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Birding, our new hobby

Posted on Saturday, June 24th, 2006 at 3:13 am CET

In the last months we have been having a lot of fun going to bird hides and nature reserves here in the Netherlands. It turns out that this country is great for bird watching, and we have suddenly turned into serious birders! It’s incredible how many easy-to-spot birds there are that I had never even noticed before; just this morning we saw four spoonbill from the car along the A4 highway!

I thought all we had here were ducks, geese, sparrows, pigeons and the occasional stork, but you know what? — there’s a lot more! All of a sudden I’m seeing Oystercatchers, Lapwing and Cormorants literally everywhere. I had never noticed them before. We’ve even seen wild Rose-Ringed Parakeets here in Leiden in the last few months … how could we have missed those in all the years we’ve been living here?

Oystercatcher in Leiden
Oystercatcher in Leiden on 18 June

A couple of months ago we would go to a bird hide and look up every bird in a book, but now we just look through our binoculars and say “There’s two Egyptian Geese and there’s the Shelduck family we saw last week”. We’re getting more and more familiar with the different birds that live here, but we’re still beginners of course; it’s still just the easy-to-recognize ones that we’re getting familiar with. 😉

Barn Swallow near Starrevaart
Barn Swallow near Starrevaart on 11 June

Our favorite place, and also nicest/closest place, is Starrevaart, a bird lake just south of Leiden. There is a very nice hide on the water and every time we go there we see something new. The last few weeks spoonbill (!) have been coming to the lake. They breed on the islands in the Waddenzee in the north of the country and now that they have young they come to Starrevaart to eat and rest. Close to the hide is a small island and every time we’re there the island is different. First it was barren and covered in Oystercatchers, now it’s full of tall grass and filled with breeding terns. 🙂

Spoonbill at Starrevaart
Eurasian Spoonbill near Starrevaart, Zuid Holland on 18 June

Almost every weekend we drive or bike to places to see birds. We’ve joined Natuurmonumenten (the Society for the Preservation of Nature Reserves in the Netherlands) and did a great excursion with them in May at Zwanenwater. Hopefully we can do some more excursions this summer.

Amy has started an online photo bird life list at 🙂

Spoonbill at Starrevaart
Tufted Duck at Lepelaarsplassen in Flevoland on 22 April

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