A lot can happen in a month’s time! It has been a little while since I have written my last non-Dutch blog about this project, so definitely time for another update! This post will be a summary of my four latest Dutch blog posts, spanning pretty much the entirety of May, and the last few days of April.
The first week started off great, with small numbers of tree pipits migrating alongside some late meadow pipits. A great results, because properly ‘ID’-ing these small birds can be quite difficult, especially in the field. There are some differences in beak size, feather coloring and contrast, and flying behavior between tree pipits and the far more common meadow pipits. Combining those elements with migration predictions (tree pipits usually migrate more than a month later than most meadow pipits) helped me to get some record shots of these birds. Beforehand, I wasn’t sure wether I would actually get a glimpse of a tree pipit, or even some shots!
Another nice surprise was the presence of some ring ouzels. Small groups of ring ouzels migrated north during the last weeks of April, with some birds even foraging on local grasslands. My new spotting location proved to be very productive. It wasn’t just ring ouzels; a purple heron, a group of shovelers, two stonechats, and a whinchat were great addition to my local list.
The nearby waterways and polders proved to be great foraging grounds for a number of swallows, including sand martins and swifts. Along the water’s edge, sandpipers foraged on a number of occasions. They usually stopped for a couple of minutes, searched for some food, and would then continue migrating further north, flying in their typical fashion: franticly, just above the water.
The first week of May saw the arrival of some songbirds and raptors. Generous numbers of garden warblers started to populate the parks and forests. Hidden deep in some bushes, a nightingale cautiously sang its song, but getting a photograph of it proved to be impossible. A number of hobbies have returned from their wintering grounds, and started hunting on the local insects, sand martins, and greenfinches.
A singing lesser whitethroat did what it does best: staying out of sight. A nearby common whitethroat did show itself, causing some short lived confusion over the bird’s identity. But there’s little reason to complain when you find both species of whitethroat on the same day, in virtually the same bush!
One of my personal favorite birds, the reed warbler, also returned from Africa. Multiple reed beds have been occupied, so let’s hope some of these birds can have a successful breeding season here.
Some local cuckoo’s found their place on the edge of this township. During the first couple of weeks of May, I heard them calling, and occasionally saw them just outside Voorschoten. In the last two weeks, they have started crossing the waterway, separating Voorschoten from Leidschendam, spending some time here, and giving me some photographing opportunities.
Last week’s theme seemed to be waders. For a long time, most of the waders I’ve seen this year were black-tailed godwits and redshank. This week, four different species of waders migrated through, with the red knot and black-winged stilt being new additions to the township’s all time biodiversity list.
All in all, it has been a busy, but successful month. I am still surprised by the fact that I have already passed the 100 species mark, which was the end-year goal. On the one hand, every new species I’ve found since then has been a pleasant surprise, especially when they’re rare, or new to the township (red knot), or both (black-winged stilts). On the other hand, there’s still a lot to discover. I’m still waiting and hoping for some crossbills, a honey buzzard, a red kite, or even a merlin, black tern, or icterine warbler… Let’s see what June has to offer!
Total number of species: 122 / 100
Number of new species: 22
- Black-winged stilt
- Garden warbler
- Greater black-backed gull
- Grey plover
- Lesser whitethroat
- Little ringed plover
- Purple heron
- Red knot
- Reed warbler
- Ring ouzel
- Tree pipit