28 Nov 2013

28 Nov 13 - Double Dutch

Day 2 of the Dutch trip, saw Dave & I returning to Drents-Friese Wold National Park soon after dawn. After some dawn drizzle, the weather picked up & the sun finally came out. Our friends from the night before were still around.
The local Cattle
Parties of Crossbills were flying over the clearing & small lake we were standing by, but none were arriving to drink from the lake. Whilst some of the calls sounded similar to my local Dorset Crossbills, other calls were clearly different with deeper notes. But not being familiar with the calls of the local Dutch Crossbills & presumably some visiting Crossbills that would have arrived with the Parrot Crossbills invasion, trying to figure out the Crossbills identification based upon calls was just too difficult to claim Parrot Crossbills in flight. Speaking to some Dutch birders, the Crossbill parties tended to drink around lunchtime.
Egyptian Goose: A few were flying around while we were looking for Crossbills
Egyptian Goose
Eventually a large mixed Crossbill party flew over & landed in scattered trees in the clearing. Scoping them up we could see both Parrot Crossbills & Crossbills in the group. A closer approach allowed better views & a few grainy photos to be taken. They were feeding by ripping off small pine cones & then flying back to the tops of the pines to feed. As the party of 50+ Crossbills flew off, we could hear the deeper calls of the Parrot Crossbills along with the more familiar Crossbill calls. There were at least 15 of each species in the flock, but having spent most of my time watching through the camera lens, it was difficult to be more certain of numbers.
Parrot Crossbills: The deep bulking bills were obvious on this pair
Male Crossbill: This bill wasn't as bulking with more of a cross over visible. It looked even weaker on other photos
Unfortunately, no sight or sound of any Black Woodpeckers, but we did have a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flying across the clearing. Also seen were several hundred Tundra Bean Geese flying off to feed in local crop fields from their local roost sites.

The plan for the rest of the day was to look for more Geese. The first stop was to see some Barnacle Geese we had seen the previous evening by the bar in Diever.
Barnacle Geese: These were captive birds by the town duck pond - they look so small close up
The next stop was the floodplain to the South West of Zwolle.
The floodplain near the village of Zalk
The village of Zalk
I could live on this 'houseboat'
Now that's what I call a nest box: A Stork platform
The ABN AMRO bank building in Zwolle: Guess we own it now given it's part of the RBS bank bailout
A close of the ABN AMRO bank building
Another impressive local house
A Dutch barge
An impressive lock
Dave Gibbs: (in focus this time) checks out the local Geese
Greylag Geese
Egyptian Geese: A few Egyptian Geese were amongst the Greylag Geese parties
White-fronted Geese
Barnacle Geese: With a White-fronted Goose
Cranes: The only confirmed Cranes of the trip, although we thought we heard them calling the previous evening at Drents-Friese Wold National Park
Egyptian Geese: Our next stop was Nieuwegein, where we looked for a Lesser White-fronted Goose. Only a few White-fronts were seen with damaged wings which may explain why the LWFG was present through the summer. Academic as we didn't see it
The final stop was Oudeland van Strijen. This was an excellent reserve where recently there have been about 7000 White-fronted Geese, along with up to 30 Lesser White-fronted Geese as well as large numbers of Barnacle and Greylag Geese. Due to the previous stops, we were running short of time & light at Strijen & didn't have enough time to look at no more than a small percentage of the Geese present. There were no Lesser White-fronts in the Geese flocks we checked.
Barnacle Geese: Strijen
White-fronted Goose: A young bird with reduced white forehead and lack of black bars on the belly
White-fronted Goose: An adult bird
Finally, we had to head back to the Eurotunnel. We knew we were going to miss our train, but the ticket allows you to catch the first train with spare places: this was the next train so only a 15 minute delay.
Back on the Eurotunnel for the 35 minute trip
I had contemplated a day trip, but door to door was 1050 miles. I figured that distance would be better to do over 2 days & the extra day would allow more time for enjoying the birding & trying to see a bit more of the country. Overall, it was a great trip, the Dutch people we spoke to, were all very friendly, helpful & spoke good English (as not surprisingly we didn't know more than a word or two of Dutch). Even discussing the bird names didn't take long to ensure we were talking about the same species. The best bird name we discussed was the Night-Swallow (the direct translation from the Dutch): a far more evocative name than the English Nightjar. The trip has fired me to return again in the next year or two for a longer visit.