Polar Experience in the Netherlands

Gulls, Ducks and Cold

Perhaps it will prove to be one of my nature highlights of the year. Arriving to catch the boat on 12 Feb with the boys (Nils, Diederik and Jeroan) from Den Helder to Texel, we encountered an amazing sight: The North Sea frozen. Well this bit it is the Wadden sea, but you can actually see the edge of the North Sea as you take the journey. It was an amazing sight! Boats ploughed through various sections of more and less ice. Then on the island whole sections of the sea just off the coastline: FROZEN. See the pics and video:

Nils overlooks the sea.

Unbelievable!

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A female Smew flies in while I am shooting this little bit of video. No kidding that is the sea with tiny unfrozen bit where duck are gathering.

The beach at the hallowed ground at the north end of Texel was being ‘worked’. Sand moved, water pumped, pipes laid and gull food distributed. A great spot. Very close views of several hundred birds, with Smew and Goosander zooming around over the sea as backdrop; not bad!  Here’s a selection of the best:

Beautiful 2nd winter Caspian Gull. The yellow ring PDPD indicating a Polish bird apparently.

1st winter Caspian Gull (at back) with 2 quite different example of first winter Herring Gulls in front of it.

Iceland Gull in 3rd winter type plumage with dark tips on outer 3 primaries. At distance clearly suggesting a Kumlien’s Gull, but on close inspection the brown markings are a little mealy and in flight no dark outer webs to outer primaries. Not really enough for certain Kumlien’s. We have much to learn…

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Finished off our beach watching stint with this fine 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull.

This rather cool looking first winter was interesting with plainer grey new 2nd generation feathers in scapulars and ‘big look’. I guess one of these more striking looking 1st winter argentatus.

Nearby this juvenile Glaucous Gull was taking bread handouts at the local duck pond:

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