Last Wednesday we went to Texel for the second time (last time was in April last year). We took the train from Leiden to Den Helder and then the 9:30 Teso ferry to Het Horntje on Texel. It was a beautiful day for bicycling around Texel: 30oC and sunny.
Last weekend on Friday 9 May we drove down to the Biesbosch National Park south of Rotterdam and rented a canoe for a few hours of canoeing.
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.
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 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 »
Birdorable.com has been updated this week with 17 new cute birds, including African Grey Parrot, Peach-faced Lovebird, Brown Pelican, Keel-billed Toucan, Osprey, Egyptian Plover and Bald Eagle. There are also some nice free graphics for use in MySpace comments. More »