From the 26th of December to the 30th of December, 8 members of the Birdringingstation went to the Netherlands, in order to do sea watching and having a look at thousands of ducks and geese. We went to Zeeland, a province located in the South-West of the Netherlands. Most of the province is composed of islands, which are located for the most part below sea level.
On the first day we started at 7 a.m. in Luxembourg and reached the first spot at 12 o’clock. The first spot were wetlands around the Veerse Meer; this spot gave us the opportunity to see different kinds of plovers (Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola), European golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria), Common ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)), the usual oystercatchers, some Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) and some Knots (Calidris canutus).
Highlight at this spot were two Red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis), which was travelling around with a group of Brent geese (Branta bernicla). The stop of the day was the Brouwersdam, which is one of seven constructions, whose goal is to protect the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta from floods and storms.
At the Brouwersdam we managed to see different kinds of divers (Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata), Black-throated loon (Gavia arctica), Horned grebe (Podiceps auritus), and Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)), some Gulls and some Shorebirds (Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima), Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)).
During the night there was a snow storm, which meant that at 7.30 a.m., when we left the houses we had very bad weather conditions. On the second day, the first spot was the Brouwersdam, where we managed to see some sea ducks (Common scoter (Melanitta nigra), Common eider (Somateria mollissima), and Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)).
As the weather conditions were very bad at sea, we drove inland with the intention of seeing more birds in flooded marsh areas. The area which we chose is called Zierickzee; it’s a mixture of fields and flooded marsh areas. At this spot, we managed to see different duck species (Northern pintail (Anas acuta), Northern shoveller (Anas clypeata), Common teal (Anas crecca) and Eurasian widgeon (Anas penelope)), furthermore we were able to see different shorebird species (Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) and Northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)).
At the end of the day a highlight was a Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) crossing our way.
The third day started with a great sunrise at temperatures of -1.5°C. As light conditions were very good, we took the opportunity to do sea watching: beneath thousands of sea ducks, we were able to observe a group of playing harbour seals (Phoca vitulina). Around 11 o’clock we headed towards the Deltapark Neeltje Jans; at this spot we tried to see the common shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and a Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) but unfortunately we were unable to find these birds. Not very happy, we still continued and managed to see Redwings (Turdus iliacus) and some Eurasian rock pipits (Anthus petrosus).
With the day coming to an end we spent the last hours on the Brouwersdam, benefitting from the low tide and a very calm sea to observe roosting birds.
On the fourth day the sky was cloudy and temperatures quite low; this made us head towards field observations. This means, that we spent the day scanning different fields in order to see different goose and swan species. At the end of the day, we managed to see a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), a Bean Goose (Anser fabalis), a Greylag Goose (Anser anser) and a big group of Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis). In addition to this we saw some Water pipits (Anthus spinoletta), some Meadow pipits (Anthus pratensis) and a Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
The fifth day was the last day of our trip, but as the weather was quite good we spent some more hours on the Brouwersdam. At 11 o’clock, we met a group of Dutch birdwatchers staring at the harbour. As exchanges of information are usual in ornithology one of them came to us and told us that they were observing a Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle). This bird was very special for most of us; it’s a species which usually breeds in the north (Ireland, England and Scotland) and is hardly ever seen in the Netherlands. Furthermore, as we were able to observe the bird at a distance of 15 meters a lot of people took the opportunity to take pictures.
Finally, I’m able to say that we had a great trip, the objective of which was to observe and identify the biodiversity of birds in the Netherlands. In addition to this, we were able to transmit our knowledge to some motivated guys in our team. All in all, we were able to see 102 different species.
Autor: Dave Lutgen
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