Saturday evening there will were some late reports threw waarneming.nl. While I am lying on the couch looking at the TV I check the emails. In general it are the known species and a sighting of a Thick-billed Murre in the harbour at Lauwersoog. Oh, I think, it will be an input error. Not much later Thijs whatappt and reports that the photos look good?! I quickly check the internet and the pictures I find speak for themselves. I call Thijs and after a short conversation we agreed to leave at 4.30 in the morning.
It was a short night and 4:30 am I arrive in Veghel at Thijs his door which is already open. Quickly the stuff loaded in and we are underway. It's still dark and occasionally there is a drop of rain. Within a 45 minutes’ drive we drive through Zwolle and stop at the next pump for coffee that we drink in the car. At the height of Heerenveen Alwin calls and he's in the harbour. Of the Thick-billed there is no trace. That does not sound good but he is still sleeping we are saying to each other. When entering the Bant Polder we see telescopes on the dyke, a sign that the search is on. We ourselves drive into the harbour and see the car of Alwin standing, but there is no trace of Alwin himself. We park and ask Jaap Denee the status who gets a phone call. Jaap starts talking excitedly and pulls a sprint to his car. There is clearly something going on and actually without clear information, something with Coastal road, we decide to follow him.
A crazy ride follows, and in high pursuit we follow the Volvo. After a few miles at the coastal road we drive up the dike. Quickly shows that this is not the right place. The journey continues and in the distance we see a car parked and waving birders at the top of the dike. The car is parked and we're jumping the fence. Soon instructions follow , the bird is located near a bunch of poles and about 100 meters ahead of us in the water. It takes a while but we get the bird in the sight. A bit incredulous I am looking for a Thick-billed Murre that brings my list for the Netherlands to 400 species! Threw the telescope clearly the features are seen. The white line in the beak is visible and the dress is black. Congratulations follow and more and more birders enter the dike.
The Thick-billed Murre dives a lot and after half an hour he begins to swim out in open sea. I unfortunately could not take pictures at that moment but that could not spoil the fun. The bird was now very far and we discuss what to do. It is a visit to "Achter De Zwarten" and then coffee. At the Sight bump at De Zwarten the telescopes are put up and with a rare and beautiful light for this location, we seek off the mudflats. There are many wading birds and Thijs discovers 3 Caspian Terns that still count for my year list. After half an hour or so we keep it a day and drive to Schierzicht for coffee. Along the way we pick up an Osprey that flies in a southerly direction over the Lauwersmeer.
In Schierzicht we find Jaap again and apparently they had the same idea. I take the first sip of coffee and again Jaap is called. He now sits on the side! .. Jaap calls. They run straight to the car and we quickly drink our coffee and follow. Back at the same place the Thick-billed Murre is enjoying the sun below the dike. An ideal place for a number of photos. It seek light position in the back and the camera starts to rattle. The Murre is polishing itself and after goes for a lie. After half an hour the bird returns to the water. It had some difficulty getting over the boulders but eventually he swims back into the Wadden Sea. The photos are well satisfied and we drive to the Ezumakeeg where we continue the day. Here a previously reported Pectoral Sandpiper is found quickly. Also we find a Temminck's Stint and there are some Curlew Sandpipers. Alwin wants to visit Aquatic Warblers at Lentevreugt and we say goodbye. We go to the experimental farm where we hope to find a Red-backed Shrike. Upon entering the area we see a juvenile Montagu's Harrier, which has a transmitter. We must take a short walk but we found a male Red-backed Shrike at the place where we expect him, also this one counts for the year list.
We drive to Fochteloërveen in the hope of a Great Grey Shrike that is reported for a while. Along the way there is a big shower but fortunately it is dry when we drive into the area. We park the car and armed with telescope and camera, we walk up the bike path. Halfway we see a large bird of prey and with the telescope we see that it is a Short-toed Eagle. That we had not really expected. Thijs discovers 2 Cranes and another birder says he just saw the Great Grey Shrike. I call Thijs and point to the direction indicated by the birder. Thijs immediately sees the shrike, I cannot find the bird and walk up to Thijs. The Shrike had caught a mouse and disappeared with his prey into a pine tree. I expect to see the bird quickly but that turns into a disappointment. Despite long and hard search we can't find him anymore. However, we discover a second Short-toed Eagle which flew right over us. A couple of nice pictures are made.
It is now 15.30 and time to drive back south. It has been an exceptionally nice day, with the 400th in the pocket and 3 new ones for the year list! Also, the 104 for the daylist is not bad.