Yesterday we visited the annual Vogelfestival (“Bird Fair”), organised by the Dutch State Forestry, SOVON and Vogelbescherming Nederland, the Dutch partner of BirdLife International. It is a major event for bird and birding enthusiasts and is modelled after the British Birdfair held in Rutland Water. The annual Dutch event has grown to include over 100 exhibitors and is attended by more than 15,000 visitors. The fair is held at the Oostvaardersplassen, an important nature reserve (see also our visit there in March 2007).
Yesterday we saw our first Common Kingfisher (‘IJsvogel’) in the Netherlands. Also known as the European Kingfisher, it is the only Kingfisher in the Netherlands and most of Europe. We had just visited the Vogelfestival (“Bird Festival”) in nearby Oostvaardersplassen, an important nature reserve (see also our visit there in March 2007). We had already seen the Common Kingfisher in India (on 26 April 2006) and 9 different species in other countries, but for a long time I wanted to see one in Holland. Finally seeing these two at such close proximity was an exceptionally nice end to a great birding day that was also my birthday.
10,000 hungry vultures are causing panic in the Pyrenees and Basque Country. They have been attacking live animals and have also been aggressive towards humans. The vultures are starving due to a new EU directive which prohibits farmers from leaving cattle carcasses on their land to rot. The dead animals must now be burned or disposed of in another way. The initiative is to prevent disease spread among cattle but the results have been devastating for the vultures. More »
Last Sunday we visited Boomkroonpad (‘Tree Top Path’), a 2,500 hectare (6,000 acre) forest preserve in Drenthe, here in the Netherlands. The main attraction at Boomkroonpad is a path of 125 meters (410 feet) through the tree tops, reaching a height of 22,5 meters (74 feet). Unfortunately it was pouring down on our visit and we didn’t see any birds or wildlife. But still it was an extremely fun walk that we will need to do again once when the weather is better. There is also a very nice visitor center with shop, restaurant and lots of activities and trails.
Entrance to the Boomkroonpad area
On Saturday we visited Zeehondencrèche Lenie ‘t Hart in the town of Pieterburen in the north of the Netherlands. The seal rehabilitation and research center has been taking care of sick and injured seals since it was founded in 1971.
On our visit of the beautiful town of Marken in Noord Holland today we sat down outside at café ‘De Visscher’ and we each ordered a hot chocolate and a piece of apple pie. The weather was beautiful and we had a great view of the harbor. Here is Amy in her FBI shirt, still unaware of the invasion that would soon follow.
On Saturday we visited Waverhoek and Botshol, north of Utrecht, for a ranger-led boat excursion by Natuurmonumenten. We arrived about an hour early for the boat excursion, which left from number 2 on the map below, so we drove on left a little bit and came across a new nature reserve of Natuurmonumenten that just opened to the public on 30 June 2007, Waverhoek at number 1 on the map below. Until recently this triangular area was just farmland, as you can still see on this map, but they flooded the area to make a wetlands for birds.
Last week we came back from a vacation in Andalucia in Spain. The area is perfect for birding. Highlights for us were the Purple Gallinule, Red-knobbed Coot and Azure-winged Magpie. Another great sight were the hundreds of Stork nests on almost every electricity pole along the highway between Sevilla and Huelva. Here is a list of some great places to go birdwatching. More »
Today we came across a strange attraction when driving from Leidschendam to Voorschoten. Vlinders aan de Vliet (Butterflies along the Vliet [river]) is an enclosed tropical garden in a large greenhouse with hundreds of beautiful butterflies. Here are some photos of our visit.
Last Sunday we visited Texel! We first took an early train (7:00) from Leiden to Den Helder, which lies in the northern-most tip of Noord Holland. On the way we saw a Spoonbill and our first Crane (Kraanvogel). When we arrived in Den Helder, we took a bus to the harbor and there stepped onto the TESO ferry to Texel, which is the largest and most populated of the Dutch Frisian Islands and also the westernmost of this archipelago, which extends to Denmark. More »