couple of Geese before, but only just into the Ooijpolder I saw quite a group. They were White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons, Kolgans in Dutch), but I also spotted what seemed to be a single Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis, Brandgans in Dutch), way in the back. I got a bit cold then, so I didn't go further into the polder. I did take the longer route back home, but that didn't prove very useful in that I didn't see anything special, beside perhaps a big group of gulls.
Back home I tried some bird photography again. I think the picture of the Nuthatch (Sitta europaea, Boomklever in Dutch) below worked out pretty well. :) I also noticed a small and pale coloured version of a Great Tit. A Coal Tit (Periparus ater, Zwarte Mees in Dutch). They look a bit like Great Tits, but no yellow (or blue like a Blue Tit for that matter), but smaller and with a distinctive white patch in the neck, as can be seen on one of the pictures below.
Later today, I collected some dead leaves in the front garden and placed them around the base of the Absinth Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Absintalsem in Dutch) to protect it from frost. I needed a bit more, so I went and collected leaves in the back garden as well. As I got close to the Peach tree in which the bird feeder hangs, I noticed something small crawling into the leaf litter just below the feeder. Hmm, a shrew perhaps? I went inside, got my camera and sat still nearby. And there it was, a small mouse! :) I think it was a House Mouse (Mus musculus, Huismuis in Dutch), judging by it's small ears. But I also think it was a juvenile. It was so small and moving about so unhandy and slow. I think I might've been able to pick it up had I wanted to! That doesn't seem normal for an adult. Then again, I recall filming an adult mouse in garden back on May 22nd 2009.
Sitting behind my computer, I noticed a Blackbird (Turdus merula, Merel in Dutch) feeding on the breadcrumbs and seeds on the terrace. I took a look at it through my binoculars and noticed a ring around it's leg. There's a ringing station nearby on the lateral Moraine, so I guess it may well have been ringed there. No way to read the code of course.



Things are quite busy at the bird feeders! After cleaning and filling the seed feeder, I decided to put up a peanut feeder as well. It's hard to count them, but I estimate there are approx. 5 to 10 Great Tits, 5 - 10 Blue Tits, 5 or 6 Greenfinches, 3 House Sparrows, 2 or 3 Chaffinches, a Dunnock, a Coal Tit and a Marsh Tit flying around there!

I tried a little bit of garden bird photography today. Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus, Pimpelmees in Dutch) seem to have no fear... They would come and eat from the peanuts with me standing at just 1 or 1.5 meters distance. That allows for some ok photography of course. :)


A somewhat unexpected guest in our garden today. Well, not very spectacular, but I don't see Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla, Zwartkop in Dutch) every day in the winter. Most of these birds migrate and leave our regions. But it seems to happen more and more often that individuals try to stay throughout the winter. It might be a hard time, but if they manage, they're the first Blackcaps here in the spring so they start the breeding season with a headstart. I wonder how they would do if the winter turns out the way it did last year...
Anyway, very nice to see this pretty bird in our garden. Clearly a female, with her chestnut coloured cap insted of a male's... Well, guess what colour a Blackcap male's cap is? :p This female was feeding on berries of this shrub I don't know the name of. Purple Berries Shrub? Ok, helped me out once more, it's Calicarpa, officially the Beauty Berry Bush. We're actually planning on removing this to plant a Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus, Gelderse Roos) in it's place though. But that'll probably have to wait 'till next year anyway. A poor picture, but my camera just wouldn't focus on the bird. And through the window... I tried to get a better shot from in the back garden, but standing there pretty still for about half an hour was pointless because the Blackcap didn't return at that point. Oh well, I was able to get a good look at it. :)

I just saw the female Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Zwartkop in Dutch) again. Not on the Calicarpa, but eating from one of the apples I've placed in our back garden for Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris, Kramsvogel in Dutch), Redwings (Turdus iliacus, Koperwiek in Dutch, of which I saw my first one for this season during a walk in the forest this morning!) or possibly even Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus, Pestvogel in Dutch) (check out the blog of Tommy H. Hyndman for some AMAZING Waxwing photo's!), or any other interested animals of course. I noticed a female Blackbird (Turdus merula, Merel in Dutch) eating from one of the apples this morning. When I noticed the Blackcap I slowly got up from the chair to get my camera, but she flew away. I sat back down and waited. And waited... No luck. But just as I started writing this, there she was again! :) Still a picture taken through the window, but much better. :) I don't know if a Blackcap would also eat the berries of Guelder Rose (see previous diary entry), but if not, I'm glad a couple of apples are welcome as well. Oh, and coming back from the walk in the forest I also photograped a Nuthatch (Sitta europaea, Boomklever in Dutch) in what seems to be their favorite eating positions. They sit like that when the feeder is still completely filled as well by the way.


The seed feeder in our back garden is designed in such a way that only small birds can get to the seeds. But especially the Great Tits (Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch) throw out A LOT. They seem to be intersted in nothing but sunflower seeds. So I bought a dish that can be mounted onto the bottom of the silo. Other birds that are interested in the seeds landing on that can pick them up and a little less ends up on the ground (though it's such a mess there now, it hardly matters anymore). But as can be seen on the picture below, it also allows somewhat larger birds to sit down. I don't really mind, Jays (Garrulus glandarius, Gaai in Dutch) are beautiful birds and have to eat just like the smaller birds.

I was looking around the 'chalk-patch' in our back garden, hoping to see signs of Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris, Wildemanskruid in Dutch). I sowed a tiny amount of seeds (three or so) in that patch that I took home from this year's KNNV excursion to the Eifel area in Germany. They need frost to germinate, which they've had in the past couple of days, so who knows. And they flower in the very early spring, so they might already emerge around this time of year. Didn't see anything hairy growing around there though, but I did notice a couple of small only just emerged plants. I'm petty sure they're Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis, Sneeuwklokje in Dutch). Seeing them there made me look around for more, which I found in the vegetable patch. No signs of Crocusses yet though as far as I could see. The apples I places in the garden for Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris, Kramsvogel in Dutch) and all others interested are very near the chalk patch and are obviously eaten ver often... Some look rather nice I think, pretty much hollow.
I went into the front garden to look for signs of bulbs and found what must be the not-so-beautiful small Daffodils (Narcis in Dutch). I think we might dig them out after they're done flowering coming spring.


I made a new bee hotel today. Or bee block. I think block is more appropiate as it's not really a hotel if they build nests in there, is it? Anyway, I used a 'slice' of the Oak treetrunk I took from the cunstruction site of a school in Ubbergen (with permission of the owners). I just realized I never uploaded a picture of that or wrote about it in my diary. It took quite some effort. I pass this construction site twice every day on my way to work and back home. There was this nice big treetrunk of an Oak if I'm not mistaken just laying there, looking like no one was going to use it for anything. So I contacted several people asking if I could have it and eventually got permission from the right person. So I took a cart and walked over to the construction site, about half an hour away I guess. The treetrunk was real heavy of course, so it took me quite some effort to get it from the place where it layed to on top of the cart. And then I had to roll it back home... But, as you can see on the picture below that I took on June 2nd of this year (the day on which I also found out that Swifts had discovered the nest bricks in the Hessenberg project in Nijmegen!), I managed to get it there. Not sure when it was, but I tried sawing off a slice quite a while later, bu which time the wood had split a bit. The sawing was no succes... It pretty much can't be done with a handsaw. I eventually managed to get a piece off, but a bit broke off due to the splitting. I took some iron wire and wound it round the slice. It stood in our garage for quite a while again and yesterday I decided to finish another part of the project by drilling holes. 220 Of them. Took me about three quarters of an hour I guess. Sorry neigbours! I hope the bees appreciate it as much as my other slightly larger bee block (see the last picture below). But I'll first have to put it up on the wall and perhaps create some kind of roof. And wait for spring of course...
I also went to the Sovon-day today. Sovon is the national Dutch organisation for bird research. It collects all counting and monitoring data and such. Every year on the last Saturday of November a national day is organized. A lot of stands from workgroups, book sellers, travel agencies and more. Not just about birds, but about other aspects of nature as well. I was there from around 8 in the morning 'till around half past four in the afternoon to help at the stand of GBN (Vereniging Gierzwaluwbescherming Nederland. The stand lookd nice again, with several nest boxes and bricks, rooftiles and lots of brochures and pictures. I had a good time with fellow GBN-ers and taking a look around the rest of the stands.


Just a short entry to show a picture of one of the flower heads of the Teasels (Dipsacus fullonum, Grote Kaardebol in Dutch) in our back garden. :)