Cuckoo, Canada geese and little grebe

This video is called The European Adder – Vipera berus. We did not see adders during our week in and around Dwingelderveld national park. They live there; but the best time to see them is on warm, sunny days. Which weren’t part of this early May week.

After 6 May 2015, 7 May in Drenthe. Our last full day there.

As we went to the hide, a robin on a fence.

Near the hide, swifts and barn swallows flying. A willow warbler sings.

In a lakelet just north of Moddergat lake, three common pochards, male and female tufted ducks.

A little grebe calls and swims.

A mallard. Two Egyptian geese: a Canada goose calls to them as they land.

In wet heathland, a skylark sings.

Cuckoo, 7 May 2015

A cuckoo sitting on a tree.

Briefly, a yellowhammer above the cuckoo in the same tree.

A stonechat.

Canada geese, 7 May 2015

Canada geese.

Next, another wetland: Koelevaartsveen. Three common sandpipers near the bank.

Moss and trees, 7 May 2015

Moss growing near the trees not far away.

Moss, 7 May 2015

Near the Dwingelose heide cycle track, again oak eggar caterpillars.

Dark tussock caterpillar, photo by Lo Troisfontaine

Also a much rarer and smaller caterpillar. So small and lightweight that the wind again and again blows it decimetres further away on the sandy path. A dark tussock caterpillar.

Cottongrass, 7 May 2015

Back to the hide. Cottongrass grows there. This marked the end for us of a week of seeing much beautiful wildlife.

Skylark, stonechat, and oak eggar caterpillar

This video is about a yellowhammer singing.

After 5 May 2015, 6 May in and around Dwingelderveld national park in Drenthe.

Early in the morning, a red squirrel outside.

In the Dwingelose heide heathland, a yellowhammer sings.

A curlew calls.

Moss, 6 May 2015

Not just heather grows here: eg, moss as well.

Many skylarks fly up and down, singing.

Skylark, 6 May 2015

One skylark, a bit atypically, sits down on a bush.

A kestrel flies overhead.

Oak eggar caterpillar, 6 May 2015

On the sandy path along the bicycle track, oak eggar caterpillars. These hairy caterpillars, common in Dwingelderveld at this time of the year, may irritate people’s skins. Some birds don’t like to feed on hairy caterpillars like these; but, eg, cuckoos don’t mind.

Near a lakelet, a northern lapwing couple flying and calling. And a redshank.

From the hide, again two black-necked grebes. And tufted ducks.

On the bank of Holtveenslenk lake, a spoonbill. While a grey heron flies away.

A long-tailed tit in a tree.

Stonechat male, on 6 April 2015

Then, a male stonechat.

Birds of Antarctica and Argentina

This video, recorded in Argentina, says about itself:

Birds & More: Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

Fabulous scenery, wide open spaces, whales, extraordinary Andes and the bottom of the world. Spectacular Magellanic Woodpecker, very scenic cruise in Drake Channel; 11-12/2008.

Brent Stephenson is a wildlife photographer, guide, and birder based near Napier, New Zealand.

From B1RDER: The birding blog of Eco-Vista | Brent Stephenson (with photos there):

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Looking back to January – Antarctica

Well the year to date has been a hectic one, but with a lot of fantastic places along the way. First off was a trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica – I always say if you are going to go to Antarctica, then you HAVE to do a trip that includes the Falklands and South Georgia. So this is one of my favourite trips, and despite the increase in tourism in the Antarctic you still get the feeling of isolation and that you could well be the first people looking at the landscape.

We started in Ushuaia, with awesome views of both male, female and young Magellanic woodpeckers in the National Park – stonking views! Epic birds, and also got great views of ashy-headed geese. Then out of the Beagle Channel and heading to Saunders Island in the Falklands. This has to be one of the best islands for diversity in the Falkland group, with a great array of species there nesting within easy walking distance. To be so close to nesting black-browed albatross is always a treat, and whilst we were there the birds had young chicks in the nest, so there was a lot going on. Having spent four incredible days on this island camping under a rock at ‘The Neck’ back in 2004 this place is one of my all-time World favourite spots!

Next stop South Georgia, and with landings at Salisbury Plain and St Andrews Bay we got to see a fair sack of the king penguin population that breeds on the island. Our afternoon at St Andrews was just spectacular, with incredible weather and so much going on. I managed a bit of time with tripod and neutral density filters to play around with some long exposures which was fun – let me know what you think of the images below. There might still be a slight colour cast from the ND filters, but I am pretty happy with the results…I’d just like to spend some more time experimenting with these filters.

This video says about itself:

Albatross – Penguins – ICE BIRDS – Antarctica © 2009 C. Hunter Johnson

Nesting Albatross Chicks, King Penguins and Gentoo Penguins. … on a recent visit to South Georgia Island to explore and photograph these rare endangered Albatross in natural, unspoiled surroundings.

The Brent Stephenson article continues:

We also called in to Coronation Island in the South Orkneys, with a little bit of sleet and drizzle it was a chilly landing, but thousands of chinstrap penguins were there to keep us company! Back onboard that afternoon my Canon 1Dx decided to give up the ghost – leaving me with my old worn out 1D MkIV for the rest of the trip. On getting back to NZ it turns out the 1Dx was the first in the country to have completely died – making me wonder if i was lucky or unlucky (!) – having blown a circuit board and some fuses. All covered under warranty when I got home, but effectively an expensive paper-weight for the rest of the trip!

Down on the Antarctic Peninsula we had stops at Brown Bluff, with a little foray along the ice front of the Weddell Sea in Antarctic Sound. There had been an Emperor penguin reported, but rising winds meant we could’t get too close, and had to head back onto the western side of the Peninsula and carry on to the South Shetlands. A morning at Hannah Point was fantastic with lots of activity amongst the chinstraps and gentoos – including the gory killing of a gentoo chick by several giant petrels. At Deception Island, not normally know for its wildlife (at least the interior of the island), we had an awesome leucistic chinstrap penguin. At first it seemed to be playing hard to get, and then at the end walked up on to the shore with another bird, and right into the middle of our group! Ha, what little show off!

Then it was off south along the Peninsula, making landings at Petermann Island and Plennau. Awesome iceberg graveyard, and VERY ‘friendly’ leopard seals – one of which came steaming in and chomped on the end of my zodiac! That was a new experience – it all happened so quick I didn’t have time to get out of there, so after our 2.5 hour zodiac cruise one of the pontoons was VERY flat! We only lost two people out of the zodiac…just kidding! We also had an incredible show with a female and calf humpback right at the stern of the ship. With everyone out on the stern of the ship, they came right in under us and just hung out at the back of the ship for more than 15 minutes – just incredible.

A final afternoon at Portal Point – after finally catching up with killer whales in the Neumeyer which I managed to spot a few miles off. We had stunning views of a pretty large pod of these Type B (small form) killer whales, in what looked like a feeding slick. There was a huge slick on the surface and clearly something attracting large numbers of Wilson’s storm-petrels, giant petrels and other species, but we couldn’t spot anything that looked like chunks of prey. A mystery!

And then we were on our way back to Ushuaia. Time just flies so quickly on a trip like this, with days at sea and the start of the trip seeming to go relatively slow, and then all of a sudden you are heading back across the Drake Passage! A great trip with great folks and an excellent Zegrahm Expedition team!

Little ringed plover and young frog

This video is about black woodpeckers making their nest.

We had seen a black woodpecker; on 2 May, in a coniferous forest near the Holtveenslenk lake. I personally saw just a silhouette of the bird flying away.

After 4 May 2015, came 5 May in and around Dwingelderveld national park in Drenthe province.

We went to the southern Kloosterveld part. Still barn swallows flying around. However, now after the rain, there are many more puddles than on 3 May. So, the swallows now are able to drink and to collect nesting material at many more places than before; making photographing them harder than before.

Moss, 5 May 2015

The moss is not harder to photograph here now than earlier.

A yellowhammer on the grass.

Willow warbler and chiffchaff singing.

So does a skylark. And a song thrush.

A curlew calls.

A shelduck rests on the lakelet bank.

Behind it, Egyptian geese.

Two grey lag geese flying overhead.

On the northern bank of the next lake, a common sandpiper.

Little ringed plover, 5 May 2015

And a little ringed plover.

Two shelducks swimming between black-headed gulls.

Sound of a pheasant. And of an edible frog.

Stonechat male, 5 May 2015

On a pole, a male stonechat. It flies to a wire; then, to another pole.

Young pool frog, 5 May 2015

Then, a juvenile pool frog.

We arrive back at Lanka park. A red squirrel at the feeder.

Blackbird female, 5 May 2015

Then, a female blackbird; cleaning her feathers after lots of rain.

Tree pipit, stonechat and whitethroat

This video is called Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) with young.

After 3 May 2015, 4 May 2015 in Drenthe.

Near Kraloo, a black redstart on a roof.

In the Dwingelderveld, an Egyptian goose near a lake.

A cuckoo on a tree.

From the hide at the Davidsplassen lakes, one can see coots swimming. Barn swallows nest in the hide.

Grey lag geese fly past.

One can hear a little grebe. Two slightly bigger relatives, a black-necked grebe couple, dive again and again.

Just past the hide, a grey heron. Tufted ducks swimming. A Canada goose.

In a peat bog ditch, pondskaters.

Ground-ivy, 4 May 2015

Ground-ivy flowers.

Big caterpillars of oak eggar moths.

Tree pipit, 4 May 2015

On a shrub in heathland, a tree pipit sings.

Stonechat male, 4 April 2015

A bit further, a male and a female stonechat.

Stonechat male, on 4 April 2015

A whitethroat sings.

Whitethroat, 4 May 2015

A yellowhammer in a tree sings.

Long-tailed tits drive away a jay.

On the edge of a peat bog, male and female common pochard swimming.

A brimstone butterfly lands on a dandelion flower.

House martins, barn swallows, moss and lambs

This video is about a skylark singing on a branch.

After 2 May 2015, 3 May 2015 in Dwingelderveld national park; more especially, its southern Kloosterveld part.

Barn swallow, 3 April 2015

Like yesterday evening, barn swallows come here to drink. They also collect nesting material, as this photo shows.

House martin, 3 May 2015

Also some house martins, not as numerous here as barn swallows, come to collect mud for their nests.

Two goldfinches land close to the swallows’ waterhole.

A bit further, two shelducks. A northern lapwing.

A chaffinch sings. A curlew calls.

A skylark sings. Unlike the bird on the video at the top of this blog post, it sings while flying, not from a branch.

A northern wheatear on a pole.

A stonechat on a wire.

Two oystercatchers flying.

Moss, 3 May 2015

At some spots, moss grows.

Moss, on 3 May 2015

Moss, Kloosterveld, on 3 May 2015

A male common linnet.

Sheep and lamb, 3 May 2015

The sheep are in this nature reserve to prevent it from becoming overgrown. At this time of the year, they have lambs.

And then came the afternoon … with rain, lots of it …

Black-necked grebes, hobbies and tree pipit

This is a red-necked grebe video.

After 1 May 2015, 2 May 2015 near Dwingelderveld national park, in Westerveld local authority. This is one of few places in the Netherlands where one may see red-necked grebes.

In Dwingelderveld, cranes nest as well. Photos: here.

We did not see red-necked grebes or cranes on that 2 May; but we did see other beautiful birds.

Early in the morning, curlew sound. A chaffinch sings. Sounds of song thrush, willow warbler, cuckoo, robin, chiffchaff and wood pigeon.

Of course, the blue tits are present again.

A great tit in a tree.

Near Kraloo village, three roe deer in a meadow.

This is a 3 May 2015 video of roe deer near Kraloo.

Grey lag geese in a lake.

Near the hide, male and female tufted ducks swim. And a black-necked grebe couple in love with each other. They dive often.

Two hobbies flying around.

Two Egyptian geese on a bank.

Black-headed gulls and coots swimming.

We arrive around the Holtveenslenk lake. Photos of that area are here. And here.

Holtveenslenk, 2 May 2015

Here is another Holtveenslenk photo.

Again, a black-necked grebe couple.

A grey heron flies past.

Tree pipit, 2 May 2015

A tree pipit in a tree.

A bit further in the Holtveenslenk lake, a Canada goose swims. And a great crested grebe; a male common pochard; and a tufted duck couple.

Two white storks fly overhead.

So do two buzzards.

A little grebe calls.

White wagtail, 2 May 2015

West of the Holtveenslenk, a white wagtail in a tree.

A yellow wagtail cleanses its feathers.

Back at the hide. A female marsh harrier lands in a tree.

The hobbies fly again.

We continue, to Ruinen village.

A redstart in a tree. Below the tree, yellow archangel flowers.

Just east of Ruinen, the Kloosterveld part of the national park. A northern wheatear.

A curlew wades in shallow water.

Three barn swallows drinking together.

A male and a female yellowhammer.