The last three days we have seen the Rose-ringed Parakeet in our backyard here in Leiden every day and today it seems to be hanging around the whole time. Our neighbors have also taken note of it. Here are some better photos than the ones I posted on Wednesday.
Just two months after our backyard was for the first time visited by two Goldfinches, today we saw another species: a Rose-ringed Parakeet! These birds are originally from tropical Africa and India but have established feral populations in a number of cities around the world, including London and the Randstad area in the Netherlands. We hear them fly by our house quite often and sometimes we see them sitting high up in trees in our neighborhood. This was the best view we had of one since we saw them in India:
Last week we saw a new bird in our backyard: a Goldfinch (‘Putter’ or ‘Distelvink’ in Dutch). It isn’t a rare bird at all, but we never saw one before in our own backyard.
Today we visited Teylers Museum in Haarlem to see one of the rarest and most expensive books in the world: “The Birds of America” by John James Audubon (1785 – 1851). The exhibit “Vogels van Formaat” (that runs from 3 November 2007 to 20 January 2008) has on display an original copy of the huge book. It consists of five volumes depicting all birds of North America (as known at the time) in actual size on beautiful dramatic paintings by Audubon.
Approximately 200 sets were thought to have been created in the early 1800’s, but only about 130 are still known to exist. One of these was sold by Christie’s in New York in 2002 for 8.8 million dollars! Teyler Museum bought the first edition book when it came out for 2243 guilders and has owned it since. Throughout the time the book is on display, the museum opens a different page in each book every day.
We saw seven different species of Kingfisher this year, 2007, in The Netherlands (‘IJsvogel’), Egypt and The Gambia! We saw most on our trip to The Gambia in January, and most of these were Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis). These black-and-white birds are very approachable. They hunt by hovering over the water and then diving down bill first directly below to catch a fish. We found this one somewhere between the towns of Tendaba and Georgetown:
On 13 October 2007, our 7th wedding anniversary, we visited St. Catherine’s Monastery during our holiday in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is at the foot of Mount Sinai and is one of the oldest continuously functioning Christian monasteries in the world.
Today we visited IJmuiden after seeing on waarneming.nl that for the last three days they have been spotting a Humpback Whale just 20 meters from the South Pier. We weren’t lucky today and didn’t see it, but we did see some great birds, including three new lifers (Black-legged Kittiwake, Red Knot and Pomarine Skua)!