Going Dutch

Got back last week from a works trip to Friesland in NE Holland. Have been there once before, though in November, so probably not seeing it at its best on that occasion. That trip was most memorable for a drunken evening in a bar with a Dutchman and a Belgian who spent an enjoyable hour ripping the piss out of a belligerent and aggressive German businessman. I think there may have been some history settled that night.

Anyway. No “give us our bicycles back” stylee Euro-humour this time, but a better selection of birds to see, albeit there wasn’t much time to go birding. Stayed at a campsite outside Leeuwarden, with singing Redstarts around my lodge, and Grasshopper Warblers and Nightingales in the scrub nearby. So far so Kent, but just down the road I stumbled on this, which you don’t see in the UK every day (or since the 16th century. Allegedly):

Tasty on toast. According to some Tudor chroniclers.

Was out there for an agri-environment project conference, so spent plenty of time comparing projects (mine’s bigger than yours…) with folk from around the North Sea. Some cracking folk from the BTO and Natural England, and a couple of Belgian guys I’d met before who were good value too. The Friesian project was based on conserving nesting Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwings, something which seemed to be based around encouraging farmers to be more aware of what they’d got on their land, and working around it, i.e. not mowing chicks.

Slightly disconcerted to be taken onto a farm and walked up to active nests. It’s conservation Jim, but not as we know it. That said, you couldn’t knock the density of nests – in one small field (say 3 acres) there were 7 marked Lapwing nests. Got blinding views of Black-tailed Godwits mobbing Buzzards and crows. I missed being walked up to a godwit nest, though perhaps that was for the best – I felt uncomfortable enough standing alongside a Lapwing nest while the birds went nutty overhead and the farmer shared his obvious enthusiasm for his nesting farmland waders. Following courtesy of one of my UK colleagues – ladies, gentlemen and replica oologists (have got quite the fan club now of wild bird egg replica producers sending me comments justifying their art and product, more of which another day…) I give you Black-tailed Godwit nest. Hmm…

not as tasty as Lapwing eggs. According to some Dutch \

Had a great time out there, and came back enthused for all the rare migrants Shetland would surely be deluged with in the coming days. And of course, Fate being the shallow twisted harpy she is, the only migrant I’ve seen in the past week is a Chiffchaff. It comes to something that I was pleased to trap a Rock Dove this evening in one of the henhouses. Took it to BM for a ringing tick. Meanwhile, Trumpeter Finch on the Western Isles and Collared Fly in Orkney in the past 48 hours. Ho hum.



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