City kingfisher and forest bees


This is a video of a kingfisher in Wageningen in the Netherlands.

Today, a walk from the town center of Hilversum to Corversbos nature reserve.

If you walk from the old harbour along the old canal, you pass a big stone bridge. A bit further, you cross a small metal bridge, painted in blue. Still a bit further, just above the water of the canal which is narrow there, a kingfisher flying. Seconds later, that beautiful bird sat down on a leafless tree branch close to the water; where I was able to watch it sitting for minutes. Kingfishers like leafless tree branches close to water. However, this was in a cityscape, with high rise houses not far away. Apparently, the canal and its surroundings act as a sort of nature corridor from Corversbos to the old harbour.

In the Corversbos, I heard the sound of a great spotted woodpecker, made by drumming with a tree branch.

A bit further, a buzzard. A group of rooks on a field.

Then, I arrived at the Bijenschans in the Corversbos, where I spoke to a beekeeper. It was nine degrees centigrade today; according to the beekeeper, just the minimum temperature for a few bees venturing out of the hives. And indeed, a few bees had ventured out today. Though he had not seen them bringing in any pollen yet; as, apart from snowdrops, few flowers were flowering yet. If temperatures would rise to twelve, bigger groups of bees would come out. The real spring season for honey bees usually starts at the end of February, beginning of March. However, even now, the queen had already laid the first eggs of the year, from which larvae would hatch after three weeks. Harsh winters, he said, are usually better for bees than mild winters; when hives may get wet, and bees may spend energy uselessly.

Especially in the USA and Britain, many honey bees are dying. That had been somewhat of a problem at the Bijenschans last year as well. However, now all hives were inhabited again. It is a bit of a problem at the Bijenschans if bees start swarming, trying to form a new colony led by a young queen. This is because there are many high trees around the Bijenschans, meaning sometimes a keeper with mountaineering equipment has to climb to treetops to catch the bees.

In the small pond in the center of the Bijenschans are edible frogs and common newts. A few days ago, a flock of siskins had come to drink. Birds like wren and blackbird nest inside the beekeeping enclosure. Just outside the enclosure hangs a nestbox for owls. At first, a squirrel had used it. However, later last summer two tawny owls lived there.

I walked back the same way as I had come. I did not see the kingfisher near the canal anymore. On the branches where it had been, there were a great tit and a blue tit now.

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