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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch

We left Llandudno very early on Friday morning and had a rather unpleasant drive to Manchester Airport. Ice and snow were grim, the windscreen kept icing over so we had to stop and scrape it clear. Then as we neared Manchester we hit freezing fog! Finally we reached the airport and dashed to the check-in desk and just made the flight in time.
Touching down in Amsterdam it was a very cold scene with even more snow and ice than we had left behind. It was great to see our friends Anja and Roy waiting for us and we were soon on our way to a very special bird.
A Baltimore Oriole, a vagrant from North America, had been found wintering in city gardens. Only the second ever record of this species in Holland the bird was coming to feed on fat-balls and had been showing well. We soon reached the area and met other birders that had seen the bird. A quick search and there it was! The Baltimore Oriole was sitting in a large pine tree and seemed to be finding food deep amongst the needles. The views were great of this orange, yellow and white young male, a cracking bird. As we watched it dropped into a garden to visit the feeders and views were even better! About 15 birders were enjoying this beauty and cameras whirred and clicked like crazy all around us.
On Saturday we were to give a talk on The Biggest Twitch but a severe weather warning for heavy snow led to the event being cancelled, a great shame, but the right decision given the awful conditions. So with no talk to give, what could we do? Well first we had a huge breakfast, so much wonderful food! Then we headed out in Roy’s 4x4 to see what birds were about.
Ruth spotted a Woodcock on the roadside and Roy did a quick U-turn and we parked on the verge by some traffic lights to watch this lovely bird. The Woodcock fed right by the busy traffic, desperate to find food in these Arctic conditions. We got very strange looks from drivers as they waited at the lights watching us taking pictures and pointing binoculars at the verge, no doubt few of them spotted the Woodcock in the edge of the bushes only metres away!
Out on the frozen snow covered Polders few birds could survive but we did see a few hardy species. Small numbers of Barnacle Geese and European White-fronted Geese some how found food. A Whooper Swan found a small patch of open water and gave great views. Gangs of Skylarks roamed around looking for seed. Both Hen Harriers and Common Buzzards floated over the snow in the hope a small mammal might pop its head out. Further out in the winter landscape a few pools of water somehow remained unfrozen and these held many Tufted Duck and few Pochard with two redhead Smew on one, showing well.
Red Deer and red Fox were seen out on the snow fields then we saw a very welcome sight, a restaurant! We hurried inside and enjoyed a great meal overlooking a frozen harbour as lines of Cormorants flew past heading to roost.
In the evening, after a wonderful meal cooked by Roy, we gave a private showing of our talk just for Anja and Roy, pity the rest of the Dutch Birding Association missed it!
On Sunday we again enjoyed a huge breakfast before heading out into the falling snow for some more birding. Small numbers of geese were again seen and we added Pink-footed Goose to our Dutch list. Woodcock were feeding by the roadside again, how many must have been around the city? Many Wigeon and Gadwall were somehow finding food in the frozen fields with the geese. A huge flock of Stock Doves was found in a weedy field and Yellowhammers and Skylarks fed with them.
Sadly it was time to head back to the airport for our flight home. A huge thank you to Anja and Roy for looking after so, so well, we had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing them again!


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