We just came back from a nine-day visit to Iceland, where we have traveled the southern and western part of the island. All in all we drove some 2.200km and made as many pictures, mainly of birds, but also plenty of landscapes and ‘natural wonders’. It was a first timer for us and we already ‘decided’ to go back and see more. What an incredible beauty – both wildlife and scenery. Every hill, turn or rear view exposed a new ‘wow’ sight! To start of some blogs on this amazing trip, I decided to show two of my favorite birds immediately. Although we had being warned that the Puffins (Papegaaiduiker) may still be at sea, we were lucky enough to see several hundred of them and had some good opportunities for shooting. Should we have wanted, we also could have tasted them, since they are on many menus in local restaurants.. Anyway, we decided to only frame them . A species we encountered in more areas than anticipated was the Rock Ptarmigan (Alpensneeuwhoen). Some months ago we first saw it in Italy, but far away and hardly discernible in the snow. On Iceland the birds were still moulting, and many could be spotted easily among the volcanic fields (as you can see in the ‘making of’ shot). More birds and scenery is coming up in a few days !
Yesterday I flew back from Brazil to Amsterdam. As the plane was approaching the airport, I could see the amazing colored flower fields we have at the moment. A tourist attraction that brings many to the Netherlands. This morning I wanted to go out for some minutes, so went and had a look. This Blue-headed Wagtail (Gele Kwikstaart) stood out between the red flowers, and flew up every now and then to catch an insect. Fun to watch and frame !
Since today is my last full day in Sao Paulo, I decided to go back the city park and make some more shots of the city birds around here. I went early, since the day was supposed to be warming up rapidly. All in all I did not see any ‘new’ species compared to the visit I made earlier this week, but still could return to the hotel with some okay shots…
My current hotel is at a convenient location in Sao Paulo, and some 10 minute taxi ride to the largest park of the city: Ibirapuera Park. It is frequented by many brazilians that come here for running, cycling, relaxing, playing soccer etc. It also hosts many bird species, most of which can be relatively easily approached – since they are used to people. Most surprisingly for me are the enormous flocks of Black Vultures that seem to feel at ease throughout the park. Many other species passed in front of my lens, even in the short time I spent there two days ago. Herewith you will find a selection.
Today is a special day in The Netherlands: our queen Beatrix abdicated and since this morning ‘we’ have a new King, Willem-Alexander. Today I found myself however in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Some people have to work, even during national holidays . Anyway, to make the best out of it, I decided to fly out a day earlier, so that I could spend a day birding in the Ubatuba Atlantic Rain Forest. To make sure that the little time I had would be well spent, I contacted Paulo Boute from Boute Expeditions. He tailored a 24 hour tour for me, which started 30 minutes after me landing in Brazil. Needless to say that it was a tiresome trip, but on the upside we had a great time and Paulo showed me many, many new species. Some were rather dull colored (like the Black Vulture), but most of them extremely colorful and exotic. I made many pictures, which I have to sort out when back home – but for the moment I will show some in this blog, to give you an impression of what my day was like. Hope you like it, I surely did ! And thanks again to Paulo, for organizing a great trip !
The last days have been pretty hectic, and it was hard to find time for going out. Since everyone needs some fresh air, I managed to get away every now and then – but had to stay close to home. Meaning spending some time in the woods around here, and visiting the dunes close to Den Haag. Luckily I was able to improve on the Nuthatch (Boomklever) shot, albeit in an uncommon pose: standing up instead of glued upside-down to a tree trunk . Also I saw quite some Stock Doves (Holenduif), that are not that bad when you spend some time appreciating their color pattern… And I heard many Common Chiffchaffs (Tjiftjaf) singing their distinctive song.
Two weeks ago we spent a weekend with friends in a cottage in the woods. I brought the camera, hoping to frame some birds. I did, but every time missed out on the Nuthatch (Boomklever), because it was either too quick, or I was too late. Probably both at the same time . Anyway, this week I found one that I could photograph, as well as some Woodpeckers (male and female) (Grote Bonte Specht). And this morning I also could frame my first Blackcaps (Zwartkop) of the season. Not a bad result, although I am still working on the perfect Nuthatch shot :~( .
Slowly I am going through my shots of last week. Looking back, I realize more and more how lucky I have been. Be real: I more or less squeezed this day into a busy week of work and travel. In order to get to the hide, I had to take two trains from Stockholm Airport, rent a car and carry lots of gear. Besides my formal clothes, I brought down booties, down jacket, Goretex pants, gloves and hat, a sleeping bag, my ultralite Helinox chair (which was the most comfortable thing I had with me in the hide) and of course food, water and last but not least some 18kgs of camera equipment. As written in my first post, the cranes were much later than normal. So short and good: it took some time and effort to get there and I had only one day to spend. So when this day proved to be sunny, not terribly cold (only some 6 degrees below Zero) and the Cranes turn up in large numbers and stay around for the whole day – who am I to complain ? Herewith some more shots, hope you like them as well. Since there were so many birds around, getting shots of lonely ones or an isolated couple of ‘dancing’ Cranes was difficult. Portraits on the other hand were possible on many occasions ! Thanks for looking, greetings, Hans
Last week I was for business in Sweden, and organized my schedule in a way that allowed me for a day of Crane Watching (Common Crane | Kraanvogel). A friend of mine (thanks Martin!) organized a stay in a hide near Horborgasjön. So last tuesday I found myself in a very small hide (200x80cm) for some 16 hours (from 5am till 9pm), in the midst of thousands of Cranes and Whooper Swans (Wilde Zwaan). The area is a main meeting place for the Cranes coming from the South. They feed here after their long trip, and look for a partner to raise some kids. This year, due to the cold weather in most European countries, they arrive only now, some 3-4 weeks late, meaning that their time is limited. Maybe that’s why I saw the first ones mating as soon as the sun came over the hill . Photographing proved to be quite a challenge though: with so many birds , it’s almost impossible to isolate one from the group – always there’s some other bird in the background (grey spots = cranes, white spots = whooper swans ). Nevertheless, I made quite some okay shots, and am currently in the process of sorting out some 1.300 images… Pffff…. Here’s a first selection, hope you like it !
Last week I spent much time among plovers and stilts, in open areas. This weekend however I found myself mostly in forested areas, one close by and another in eastern part of Holland. As one can expect, this made for different birds: more tits, woodpeckers and the like ! Who knows what is next ? I hope for Cranes (Kraanvogels) in Sweden …