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100 species: January results

The first month of the year has passed, so that calls for a summary of January’s events. Since my last blog and vlog, a number of new species can be added to the list. After the attempt that I featured in my vlog, I spent some more time looking for a kingfisher, and eventually my perseverance paid off. I also got another quick glimpse at a woodcock, but this time, I did get some pictures of it. From a birding point of view, both these sightings are a great addition to the list, but as a photographer, I want to try to get shots a little bit more interesting than these record shots. A nice objective for the next month!

Luckily, some other species were very photogenic this month. A local group of tree sparrows provided some shots of birds foraging, as did this short-toed treecreeper. These were typical situations were birds are so relaxed and busy feeding, they stop paying attention to their surroundings. So with the right approach, you can get close-up shots, without disturbing the birds.

Although most days were filled with rain, wind and, snow, some days were calm and quiet. On one of those days, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a small, shy forest creature, the lesser spotted woodpecker. About the size of a house sparrow, these woodpeckers are the shy, less noisy, counterparts of the well known great spotted woodpecker. Finding one of these birds is a difficult task, but a rewarding one when you do get amongst one of them. The fact that I found five of these little beauties in one morning made that day all the more special! Especially my encounter with this male lesser spotted woodpecker was wonderful. From underneath a bare tree I photographed this bird in a tree nearby. After some minutes of foraging in the tree tops, it flew to the tree I was hiding under, and continued to forage there, just a couple of meters above me. Being that close to a shy but relaxed bird is always an amazing experience!

The total number of species is now higher than I expected it to be by the end of January. My guess was that I would get just over 50 species this month. That would leave me to find about a ‘new’ species a week on average, which is still quite a challenge in its own right. On the other hand, I have little to complain about, with 71 species already on the list!

Of course, there are some species I did expect to see this year, like the meadow pippet and the curlew, I just did not expect them in January. This month did however start with a big surprise, in the form of a little grebe, and it also ended with an even bigger surprise. Between all the greylag and greater white-fronted geese, I spotted a dark-bellied brent goose flying over. Only a handful of people have ever seen one in Voorschoten, and the last confirmed sighting dated from 2011. It remarkably had joined a group of greater white-fronted geese, but stood out with its smaller size and black plumage, even at a significant distant.

So the next question is, what will February bring? I still hope to see a teal, or a fieldfare, before these wintering birds migrate back. During some winters, large numbers of redpolls invade the Netherlands, which has resulted in a numbers of sightings in Voorschoten in the past. This year however, that does not seem to be the case; perhaps next winter. But one step at a time, let’s see what species February has to offer!

Total number of species: 71 / 100

Number of new species: 5

  • Curlew
  • Dark-bellied brent goose
  • Green woodpecker
  • Kingfisher
  • Lesser spotted woodpecker

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