Monday, December 10, 2018

Calandra Lark and Griffon Vultures

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Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) - Photo made in the area of Groede Today we started in Zeeland Flanders with an attempt for the Zitting Cisticola in Terneuzen. Followed by a visit to "De Blikken" and then an attempt for a Rosefinch at Oostkapelle. Also some unplanned things happened.

At 5 o'clock in the morning I left alone from Uden. I had agreed with Alwin at 7 o’clock nearby Spui close to the town of Terneuzen. Just after Antwerp, we call each other and it seems we are only one kilometre apart. About 7 o’clock we arrive at the place where the Zitting Cisticola was. It was a beautiful morning and the birds were whistling in full. We are looking for certainly one hour but no Zitting Cisticola was found. We drive to “De Blikken” where the Long-billed Dowitcher was reported. The bird was seen just in front of the hut, and maybe there is a photo opportunity. We see a pair of Grey Partridges close by and we take some photo’s. The water level in “De Blikken” is very low and we do not see the Long-billed Dowitcher. In the distance I see two Black-tailed Godwits flying and they are chasing a smaller wading bird. The smaller bird has a bright red belly and a long beak. He also has a white wedge on the back and a white wing trailing edge. This must be the Long-billed Dowitcher. It's later confirmed as the bird lands in front of us on one of the islands. Unfortunately too far for a good photo. Of the 8 Black-winged Stilts we saw here last time there are only 2 left but they are breeding.

Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) - Photo made in De Blikken We decide to continue the drive to Oostkapelle for the Rosefinch. The tour goes through the Westerschelde tunnel. On the other site we get a beep of a group of Griffon Vultures in Goes. This is only 15 km so immediately we drive to Goes. Alwin and I have contact by phone and we would meet at the station in Goes. Within fifteen minutes we are together at the station, but we see no Griffon Vultures. A birder told us that the birds have flown away in a south-easterly direction. We turn the car and drive in the pointed direction. A few blocks away Alwin discoverers 3 Vultures. Excited we make some proof plates. We try to follow the birds, but we drive us stuck in a dead end. Later that morning, the birds have been reported in Chaam (Noord-Brabant).

We continue to Oostkapelle and Koen Rovers and his father have been added to the group in search of the Rosefinch. The bird was in the dunes and was not easy to find. Even with a hand navigation it was still difficult because large portions of the area are not freely accessible. At first we walked the wrong way and had to return to the car. Later we were walking along the beach into the dunes. The wind was now considerably increased and we were wondering if we would hear the bird in these circumstances. After a long walk that lasted at least an hour we heard the Rosefinch singing in the distance. The bird was quite shy and we had a few remote pictures.

Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus) - Photo made in Goes At around 2 o’clock we were back at the car and we planned to have a cup of coffee. After that, Alwin and I went to Walcheren in search of a Kentish Plover. Koen and his father went to “De Blikken” for the Long-billed Dowitcher. With the coffee we also had an ice cream and then there was a sudden beep with the report of a Calandra Lark at Hoek van Holland. Alwin became very nervous and was ready to jump in his car. First we finished the ice and coffee. With three cars we set sail to the Hoek of Holland. Certainly the drive through Zeeland is not fast but once on the highway we pick up speed. I was the first in the Hoek of Holland but I arrived in the wrong place. Quickly I get the correct location from the Internet and continue forward. A few blocks away, I see a group of birders running (in panic) hard. I park the car grab my camera and run behind them. Koen and his father suddenly stood behind me Alwin was still nowhere in sight. The Calandra Lark flew here over the road into the dunes. At a high point we are waiting until suddenly a large Lark with a black under wing flew in front of us. The white trailing edge of the wing was clearly visible and we were convinced that this was the bird. I tried to make a picture but it went too fast. I quickly called Alwin and he was at a different place. I explained where we were and it was not long before he came running. The Calandra Lark showed itself a few times more. Unfortunately again no photo opportunity. The Calandra Lark is new for me in the Netherlands and thus I am on 390 species now!!

Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus) - Photo made in the dunes near Oostkapelle It was now nearly half past four and time for me to go home. But first I visited the House Crows because I still need them for my monthly list. I found only one House Crow and then drove quickly to Uden. In total we had 84 species today with three new species for the year and one in the Netherlands. Not a bad day.

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