Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas twitch

Was this already the regional Christmas twitch of the year? For many birders in the Krimpenerwaard it was a new species on the regional list (as it was for me), the Eider, common along the coast but quite rare inland. Yesterday morning the bird was first reported on the Hollandsche IJssel near Gouderak but I was at work and unable to leave (questionable if I would if I could anyway for an Eider…). However, this morning I was able to squeeze out for a moment and after a 15 minute bicycle ride the bird was ‘in the pocket’! Number 213 on my very slowly growing regional species list. The bird, a 1st winter male, was swimming on the river near a small water outlet just west of Gouderak. Although it didn’t seem to be in very good condition I did see it diving once and when it came back on the surface I saw it swallowing, so apparently it can at least find some food. The bird was not wary and rather approachable so I wanted to make some video shots, but the battery of my camcorder was dead. Not to worry, I had a spare one with me, but that one also turned out to be dead. So my apologies to you, no moving images of the Eider today!

Poor record shot of the Eider

Where it all happens... A Ferruginous Duck was also seen here two weeks ago!

Although it was the rarest one for this region, the Eider was not the only interesting duck on the Hollandsche IJssel. All small waters are still covered with ice and many ducks have moved to the river. There are especially many Tufted Ducks everywhere, good numbers of Gadwall and several Common Pochards. On two spots I also found a Goosander and on the river in Gouda I saw a beautiful male Smew. These winter conditions can be really nice for birdwatching! Unfortunately many geese and ducks also choose to fly further south (see my last blog ‘showrush’) and reach the north of France. Messages just came in about a true massacre going on there. Weakened by the flight and hunger they are awaited by local hunters who have never seen such numbers of waterfowl. I don’t usually complain such things, but I think this is a real shame and quite disrespectful. Attempts are now made to make the local government prohibit or at least limit the hunting on these birds.

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