The trip to Bavaria I mentioned last weekend didn’t pan out, so I’m still here in South Holland, and what a beautiful day it was, especially after the rain and snow we had for most of the week. It was cold, and most open water had a skin of ice, but the sun was out, the air was calm, and the day warmed up nicely. The friend I was going to visit, Christoph, is also here, so he came with me into the countryside to see what we could see.
The first big surprise was this spoonbill, which we’ve seen before, but not yet this season, circling over the Ackerdijkse Plassen. Welcome back, you big beauty!
I mentioned that the water froze overnight, and here is a group of curlews, the bigger bird with the curved beak, and godwits, the smaller bird with the straight beak, standing around on said ice and waiting for it to thaw so they can get to their breakfast trapped below.
If you are wondering which godwits those are, good for you, but wonder no longer because here you can plainly see that they are black-tailed godwits (Limosa limosa), a brand new species for us, and not the bar-tailed godwits I showed you last summer.
Here’s another big surprise, but in a smaller package. Long-time readers may recognize this female hooded merganser, whom we often see in Estabrook Park, but who has no business fishing on a canal in South Holland, or so I read. Where did you come from, little cutie, and how did you get here?
The northern shoveler, on the other hand, has a naturally occurring world-wide distribution, accept for Australia, so this drake is right at home.
Another new arrival I spotted today is this reed bunting, whom we haven’t seen since last summer.
And finally, here’s a great cormorant collecting nesting materials, and in case you are wondering where they nest…
…here you go. They have a whole rookery, with about a couple dozen nests, of which here are two, at the west edge of the Ackerdijkse Plassen, and to which there is a short footpath that I only discovered today. Better late than never, eh?
Those are the pictures fit to print from today, and thanks to Christoph for helping me spot so many gorgeous creatures. It is supposed to rain overnight, so keep your fingers cross that it quits by morning.