Spring 2016 was mind-blowing: good migration, loads of rarities and a few nice influxes due to seemingly never ending easterlies. But this year's spring was rather odd. In general it was kinda bleak. But I had a fantastic spring myself when it comes down to finding rare birds.
A Blue Rock Thrush on the island of Vlieland was an exciting twitch (2nd Dutch record, new bird for my Dutch list), for the 2nd year in a row I only heard a Moustached Warbler (2nd record), but basically I'd found nothing myself (save a few white winged gulls) until I stumbled upon a calling (and later on singing) Iberian Chiffchaff on the island of Texel at the end of April (c. 43th record), twitched by those birders already on the island. A few days later I saw a lovely 2nd cy male Pallid Harrier, but this was probably the same bird that flew past there the day before.
Less than two weeks later, me and my birding mate Wouter van der Ham found a Black-winged Kite while driving 90 km/h (ca 21st record). This species might very well be the next Pallid Harrier: once a mega, but rapidly increasing. There have been no less than 17-18 records between 2009 and spring 2017. So in a way this find was an accident waiting to happen! We saw it for a whole 90 seconds... It was picked up by 7 other birders in the direction we lost it, before it disappeared for good.
Black-winged Kite, Ouddorp, Zuid-Holland, 11 May 2017 (Wouter van der Ham)
In the mean time a male Seebohms Wheatear popped up in my hometown The Hague – a first for Europe away from the Mediterranean. And a lifer - I don't get to see many in Holland! Since I was one of the few birders with access to the area, I shared mind blowing views with six others. The twitching crowd experienced a lot more stress. They didn't see it till the dying hours of the day and they certainly didn't have views we had. Lucky us.
We hadn't mentally processed the mega wheatear when Gerjon found a singing Melodious Warbler near my favourite vis mig spot De Vulkaan – another first for the The Hague area, though this one was long-awaited. I was the first one to twitch it – and the last one. It miraculously fell silent, never to be seen again.
Early June brought a lovely Greenish Warbler right next to my house. My third new self found bird within little over a month! And again a new bird for The Hague (also long-awaited), which is really good since this is the city with the longest bird list in The Netherlands. When I heard it from my living room while getting the children ready for school, I actually thought my phone was playing the song in my pocket. Can you imagine my face when I found out my sound player wasn't accidentally turned on? Great bird for the house list!
So I found three really good birds, while basically I found jack all otherwise and migration was slow on most days. But the rare ones have been good to me. Really good.
Spotted Redshank, adult female, Meijendel, Wassenaar, The Netherlands, 21 June 2017
Finally I settled an old bill at my ringing site: a lovely adult female Spotted Redshank was long over due, but therefore even more appreciated. The first one ever to be ringed in Meijendel, where ringing started back in 1927! But even though it was still June, this bird basically announced autumn. In June, the females are already on autumn migrating. They leave the males behind to incubate and keep an eye on the chicks. So the end of spring was in fact a great start of autumn. Can't wait for all those autumn birds. Autumn, bring it on ;-)