Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Northern France & the Netherlands - day 3

Bar-headed Geese at Kade, Zevenhoven
This is the second of 3 blog posts covering my trip to northern France and the Netherlands from 16th-19th November 2016. A full trip report can be found here, on Cloud Birders.

Day 3 - Zuid-Holland & Amsterdam

Tundra Bean Geese, part of a group of 60
On the last day I had 3 targets left, for which I had sites for 2. We were heading to Amsterdam, where one of them was waiting, and I had received gen for Bar-headed Goose late the night before. Black Swan, I had written off. The Bar-heads had been reported in Zevenhoven, in the far north of Zuid-Holland. It was very much en route to Amsterdam, and so we could afford to have one last shot at this species. The Zevenhoven area, like Die Biesbosch yesterday, surprised me in it's attraction. A network of fields, lakes and marshes were home to some spectacular houses. There can't be many nicer places to live, and the number of birds were high. Loads of Geese and Ducks were seen (including, weirdly, a Wood Duck pair), and as we followed the GPS to a farm adjacent to the river Kromme Mijdrecht. Right in front of us, were 8 Bar-headed Geese, resting with 2 Mute Swans. Easy enough, and a relief after missing out yesterday.

The drake American Wigeon at Snel en Polanen
We moved on quickly, driving through this delightful area. A Marsh Harrier was the only one of the trip, and plenty of Great White Egrets were seen, before a colossal flock of Grey Geese caught my eye from a raised road we were on. We pulled over, and a scan made it clear most were White-fronts, with a good number of Greylags. However, the birds right at the front weren't, and it soon became clear about 60 Tundra Bean Geese were also present. They were a welcome surprise, and the 10th Goose species of the trip. We continued our journey to Amsterdam, passing 3 more Bar-headed Geese in Mijdrecht on the way.

2 Alexandrine Parakeets at Vondelpark
The first stop in Amsterdam was Oosterpark, one of 3 urban parks where my next quarry was supposedly easy to find. The squawking of several Ring-necked Parakeets raised my hopes, but ultimately I found nothing different here, as the rain began to fall heavily. It was then on to Vondelpark, a beautiful place, and straight away a large Parakeet caught my eye. It landed, and the bright, heavy beak stood out. I made out the pink shoulder patch, and clearly was looking at my first Alexandrine Parakeet. These birds breed in a few places in the Netherlands, and I saw several more in Vondelpark, their call and size the most obvious feature. With the second tick of the day in the bag, we enjoyed Amsterdam for several hours. 

The Black Swan at Nationaal Park Die Biesbosch
As we began our journey back down, news broke first of an American Wigeon, just 19 minutes off the motorway, and then, remarkably, of a Black Swan back at Die Biesbosch. We had time to try for both. The first port of call was Snel en Polanen, where the drake American Wigeon was sleeping quite close to the shore. I took in some nice views, as a small crowd assembled. Presumably this is quite a record for the Netherlands, but with time against us we had to make haste, and continue south, back to Die Biesbosch. 

Chilean and Greater Flamingoes at Batenoord
With another GPS courtesy of Waarneming, we pulled up at a flooded field, and there it was, a single Black Swan with 62 Mutes. Finally, all the trip targets were in the bag. 2 White-tailed Eagles had been reported here this morning too, and with my girlfriend keen to see them we stuck around, but couldn't wait too long before we continued heading back. The journey back to Calais included a few nice birds - a flock of Avocet, a weird, mixed Flamingo flock at Batenoord (including Greater and breeding Chilean), another Hen Harrier and a female Merlin near Haringvliet. The latter proved to be the 100th bird of what had been an excellent trip.