Friday, 21 December 2007


The Netherlands was turned into a Winterwonderland! Reed beds, branches of trees, everything was covered with an exceptional thick layer of hoar frost. The most diffuse grey light I have ever seen. Perfect ingredients to compose a fairy-tale world. Don’t you see the elves?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Wildfowl in winter

A cutting icy eastern wind and a pale weak sun that is not able to warm the land; it is winter in The Netherlands! And I like it (I really missed the winter last year). With these conditions wildfowl gathers in huge numbers on the remaining open water in Zeeland, the delta province in the south-west of the Netherlands.
I posted awhile on a dike with a good view on an open water area surrounded by ice. From this position I was able to shoot pictures of a punky ♂ Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator/Middelste Zaagbek) and 2 ♂♂ Teal (Anas crecca/Wintertaling). Teals, which are much smaller, are usually shy and nervous, and quickly take wings. At large distance the males are easily recognized by their bright yellow stern patches.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Red eyes

Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus/Kuifduiker). Except for a conspicuous red eye they don’t have much color in winter plumage.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

40D: Over 10 million pixels

One of the first photos taken with my brand-new Canon EOS 40D camera; it is a 75% crop. So, the 10 million pixels are very welcome! The in-between ISO values of ⅓ stop are also convenient.
This wintering Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor/Klapekster) was looking out for mice, or large insects. I like such birds-in-their-environment shots. Does anybody know why you always take nice photos when you just have a new camera or lens?

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Harmony in gray

Often early morning or late afternoon sunlight is said to be perfect for taking photos, but for bird photography overcast skies are usually also excellent. Here you see a Sanderling (Calidris alba/Drieteenstrandloper), one of my favorite species, in a purely gray tone setting on the beach of IJmuiden.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Oder delta, Poland

From 19 till 24 October I participated in a photo workshop organized by Menno van Duijn. We stayed in a plain farmer accommodation on the Polish side of the Oder delta, a region that is well-known for its large White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla/Zeearend) population (± 70 pairs). The river Oder runs along the border between Germany and Poland and ends in the Baltic.
When you float around in a small boat with a Polish fisherman that doesn’t understand a word of English and ‘flying doors’ with a wingspan of 2.5 m regularly pass by at close range you become very silent. I enjoyed it very much.
A few impressions, from top to bottom: a) Polish fisherman, b) birch stems, c) nature reserve “Zalewv SzczeciƄskiego” just before sunrise, and, d) the main attraction.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Hare's Foot

This week, I found many Hare’s Foot (Coprinus lagopus/Hazepootje) on a footpath with chips of wood in the hamlet Hooydonck, close to Nederwetten, the village where I was born. On this photo they are just a couple of centimetres high. This mushroom species belongs to the genus Coprinus, a.k.a. the inky caps.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Number of individuals in a flock

A small experiment. How many birds are visible on this photo? 75, 100, 150, or even more? Take a chance and make a first estimation without really going into the process of counting them. It seems that large flocks are at first sight underestimated, even by experienced bird migration watchers. Anyhow, I did the hard work for you and there are 146 Sanderlings (Calidris alba/Drieteenteenstrandloper) present. And how did you perform? Was my conjecture about underestimation right?

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Beach birds

Today was probably the best photo day of 2007. The early morning light at the beach of IJmuiden was superb and the birds were very cooperative. A small selection: Juvenile Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula/Bontbekplevier) resting on the beach and picking something eatable from the shoreline, foraging Dunlin (Calidris alpina/Bonte Strandloper), and the same Dunlin resting.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Becoming Knot's

This month IJmuiden was for me the place-to-be. Both the beach and the south pier approved to be very productive.
By staying low and crawling in a zig-zag line to the sea I could approach 2 Sandwich Terns (Sterna sandvicensis/Grote Stern). The bird on the left is already in winter plumage. The right one is a youngster.
At the end of the day I settled down at the base of the pier. After a while a group of 7 juvenile Red Knots (Calidris canutus/Kanoet) completely ignored me and came very close. These birds, born in the high-arctic region of Canada or Greenland, kept in contact by means of soft “knut-knut” sounds. In winter they stay along our shores.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Broad shins

The summer has almost come to an end. Although the days are noticeably becoming shorter, I could still go after diner to my favorite marshy ‘local patch’ for an evening visit. This ♂ White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes/Blauwe Breedscheenjuffer) was willing to pose in the last sunlight of this day on Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria/Kattenstaart) .

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Sweet (?) sixteen

This was a kind of ‘in-between’ holiday. On the one hand my daughter didn’t want to join us on holiday because we do boring things (I guess most parents do in the eyes sixteen years old teenagers). On the other hand we found her too young to go alone with her girlfriends to some beach resort in Spain. A good comprise was found. She went together with her 3 girlfriends to a camping-site in Zeeland, my wife and I stayed in a caravan close by (just in case of …).
Anyhow, here she is with her girlfriends. From left to right: Robin, Kirsty, Lisette, and Evelien (my daughter). I used the built-in camera flash to lighten up the girls a bit on this cloudy (typical Dutch!) summer evening.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Summer holiday Zeeland

My best bird pics of the summer holiday 2007 in Zeeland, the province in the south-west of the Netherlands. I found a nice little muddy pool were I spent several mornings, lying under a camo-net.
This adult Greenshank (Tringa nebularia/Groenpootruiter), already largely in winter plumage, passed by at close-range on one of these occasions.
The Linnet (Carduelis cannabina/Kneu), I think it is a ♂ in winter plumage, was taken in late evening light.
I especially like the colors of this latter picture. The deep blue of the “Oosterschelde” sea-arm contrasts with the greenish blurry branches of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides/Duindoorn) sweeping in the firm southwester, and shown left and right on the foreground. They also provide a nice frame.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Lateral basker

The Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus/Hooibeestje) is a butterfly species belonging to the family Nymphalidae (commonly known as ‘the Browns’). It is widespread in Eurasia and northwestern Africa, preferring drier habitats than other Coenonymphae. The larval host plants are grasses. The Small Heath is a lateral basker, only ever resting with its wings closed and angled at 90° to the sun.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Sooty Copper

The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany, directly bordering the Ardennes of Belgium. This area holds a large variety of butterflies, one of these is the shown Sooty Copper (Lycaena tityrus/Bruine Vuurvlinder).

Monday, 9 July 2007

Brittle bones

Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum/Beenbreek) is a plant found on wet, boggy moorlands. It produces spikes of bright yellow flowers in summer. The bright orange fruits have been used in the past as a colorant. The Latin as well as the Dutch name means “weak bone” and refers to a traditional belief that eating the plant caused sheep to develop brittle bones. The probable origin of this story is that sheep eating a calcium poor diet are likely to develop bone weakness, and Bog Asphodel favors acidic, low calcium soils. The plant is on the endangered species list in The Netherlands.

Friday, 22 June 2007

June flyer

The contrasting colors of White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis/Kleine IJsvogelvlinder) help to break up the outline of the wing, camouflaging it from predators. They have a wing span of approximately 60-65 mm and have a distinctive, elegant flight comprising of short periods of wing beats, followed by long glides. White Admiral feeds on bramble blossom and the female will lay its eggs singly on wisps of honeysuckle growing in dense woodland. The caterpillars are green with red-brown hairs. As autumn approaches it will form a tent-like structure made of leaf tissue known as a hibernaculum which it then secures to the stem with silk before hibernating. The caterpillar will then awaken the following spring and after a brief spell of feeding will moult, revealing a spiny green skin.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Athena noctua

A few weeks ago I found this Little Owl (Athena noctua/Steenuil), not far from my home. He (or she) is very confident, having a fix perch at the roof of an old barn on a farmyard.
Since this is one of my favorite birds, I decided to make a summer evening project out of it (although this photo was actually taken in the early morning). The farmer allowed me to place a hide at a strategic position, i.e. on top of a big plastic-covered heap of silage. The Little Owl accepted the hide without any problem and it was an impressive experience to observe this predator at close range. I was especially fascinated by the various facial expressions. The owl was very much interested in UFO’s, e.g. every air-balloon was followed conscientiously.
For me personally this is more than just a registration photo, it reminds me to a perfect, small-scale and self-sustainable world where nature and human activities go hand-in-hand and even enrich each other. Okay, there is no point in denying it; after all I’m a true romanticist.
Oh, by the way, did you know that the Little Owl was sacred to the goddess Athena, from whom it gets its generic name.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Swallow of the sea

Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis/Grote Stern) is a seabird of the tern family. They are more delicate and lighter build than gulls, and have long, pointed wings, which gives them a fast buoyant flight. This one is plunge diving for fish in the small Oosterschelde harbour of the “Flaauwers-inlaag” near Zierikzee.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Warbler in oak

This Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita/Tjiftjaf) was very territorial. The late sunlight and the fresk oak leaves make this picture.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Whirring reel

Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia/Sprinkhaanzanger) was high on my wish list for this weekend on Terschelling. His whole body resonates when you hear its peculiar insect-like mechanical song, a whirring reel “sir’r’r’r’r’r’r’r”.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Singing Savi’s

Personally, I like this photo of a singing Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides/Snor) a lot. It is taken at the Ringselvennen, an area with many lakes near a zinc factory south of Eindhoven, close to the Belgium border. The arced vegetation, preferred by this species, is Great Fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus/Galigaan)!

Monday, 9 April 2007

Who's afraid of red and green

Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix/Patrijs) is a breeder of open farmland. Has declined greatly in The Netherlands. In the meadows around the “Groote Peel” still fair numbers of these birds can be found. Here is a ♂, the characteristic horseshoe-shaped blackish belly patch is not visible.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Bluethroat beauty

I bet everybody who saw a Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica/Blauwborst) once remembers exactly when and where it was. For those who never have seen this beautiful bird, a singing ♂ of the race cyanecula, i.e. with a small white throat patch.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Dutch poem

A group of Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus/Ringmus) were arguing and romping in a dense bush. This bird escaped from the crowd and posed for a moment right in front of me on a more or less isolated branch. The soft light in this photo inspired someone to write this poem (in Dutch unfortuneately :-).

Een dag draait weg
terwijl de zon laag en lang
met een gloed de liefde
warm en teder toedekt.

Saturday, 31 March 2007


Underwater photography is not really my cup of tea. Here is my first attempt. I like the buoyant pose of this Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus/Vinpootsalamander). The vegetation is a bit artificial.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Prepare for landing, fasten your seatbelts

To identify anser geese look at the color of the bill and the feet. Orange feet and pinkish bill (with a white collar); this points to White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons/Kolgans).

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Goldeneye and Dutch windmills

The Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula/Brilduiker) is a medium-sized tree-hole nesting sea duck. The species is aptly named for its golden-yellow eye. Adult ♂♂ have a dark head with a greenish gloss and a conspicuous white patch below the eye, a dark back and a white neck and belly. Adult ♀♀ have a brown head and a mostly grey body. Their legs and feet are orange-yellow. Their breeding habitat is the taiga. They are found near lakes and rivers of boreal forests across Canada, Scandinavia, and northern Russia. In the Netherlands it is a common winter visitor; just opposite the lake where I photographed the Goldeneye you could find a traditional Dutch landscape patch with this row of windmills.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Storm damage

Today’s view from the Dommel bridge between Eindhoven and Nuenen. 13 poplars in a row were knocked down by yesterday’s heavy storm.