Sunday, 31 January 2010

Bewick's in blue

In the last decade or so a small group (approximately 40) Bewick’s Swans (Cygnus Bewickii/Kleine Zwanen) winter in “De Kempen”, the region where I live. At daytime they prefer farmland, especially corn fields with harvest scraps; in the night they sleep on moorland lakes.
Bewick’s Swans look much more elegant floating in a lake than foraging in a field in my opinion. So a picture of these big white birds while swimming in the warm golden light that marks the end of the day is in my mind for quite some time. Today however, things turned out differently.
At 16h PM I installed myself at the border of the lake where they overnight with my tripod and photo equipment. Soon it started to snow heavily. I had to improvise and used my cap to protect my SLR camera. Around 17h PM snowfall suddenly stopped and the sky opened up. In the meanwhile I was transformed into a snowman, and disappeared in the white landscape around me. The light at that moment was truly amazing. It could best be described as an icy blue sunset, as if the cold absorbed the colors. I have never seen anything like this before. Another fifteen minutes later the flock Bewicki’s landed on the lake. The vocal “whoo-whoo” sounds always makes me feel happy. After landing, 5 adult birds floated slowly towards me. Luckily, I could still move my index finger enough to press the shutter button. It is one of my favorite pics.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Reed specialists

The Oostvaardersplassen is always rewarding for bird photography; 2 specialists of this important wetland:
The colored Bearded Tit (Panurus biarmicus/Baardmannetje). In winter they feed on reed seeds. What an acrobatic posers are they.
The Bittern (Botaurus stellaris/Roerdomp) is seldom seen, as it leads a retiring life under cover of extensive reedbeds. Its presence is usually only revealed by a conspicuous call, resembling a foghorn. When ditches and lakes are frozen, hunger drives them to the few scarce places with open water. The first photo freezes a catch action. On the second photo the Bittern adopts the characteristic camouflage posture. Note that especially the dark breast markings work well.
I spent about an hour with it and shot over 4Gb of images … and then drove home with a very smugg grin on my face!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Dunnock & Wren

Dunnock (Prunella modularis/Heggemus), Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes/Winterkoning), Robin (Erithacus rubecula/Roodborst), Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta/Waterpieper), and Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea/Grote Gele Kwikstaart), and even a brave wintering Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita/Tjiftjaf) were all catching insects at the banks of a running stream. I like the delicate subtle plumage of this thicket-loving bird.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Winter continues

Today I made a birdwatch tour in Zeeland together with Arie Ouwerkerk and his father. At 8h AM sharp we had an appointment on the dike near the small village Den Bommel. I could not resist the temptation to photograph the icy ditch at the foot of the dike, just before the cold sun-rise while waiting at the rendez-vous point (they were stuck in a heavy traffic jam).
Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus/Torenvalk) are better approachable because of the cold weather. This perching ♂ was photographed from a mobile hide (Arie’s car).