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100 species: March results

It’s the end of the third month of the year, and it is officially spring! The bird migration has really taken off, with multiple new arrivals coming in every week or so. Not just the redshanks have found the nearby polders, but small numbers of black-tailed godwits have spend some time here as well. The Netherlands’ national bird, black-tailed godwits are in a bit of a rough patch; let’s hope in due time, larger numbers will return to the polders once again.

March has also been a slight catch-up, photography wise, for some species. After many attempts, I finally got a record shot of a green woodpecker. A migrating western marsh harrier has also been a pleasant, but short, photographic encounter. New species have been added to the ‘seen, but not photographed’-list, however. An early barn swallow has made a short appearance in Voorschoten’s sky, but as it so happened, I did not have my camera with me.

Springtime has begun, and many birds are showing all sings of pairing up, nest building, and mating. Two red-crested pochards have found each other, and are pretty much inseparable. On my first encounter with them, they were asleep most of the time; even passing greylag geese did not bother them. A sparrowhawk flying over did however wake them, and I got some shots of these magnificent ducks swimming alongside each other.

Most of the birds I have seen this year so far, have been relatively predictable species. Based on migratory trends, local birding records, and previous sightings, I make plans to search for specific species that are likely to be around at a certain time of the year, day, etcetra. There have been some surprises, which are the best bits, like the little grebe in January, or the amount of reed bunting encounters so far. Last week I spent some time near a reed bed, and was greeted by a pair of reed buntings. In the distance I could hear another bird singing, with a much more complicated song. I take some shots with my camera, zoom in, and…

It’s a bluethroat! I slowly move towards the bird, and get close enough to get some better shots. There it is, proudly singing its song, on top of a lone reed. After a minute or so, it flies off to a different location, out of my reach. Seeing a bluethroat, especially a singing one, is always a treat. But this encounter is extra special. Because this is the first record of a bluethroat in Voorschoten, ever! A nice surprise, and an great addition to the local biodiversity records. A completely new species, exciting stuff!

Total number of species: 84 / 100

Number of new species: 5

  • Barn swallow
  • Black-tailed godwit
  • Bluethroat
  • Marsh harrier
  • Red-crested pochard