The planets aligned, and it was a nice sunny morning, for a change, and I had nothing else I had to do since the building in which I work is locked for the whole weekend, by policy, and I hear people need special permission to gain access. I could go to the library instead, but why risk it, right?
I’ve moved from Rotterdam to an Airbnb in Delft for the week, so my commute is now super short, but the best wildlife I’ve seen here so far has been in the fields between the two cities, so I headed out there when the sun rose.
I was very happy to spot a new bird, the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) aka waterhen or swamp chicken. They’re in the same family, Rallidae, the rails, as the Eurasian coots we’ve already seen. I read rail is the anglicized respelling of the French râle, from Old French rasle, from the Vulgar Latin rascula, from Latin rādere (“to scrape”), which is supposed to describe the sound they make. How’s that for a long walk?
I was surprised to spot more than one, since I haven’t seen one until now, and this one even had a chick with it, but the chick stayed further back into the reeds and so evaded my camera.
It turns out there are a lot of them if you can get to the right spot. The image below is a bit of a zoom-in, and the whole flock was easily twice this size.
There were also lapwings about, and this time, one also had a chick in tow.
Here’s a better image of the parent. That bit of iridescent green on its wing seems pretty consistent.
And finally, here’s a nice splash of color, a small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) feeding on the nectar of a batch of thistles growing beside the bike path. I read that they lay their eggs “on the common nettle, on which the larvae feed,” and I’ve got no complaint with that!
The only species in the genus Aglais that is found in North America is the fire-rim tortoiseshell or Milbert’s tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti) that I had the good fortune to spot in Yellowstone Park last summer. What are the odds?!?
Well, I’ve got some more pictures, but I’d better pace myself because who knows when I’ll get back out again to take more.