Monday, October 19, 2009

Holland 09 Summary

As ever in birding it's a case of being in the right place at the right time and my recent trip to Holland proved just that!
The first few days birding was definately spoilt by the persistant wind, sometimes gusting at 50mph, and twice we put off travelling to the Island of Texel, which was always going to be the highlight of this visit to Holland.
Friday October 16th - Our first day out took us to the Dunes at Zandvoort in the North West of Holland where we had high hopes of seeing some decent migration but the appalling conditions made us retreat to the nearby reservior. Here we enjoyed an excellent, if not bracing walk, but encountered very little from a birding perspective apart from some decent flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, the best bit however was the bacon & pineapple pancakes at the nearby hostelry! In the evening back at Dave's house in Den Haag, chilling out over beer and curry, we took the decision to rise early the following morning and assess the situation in relation to our trip to Texel.
Saturday October 17th - Rising at 5.30am and examining the various wind charts via the web it became apparent that Sunday was going to be our best bet for Texel, and so a joint decision by myself Dave and Alan resulted in a trip inland instead to Hoge Veluwe National Park. Although Black Woodpecker, Crested Tit and Hawfinch were a possibility we settled for Great Grey Shrike, Raven and Hen Harrier and so got our real birding list for this trip underway!
Sunday October 18th - Setting out at 5.30am once more we made the 90 minute journey North to Texel. The weather was flat calm and sunny and it was apparent that we'd chosen our day well. You can read in detail my previous post Texel Away Day about what a stunning day this turned out to be but in summary it was one of the most rewarding birding days I've ever encountered, and as it turns out one of the biggest Holland Twitch's for many a year!
Monday October 19th - With Dave back at work and the hire car returned I persuaded Alan to take a 15km cycle ride to the nearby Meijendel Dunes. Here, during my last visit in May, when I first discovered this little gem, the Nightingales where singing in their dozens and the many warblers were just beginning to arrive. I had high hopes for today but as ever when your hopes are high the end result is always a might different! An excellent cycle ride produced more Fieldfare and Redwing arrivals and the usual wintering wildfowl, but a little too late with the summer residents of Meijendel already away and a recent Osprey we were informed had just departed.
Tuesday October 20th - Our final day, but with our flight not leaving until 7pm an opportunity for some final birding and this time it was Alan who wanted another go at Meijendel. I'd discovered through some research the previous evening a large Pine Forest at Ganzenhoek located at the top of the reserve and so we made our way on yet another 15km cycle ride. This time our ride paid dividends with amazing views of 4 Crested Tit, Coal Tit and 2 Firecrest (all pictured), a great end to a fantastic Holland venture.
A Big Thanks - I should also mention again our 2 Dutch birding companions, Marco and Fred, who were complete stars during our trip to Texel and the many Dutch Birders we met during our travels who were exceptionally knowledgeable and extremely friendly. A mention should also go to my lifelong best mate Dave Holloway, a non birder, who as ever gave us 5* treatment! A mention also to Alan Lunn who joined me on this trip and who's probably nursing sore legs and butt this morning not having cycled for many a year!!

You can see our complete 92 species birding list for Holland 09 Here