Saturday, October 17, 2009

Netherlands So Far!

Well where do I start! I suppose the biggest factor of this trip so far has been the gale force winds we've been experiencing since our arrival on Thursday evening.

A trip to the North Holland coast on Friday was a memorable one but for all the wrong reasons. We arrived at the Dunes near Zandvoort in a driving northerly wind with gusts of over 50mph, which was literally blowing sand directly from the shore into our faces.

Having had the briefest of attempts to locate any birds braving the conditions along the shoreline we retreated to the relative calmness of the nearby Zandvoort Reservior.

The 4km walk was extremely pleasant and bracing during which the only birds encountered in flight were several flocks of Fieldfare & Redwing, plus a brace of Common Buzzard, all battling away against the extreme conditions. We also encountered a huge amount of sheltering Coot, with several Great Crested Grebe within, but the highlight of the day were some excellent views of Roe Deer and Fox. We ended the day as darkness descended with bacon & pineapple pancakes at the nearby hostelry.

This morning, Saturday 17th, we were awake at 5.30am to assess the possibility of an excursion to Texel Island, the highlight of our trip, but the wind still a strong northerly, persuaded us to leave Tezel until Sunday when the conditions are set to be more conducive for such a venture. Instead we headed inland to visit Hoge Veluwe National Park, approximately 55 square kilometers in area near Arnhem, consisting of heathlands, sand dunes & woodlands and the possibility of Crested Tit, Hawfinch and Raven.

We spent the day driving & walking various locations, fortunately with some better results from our previous days excursion. Although once again we were very surprised at the lack of birds seen, only 24 species, our days birding list included 8 Raven, 2 Great Grey Shrike, (photographed above by Alan Lunn), a lone Hen Harrier, 5 Common Buzzard and a Raptor species, possible a Merlin which whizzed by too quickly for a definite recognition, we also listed 20 Barnacle Geese on the journey home but no Crested Tit or Hawfinch.

Tomorrow its Tezel no matter what and as I write this post the conditions are perfectly calm!!!