Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) - Photo made near Oss
Northern Goshawk | Accipiter gentilis

Friday was scheduled to spend a day in the hut. With the whole week of rain and storm it prospects were not good. During our trip to Costa Rica we have met Joop van den Berg. Joop lives in Spain and Willie visited him there last year. Joop was now in the Netherlands and liked a day in the cabin. On Thursday evening we had a drink at Willie and memories were collected from Costa Rica. Joop stayed over at Willie's and we agreed that I would be there the next day at 9 o'clock.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) - Photo made near Winterswijk
Red-breasted Flycatcher | Ficedula parva

A Red-breasted Flycatcher in January in the Netherlands, really special. The first ever of January which was obviously going to be visited. The bird also was photogenic thus reasons enough to drive towards Winterswijk where the bird sat. We also wanted to make an attempt for the Lesser Scaup that is present for a while now in Flevoland.

Northern Hawk-Owl (Surnia ulula) - Photo made in Zwolle
Northern Hawk-Owl | Surnia ulula

2014 was not an easy year for me. In February, my father passed away after 13 years of having prostate cancer. In September I was diagnosed with prostate cancer myself. Luckily I was on time and it was a mild form. On December 2 they have removed my prostate in a private clinic in Germany. I'm still working on recovery but that is going strong. The birds in contrast did extremely well and I had my best year's list ever. Here is a summary.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) - Photo made in bird hide De Boshut near Oss
Northern Goshawk | Accipiter gentilis

Lately regular pictures appear on the Internet of Northern Goshawks photographed from a hut near Oss. Willie de Vries had a share in the construction of the hut and asked me if I wanted to have a go.

European Serin (Serinus serinus) - Photo made at migration site Kamperhoek
European Serin | Serinus serinus

Easter weekend with an east wind forecasts so expectations were high. Alwin, Pieter and Maartje agreed that we would go every day. Saturday morning we were already standing on the dike at the migration site at 5.45 am. The wind came from the northeast and was moderate to hard. For the Yellow Wagtails this did not matter and they flew in groups over the migration site.

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - Photo made at the Kamperhoek
Western Osprey | Pandion haliaetus

The predictions for the weekend are very good, an east wind combined with real spring weather. Reasons enough to visit the migration site. Alwin, Pieter and Maartje thought the same and Saturday morning at 5.30 am was agreed at a carpool place in Huizen.

Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus) - Picture made at Texel
Long-tailed Jaeger | Stercorarius longicaudus

It has been a year of great contrasts. The loss of my wife in May, of course, plays the leading role. After I tried to pick up life as well as possible and did a lot of birding. This has helped me and the birds have exceptionally contributed. 2013 was what birds concerned for me the best year ever. This retrospective will therefore mainly be about the birds and the record attempt of Pieter will not be forgotten.

Leaving early in the morning
Leaving early in the morning

The year went fast and our annual Big Day on January 1 was back on the program. The team this year consists of Alwin, Pieter and Maartje and myself of course. With Pieter and Maartje I celebrated New Years and they stayed over in Uden. Alwin would pick us up at a quarter to seven in the morning. A little drowsy because of the necessary drinks I was outside around quarter past six to put some tuff in the car when I heard 2 Robin's singing in full, the first specie of the year was in the pocket.