Friday, 29 November 2013


In a conversation with AJG last week I said that if a Hawk Owl ever turns up in Holland I would have to go and see it, as I missed them in Sweden and Lapland. My surprise on Monday night when I had a look at Surfbirds being confronted with a picture of a stunning Hawk Owl in Holland! (only there 4th record) I just had to go! Next morning while looking at the sea from The Point, the vision of the Owl was nagging at me. I put the location of the bird into my satnav, which told me this stunning bird was just 321 miles away! less than 5hrs drive!! I called AJG and he wanted to go as did BM. We caught the 22.00 ferry to Calais Wednesday night and 6hrs later we were in the centre of Zwolle because I set the satnav incorrectly. Seconds after pulling over to check google maps a Police car pulled up beside us. The Dutch Police were brilliant and didn't just give us the directions to the Owl, they told us to follow them and took us to its location. We tried to have sleep in the car but only one of us managed to sleep. Just after 07.30 to drove the few hundred yards to Owl site where some local birders had already found it. Moments later in the early morning gloom we were watching it munching a rodent high in a tree. It then flew onto a pylon reminiscent of Dungeness. It was a pity that the 3 and half hours we spent watching the bird, the light was absolutely dreadful and most pictures were taken with high iso and consequently dumped. Some hazy sun shone for only a couple of minutes. 
My first images of the Owl taken at 3200 iso (could be Dungeness)

 When we left the Owl we drove a short distance to the Oostervardersplassen Nature Reserve a superb wetland site. We went into the visitor centre where the staff were really helpful as was everyone we met on the trip. We walked through a small wood by the visitor centre seeing 2+ Willow Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers, a Firecrest and more. Coming out of the other side of the wood to an area of reed beds and wet grassland and some old dead trees. A flock of Chaffinches were feeding and among them was the bird below, its back and rump was bright yellow.
Leucistic Chaffinch
 Juv. Rough-legged Buzzard
Further out on the marsh we came across a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard, an very pale Common Buzzard, some Smew on on some of the pools many fly over Geese and the Great Grey Shrike below.
From an observation hide we saw 2 White-tailed Eagles which nest on the reserve, many Great White Egrets, 1000s each of Barnacle Geese, Greater White fronted Geese and Greylag Geese, Ruff, a few Dunlin and many ducks. Driving around the perimeter of the reserve we came across more Smew, Goosanders and many more wildfowl also several Common Buzzards, it also gave us a chance to see the surrounding habitat which looked really good. I think a 2 day visit in May will be in order next year.


  1. Great to have some pics despite the weather. Enjoyed seeing the bird on here. Thanks for sharing.

  2. A superb bird Martin and just rewards for the trip. Nice images from your day out.