Sandwich terns, spoonbills and barn swallows

This 1 January 2015 video is about the villages Wierum and Moddergat in Friesland province in the Netherlands and their Wadden Sea surroundings, as seen from the air.

After 8 September 2018 at two desert islands, on 9 September we went to Moddergat village.

In the village: house sparrows; barn swallows flying.

This 6 May 2013 video is about the villages Paesens and Moddergat in Friesland province in the Netherlands and their Wadden Sea surroundings.

We went to the Wadden Sea dike.

A ringed plover along the coast.

This April 2018 video, in Frisian, is about Paesens and Moddergat and wildlife in their Wadden Sea surroundings.

On poles in shallow sea water, Sandwich terns, cleaning their feathers.

A turnstone on another pole.

Sea aster flowers. Sea lavender and sea purslane grow here as well.

Two spoonbills flying.

A bit further, scores of spoonbills standing in the water. Many great cormorants, oystercatchers and shelducks resting on the bank. Unfortunately, men with a dog, not on a leash, arrive, and drive the hundreds of birds away.

A grey seal swimming.

At the base of the dike, a dead common seal.

We go further west, the surroundings of Zwarte Haan hamlet.

Five barn swallows resting on a fence, while on autumn migration to Africa.

A kestrel nestbox not far away.

A bit further, a buzzard flies along the dike.

Our last stop on this journey to desert islands is still further west, at Balgzand nature reserve. Scores of spoonbills and shelducks.

Desert island prickly saltwort plant, photo

Prickly saltwort, 8 September 2018

This 8 September 2018 photo comes now in this a P.S. to my earlier blog post on the desert islands Engelsmanplaat and Het Rif.

On the low sand dunes of Het Rif, a few plant species grow. One of them is prickly saltwort, depicted on the photo.

This is a rare species, on the Red List in the Netherlands.

A great skua flying that day at Het Rif.

Desert island birds, plants and algae

Elytrigia juncea on Het Rif, 8 September 2018

This 8 September 2018 photo shows Elytrigia juncea grass growing on low sand dunes of Het Rif, a sandbank, or desert island, just north of Engelsmanplaat sandbank, or desert island.

We were still on that 8 September 2018 at the two sandbanks, or desert islands, Engelsmanplaat and Het Rif in the Wadden Sea.

Het Rif, 8 September 2018

As also this photo shows, on Het Rif there are small sand dunes with Elytrigia juncea plants. Contrary to Engelsmanplaat: practically completely under water at high tide, very few plants; only birds nesting: one oystercatcher couple. On Het Rif, this year for the first time an eider duck couple nested. In 2015, there were 262 common tern nests, 174 Arctic tern nests and 30 little tern nests.

Het Rif feather, 8 September 2018

Between the Rif plants, sometimes a white feather gets stuck (small detail, far left on this photo).

Het Rif feather close up, 8 September 2018

This photo shows the feather more closely.

Het Rif sand, 8 September 2018

This photo shows the various colours of sand in the non-dune areas of Het Rif.

Engelsmanplaat, 8 September 2018

This photo shows Engelsmanplaat, with Het Rif in the background.

Engelsmanplaat birds, 8 September 2018

This photo shows birds, mostly gulls, flying around Engelsmanplaat. We saw a ringed plover on that sandbank.

Engelsmanplaat clouds, 8 September 2018

The clouds above Engelsmanplaat sometimes became darker, but it did not rain.

Engelsmanplaat shells, 8 September 2018

Many seashells on Engelsmanplaat.

Engelsmanplaat diatom and bird tracks, 8 September 2018

Not just seashells: this photo also shows a track of a rather big bird; a lesser black-backed gull or herring gull? And tracks of smaller (wader?) birds. And greenish diatom algae. And sand ejected by Phyllodoce maculata worms.

Engelsmanplaat bird tracks, 8 September 2018

This photo shows the big and smaller bird tracks in still more detail.

Engelsmanplaat diatoms, 8 September 2018

And this photo concentrates on the diatoms.

Stay tuned, as there will be another blog post about wildlife around Lauwersmeer national park after 8 September at the desert islands!

Two desert islands and birds

Engelsmansplaat, 8 September 2018

This 8 September 2018 photo shows Engelmansplaat desert island, or sandbank, in the Netherlands. We went there the day after 7 September.

Before arriving there, we went first to the eastern side of Lauwersmeer national park. There were groups of ruddy shelducks, barnacle geese and teal. Barn swallows flying overhead.

Four Caspian terns cleaning their feathers.

A greater black-backed gull landed. A great cormorant.

We continued to the Jaap Deensgat hide. Seven spoonbills flying. A grey heron and a great egret close together. Wigeons.

A goshawk flying.

We arrived at Lauwersoog harbour.

A lesser black-backed gull on a pole. Herring gulls and black-headed gulls on quays.

Common terns flying.

A turnstone. A redshank near the exit of the harbour.

A Sandwich tern flying over the Wadden Sea.

We pass the Kuipersplaat sandbank where harbour seals rest. A grey seal swims in front of them.

A male eider duck flying above them.

A domestic pigeon.

The ship stops.

Engelsmanplaat sandbank, 8 September 2018

We wade to the Engelsmanplaat sandbank, in the direction of the only building, the wildlife warden’s place.

Engelsmanplaat warden's place, 8 September 2018

We arrived at the warden’s place with very wet shoes and trousers.

Engelsmanplaat platform at warden's place, 8 September 2018

A wooden staircase between platforms goes to the top, where the wardens are safe from flooding. The wardens don’t live there in winter, so then Engelsmanplaat is really a desert island; or sandbank.

It used to be more like an island, but by now the sea has washed away most of its small sand dunes. Even at low tide most of the Engelsmanplaat is still under a few centimeters of water. Only a very small part is not under water at normal high tide. The only birds nesting there this year were an oystercatcher couple. Three times, unusually high water destroyed their nests. But the birds persevered, and their chicks fledged.

At one of the higher spots, stones, relics of an old building. The stones are covered with barnacles.

To the north of Engelsmanplaat is another sandbank, with more rights to be called an island, and more nesting birds: het Rif.

But that is for the sequel to this blog post.

Rooks and jackdaws in the evening

This 2015 video is about rooks and jackdaws in Cornwall in Britain.

Still 7 September 2018. After our earlier birds of that day around Lauwersmeer national park, in Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen village.

In the evening, just before sunset, seven rooks flying above a bush. Some seventy jackdaws pass them.

Not far away, this 1729 monument commemorating the building of locks then.

Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen monument

Stay tuned, as the sequel to this blog post will be about a journey to a desert island!

Barnacle geese and Caspian terns

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese, 7 September 2018

7 September 2018. On our way to Lauwersmeer national park in the Netherlands. This photo shows part of it, with barnacle geese flying.

Before we arrived in the Lauwersmeer, we saw grey herons in North Holland province. Along the Afsluitdijk causeway, great cormorants sitting on poles. Black-headed gulls. Herring gulls. Two great crested grebes swimming near the monument for the dike construction.

Flocks of scores of starlings.

Near Dokkum, in Friesland province, a buzzard on a meadow. A kestrel hovering. Lapwings.

We arrive at the Sylkajut hide, on the edge of the Lauwersmeer. Usually, one can see birds swimming there close to the hide. However, the dry hot 2018 summer means the water level is much lower than usual. So, water birds are rather far away. On the now dry land close to the hide, quite some white wagtails and meadow pipits.

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese, on 7 September 2018

We see many barnacle geese there. Sometimes standing in the water …

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese flying, on 7 September 2018

… sometimes flying. Also some grey lag geese.

At the water’s edge, Caspian terns on autumn migration. Visible with a telescope, too far for binoculars. Mute swans.

Lauwersmeer, 7 September 2018

We continued north, along the western border of the Lauwersmeer, to the Ezumakeeg-Noord – Kijkheuvel. It is a hill with a good view on birds in the wetlands around it.

Red-necked phalarope and shoveler, 7 September 2018

We saw, eg, this red-necked phalarope. With a northern shoveler duck feeding behind it.

Also gadwall ducks. And a little stint.

Many barn swallows flying. And some house martins.


White wagtail, 7 September 2018

And we saw this white wagtail.

Marsh harrier, 7 September 2018

A male marsh harrier flying.

Ringed plover. Common sandpiper.

A wood sandpiper close to a little ringed plover.

Konik horses, 7 September 2018

There were konik horses.

Cows, 7 September 2018

And cows, in the Lauwersmeer to prevent overgrowing of plants, making the area unattractive for some animals.

Lauwersmeer, on 7 September 2018

Six curlews on a meadow.

Finally, we arrived as far as north as possible: on the shore of the Wadden Sea.

Mudflats, 7 September 2018

Mudflats there.

Six eider ducks flying over the water.

Black-headed gull, 7 September 2018

And this black-headed gull flying.

Stay tuned, as there will be more photographs and stories from that area on this blog!