Posts in Lauwersoog
Arctic Winds

With my move back to the north of The Netherlands come more birding trips to the northern coast as well. Today I spent half a day at the sluices of Lauwersoog, enjoying a proper north-westerly storm. Whilst the sight of all MSC Zoe rubbish floating past and accumulating along the styrofoam-covered dikes was quite depressing, we still had a very nice day of seawatching. Highlights were the nice numbers of Little Gulls, a Northern Fulmar and Black-throated Diver, incredible numbers of Stock Dove (571!), a Guillemot, but above all: the first-ever documented record of an Arctic Tern in January in The Netherlands!

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

The 2cy Arctic Tern spent considerable time foraging in the harbour area, came quite close but in 8 Bft winds it is incredibly hard to use manual-focus and keep the camera steady, so the pictures are less than perfect.

The 2cy Arctic Tern spent considerable time foraging in the harbour area, came quite close but in 8 Bft winds it is incredibly hard to use manual-focus and keep the camera steady, so the pictures are less than perfect.

Although less than perfect, only 1 picture is necessary of this 2cy Arctic Tern to nail its identification.

Large groups of Stock Dove, up to 160 birds were struggling against the winds along the leeward side of the sluices. Although we did not see where these birds were going to, we assume they roost somewhere in the vicinity.

Crappy post-sunset shot of a Northern Fulmar passing by the sluices. Quite a rare sight at Lauwersoog, as this was the only bird seen in the last 15 months.

A congregation of Short-Eareds

I absolutely love the village(s) and area around Paesens-Moddergat in the north of Friesland. It’s the remoteness in some of the least densely-populated parts of The Netherlands, the fantastic name (Moddergat translates literally like ‘Mudhole’) and the great birding opportunities in the area that make it appeal so much. It’s hard to find a place in The Netherlands that contrasts so much with a life in the Randstad (the metropole region of Amsterdam - The Hague - Rotterdam). So whenever there is an opportunity to visit the area, I do, like today.

The intertidal area always has something interesting to offer. This time we were treated by the largest congregation of Short-Eared Owls that I have ever seen. Although initially invisible, when 4 Hen Harriers came too close for comfort, a group of no less than 10 owls took to the skies. Truly an incredible sight to behold and certainly one of the more memorable birding moments of this year.

I could not fit more than 3 Short-Eared owls in 1 picture at a time, so here goes: the 3 highest birds are SE Owls, the 3 lowest birds are 1cy Hen Harriers.

Short-Eared Owl over the dike.

Short-Eared Owl. The same bird as in the previous photo.

Besides these owls, the area generally hosts large numbers of Twite as well. In previous visits I’ve once recorded over a 100 Twites there. This makes it one of the best areas in The Netherlands where this species can be found reliably.

Twites

Twites

And when a Common Snipe is about to fly over closely, it’s impossible to resist raising my camera as well. Common, indeed, but what a fantastic plumage!

Common Snipe

Common Snipe