Three days Bird Photography Tour, 26-29 April 2017

Guide: Maarten Wielstra

I was honored to guide Sheau and Carine from Singapore. Sheau is always looking for the perfect shot and Carine has a broad interest in birds and everything she encounters. For me that means good challenge and great fun! In the first two days, the challenge of getting that perfect shot (preferably good sun in the back and birds nearby and out in the open), proved to be hard because of typically Dutch weather conditions. We fledged into forest and birded from the car to improve our chances and to keep our gear dry. We used any dry or sunny moment to strike hard. The third day we decided to stay warm at all times, having a real car birding day and that proved to be another good choice because of the strong winds. On the fourth day the weather felt more like Singapore style and it was the perfect option to do some swamp birding by foot! Sheau refused the foldable wheel option to carry his tripod and turned out to be a real badass (I tried to lift it for a few meters, almost dying).

The first target of the tour was Green Woodpecker. I found a reliable spot of a pair foraging on the mowed grass, just at my regular job site. An otherwise difficult species to grab on pic at this time a year. The bird hadn’t seen an Asian guy with a huge tripod before, so we had to re-attempt and succeeded the next day. The birds seemed to be very accurate, being there at 7:00 to feed for about ten minutes before vanishing again while literally laughing at us.

Another photographic highlight was a local Slavonian Grebe we twitched at a lake area. We couldn’t find the bird, but at lunch I looked out of the restaurant window and nailed the little bastard. Sheau quickly finished his meal and got extremely close to the grebe. Good sun, froggy point of view and a shiny, red-eyed and yellow tufted gem hugging the quiet lake surface. Just perfect!

One of Sheau’s best hits, when I asked him at the end of the tour, was Goldfinch. A bird with strong red and yellow coloring in The Netherlands can be called ‘exotic’, even to people from Asia. When Carine asked me for more exotic birds, Sheau giggled while asking back: ‘’You want grey or brown?’’. Sheau is used to be fixated on birds like Crimson Sunbird, so anyone should respect his joke. Goldfinch was indeed lovely, eating flower seeds in the grass just next to our car.

My personal favorite was a singing Grasshopper Warbler which normally wouldn’t give its body to others like it did. It was definitely the best view of this species I have ever had in my birding career. We tried one before during the tour, but I just laughed and said: ‘’we can try if you like, but this bird always stays in thick cover’’.

A tour highlight we all three will remember forever was a Sparrowhawk dropping down just in front of our car in a small village, having caught a Collared Dove which was not that much smaller. The moment Sheau clicked was a great thrill (and when he clicks right he clicks rifle-style).

These mentioned were just a few of the 123 species encountered during this tour. We didn’t go for quantity in species, but tried quality by focussing at and waiting for birds that were not to far away. We didn’t use any telescope and spent as least time driving past as possible. We worked hard, but Sheau’s pictures prove the tour to be a great one. I especially like to thank Menno van Duijn, Luuk Punt, Wouter Teunissen and Rein Genuit for their help collecting the targets for this tour. It’s now time to enjoy Sheau’s work, which can be seen here and probably on the covers of several big magazines in the future.

Great Crested Grebe Fuut Podiceps cristatus
Slavonian Grebe Kuifduiker Podiceps auritus
Great Cormorant Aalscholver Phalacrocorax carbo
Grey Heron Blauwe Reiger Ardea cinerea
Great Egret Grote Zilverreiger Ardea alba
White Stork Ooievaar Ciconia ciconia
Mute Swan Knobbelzwaan Cygnus olor
Greylag Goose Grauwe Gans Anser anser
Canada Goose Canadese Gans Branta canadensis
Barnacle Goose Brandgans Branta leucopsis
Dark-bellied Brent Rotgans Branta bernicla
Black Brent Zwarte Rotgans Branta nigricans
Shelduck Bergeend Tadorna tadorna
Wigeon Smient Anas penelope
Gadwall Krakeend Anas strepera
Teal Wintertaling Anas crecca
Mallard Wilde Eend Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Pintail Pijlstaart Anas acuta
Garganey Zomertaling Anas querquedula
Shoveler Slobeend Anas clypeata
Common Pochard Tafeleend Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Kuifeend Aythya fuligula
Eider Eider Somateria mollissima
Red-breasted Merganser Middelste Zaagbek Mergus serrator
Black Kite Zwarte Wouw Milvus migrans
Marsh-Harrier Bruine Kiekendief Circus aeruginosus
Sparrowhawk Sperwer Accipiter nisus
Northern Goshawk Havik Accipiter gentilis
Buzzard Buizerd Buteo buteo
Kestrel Torenvalk Falco tinnunculus
Water Rail Waterral Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Waterhoen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Meerkoet Fulica atra
Oystercatcher Scholekster Haematopus ostralegus
Avocet Kluut Recurvirostra avosetta
Lapwing Kievit Vanellus vanellus
Grey Plover Zilverplevier Pluvialis squatarola
Little Ringed Plover Kleine Plevier Charadrius dubius
Black-tailed Godwit Grutto Limosa limosa
Bar-tailed Godwit Rosse Grutto Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel Regenwulp Numenius phaeopus
Curlew Wulp Numenius arquata
Spotted Redshank Zwarte Ruiter Tringa erythropus
Redshank Tureluur Tringa totanus
Greenshank Groenpootruiter Tringa nebularia
Green Sandpiper Witgat Tringa ochropus
Common Sandpiper Oeverloper Actitis hypoleucos
Ruddy Turnstone Steenloper Arenaria interpres
Sanderling Drieteenstrandloper Calidris alba
Ruff Kemphaan Philomachus pugnax
Common Gull Stormmeeuw Larus canus
Great Black-backed Gull Grote Mantelmeeuw Larus marinus
Herring Gull Zilvermeeuw Larus argentatus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Kleine Mantelmeeuw Larus graellsii
Black-headed Gull Kokmeeuw Larus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Zwartkopmeeuw Larus melanocephalus
Little Gull Dwergmeeuw Larus minutus
Common Tern Visdief Sterna hirundo
Black Tern Zwarte Stern Chlidonias niger
Stock Pigeon Holenduif Columba oenas
Wood-Pigeon Houtduif Columba palumbus
Collared-Dove Turkse Tortel Streptopelia decaocto
Cuckoo Koekoek Cuculus canorus
Kingfisher IJsvogel Alcedo atthis
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Kleine Bonte Specht Dendrocopos minor
Greater Spotted Woodpecker Grote Bonte Specht Dendrocopos major
Green Woodpecker Groene Specht Picus viridis
Wood Lark Boomleeuwerik Lullula arborea
Sky Lark Veldleeuwerik Alauda arvensis
Sand Martin Oeverzwaluw Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow Boerenzwaluw Hirundo rustica
House Martin Huiszwaluw Delichon urbica
White Wagtail Witte Kwikstaart Motacilla alba
Yellow Wagtail Gele Kwikstaart Motacilla flava
English Yellow Wagtail Engelse Gele Kwikstaart Motacilla flavissima
Grey Wagtail Grote Gele Kwikstaart Motacilla cinerea
Tree Pipit Boompieper Anthus trivialis
Meadow Pipit Graspieper Anthus pratensis
Wren Winterkoning Troglodytes troglodytes
Dunnock Heggemus Prunella modularis
Blackbird Merel Turdus merula
Song Thrush Zanglijster Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush Grote Lijster Turdus viscivorus
Cetti's Warbler Cetti's Zanger Cettia cetti
Grasshopper Warbler Sprinkhaanzanger Locustella naevia
Savi's Warbler Snor Locustella luscinioides
Sedge Warbler Rietzanger Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Reed-Warbler Kleine Karekiet Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Willow Warbler Fitis Phylloscopus trochilus
Chiffchaff Tjiftjaf Phylloscopus collybita
Wood Warbler Fluiter Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Blackcap Zwartkop Sylvia atricapilla
Garden Warbler Tuinfluiter Sylvia borin
Whitethroat Grasmus Sylvia communis
Lesser Whitethroat Braamsluiper Sylvia curruca
Robin Roodborst Erithacus rubecula
Nightingale Nachtegaal Luscinia megarhynchos
Bluethroat Blauwborst Luscinia cyanecula
Black Redstart Zwarte Roodstaart Phoenicurus ochruros
Redstart Gekraagde Roodstaart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Stonechat Roodborsttapuit Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear Tapuit Oenanthe oenanthe
Long-tailed Tit Staartmees Aegithalos caudatus
Willow Tit Glanskop Poecile montana
Great Tit Koolmees Parus major
Blue Tit Pimpelmees Cyanistes caeruleus
Nuthatch Boomklever Sitta europaea
Treecreeper Boomkruiper Certhia familiaris
Jay Gaai Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Ekster Pica pica
Jackdaw Kauw Corvus monedula
Carrion Crow Zwarte Kraai Corvus corone
Starling Spreeuw Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Huismus Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow Ringmus Passer montanus
Chaffinch Vink Fringilla coelebs
Greenfinch Groenling Carduelis chloris
Siskin Sijs Carduelis spinus
Goldfinch Putter Carduelis carduelis
Linnet Kneu Carduelis cannabina
Bullfinch Goudvink Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Hawfinch Appelvink Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Reed Bunting Rietgors Emberiza schoeniclus