Firecrests, flowers, greenfinch and ships

This video is about a firecrest.

On 24 October 2015, to the Maasvlakte, west of Rotterdam. We started at a hill with lots of shrubs. It attracted migrating songbirds. Including firecrests.

Maasvlakte, 24 October 2015

The Maasvlakte is a harbour and industrial area, but nevertheless you can see birds there.

Maasvlakte, great cormorants, 24 October 2015

Like these great cormorants.

Maasvlakte, narrow-leaved ragwort and Japanese roses, 24 October 2015

Though it was autumn, still many flowering plants. Like yellow narrow-leaved ragwort and orange Japanese roses.

Maasvlakte, with narrow-leaved ragwort and Japanese roses, 24 October 2015

A chaffinch and a redwing, drinking at a parking lot puddle.

Maasvlakte, greenfinch, 24 October 2015

Meanwhile, a male greenfinch feeds on rose hips.

We continue to the Vuurtorenvlakte. Three skylarks flying overhead, singing. Rabbits, and many rabbit warrens.

Next, near a jetty. Shaggy ink cap fungi on sand dunes.

A rock pipit on the jetty boulders.

Maasvlakte, grey wagtail, 24 October 2015

And a grey wagtail.

Maasvlakte, pilot, 24 October 2015

Also, many ships passing. Small ships …

Maasvlakte, ship, 24 October 2015

.. and bigger ships.

Stay tuned, as there will be more Maasvlakte birds, and ships, on this blog.

Drowned firecrest on Texel island coast: here.

Seabird migration, new research

This video says about itself:

Wings of the Albatross

8 August 2011

Photographer Frans Lanting talks of his epic journey to capture images of the albatross, a hauntingly beautiful bird enshrined in legend and poetry.

From BirdLife:

World’s biggest seabird tracking database shows their incredible journeys

By Ben Lascelles, Tue, 27/10/2015 – 07:02

The Global Seabird Tracking Database  – one of the biggest marine conservation collaborations in the world – has just passed 5 million data points. The announcement was made at the World Seabird Conference, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.

The database, originally called ‘Tracking Ocean Wanderers’, was established in 2003, when data on the movements of 16 species of Albatross and Petrel were brought together for the first time. From albatrosses to penguins, the database now holds more than five times as many species, provided by over 120 research institutes.

Seabirds have some of the most extreme and fascinating life histories in the animal kingdom. We know that Arctic Terns have the longest migration of any animal, migrating from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again in a single year, covering over 80,000 kilometres in the process. Others, like the Wandering Albatross, may spend up to six years at sea before returning to the colony.

The data in the tracking database is helping the global marine community gain yet more insights into the lives of seabirds in all the world’s oceans. Each new study adds to our knowledge of how and why seabirds use the oceans, often surprising us in the distances covered, the routes that birds travel and the speed with which they get there.

Insights from the database

The individual bird tracked for the longest period of time was a juvenile Tristan Albatross, from 21 Dec 2013 to 07 Jan 2015, during which time it travelled 186,684 km. That means travelling nearly 500km every day for 383 days.

Data have been collected over at least a 20 year period for 5 species, giving us unprecedented insights into how birds use the ocean over time. The Magellanic penguin data covers a 26 years period (1989-2015).

Cory’s Shearwater, Scopoli’s Shearwater, Northern Gannet and Black-browed Albatross are the best studied species in terms of most data points and tracks.

More than half of the data relate to threatened (i.e. Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable) or Near Threatened seabirds – species for which conservation efforts are most pressing.

Information for Conservation

These data have not only furthered our understanding of seabird ecology, but is increasingly being used to identify the most important places for seabirds at sea and ensure their protection. BirdLife has been very effective in driving some of these efforts, which have resulted in new Marine Protected Areas in Portugal, Spain and New Zealand (among others), as well as the identification of sites where the risk of accidental capture in fisheries is highest. This has led to adoption of seabird conservation measures by all the key tuna management organisations to help tackle the problem, one of the major threats to seabirds globally. Our work has shown that, when measures are implemented, bycatch reductions can be dramatic, such as in South Africa, where our Albatross Task Force team have helped to cut bycatch by 95% in the hake trawl fishery.

Dr Cleo Small, who has led BirdLife’s work to get seabird bycatch conservation measures adopted by the high seas tuna management organisations, said:

“It’s hard to imagine that we could have convinced fisheries managers to put seabird bycatch on the agenda without the seabird tracking data. It’s truly been the cornerstone of our efforts to prevent the tragedy of seabird bycatch”.

Professor John Croxall, who helped establish the database in 2003, added: “Our first meeting brought together nearly all the seabird tracking data that existed at that time, covering 16 species of albatross. It’s fantastic to see the database grow so dramatically, thanks to the willingness of the seabird research community to share their data in the name of furthering marine conservation”.

It is anticipated that the database will continue to grow, which is vital given the parlous state of many seabird populations and the increasing number of threats they face at sea. Dr Maria Dias, who manages the database for BirdLife international, said “We are getting new data submissions all the time, building an ever-improving picture of what the world’s seabirds get up to. It is my hope that governments across the world will use this valuable collective resource to turn around the fortunes of seabirds across the globe”.

All the tracking data, from penguins to albatrosses to terns, can be viewed at

The tracking data has helped BirdLife to identify Marine Important Bird Areas – the most important places for seabirds at sea.

The map of these sites can be explored here.

Ring-necked parakeets and autumn colours

Ring-necked parakeet male, 23 October 2015

On 23 October 2015, ring-necked parakeets came to the trees opposite my window. Including this male, #A13.

Ring-necked parakeet male, on 23 October 2015

As one can see, the trees are in their autumn colours.

Ring-necked parakeet, 23 October 2015

Vlieland island, bye bye!

This video is about ringing a bluethroat and other birds on Vlieland island.

After 1 October came 2 October 2015, the day we left Vlieland.

Jackdaws and house sparrows near the harbour.

Richel sandbank, 2 October 2015

Our ferry to the continent passed the Richel sandbank. Many great cormorants, gulls and other birds resting there.

Richel, 2 October 2015

Behind the Richel, we could see Texel island.

Richel, on 2 October 2015

After the Richel, we passed the desert island Griend.

Harlingen, 2 October 2015

Then, we approached Harlingen harbour.

Harlingen causeway, 2 October 2015

Our ship passed the causeway, where many birds rested.

Harlingen causeway, on 2 October 2015

Harlingen causeway, still on 2 October 2015

Vlieland, bye bye!

Flowers and eider ducks of Vlieland island

Thrift, 1 October 2015

After the North Sea coast of Vlieland on 1 October 2015, we returned to the Wadden Sea coast. Where these flowers grew: thrift. Its name in Dutch is ‘Engels gras’, English grass.

English threepence coin

From 1937 till 1952, this plant was pictured on British threepence coins. Though, unlike in Dutch, in English its name has no connection to England.

Thrift near Wadden Sea, 1 October 2015

This photo shows the meadow with thrift flowers, close to the Wadden Sea.

Wadden Sea, 1 October 2015

And this photo shows the Wadden Sea itself.

Gradually, low tide started. Sand banks became bigger and bigger as the sea water receded. The sand banks attracted dunlin and other birds.

Eider duck males and female, Vlieland, 1 October 2015

Two young male eider ducks swam past. Then, they rested on a sandbank. A female eider came to join them.

Oystercatcher, eider duck males and female, Vlieland, 1 October 2015

An oystercatcher looked for food in the shallow water.

Curlew and redshank, Vlieland, 1 October 2015

So did a redshank and a curlew.

Eider duck male, Vlieland, 1 October 2015

Another young male eider swam past.

Redshank and black-headed gull, 1 October 2015

We had to leave. Around sunset, we went back to the Wadden Sea. Where we saw this redshank and this black-headed gull in winter plumage.

Jackdaws and sparrows of Vlieland

This video is about waxwings on the Dutch Wadden island Vlieland. 21 January 2011.

After 30 September came 1 October 2015. The last full day for us on Vlieland island.

We went north, to the North Sea beach. No waxwings.

Jackdaw, 1 October 2015

However, there were resident birds. Like this jackdaw.

Jackdaws, 1 October 2015

The restaurant tables attracted still more jackdaws. Like these ones.

Jackdaws, Vlieland, 1 October 2015

And these ones.

House sparrow male, Vlieland, 1 October 2015

The restaurant food attracted house sparrows as well. Females; and males, like this one.

Yellow-browed warbler and spoonbills on Vlieland

This is a video, showing the surroundings of the Posthuys in the middle of Vlieland island, from the air.

After 29 September came 30 September 2015 for us on Vlieland.

We went to the Kroon’s polders nature reserve, not far from the Posthuys.

There is a bird ringing station there, from August till November.

Yellow-browed warbler, 30 September 2015

We lucky as we arrived there: this yellow-browed warbler had just been ringed. Yellow-browed warblers are usually rare in the Netherlands; but less so in this year’s autumn migration season. The individual on the photo was #29 of the year 2015 on Vlieland, more than usually. After this photo was taken, the small songbird was freed to continue its journey.

Also on Ameland island, recently more yellow-browed warblers than usually have been ringed. There, in 2014 a tree sparrow was caught which was at least sixteen years old.

Dunnock, 30 September 2015

After our Vlieland yellow-browed warbler came a dunnock: the third specimen of the day.

We walked to the south side of the Kroon’s polders. European searocket flowers.

Shelducks, Vlieland, 30 September 2015

In the Wadden Sea salt marshes south of the Kroon’s polders, many shelducks and brent geese.

Shelducks, Vlieland, 30 September 2015

As we continued to the east side of the polders, a red admiral butterfly flying.

Wheatear, 30 September 2015

A northern wheatear near a puddle, for drinking during its autumn migration.

Gulls and spoonbills, 30 September 2015

Many gulls. Behind them, scores of spoonbills, gathering for the journey to Africa.

As we arrived back at the Posthuys, a barn swallow: on its long way south as well.

This video is about a bittern on Vlieland island, on 13 June 2015. This species nests regularly in the Kroon’s polders.