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Kevin contacted me if I knew if there was something interesting around to photograph? There's always something to photograph but I knew there was a drake Long-tailed Duck near Utrecht that sometimes was close enough to get some nice photos so I suggested rare chance to photograph an adult male in winter plumage.
The next question was if it could squeeze in a owl? As Kevin was staying at Scheveningen we first stopped at one of the four roosts I knew. We found the Tawny Owl but we could get a few shots with ISO 3200 as it was stil dark before it went down the hole for a dog-walker that passed by. At the second site the roost tree was blown over and broke exact at the hole were the Tawny Owl was in. At the third hole the fence was closed so we couldn't get a look at the hole. Back at the first hole but the Tawny Owl decided to stay inside. At the fourth roost this Tawny Owl wasn't sitting in the opening of the hole.
After this Tawny Owl deception we headed to the Long-tailed Duck site. When we arrived the bird swam about 40 meters from the shore and we got some good shots. There were over 10 other birders/photographers incl. two German. After a couple of minutes the bird slowly moved further out on the lake and the other photographers left.
This was the first time I ever had seen an adult Long-tailed Duck male in winter plumage at a fresh water lake at such close range so we decided to stay for 15 more minutes and hoped that the bird might come closer. After ten minutes in the cold hard wind the bird noticed two mallard that swam into our direction and was somehow was attracted by these ducks. The Mallard thought differently and as the "Oldsquaw" popped up next to them the were scared up and took off. With the LTD left behind we moved closer and sat down the reed as it dived down again. In the next five minutes the bird came up just 30 meters in front of us before heading out onto the lake again, a good make up for the owl dips this morning.
We still had three hours of daylight and went to the Oostvaardersplassen to try for Rough-legged Buzzard, Bearded Tit and Velvet Scoter. The Rough-legged Buzzard wasn't there anymore only a handful of Common Buzzards. The strong wind forced the Bearded Tits down and out of sight in the reed and the Velvet Scoter wasn't to be found in the hundreds of Tufted Ducks and Common Pochards. A consolation was the sighting of a couple of Smew and a drake Goosander.
Kevin and I had been photographing before so he understood that in bird photography you have to be very lucky which we were with the stunning male Long-tailed Duck. The fresh coffee, cakes, catching up and good laughs sure helped today ;)