Finally!! After a full day of constant sailing yesterday, we had arrived at the Biesbosch; my all-time favorite wetland area in Holland. It felt so great to be there again!! On our way there we came across a Seagull that tried to swallow something big but I couldn’t make out what it was. Actually it looked like an octopus, but that’s probably stretching my imagination a little bit too far 🙂 I blew the shot up to the last pixel but still can’t make it out!
For the first time this year the weather was gorgeous and on our arriving day we got treated to a most beautiful sunset with warm light all around. It really made our first trip out in the little rubber boat with its silent electro motor, very special! Even the Beaver, for whom the Biesbosch is one of the few habitats left in Holland, made an exciting appearance!
I just love this area!!
I started at first light and took another walk through the beautiful ‘Rottige Meente” area. No Bluethroats this time, but the sound of Cuckoos was everywhere. Another one on the wishlist!! But they were nowhere to be seen. I headed for the huge bird-watcher’s hide; a large structure on poles, overlooking a collection of wetlands. For watching it’s perfect, but for photography too far away. But I just sat there, relaxed and enjoyed the sunrise. Until… a cuckoo landed in the tree next to the hide!! Still far away, but as this is my first cuckoo shot, I was really excited to capture it!!
When we steered the Tembo back to Kampen where we had our dinner date, we passed a meadow where a Roe Deer Doe was grazing. Hans held the boat steady in the current, while I snapped away. But looking through the viewfinder I saw that something was terribly wrong with this animal. She was so skinny that the bones stuck out everywhere! I assume that either she had given birth just before (but that would have been really early in the year) or she had some sort of desease. She looked aweful!! I felt so sorry for her and I really really hope she’s ok.
Today, for the first time again in what seemed ages, we took the Tembo out on a trip again. After being totally against a boat (I regarded a boat as a floating hole where you throw money in) now I’m her biggest fan! It is so totally awesome to take her out on the beautiful rivers and wetlands of Holland. The country looks so much more beautiful from the water. So peaceful and tranquil.
We didn’t go far as we had a dinner appointment with friends tomorrow so we drove her down to a place in the neighborhood we came to love for its abundant birdlife: Rottige Meente. After mooring her, we went for a walk until I suddenly heared a familiar sound: Bluethroat!! And what’s more, it didn’t fly off as we carefully approached. The only downside was the still very hard light but even so, I was delighted to find this beautiful bird, that is so high on my wishlist!!
Now we know how the newly planted willows are pruned 🙂
She’s pregnant and very very heavy. Wouldn’t be surprised when there’s two calves in there! Last year there were also two but didn’t manage to get some good shots of them. Well, I could of, I suppose, but not without disturbing them. And we are so happy that the Roe Deer inhabit our tiny little forest that we won’t risk scaring them away. On the contrary; we do a lot to make our place a haven for as many species of animals and birds as we can. We banned hunting on our terrain altogether, so whatever animal comes to live with us, is sure to be safe from a bullit!
A quiet day. Had some fun with the friendly little Nuthatch that occupies one of the countless nest boxes we have on our premises. Funny thing is that he built a ‘concrete’ fortification around the whole in the box, out of mud. Looks like a fortress! 🙂
Late in the afternoon I had to do some shopping and passed a meadow a Heron was trying to pick up dinner. Since I collect Heron pictures with weird prey, such as duck and bullfrog, this Heron with worm for dinner made a nice addition 🙂
Through my photographical work for the municipality of Apeldoorn, a city near where I live, I got to know the forest ranger of that city. A very helpful and enthusiastic man with amazing knowledge of, and love for the terrain and wildlife in his region. Tonight he led me towards an underground hide deep in the forest, overlooking a clearing, and left me there. The first hours I spent in that hut nothing much happened. When it was nearly dark, a sudden movement in the bushes caught my eye; Wild Boar!! 2 Youngsters came and checked the clearing out and started digging for roots and plants. Not much later a sow with piglets also arrived at the scene. A most wonderful sight!!
Today a trip to the “Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen”, a Nature reserve in the west of Holland was scheduled, together with my good friend Edgar Thissen. The area is known for its great number of foxes so we had good hopes. We took off at sunrise as the early morning fog still covered the many creeks and water basins of the reserve. We stopped at a little pond to wait for the light to light up the fog and got rewarded by these beautiful Grebes putting up a show.
It wasn’t long before the first fox showed up. A beautiful old fox appeared out of nowhere, walking straight up to us. There was something in his eyes that really got to me. A sort of loneliness, a defeat. As if he was saying goodbye. He hit me straight into my heart.
Had been invited to join Dennis Rademaker today, to try and capture the Kingfishers he’d found in his hometown. We went out really early in the morning and had the hide standing at 7AM. Almost immediately after we got ourselves comfortable (uh… well, as much as possible in the confined space of a 1m3 hide) the male kingfisher showed up, with a still wriggling fish. Spent a couple of hours with these gorgeous birds before we decided to try our luck at an area in Holland, known for the rather rare Purple Herons. While waiting for them, we got tipped off that in the neighborhood Bluethroats had their nests. I was thrilled, as this beautiful bird is so high on my wishlist, so we immediately took off. We quickly found the spot the other photographer had told us about, as his tracks were clearly visible by the trampled reeds. We set up tripod and camera and waited. And yes, very soon the Bluethroats made their appearance, flying on and off to the bramble bushes very close-by.
But something bothered us, the birds all had prey and were waiting to bring it somewhere and all of a sudden we became aware that the nest had to be very near where we were. Too near, as the bird was apparently too scared to bring the prey to the nest. As we both think that nature photography has to be done without disturbing that same nature we quickly moved away from the spot, allowing the bird to feed its chicks. We came back on the road and a fellow photographer approached. He asked what we had seen and explained that we had seen the birds, but we didn’t think that a photograph was worth disturbing the nests. The photographer totally agreed with us and talked about the irresponsibility of some photographers who’d do anything for a shot. After a while we waived goodbye and walked on to find some Terns we knew would be there. But that turned out disappointing so soon we were on our way back. Too soon for some because who do you think we caught on that exact same spot near the Bluethroats? Indeed… The ‘responsible’ photographer, snapping away, even closer to the nest than we had been.
Guess his words about irresponsible nature photographers didn’t apply to himself……
Not much time today. Only at the end of the afternoon I got to play around a little. Went down to the river IJssel near Deventer and found this beautiful Rapeseed Field. When I figured the animals apparently had a day off I headed back home, driving along a road that snails along the river through beautiful fields.
But there are always small surprises around every corner. I found two hares hiding in the tall grass in one of the meadows, pressing themselves hard to the ground, probably hoping I would drive on. But decided to wait around a bit. Pretty soon they had all forgotten about me and went on with their business, which was running around like crazy, fighting each other untill small fluffs of hair were swirling around everywhere. I don’t know the exact rules of the match, but apparently it was about who would end up on top, as they constantly jumped on and over each other. A really funny sight. Now I know where the dutch expression “Haasje over” (a children’s game; in english Leapfrog) comes from 🙂
Yesterday had been such a fantastic day, it would be hard to match, but I figured my stroke of luck just might last a bit longer, so I decided to drive to the rapeseed field again. Nope, still no Bluethroat, but the Whitethroat was there again, accompanied by some beautiful Blue-headed Wagtails