Birding around Flevoland, part 2

After visiting the Lepelaarplassen and stopping a couple of times on the Oostvaardersdijk to view birds (see part 1), Arthur and I continued on to a few bird hides around the Oostvaardersplassen. Along the dike, decorative metal fences pay homage to the birds of the area.

Dike fence

Dike fence

Our first stop was the hide along the Julianapad on the northeast side of the Oostvaardersplassen. Most of the hides and observation points in this area are very nicely signed. This illustration gives you an idea of the birds you might see from the hide.

The hide at the end of the path is an open building, with lots of openings facing the water at different heights.

Julianapad hide

Julianapad hide

Unfortunately there were hardly any birds to view from the hide. I didn’t mind too much, as there were birds to watch inside the hide.

Julianapad hide

There were half a dozen Barn Swallow nests in the rafters of the hide. Most were empty, but two held nestlings. Parents provided food to the nestlings in the blink of an eye. Youngsters also sat in one of the windows, watching adults outside hunting and begging when the adults approached them.


Begging Baby Barn Swallows

Barn Swallow juveniles

After this, we headed back to the car to visit, you guessed it, more bird blinds. Read all about in Part 3.

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Birding around Flevoland, part 1


On August 14th Arthur and I rented a car in Roosendaal, bid his family adieu, and headed north. We drove to Flevoland for some birding around the Oostvaardersplassen. The red area on the small grey map shows approximately the area we visited.

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any?) might remember that I’m a big fan of bird blinds or hides. I guess that means I prefer to be a lazy birder. Let the unsuspecting birds come to me, I say!

Anyway, the Oostvaardersplassen area is full of blinds, and we spent the day checking out the birds from several of them. You can click on the image below to see the Google map of the blinds. It’s pretty neat; when you click on satellite you can see the little round blinds sitting next to the water. There are actually more bird observation points in the area; I just focused on the full-on blinds and the points we visited.

Bird blinds in the Oostvaardersplassen area (we visited the blue & fuchsia spots)

Our first stop was the Lepelaarplassen. (On the map above, it’s the blue marker on the far left.) On the trail to the blind, songbird activity was slow, though we did see a couple Common Redstarts.

We also saw a group of birders who took it upon themselves to create their own blind. The birder palaces already in place aren’t good enough for these folks, noooo! 😉

Blinded Birders

As we approached the (official) blind, named after the Eurasian Spoonbill (“de Lepelaar”), the trail itself was blocked off from view of the water. I think we took these pictures as we were leaving — but you get the idea. All the better to hide the birders!

Trail to de Lepelaar

Trail to de Lepelaar

There was plenty of fowl on the water, although nothing out of the ordinary. Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Greater Scaup, Mallard, Northern Shoveler and Little Grebe were present.

Northern Shoveler

In a bird blind

After snapping some photos, we were on our way to the next stop – observation points along the Oostvaardersdijk, which lies between the Markermeer and the inland lakes (Oostvaardersplassen). These are the pink points on the Google map. Here we saw a few species of gull and tern, and lots of fowl.



Our next stop was, you guessed it, another blind. Read the continuation in Part 2 and Part 3.

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August 5 banding notes

The seventh MAPS banding session at Rollins Savanna this season took place on Thursday, August 5. This was the final session in the ‘regular’ MAPS season, although the team did run the station one additional day (when I was unable to attend – August 17).

Bird awaits banding; photo by Janice Sweet.

We had a bit of excitement in the form of several members of the press stopping by to observe us, interview a few of the banders and Lake County Forest Preserve personnel, and take lots of photos. Stories were published by the Pioneer Press (which also posted a very nice video) and Daily Herald.

Photographer shoots juvenile and adult Common Grackles. Photo by Janice Sweet.

The other non-bird issue of note that morning was the utter misery brought upon everyone from the mosquitoes. They were the worst I have ever seen them (I could have said that on each session; they got progressively worse as the season wore on, culminating in the total mosquito nightmare on August 5th), and were attacking us even while we stood in the normally relatively bug-free parking lot before we headed to the banding station. We all sprayed bug repellent on ourselves but it was of almost no use. The back of my legs were especially tasty (or not especially covered in bug spray) judging by the amount of welts found there later in the day. In fact, area mosquito populations exploded in early August and continue to abound locally.

Although the nets were not particularly busy, we did have some firsts for the season, including a Yellow Warbler and a Warbling Vireo. I banded a juvenile Common Yellowthroat and an extremely cute juvenile American Robin. We also had juvenile Common Grackles and a couple of recaptures.

Removing juvenile American Robin from bag. See the mosquito photobomb? Photo by Janice Sweet.

Warbling Vireo
Warbling Vireo poses for newspaper photog, photo by blogger

Another first for the season was a Tennessee Warbler, an early migrant that breeds further north. The MAPS program is primarily for recording breeding bird data, so when the migrants start coming through again, the MAPS season is winding down.

As it was the last session I would be attending, I brought a few small gifts for the banders and my fellow volunteers. I gave this iBand tote bag to our permit holder, Dr. Cynthia Trombino. Here’s a picture of the bag on the banding station table at the end of the day.

iBand novelty bag
iBand tote bag, photo by blogger. Find iBand merch including this bag here

Finally, I geeked out a bit when someone found this deer skull along the mist net trail. Very cool!

Deer Skull
Deer skull found at Rollins Savanna, photo by blogger

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Next time, forget The Eye

Earlier this month, Arthur and I went to view Transformers 3 being filmed in Chicago (it was our second visit to the sets). The filming has shut down various parts of the city this summer, and patient spectators can catch glimpses of Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, and other actors and crew while they work on the big-budget sequel. Loud, impressive explosions and fancy stunt work are also a big draw. But… that is not what this post is about. This post is about a big creepy eye, and a red bird.

A surreal art installation is in place at the corner of State and Van Buren in Chicago. News media paid plenty of attention to the big creepy eye that was coming to town, back when the art was put into place in July. But it wasn’t until we approached the eye that we came to understand there is more to this display than initially meets the… you know.

Eye and Cardinal

The display is titled Eye and Cardinal. The creepy giant organ gets top billing, but the lovely Northern Cardinal banners along the road were more interesting to me.

Eye and Cardinal

Eye and Cardinal

Eye and Cardinal

Cardinal1Eye and Cardinal

I usually enjoy surreal art, but in this case I really could have done without The Eye half of this installation. I mean, isn’t it creepy!?

Eye and Cardinal

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BPW: Napping Great Crested Grebe

On August 15th Arthur and I visited one of our favorite birding spots, Vogelplas Starrevaart. We spent some time watching birds from the blind. This Great Crested Grebe having a nap on the water was one of the birds we saw.





Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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BPW: Tufted Duck feast

One of the best place to watch birds in the Netherlands is the Oostvaardersplassen. Arthur and I spent some time there this weekend – our first visit in about two years. This juvenile Tufted Duck caught my attention – s/he was busy hunting and feeding for at least a half hour.





Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Netherlands | 4 Comments

Turkey antics

Throughout the summer, a turkey in Chicago’s north suburbs made the news by blocking traffic and gaining fans. The Lake Bluff Turkey, known as Sparkles (among other nicknames) has over 300 fans on Facebook. The formerly wild Wild Turkey was finally captured by Wildlife Control in early August. When I was searching Google for Wild Turkey information the other day (unrelated to Sparkles) I was surprised to see how popular our local star turkey really is, according the Google’s auto-complete search suggestions.

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