Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bird of the day: Grasshopper Warbler

Today was a calm day, almost no wind, no sun but still warm. As Wageningen is quite religious and it was cloudy, there weren't many people around the Nevengeul: almost perfect conditions for sound recording. So I did!
There were a lot of Common Whitethroats, but almost everywhere other birds were screaming through their song. Too bad, no (good) recordings of this species today. While listening to the Whitethroats, I heard a Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia). So I tried this one, and it was more cooperative! It even started singing totally in the open and showed really well. A Blackbird was desperately trying to overrule the bird, but as their song has a lower pitch, we are able to shut their beak (figuratively of course)..

This reminded me of recordings I made of this species last autumn on the island of Vlieland. I think I've recorded almost all types of sound that Grasshopper Warblers can produce, except for the begging call. But birds can always surprise you!

On the 22 of August 2011, I was birdwatching with Marijn van Oss and Jorrit Vlot on Vlieland. I found a Grasshopper Warbler in some scrub, but it started to sing very softly and a little bit hastily. As the shutters of Marijn and Jorrit's cameras were clicking and the bird flew away eventually, I only made a short recording. It was recorded without pistol microphone:

The same day, more in the afternoon. I heard a loud and sharp 'tsak' comming out of the scrubs. These scrubs are closed from above, but you can watch through them when kneeled. So I tried to lure the bird into my direction by imitating the sound and the response was curiously comming more nearby. Eventually I got a view on the producer: a beautifull 1cy Grasshopper Warbler. I made a recording, again with the recorder only, but this bird was so close!

Admit it: it is a sound that certainly draws your attention when bashing some bushes in autumn!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Savi's Warbler's old diesel engine is starting

Today, Sjoerd, Mark and I were doing some monitoring for the national Big Day (already in 3 weeks!), so we went to the Maashorst for our forest birds, check a location of Middle-spotted Woodpecker (with succes) and check the location for Crested Lark (also with succes). As the weather was quite precarious (sunshine and hail switched turns...), we decided not to go to the Biesbosch for more checks. Instead, we saw on the internet that next to the Crested Lark there was an area where Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinioides) was heard singing for almost a week already. As this bird can be difficult sometimes, we would like to have a back up during the Big Day. This was a welcome one, as it was 1 minute off route.

It turned out to be an easy individual which was frequently singing and chasing a female. It was the first time I observed a Savi's Warbler start their song. The motor in their throat has to start like an old diesel: "raket-tak-tak-tak-tak-vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Jack Snipe and more!

This year, Sjoerd Radstaak, Rutger Wilschut, Mark de Vries and I are doing a national Big Day (see as many species of birds in 24 hours in the Netherlands). The first time for me, so I'm pretty excited. We are planning to 'do' our forest birds in the Maashorst, my former local patch (now I moved). A big day requires some research in advance. As we have planned our route via a lot of known places, most of the research can be done on the internet. The forest species however are more difficult: you have to know exactly where which species has their nest or singing post, or at least a small area where the change is practically 99,9% of encountering the species in 1-2 hours in half May. Today I went to the Maashorst to monitor some difficult species. There were some simple year-list ticks of species that shouldn't be a problem on the big day: Common Redstart, Cuckoo, Pied Flycatcher and Tree Pipit (shame...). As the Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) was singing pretty loud, I made a recording. To bad that in spring there is always a Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) ruining your recording. This one waited untill the Redstart was finished with its strophe. The Redstart is succesfully imitating a Treecreeper!

15 minutes later I found a nest of Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), pretty good one for the big day! Also I heard 3 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos minor), two couples of Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) and found a couple couples Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus), a surprisingly difficult bird in May!

The last week, we have had quite some Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) in the Netherlands. The Maashorst had quite a few as wel, with 39 individuals at one time last week! During my walk I bumped into 1, 1, 15, 3 and 11 individuals respectively! The wind was pretty strong, but I managed to make one recording of a calling individual from out of a tree, which provided me the shelter against the wind:

And then the 'highlight' of the (recording part of the) day: I flushed a Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus) Sometimes, pretty rare actually, Jack Snipes are calling when flushed. This individual did! And, I had my recording gear running!

It is not a good recording, but hey, for the first of and it is not that bad! You first hear wingbeats, then a soft call ('wêh') and than some noise from my bag. Yay!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A normal day at work...

As already mentioned, my work consists of watching birds, bats, looking for fish et cetera. Last monday 2 april, my task was to look for protected birds, mainly birds of prey, on a military area! After a long hassle at the entrance (you have to announce you are coming), checking the address, checking the passport and that kind of stuff, we finally could enter the military area. My collegue isn't that much of an expert in bird(sounds), so he came along to learn something from me. He had troubles to hear the sound I mentioned between the other sounds. But the Willow Warbler (sounds like a Chaffinch where the battery has run out) sticked into his mind :).
I heard quite some Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), which was not that common in this winter. In one place, we heard about 30 Bramblings singing. At least, thats what I know now. I didn't knew the song of Brambling so far. It is a Greenfinch-like, piercing 'wêêêh'. As the recording isn't that good (only recorder, no shotgun-mic), I only put it on and not on

In another part of the military area, two Northern Ravens (Corvus corax) were present. One individual (presumably the male) was calling from a tree, not really taking notice of us. Sharpening his bill, hopping from branch to branch (and thereby breaking the branches) and now and then calling. A second individual (the female) was more nervous and flew rounds. As I almost stood under the tree where the male was calling, I had to made a recording. It was my best sighting of a Raven ever and I was quite happy with it!