Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

March 25, 2010

The Roe Deer

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 11:18 pm

The Roe-Deer are back in the meadow in front of my house. The same buck as last year is heading the family. His antlers are covered in beautiful velvety skin. They are already again getting used to my presence and even the dogs don’t scare them, as they perfectly know that the dogs can only go as far as the little electric wire. 5 of them are coming to feed like clock work. Every day in the morning they are there, they’ll be back for coffee around 11AM and as of 5 in the afternoon they will stay until sunset. A beautiful sight!! I just can’t wait for the meadow to be covered in wild flowers.

March 22, 2010

Spring isĀ coming!

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 10:04 pm

I had put up my camouflaged hide on our terrace because all of the little birds were celebrating spring by building nests and singing their heads off. I simply couldn’t resist the temptation. I had stuck some nice branches in the ground and just waited. One after another little bird came to check the sunflower seeds out that I had laid out for them. Much to my surprise also another little creature came to check it out! šŸ™‚ The cutest little mouse came peeping out from under the terrace and hit the big flower container where I had put the seeds in, over and over again. I was lying flat on my belly to capture the little cutie, much to the horror of our neighbour who visited at that moment. šŸ™‚ I guess for most people the only good mouse is a dead mouse, but to me, as long as he stays living underneath the terrace, he’s welcome!

March 21, 2010

Alongside theĀ road

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 11:13 pm

Came across this beautiful pheasant walking just alongside the road. Apparently he sensed the change of seasons too as he had dressed in full breeding plumage.

March 20, 2010

Kingfisher hunt

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 10:53 pm

Today I drove to the centre of Holland in search of Kingfishers. Dennis had seen them digging out a new nest in a park in Utrecht. Although we posted next to the fallen-down tree for hours, no Kingfishers were in sight so we decided to call it a day and come back later. As there had been an article in the newspaper that young tawny owls were spotted in a park nearby so we decided to go and have a look. We found 4 owl-chicks high up an old pine tree. Wonderful to watch those little – eh, dare I say it? – still very ugly little owls. Unfortunately they were extremely hard to photograph as they were very well hidden by hundreds of little branches. Still, we had a lovely day!

March 13, 2010

Start of the project ā€œGroot Breembroekā€

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 10:03 pm

Today we started the work on the re-development of the land behind our house that we were able to buy last year.
We intend to turn the nowadays agricultural land back into nature by digging a large pond and planting trees and shrubs in patches randomly. We won’t turn it into forest as we want it to be a haven for as many animals as possible, so also the birds that love to nest in open fields like lapwings, partridges and godwits. With planting shrubs we hope for the return of Sky larks and Stonechats. The area is surrounded by forest so for those animals that love the forest like roe deer and badger there is already sufficient space.

One of the plans is to dig the pond with a sloping bank on one side, fit for reptiles and amphibians, and a steep sandy bank on the other side, hoping for kingfishers to nest in and maybe even Sand Martins. Also, by digging it this way, it allows the pond to grow (winter) and shrink (summer) without overflowing.

So this morning the first big machine arrived to place a huge culvert in the little stream that seperated the area from our grounds. When that was done, we started planting willows on strategical points (future home for little owls?). Will keep you updated!

March 8, 2010

Bavarian ForestĀ (3)

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 9:58 pm

Gosh, just when I thought it couldn’t have gotten any colder, the barometer showed a teeth-clattering -13,5C in the morning when we left the hotel. We were determined to stay with the lynxes as long as we could to see if they would start mating again. It was a clear day and we would love to get the mating pictures without the heavy snow in between the loving couple and ours lenses. The only thing is that the viewing point near the lynxes’ area is an open cabin, next to an open field where the strong wind was blowing straight upon us. I think I’ve never felt so cold in my life!! But as the lynxes came really close, neither one of us wanted to leave. We tried to get warm again, by (one of us kept an eye on the lynxes) running up and down the hill, trying to get our toes and legs defrosted. And the lynxes again didn’t even mate!

But still, it was a wonderful day; the wolves were very active and it was a thrill to be able to watch the interaction between the dominant and submissive animals. When we ended up between the Wild Boars and little yearlings played all around us, it formed the perfect ending to a fantastic trip!

March 7, 2010

Bavarian ForestĀ (2)

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 9:55 pm

The day started with clear skies and bright sunshine, but also bitterly cold. The temperature had dropped another 3 degrees to -11C. It is such a thrill to see those magnificent animals in their (almost) natural habitats. Meanwhile we knew our way around a bit and headed straight to the lynxes to see if the mating was still going on. Unfortunately Mr. Lynx had probably a bit of a headache because no matter how Mrs. Lynx did her best to seduce him, he didn’t deliver the goods.. Also the wolves had a bit of a sunday’s day off. Not much going on there. An absolute highlight was the appearance of a European Pine Marter peeping out of his hole in the tree. What a cutie!!

March 6, 2010

BavarianĀ Forest

Filed under: March — Hennie van Heerden @ 3:49 pm

The first impressions of the wildlife treasures of the German National Park the Bavarian Forest tasted like more. So when my friend (and also passionate wildlife photographer) Dennis Rademaker said that he would love to see it also, we just packed in the car and went there.

When I was there in February it had snowed heavily and although it makes hiking and dragging the equipment around quite difficult, it sure makes the photographs more special. So, we decided to to as quickly as possible, hoping there still would be snow in the park. On the 850km drive there, we had bright sunshine and no snowflake was in sight. Untill we left the highway to head up to the mountains where the Bavarian Forest. The moment we drove into the area snow began to fall and continued during the night. When we entered the park the next morning a fresh blanket of virginal snow had covered the park completely which makes the scenery absolutely fairy-tale-like. With -8C we resembled a pair of Michelin-puppets, wrapped in at least 4 layers of clothing.

But already at the first sighting of Black Woodpeckers en Boreal Owls, the cold was forgotten completely and we happily snapped away. Although snow was falling heavy all day, which made photographing animals like lynxes and wolves that were somewhat further away to quite a challenge for the autofocus, we had a fantastic first day. Even saw lynxes mating but there was so much snow falling at that moment that the autofocus refused flatly. We only returned back to the hotel when all light had gone. It’s only then that the muscles in your body tell you how many kilometers they had had to work uphill that day! Don’t think I even felt the pillow before I was asleep that night!

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