Posts tagged “black-tailed godwit


Taking it Easy 216

It was the end of the session and I was making tracks towards the sandy lanes on the east side of the marsh. Due to the sunny weather there was a lot of boat traffic on the canal which adjoins the two lakes and on my approach the bridge was opening to let all the boats through…

While I was waiting I decided to take a small path which led back into the nature reserve leading to another small bridge over a ditch. The “buzzard-like” call I heard were of course black-tailed godwits…

As I carefully advanced down the narrow shell path towards the small bridge, a few of these birds got very excited and started flying around my head making lots of noise…which resulted in a deja-vu experience as this had happened before about 20 years ago and I had completely forgotten the incident until now…

Remaining calm, I attempted to photograph them in flight….after a while one landed on the post a few metres from me and posed in profile, like a lot of birds do when they really want to give you the eye. 😕


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It was obvious that I had walked into something :roll:, possibly some sort of display ritual, as I had already heard them from far away pretending to be buzzards. I didn’t disturb them for too long, nor did I cross over the small bridge that the godwit was guarding so fervently…

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Follow that Marsh Harrier! 001

For a relatively small bird the black-tailed godwit manages to fill the Frisian countryside with its’ shashbuckling presence for just a few months every year before returning to the east coast of Africa.

This most colourful and flamboyant bird is better known round these parts as the “grutto”, which also accurately describes the call it makes loudly and constantly “grutto-utto-utto”.

It is possible to hear their call from quite far away as they rise high into the air making lots of noise and then in a spectacular display proceed to plummet from a great height before cooly pulling out of the free-fall dive in the last few metres and acting as if nothing had happened… 😮

Follow that Marsh Harrier! 007


Out of Practice

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This last week, after a virtually non-existant winter, spring had decided to arrive…there were storks gliding above my house, chiffchaffs in every tree and the oystercatchers were calling me back to the marsh…

Within a few seconds on my approach I was greeted by a rather excited black-tailed godwit, a sparrowhawk with a small rodent in its’ talons and two mute swans blocking the narrow path who hissed at me as I passed…I was fortunate to escape the situation without a broken arm. 😉

The resident canada geese seemed somewhat sparse in numbers as in winter there are thousands of geese on the marsh…some decide to stay while the majority move on…

It was possible to confuse such days with summer…yet the brown reeds, bare trees and lack of swallows kept reminding me it was April…being a little rusty after a rather prolonged spell of winter dormancy it’s good to be back! 🙂

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Music of the Marsh

Spring merges into summer, time is racing like an unstoppable lightning bolt, I try to get out there more frequently than last year because I know if I blink then I may just miss it all…

The marshland and meadows are out of bounds for the general public until the 15th of June, there are many birds which nest on the ground there, such as lapwings, snipe and geese so I stay on the main footpaths for another week…theres a large family of greylag geese there at the moment….but it’s impossible getting anywhere near them, even without the imposed regulations…geese see you coming at a 100 metres or more, it’s those long necks. ☺   Also, without the reed to provide cover either side of the path I’m not going to be sneaking up on anything for a while at least…though the reed grows quickly once it gets going…

So I have a few key places I sit and wait, and watch and listen….the constant song of the sedge warbler has been the main feature this last month…

This last week I have noticed that the reed warblers have decided to turn up too…I am reasonably confident I can tell their songs apart now…the sedge warbler is more chaotic and avant-garde in his compositions and the reed warbler is more structured and patterned. There are a few grasshopper warblers too…I only ever catch a fleeting glimpse of one in flight. There are many willow warblers though….as the name suggests….wherever there is a willow there will be a willow warbler. ☺

The call of the black-tailed godwit is also frequently heard….they like getting into groups and making lots of noise…similar to sparrows in a way…

Amidst all the noise and constant attention seeking….others are more silent and solitary…

A Warm Welcome

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Usually warblers can prove quite elusive for the cameras’ lens, yet this Willow Warbler posed while singing, a familiar song for the time of year.

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Recently back from wintering in Africa (and looking good) is of course the Swallow.

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A common sound and sight on the marsh is the Reed Bunting…this bird flew circles around me before posing in a typical Reed Bunting way…I suspected I was near its’ nest.

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This Black Tailed Godwit was the first bird I saw this year on the marsh, definitely a fitting welcome party and my first photo of one. I was surprised I could get so close as this, normally wading birds are quite shy…I can never get closer than 50 metres to a snipe usually, despite many hours of careful stalking. Godwits are much bolder in that respect…reflected in their loud call…the dutch name for this bird is “Grutto”, a name which I believe is derived from its’ call.

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At only a couple of millimetres in length this is surely the smallest (and cutest) moth I’ve ever seen…it was also a weird experience at that moment to go into the macroworld whist surrounded by a vast open landscape….almost disorientating. 😉

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On leaving the marsh for the day, I couldn’t resist this photo opportunity of this years lambs.

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