Yikes, it has been over two months since I have done an English blog; clearly time for an update on my local 100 species project! A lot has happened in these months, even though June and July are mainly not considered great birding months. Most summering and breeding birds are either already here, or starting to leave again, while fall migration slowly comes to a start. So finding new species has been an process of ups and downs, with some surprising findings, and remarkable absences.
Several attempts to locate an Icterine warbler proved unsuccessful. I did however had more luck with two different kind of warblers. The first one is a relatively common warbler, but secretive and shy, and virtually indistinguishable from a reed warbler: the marsh warbler. Only its song gives away its true identity. So my objective was to find a singing bird, and hope I would be able to grab some photos of it. Twice, in the early morning hours, I managed to find and see a singing marsh warbler. Most marsh warbler tend to sing from within bushes or trees, but this particular bird sang its song, clinging to a branch of reed, almost if it was trying to look even more like a reed warbler.
The other warbler was a bit more of a surprise. Grasshopper warblers are not as common as reed, marsh, or sedge warblers, but they have been reported here in the past. Their distinctive song is a monotone, metallic rattle that can last for several minutes, similar to the rattle of a grasshopper (hence the name). They do have a tendency to stay unseen; the rattling sound can be difficult to pinpoint to an exact location, and their relative small size does not help with locating them. On an early morning birding session, I heard the rattling from a distance, and upon inspection, I surprised myself by finding the bird in just a couple of seconds. This singing male stayed in the area for well over a month, and later that same week I made some pictures while it was singing, just before sunrise.
Some birds, however, still remain to be photographed. On the western border of Voorschoten, some honey buzzards have made their appearance. And although I have seen them, I have yet to make a photograph of one that exceeds the status of record shot. My encounter with the last new species so for has been even less photographic, but not less amazing. During a evening of bird ‘listening’, I found at least one juvenile long-eared owl calling in the dark. Encountering an owl is always something special, and attempting to shoot any wildlife photos at night with natural light is pretty futile, so I recorded the sound, enjoyed the moment, and left the photographing for another day. After all, enjoying my local birding, that’s what this project is all about.
Total number of species: 126 / 100
Number of new species: 4
- Grasshopper warbler
- Honey buzzard
- Long-eared owl
- Marsh warbler