Broad-billed Sandpiper | Calidris falcinellus

According to tradition, we again participated in the Top of Holland (ToH) this year. The Top of Holland is an event that searches for the rarest bird in the provinces of Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen. The person who finds the rarest bird will receive beside the honour a prize.

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) - Photo made at the migration site Kamperhoek
Ring Ouzel | Turdus torquatus

We had not experienced much of the bird migration this spring. We left for New Zealand on February 21 and we were back on April 15. After a jet lag and acclimatization, we were ready on Friday for a long Easter weekend at the Kamperhoek. The weather forecast was extremely good and the expectations were high.

Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) - Photo made in Budel
Cirl Bunting | Emberiza cirlus

2018, a year that has flown by. It indeed seems that as you get older the days, weeks and months go faster. So on 1 January we were in the Lauwersmeer looking at a Black-winged Kite and I am already typing the annual overview. The Black-winged Kite was of course visited for the monthly list. In the same area there were no less than 3 Rough-legged Buzzards . Normally 1 January is spent in Zeeland so this was a first. With 63 species much less than we normally score in Zeeland but for a Black-winged Kite in January, we like to make an exception. Since I have been a fanatic birder for many years on the first day of the new year, I became curious about the number of species I had actually seen on January 1st. After a look at my eternal daily list (which I do not actively keep, does that for me) it turned out that I have seen 173 species in total on new New Year's Day, I did not expect that.

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) - Photo made at the Brobbelbies Noord
Eastern Imperial Eagle | Aquila heliaca

Looking back on 2017, the year seems to have flown by, but when I try to pick up memories from January it seems a long time back. If you watch birds, the changes of the seasons are important moments that can lead to exciting observations. The spring and autumn migration play an important role in this.

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) - Photo made at the Dwingelerveld
Red-backed Shrike | Lanius collurio

2016 has been a year where I can look back with pleasure. It started with the traditional New Year's Big Day which as always took place in the province of Zeeland. With 108 species a good second place in comparison with other Big Days on January 1. Good species such as Pine Bunting, Black Guillemot, Western Cattle Egret and Common Loon were seen and the tone was set for 2016.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) - Photo made in Beijum
Dark-eyed Junco | Junco hyemalis

2015 this time did not begin as usual with a Big Day at the first of January. Because of the surgery I was still too weak and had a lot of pain. On January 3 I ventured for the first time outside and near Uden the first species of the year were credited. Being outdoors and the birds felt excellent and it was not long before I dared the first twitch of the year. On January 5, the Oriental Turtle Dove in Vlaardingen was visited and a tour threw the province of Zealand was added. This went well so a Red-breasted Flycatcher, which was found in Winterswijk, was a must for the month list. The birds gave me the distraction I needed and I was therefore often on the road. In late January the counter stood at 155 species with species as Lesser Scaup, Eurasian Hoopoe, Bufflehead, Long-legged Buzzard, Spotted Sandpiper and Little Bustard.

Merlin (Falco columbarius) - Photo made at the migration site Kamperhoek
Merlin | Falco columbarius

The weather forecast for the weekend seemed very good. Northeast wind, and it would be warm, a classic spring migration weekend. The expectations were high, how different would it be. Saturday morning at 5 am I drove toward the Kamperhoek where I agreed with Alwin.

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) - Photo made at the harbour Lauwersoog
Red-necked Grebe | Podiceps grisegena

Good weather was predicted and at the Lauwersmeer a Green-winged Teal was reported. No kind which you immediately have to do but there were some other nice species in the area so a day trip was planned. At 8 o'clock in the morning I picked up Harry Claasen and we drove first to a Rosy Starling in Kollum which is sitting there for a while.