Ganzentocht naar Zuid Holland (NL) / Geese excursion to South Holland (NL), 17 December 2017 - Vogelwerkgroep ARDEA
Gids/leiding: Rudy Van Cleuvenbergen & Wim Roelant
Verslag: Dr. Nina Dehnhard
On a rather frosty Sunday morning at 8 in the morning, 14 enthusiastic members of Vogelwerkgroep ARDEA-Natuurpunt Antwerpen Zuid met under the A12 viaduct at the Boomsesteenweg. In addition to us 14 “ornithomaniacs”, we had the company of Clément Hospital, a French student in Erasmus at the Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool who wanted to document the interaction between humans and the environment for a photographic art-project – I am sure we were an interesting bunch of people to study and photograph. After a bit of shuffling around of people, backpacks and telescopes, we left with four cars to our first destination in the Oudeland van Strijen south-west of Dordrecht. The expectations were high: lesser white-fronted geese (dwerggans) from a re-introduction program in Sweden are traditionally wintering with barnacle geese (brandgans) in the area. In addition, observations of a red-breasted goose (roodhalsgans) and several cattle egrets (koereiger) had been registered with waarneming.nl in the last days.
The frosty and rather slippery conditions (along with clear blue sky and sun) persisted at our first stop in the Oudeland van Strijen, where we encountered several hundred barnacle geese and white-fronted geese (kolgans) and kept eyes out for the lesser white-fronted geese. While we had to wait a bit longer for this specialty, we found one – certainly escaped – bar-headed goose (Indische gans) and three cattle egrets, in a group of sheep. For the next couple of hours we criss-crossed through the polders of the Oudeland van Strijen, stopping multiple times (a challenge in regards to parking and not blocking off roads) to search the groups of barnacle and white-fronted geese for any of the more rare species. Already the second stop yielded six lesser white-fronted geese, two cackling geese (kleine Canadese gans; Branta huchinsonii) and four lesser Canada geese (middelste Canadese gans; Branta canadensis parvipes). At the next stop, Wim found us two pink-footed geese (kleine rietgans), but the search for the red-breasted goose remained unsuccessful. Even though, the shear amount of barnacle geese (in the range of several thousand birds), white-fronted geese, lapwings (kieviten) and starlings (spreeuwen; all three species also in the four-digit-range) was impressive. Great white egrets (grote zilverreiger), grey herons (blauwe reiger), golden plovers (goudplevier), wigeons (smient), common buzzards (buizerd) and common kestrels (torenvalk) complemented the list (not to mention the more common species such as mallards (wilde eend), greylag geese (grauwe gans)…).
On the way to Mariadijk the weather deteriorated, and our lunchbreak was well timed to evade the only shower of the day and warm up inside the restaurant with soup, coffee – or just enjoy a pintje.
At 2 pm, we continued along the Watergatseweg with a nice mix of different ducks at ‘t Watergat (slobeend, krakeend, wintertaling, smient, grote zaagbek) and our only sighting of a western marsh harrier (bruine kiekendief) of the day. Few hundred metres down the road the next stop yielded a group of nine adult and one immature tundra swans (kleine zwaan) in a mixed group of bean geese (toendrarietgans), greylag, white-fronted and barnacle geese.
zwanen , toendrarietganzen, kol-en grauwe ganzen - foto Luc Van Schoor
After some more driving we stopped at the harbour of Battenoord to have a look at the flamingos that tend to winter here. Indeed, they were there, a group of 50, but quite far away. Closer-by a group of barnacle geese with a hybrid of cackling goose x barnacle goose was attracting those of us with cameras and digiscopes.
Finally, a last stop at the southern end of the Philipsdam, with the aim to find sea eagles (zeearend). The also present pintails (pijlstaaart), black-necked grebes (geoorde fuut) and shelducks (bergeend) got little attention once two eagles had been spotted in a tree next to a nesting platform, later flying up. A nice finale of the day in the already dwindling light.
Summary of the day in numbers: a roundabout
10 hour trip, 200 km of driving, a list of 60+ bird species (was this possible
partridge (patrijs) really a partridge? And how many species of flamingo? ;-) –
somewhere in the 5-digit range in regards to absolute numbers of birds seen.
Map showing the overview of our stops. 1 = Oudeland van Strijen; 2 = Mariadijk; 3 = Watergatseweg; 4 = Battenoord; 5 = Philipsdam. Copyright GoogleMaps.