Riny and Gerry, Holland – 25-5-11 Oostvaardersplassen

Finally, after having our camper for almost two months, we are going to sleep in our camper for the first night. We are very excited, everything is hopefully in order. Riny has checked the main things and he has spare parts for the most important ones. I took care of our clothing, books, binoculars and food. We can feed a whole orphanage. Also the bed looks good. We had a lot of sunshine these past weeks. The charging of batteries with the solar collectors worked splendidly. We can’t wish for more. Even the weather is today looking favorable upon us

First we stop at Naardermeer forest, overlooking the harbor where we ones had sailed with our sailing boat ‘Fulmar’. Defying high seas and strong winds. Sweet memories of our sailing trips come up immediately and a very rich feeling that we are such lucky people. Now, we plan to conquer the roads, who knows where too. We celebrate this new adventure with a delicious pastry. Our first night over will be near the Oostvaardersplassen

Oostvaardersplassen is a nature reserve situated in the middle of Holland. It’s mostly a swampy area, unprecedented bird richness and wild open fields. Walking in Oostvaardersplassen is like going back more than 1000 years. Some parts of Oostvaardersplassen is forbidden to the public. Here the animals can have their sanctuary. It’s is a great place to make photos. You can meet the wild fox, deers, Konik horses and thousands of ‘Grauwe ganzen’ Anser anser/Greylag Goose

We still didn’t find the time to buy our own camera, so we borrowed a small camera from friends, it has a zoom lens of 3x. That is not a whole lot if you want to shoot some pictures from dragonflies, birds of other animals in nature

Because we have a telescope for bird watching, which has an enormous zoom lens, 60 x zoom, we decided to use the telescope with the borrowed camera. Unfortunately the lens of the borrowed camera is much smaller than the opening of our telescope. You can buy a ring that solves this problem. It cost approximately between E 350 – E 500. Yes, only for the ring! So we had to find another solution to this problem

You know the sink in the kitchen where you do the dishwashing. Such a sink has a rubber stopper, so the water cannot flush out. That sink stopper has exactly the same measurement of the opening of our telescope. All we had to do was to make a hole in the middle of the rubber sink stopper as small as the size of the lens of the borrowed camera. Hahahiho, if you don’t want to spend money, look around you and you will find an creative answer. Of course we are not going to win a World Press Photo with ‘our ring’, but that is not our intention. Anyway, with this equipment we went strolling along in nature in Oostvaardersplassen

We are enjoying the dragonflies. It’s difficult to make pictures of the very quick flying dragonflies, and with a borrowed camera that you don’t know it is even harder. Hundreds of deer and their offspring filled the lens of the telescope. The new born Konik foals were not standing sure on their feet yet. Two youngsters were caressing one another

Suddenly we hear the cries of a juvenile bird. We know it is the cry for food from the young ‘Grote bonte specht’ (Dendrocopos major). Where is this young sitting? We are searching every branch, but all to no avail

Our patience is being tested. But we won’t give up. We are going for the third time over the trunk of a tree, looking for holes

And there we see him!
Yes, there! In one hole we see the juvenile of the Grote bonte specht

Like all juveniles, animals or humans alike, they take risks. He is sticking his head too far out of the hole. Impatiently looking out for the next meal. Meanwhile screaming out loud: ‘Where are you Mom and Dad? Can a baby bird like me not rely on his parents

The Grote bonte specht chops his hole preferable in softer sort of timber. The female lays four to six white eggs. We only see one youngster at the time. So we don’t know how many are in the hole. Both parents give the young ones food. They eat insects, especially larva of the beetles, who are nestling under the bark of trees. Apparently not fast enough to the fancy of this juvenile: ‘Mom and Dad, you are taking your time! I am hungry

The Grote bonte specht is quite a big bird between 20 to 26 centimeters. Both sexes has a large oval white shoulder spot and a red spot by the rectal. The male has also a red mark on the back of his head. The female has a complete black head. Juvenile birds have a complete red top of the head, as we can see by this juvenile. And then we see one of the parents coming. We notice a black head. It is the mother, but she can’t satisfy her young yet

We are thrilled to see them both and that the pictures are clear enough to be able to recognize the birds. The black ring around the picture is the sink stopper. It’s quite difficult to put the lens of the camera right in the middle of the lens of the telescope. This sink stopper is our own idea, it ‘s amateurs work

A few kilometers later we see in our telescope, half kilometer (500 metres) in the distance, juvenile wild foxes. Springtime is a fantastic time to go out in a nature reserve. We are excited to see these youngsters and try to take some pictures

We find a place for the night, right at the IJsselmeer, near a colony of Visdiefjes Sterna hirundo

It’s a gorgeous place to spend the night for nature and bird lovers. It’s is also for free, however it is not an official parking space. One has to be careful that it’s safe enough

We had promised one another not to take to big risk to sleep in nature. So to make sure it’s safe enough, Riny introduces himself to another camper. We will watch for each other during the night

It is not very far away from Oostvaardersplassen, we enjoyed it thoroughly and it taste for more. Visdiefje is a beautiful slender gracious bird. It’s a seabird, but we also see him in Naardermeer. His nickname is ‘sea swallow’. It’s species name is the Latin ‘hirundo’, meaning ‘swallow’. His graciousness reminds us also at the other swallows we know

The parents of the juvenile Visdiefjes are going back and forth from nest to IJsselmeer to nest and so on, catching food for their young

They fly right in front of us! We can observe their typical plunge-diving for fish. It usually dives directly and not from the ‘stepped-hover’ like by the Torenvalk Falco tinnunculus

The Visdiefje is very defensive of its nest and young and will attack humans and other large predators. However it will rarely hits the intruder, mostly swerving off at the last minute

We thoroughly enjoy watching thousands of Aalscholvers (Phalacrocorax carbo) fishing sociable

We know they are also fishing sociable, but never had the opportunity to see them doing that so nearby

You have seen a colony of Aalscholvers in Naardermeer too

The typical shriekish sounds of the Visdiefjes put us fast asleep, dreaming of birds, foxes, dragonflies and our great camper

GKK 25-5-11

Riny and Gerry,  Holland

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