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.
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.
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.
We took pictures of 26 different species of birds on our holiday in Sharm El Sheikh and South Sinai last week, nine of which are lifers (bringing our grand total to 326). Here they are: More »
Yesterday we visited the sewage plant North East of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to look for birds. We had a very hard time getting there as our taxi driver didn’t speak English (see the directions below), but the visit was well worth all the trouble. We saw many birds, including thousands of White Storks!
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.
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 »