Winter chronicles…

Besides the new trend of mega-rarities turning up in December/January/February winter is – in my opinion – not the most exciting time to go birding in the Netherlands. When it comes to finding a rarity your best chances lie with Geese, Ducks and Gulls…


I had the Sunday afternoon off and decided to check rafts of diving-ducks along the Oostvaardersdijk, Flevoland. I picked up Camilla around noon and we drove to our first stop, the Pampushaven. There were quite a lot of ducks around and the light was good, but despite 2 hours of meticulously scoping through every large raft of ducks we encountered, nothing out of the ordinary could be found.







However days like these are perfect to take a better look at some of the beautiful duck species that winter in the sheltered harbors along the rim of the IJsselmeer. Best looking of these ducks are probably the saw-bills. 3 Species can be encountered in  the Netherlands: Red-Breasted Merganser (Middelste Zaagbek), Common Merganser (Grote Zaagbek) and their tiny white-and-black nephew, the Smew (Nonnetje). Of the latter two, there were quite a lot around this afternoon…



Male Smews, by Camilla Dreef


When you really take your time to study a Smew in every detail, the delicate distribution of thin black markings on its immaculate white body becomes apparent. In fact when you look at all the different species of duck that are readily found in the Netherlands it comes apparent that the varieties in color, shape and display make them the Northwest-European answer to the  Birds-of-Paradise!

Shit I’m getting carried away here, must be the boringness of winter, fucking with my mind…


The last hours of the day were spend on the Kleine Praambult along the Praamweg. This is a notorious hotspot for birds-of-prey and to my amazement we rolled up 9 species within the hour: Common Kestrel (Torenvalk), Peregrine (Slechtvalk), Marsh Harrier (Bruine Kiekendief), Common Buzzard (Buizerd), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Sperwer), Northern Goshawk (Havik) and best of the bunch a close-up Rough-legged Buzzard (Ruigpootbuizerd), a flyby male Hen Harrier (Blauwe Kiekendief) and a distant adult White-tailed Eagle (Zeearend).



Best I could manage of the Rough-legged Buzzard…


This was the first time Camilla had a close-up look at Rough-legged Buzzard and Smew and of course she was thrilled to do so. That is the cool thing about birding with someone who has not seen every ‘normal’  species yet; you get to experience the thrill of seeing a new species a little bit yourself again 🙂


Happy Birding

Arjan Dwarshuis
Arjan Dwarshuis