Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

September 28, 2010

More guests

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 10:33 pm

The buffet is definitively a success!! 🙂

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September 26, 2010

Buffet de Luxe

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 9:46 pm

We’ve turned our bird buffet into a ‘Buffet de Luxe’ :-).

Next to the bird feeding table Hans has dug in 2 old tree trunks upright in the garden. Next he got the chainsaw and cut in oval holes. My experiment with making fat balls, heating up frying fat with lots of seeds and nuts had actually gone wrong because I had put in too many seeds, so the fat couldn’t hold it together. (you should have seen the kitchen!! :-))

But.. the concoction was perfect to fill the holes in the tree with. Lovely job, because to make it stick you have to warm the fatty mass in your hands, then sort of clay it all together and then smear it into the hole. Nice dirty job 🙂

The result was 5 large holes filled with nutricious seeds, nuts and first class fat. Of course we rushed in and hid behind the windows to see if the birds would find the sticky treats. We were happy as children when within 5 minutes, the tits and nuthatches rushed in to feast on this new surprise.

When the next morning 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers hit the buffet we really felt rewarded for our efforts.

September 25, 2010

Thistles, drizzles and finches

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 9:14 pm

For work I had to be in the city of Apeldoorn today. Again, like in Kampen a few days ago, I had to be in a newly developed industrial area. Something I never expected but I start to like those areas! 🙂

This area, Zuidbroek as it’s called, is not finished yet. While most of the available space is already turned into office buildings, there are still big patches of fallow land where thistles, nettles and all kinds of other weeds florish. Not only a beautiful sight but a banquet for many seed-eating birds! I hope it’ll take a while before all of the land will be ‘cultivated’.
I had a ball with a big flock of Goldfinches that feasted on the thistle seeds and didn’t seem to mind the constant rain at all.

As these are birds that are high on my wishlist to photograph I really enjoyed this encounter. Not really the shot I want yet, but getting closer!

September 24, 2010

Playing out..

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 8:26 pm

 

According to the weather forecast it would become a fantastic day. As it had been raining for weeks already I figured that I should take full advantage of that prediction. Well, they were right this time, but not immediately. I started off really early in the morning when it was still dark, foggy and drizzling. Reached the National Park De Veluwezoom at sunrise. Way too dark to photograph. And of course that’s exactly the moment that you see all the animals. Wild Boar, Wild horses.. they all made their appearance. At those moments wildlife photography is at its most frustrating. Here you are, at a rediculous time of day, all ready for action, and you can’t do anything else than wait until there is more light .. Grr. Raised iso to incredible values and at least got some shots but more to prove to myself that the animals really were there than expecting anything good would come out of it.
Still, sometimes you just got to enjoy the moment and this was definitively one of these moments.

Later that day I again went to De Hoge Veluwe as rutting reached its peak. Ah… beautiful!

   

   

September 22, 2010

Another evening at the Hoge Veluwe

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 11:13 am

For three years already, when rutting starts, I’ve been at the National Park De Hoge Veluwe but it’s never boring. Although this year I’ve been there less than previous years it still is a fantastic event to witness. This evening, there was a new stag on the first field and he had his hands .. eh well, figure of speech… full with keeping his harem around. The ladies were quite emancipated and were not very eager to ‘do as they were told’ I could fully relate..  🙂

Attached a couple of pictures I shot of this impressive stag and one of a nursing Female. Funny thing is when the mother thinks the Calf has had enough she simply steps away, often half dragging the Calf along who clearly would like another mouthfull 🙂

September 21, 2010

New opportunities

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 10:56 am

I had to drive to the city of Kampen today. On my way back I decided to drive past an industrial zone which is still in development ‘de Zuiderzeehaven’. The area itself is a disaster zone; big machines everywhere and piles of junk and debris. But.. the areas that are still for sale are left fallow and is the temporary home of many birds, hares and pheasants. I saw a couple of Kestrels that had made the bign ‘for sale’ sign their home 🙂

When I finally went home I saw a little dot sitting on a barn roof, near where I live. Stopped the car and it indeed turned out to be the cutest Burrowing Owl! Took some pictures but of course a bird on a roof is not exactly what I want, so I asked the farmer if I could stop by some other time, very early in the morning, to see if I could find it in a nicer position. Actually, I experience much friendliness and enthusiasm everywhere where I explain my intentions and ask permission. Better than just stopping and shooting as people don’t know what you’re up to and get nervous.

September 20, 2010

Purple delight?

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 8:08 am

Although I’m focused on animals, sometimes you encounter the weirdest things in nature. I drove through a dense beech forest when I decided to go look for edible mushrooms. The weekend before, a very kind gentleman had shown me were to find them in our own little forest (a really nice thing to do on a sunday afternoon). But of course, one afternoon doesn’t make me an expert so I stick to the kind that I know for certain. According to my book, many mushrooms are edible, but they invariably have a close cousin, who resembles the edible one perfectly, but is highly poisonous! Last sunday we had collected Bay Bolete, (tasted very good!), Berch Bolete, Slippery Jack or sticky bun as they are called in english speaking countries (and they tasted accordingly!) and Horse Mushroom. After tasting them all (of course accompanied by a good glass of red), we’ll stick to the Bay Bolete. They certainly tasted the best!

Anyway, I didn’t find the Bay boletes on my exploring of the Beech lane, but what I did find was this Amethyst Deceiver. I have no idea if it’s edible or not, although its Dutch name, RodeKoolZwam (red cabbage mushroom) would imply that it is, but given the rather poisonous looking color, I decided to stick with taking pictures. The young ones (picture left) sure have an interesting look 🙂

Late afternoon I went to the Veluwe where rutting turns fiercer every day. The dominant stag was chased away by a younger, beautiful looking new stag with an impressive rack!

September 19, 2010

The first guests have arrived

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 7:27 am

Today I tested the bird feeding table and indeed, the first guests have arrived! The little tits quickly found the buffet I had put up for them there.

So I hung up a camouflage net on the house’s gutter; it works perfectly! I can exit the garden doors and hide behind the net, unseen by the birdies.

September 18, 2010

Every bird’s dream

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 5:26 pm

Today I made a start with setting up the bird feeding table. Last year I did this for the first time and we had so many feathered guests all winter! This year it’s a bit better thought-over with lots of goodies for all kinds of birds. I even put a bag of fresh acorns in the deep-freeze for the Jays :-).

There are walnuts, chestnuts, corn, berries, seeds, acorns and I’ve bought fat and sunflower seeds to make fat-balls.. Gotta do some real old fashioned home cooking! 🙂 Hans will get some big branches from the forest and cut a few holes in. We’ll dig in the branches upright in the garden and fill the holes with the seed laden fat. Should be nice for Woodpeckers and Nuthatches.

Both Hans and I had stopped at the local animal-food store to get seeds, without realizing the other already did. We both came back with about 20 kg so I guess the birds won’t go hungry around our house next winter. Add to that the fact that we have sown about 6 acres with all kinds of seed bearing plants and even cabbages, and will leave that in the field for the winter, not only the birds, but also roe deer, hares, rabbits etc. should have a very good chance of survival, no matter how difficult winter will become!

One more thing we did is, while pruning shrubs and trees in the forest, make all kinds of heaps from the cut branches, right there in the forest, to provide shelter for hares, rabbits, pheasants and hedgehogs. Also we made a big heap of removed reeds from the big pond in front of our house. The reeds were wet and the effect is that it’s warming up on the inside. Should be a nice home for grass snakes.

Well, I guess we, and the animals that live around our house, are well prepared for winter to come! 🙂

September 17, 2010

Anticipation

Filed under: September — Hennie van Heerden @ 2:48 pm

We’ve just booked our trip to South Africa! First two weeks of december I’ll be (again) shooting my head off in the gorgeous Mala Mala Private Game Reserve! I really just can’t wait!!!

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