It was another perfect morning in South Holland, and spurred by seeing all the storks yesterday, I headed first to my old stomping grounds on the east side of the Delftse Schie, where we watched the second stork nest for several weeks, in which I now read is called the Ackerdijkse Plassen, “one of the most important bird areas in the Netherlands.”
I had just barely entered the countryside on the south side of Delft when I spotted these two characters murdering a bunch of thistle blossoms that have gone to seed, just like their North American namesakes.
A bit further along, I glanced at the tree-line where I have seen a buzzard hangout a few times, and look who I spotted. I had begun to suspect that there might be two of them.
Here’s one deciding that it has warmed up enough in the bright morning sun to go get some breakfast.
Welp, by the time I reached the stork nest, it was empty, and it seems that both chicks must have already fledged. Oh well. I hope you got your fill of storks yesterday.
I continued on to the shallow ponds where I had photographed wading birds, such as ruffs, godwits, redshanks, and sandpipers, but the ponds were all dried up, and sheep were grazing on the fresh sprouts emerging from the mud.
So, then I headed back over to the west side, where I saw the curlews just yesterday, and here’s another picture, to refresh your memory, but I didn’t see any today.
Before I even crossed the Delftse Schie, however, this stunner stopped me in my tracks.
In case you don’t remember, that’s a Painted Lady, same as the one we saw back in July, but not nearly as roughed up.
Anyway, onto the main event. Oh sure, I saw a bunch of other pretty creatures, but I’ll save them for later in the week. Instead, let me show you what I saw today as I trapesed through the partial forest where I saw the long-tailed tit, the map butterfly, and the willow warbler back in July. The area looks like abandoned farmland that still has crisscrossing canals, although they are almost filled in, and strips of low brush that they mow once a year to keep trees from taking over completely.
Well, the herons love it, and now that it’s been mowed, I spotted one fishing on just about every little canal I walked by. At one point, I could see four herons all from the same spot, once I looked far enough down the canal. At the very next canal, I could see two with my naked eye, so I took a look with my binoculars to see if there were any more, and look who I found. See that little dark spot on the grass in the sun, far behind the blurry heron in the foreground?
No? Here’s a close-up that might help.
Here it is again, in profile this time.
Hot diggity dog, I’m pretty sure those “upright triangular ears”, narrow muzzle, and that “long tail” held low all mean that that’s a fox, most likely a red fox, just like the one I spotted at the entrance to Estabrook Park last December. The tail isn’t as fluffy as I would expect, but its “paws are black” and its “chin, lower lips, throat and front of the chest are white,” so everything else matches. Plus, it was all by its lonesome, and I haven’t met any domestic dogs left on their own here yet, so I have a hope that’s not what it was.
That’s only the fourth wild mammal species I’ve spotted here so far, and only the second I’ve managed to photograph, after the hares. It’s always good to see a predator, so I sure am happy for the opportunity. I hope I get another.