Well, Anne and I did ride up to the coast this morning, to Oostduinpark in Scheveningen, and the dunes are huge, perhaps the highest points I’ve seen in the Netherlands so far. It was a beautiful morning with clear skies and calm winds, the bike ride up from Delft was pretty nice, and there are even a few ponds in the dunes, so there was plenty of nature to see.
Right off the bat, we spotted some completely new ducks for me, and they look like canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria). Here’s a male, who was pretty far out on the water and had the sun behind him, so just a perfect setting for a portrait.
In the woods beside the trail, we could hear a wren chirping incessantly, and when we looked closer, we saw at least 4 individuals, perhaps two recent fledglings foraging with one parent, while the other parent warned them about us and/or told us to get lost.
Here’s a youngster, who seemed not quite sure what to do.
And here’s the chatter box, who seemed to have strong opinions about what we should do. We never stepped off of the path, let alone into the woods, and after I finally got some pictures, we gladly complied.
Finally, as Anne and I were having a little refreshment at a concession stand before our ride home, this crow stopped by to bid us adieu, and this might be the best portrait a crow has ever allowed me to take.
I am happy to report that I have even more pictures, and when I eventually identify the critters in them, I’ll post them here for you.
The big news is that Anne arrived in Delft for a visit on Tuesday, yay, and she likes going for bike rides in the countryside, so we rode out together this morning until it was time for me to stop for pictures while she kept going.
I didn’t see anything film-worthy until I got to the stork nest, but the youngins were puttin’ on quite a show for you this morning. I’ve never seen both chicks so clearly standing at the same time, let alone one spread its wings. Those sure look like flyin’ feathers to me, so it shouldn’t be long now before they fledge, eh? Woo Hoo!
Closer to the ground, well water actually, I spotted my first damselflies here, and they were not wasting any time. These appear to be a pair of azure damselflies (Coenagrion puella). The male has a “head and thorax patterned with blue and black” while the female is “pattern similar to that of the male, but with glittering, glossy green replacing the blue coloring.” I have seen mating damselflies in Estabrook before, but not like this.
Further afield, this little cutie stopped by for a moment, and looks to be maybe a young sedge warbler, but I can’t say for sure. I was at a disadvantage because it kept the sun at its back and took off when I tried to move. Oh well.
On my way back home, I came across another new butterfly for us, this nicely understated speckled wood (Pararge aegeria). It was quite shy and liked to line up with the bright sun so that I had a dickens of a time capturing an image of its pretty wings.
Finally, as I neared the south side of Delft, there was a quartet of white-bellied barn swallows taking a break from their morning hunt on a fence beside the bike path. It took me two tries to learn their level of comfort with me, but when I crawled toward them on my hands and knees, they were willing to grant me this portrait.
And I’m gonna put a comma right here and save some pictures for tomorrow, just in case. Anne and I are thinking of taking the train up to the coast in the morning, which could be fruitful, but I can’t guarantee anything.
PS. Anne made it back safely to my apartment before I did, which is good because she had the key, and so she could let me in.
I visited the wooded cemetery on campus again this morning, but I didn’t get much for pictures. I heard one of the falcons again, and spotted it on the same tower as yesterday, but that was a block away so not really worth the film. I could also hear a chiffchaff and a wren, but they didn’t want to come out to play.
In fact, the only pictures I took today were of great tits, and this is the one that was in focus. They forage a bit like their cousins, the chickadees, hanging every-which-way as they inspect the branches for food.
I reached the stork nest at last and found the two youngster starting to show a little orange in their beaks.
And one adult keeping an eye on things from the comfort of a nearby chimney.
Finally, my old buddy Brian wrote in to suggest that mystery bird number 1 is a reed bunting, and at first I thought “no way!” I’ve already posted pictures of a reed bunting, and I checked the immature/female pictures online, and they were far too drab for our mystery bird. But then I scrolled a bit further, and sure enough, there’s our cutie. The first few pictures were just taken with a drab camera, I guess. Here’s one image again, to refresh your memory.
Boy, could he sing. I’ve glimpsed them out in the countryside, too, near where I’ve captured the chaffinch and goldfinch, but I couldn’t get an image until Sunday.
Here’s a typical view I get of a great tit, also in the cemetery. Not so great, but you can clearly see its white cheeks and black beard.
Here’s an image of another meadow brown butterfly showing the top (dorsal) side of its wings. Pretty enough, if you’re into earth tones, I guess, but not as nice as the bottom (ventral) side I showed you already.
For comparison, here’s yet one more look at a peacock butterfly, because I took so many, and because I just can’t help myself. They clearly chose a different path.
After taking pictures in the countryside and writing to you about it on Saturday, I went on a big bike ride to run some errands, so Sunday morning I needed a break from my bike saddle. Luckily, I’ve gradually noticed a big chunk of forest right in the northwest corner of the TU Delft campus, and it took me only about 10 minutes to walk there. It turns out to be a huge cemetery, surrounded by a moat except for one short gated part, and the gate was not locked. I haven’t been in a forest this deep and peaceful since following the Milwaukee River through Estabrook Park. Sweet!
I could hear birds, of course, but they hide a lot better in the leafy treetops than big birds can in the fields or on the water, so it took me a while to find them, but I did manage to spot a couple.
I’m thrilled to finally be able to show you a European robin (Erithacus rubecula). It is a lot smaller than the American robin and not even in the same family. The Pedia of Wik claims that “the distinctive orange breast of both sexes contributed to the European robin’s original name of ‘redbreast’,” since “orange as a colour [sic] name” was “unknown in English until the 16th century, by which time the fruit had been introduced.” Further, “in the 15th century, when it became popular to give human names to familiar species, the bird came to be known as robin redbreast, which was eventually shortened to robin.” Etymology seems almost as fun as entomology.
I spotted another chaffinch, now that I know where to look, and this one even appeared to be gleaning seeds from some chaff, supposedly the behavior for which it was named.
And here are a pair of great crested grebes doting on their chick. The adult on the right surfaced with some little morsel in its beak, paddled over and passed it to the adult on the left, who then fed it to the chick.
Well, I’ve been here for over a month, and I now have a local bank account into which I got paid and from which I paid my rent for July, so it looks like they’re going to let me stay a while. That’s cool ’cause now that I’ve had a taste, I’d like to see how this whole experiment turns out.
We had a beautiful morning here today, and my first stop was at the stork nest, where the chicks look healthy and appear even to be showing a little sibling rivalry.
It did rain last night, as forecast, but the skies were mostly clear by morning, so out I went again. This time a female tufted duck was the first to greet me with a photo-op. I do see them around, from time to time, but I haven’t taken a picture of one since staying by the Kralingse Plas back in May.
I checked in on the storks again and found one parent and two chicks at home. You can see one chick peeking over the rim of the nest to help mom or dad keep eyes on me.
The stork nest is in the back yard of a house in a row of nice houses, and I often find little birds in the front yards. Here’s another white wagtail on someone’s garden path.
There was no sign of human activity this morning in any of the houses or yards in that row, but I didn’t want to hang out with binoculars and a long lens for long enough to cause some, so I tore myself away and continued on to the open water, which was still teaming with bar-tailed godwits. Here’s the one with the best pose this morning.
Then I finally struck gold in the form of this colorful European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis). I’d been catching glimpses of that bright yellow wing for a while, but this is the first time I got a good look at one, let alone getting anything on “film”.
It rivals the chaffinch, doesn’t it? The guy who came up with “goldfinch”, however, must have felt like an idiot after he got a load of the American goldfinch. He should have gone with Ewijk finch, since the village of Ewijk uses the same, white-orange-yellow-and-black, color scheme in their flag.
After the buzzard, I figured I was done for the morning, and I put my camera back in my backpack, but it didn’t take long before I had to take it back out again for another Swedish blue domestic hen with a fresh batch of nine (9!) ducklings.
Meanwhile, right behind me, on the other side of the bike path, a spoonbill was busy foraging a lot closer to me than the previous one did, so here you go. Go ahead and count those feathers.
WordPress wouldn’t let me upload these last two images because it claims I’ve used up the full 13GB of storage that comes with my subscription, so I’m trying something new. I’ve uploaded the images to my flickr account instead and just gave WordPress the url for each of them. They look fine now, as I edit this post, and I’ll be curious to hear if you can tell the difference.