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Peter B's Second Big Year 2023


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Well done on the Cetti's and happy easter to you, too!

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Great Bluethroat again! Happy Easter. :)

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I may have been silent for a good week but far from inactive if you forget about last Monday and Wednesday when the weather was a bummer ; on a glorious Easter Sunday before going to see my mother with my wife and two sons ( instead of Monday) I had a very early walk in Vogelenzang my "second home" to find a good friend 


And an active Chiffchaff 


But alas not the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that's on my bucket list for so long now ...

On Tuesday I had set my mind on the area called "Kalkense Meersen - Donkmeer" below on the map which proved to be far too ambitious for the six hours I disposed of :(1047677603_Schermafbeelding2023-04-16om08_27_16.png.be82caf595f326c1ccafdea9ca853191.png

I first did a walk in the so called Paardeweide next to the river Schelde with a lake and lots of ducks, geese, gulls, waders and even Great Bittern , if you are lucky : again the problem a bit like in Blankaart is the distance to the birds even with a long 600 mm lens and the picture below gives you an idea of that :


Sunny indeed but with a bitterly cold wind it was challenging to find something new , even if it's always nice to spot the Avocet I had seen in Zeeland early March

this time swimming 


So perhaps it was better to stay closer and stick to what has become something of an Hercules speciality as Fred @Galana would say ...


Finding another Cetti's Warbler and immortalize it :lol:


I had lost a lot of time before reaching the lake and could have parked my car much closer by and then again had a problem to arrive at Bergenmeersen :

next year there are elections in Belgium and that's the reason you find road works in almost every village to make GPS unusable for the moment and life of a dedicated birder a hell 


But I was rewarded with a beautiful walk first close to the river Schelde and then on a wooden path between the reed 






Whilst eating a sandwich for lunch I met a lady birder who had recently changed gear and bought my Sony RX 10 IV and told me she had read handling was great and she desperately wanted to have a picture of the Cetti's with her new toy  I thought by myself this might be her lucky day ; the intriguing sound was everywhere around us and a few minutes later she could add the Cetti's to her list :D


On Thursday and Friday morning I went to the village of Kobbegem and the "Trektelpost Relegem Kruiskouter", located in a landscape of open meadows and fields between the villages of Kobbegem and Relegem. Especially in spring it is said to be a fantastic place to spot meadow and field birds. Birds you can see or hear include Common Quail, Grey Partridge, European Stonechat, Skylark, Greater and Lesser Whitethroat, Northern Lapwing, Whinchat and Northern Wheatear. For some of those it might be a bit early but I wanted to have a try 


Kobbegem may be very close to Brussels and easy to reach for me ( I remember that my oldest son had a friend who lived there ) but it is a lovely place that has kept much of his authenticity 


Has a famous brewery :




And an old farm from 1754 : 


But it was for the birds and not for the beer that I was there and on the church walls I noticed a lot of Common Starlings : 


And then walked to the Bird Migration Point on the hill : the construction wasn't very impressive when I came close and went upstairs ;




But walking in the area I was at last successful in spotting a new one ( several times in two days ) that @Tdgravesif I am correct saw recently as well : 

89° Sky Lark (Alauda arvensis - Veldleeuwerik) Kobbegem 13th and 14th of April 2023 : 




And on the second day this one : 

90° Corn Bunting ( Miliaria calandra - Grauwe Gors ) Kobbegem 14th of April 2023 : 





And in the fields a lot of these birds after seeing the Grey Wagtail on two occasions in Anderlecht Neerpede and the Central Dender Valley : 

91° Yellow Wagtail ( Motacilla flava - Gele Kwikstaart ) Kobbegem 14th of April 2023 : 





Lovely walk and stunning area , a new favorite of mine but yesterday after some early rain showers the sun came out and so did the birds in Ganshoren Marsh and one I 

hoped to see in Kobbegem , I saw to my delight in Brussels :


92° Lesser Whitethroat ( Sylvia curruca- Braamsluiper) Moeras van Ganshoren 16th of April 2023   






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24 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:

alas not the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that's on my bucket list for so long now

More a case of the wrong name. It should be the Less spotted Woodpecker.

Nice collection.

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You are one dedicated birder ! Great new additions.

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Nice walk and weather and great birds! I think your active Chiffchaff might be a Willow Warbler (see the colour of the legs).

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Thanks @ Galana @PeterHGand @xelasand looking again it is a Willow Warbler which is already in my collection this year  : with al those Chiffchaff around you may get confused 

Sorry for my late reaction but going as usual to visit my mother on Monday I found her on the ground where she presumably had been for a day : she is now in hospital and doing reasonably well ! I visit her every day but as you will see soon still had some time to go birding 

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Sorry to hear about your mother. It must have been quite a shock to find her like that. 

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All the best for your mother Peter! 

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Yesterday I went back to the Paardeweide In Berlare where I had been on Tuesday the 11th of April and the area is part of the Kalkense Meersen - Donkmeer  ; my visit then was too short and I hadn't done the complete walk around the lake due to the cold windy weather 


















Spoonbill and Avocet were present and a Marsh Harrier flew in , but I had come with the intention of having a better view of the Black-tailed Godwit than in the Blikken on the 5th of March and find some of the Warblers that are now starting to arrive ; the walk was pleasant and reminded me a bit of my Central Dender Valley adventure in February :




But the reed was the place to look for warblers and I even neglected  the omnipresent Cetti's who always tries to drown out the other birds :(


It took me some time to have my first new one :

93° Sedge Warbler ( Acrocephalus schoenobaenus - Rietzanger) Paardeweide Berlare 19th of April 2023





And then more than an hour , despite the fact that the sound was omnipresent , to get a glimpse in three stages of the ...

94° Reed Warbler ( Acrocephalus scirpaceus- Kleine Karekiet ) Paardeweide Berlare 19th of April 2023 : 






It was much easier to get a picture of the Reed Bunting sitting in the same area : 


And then early afternoon after hearing my first Common Cuckoo this year ( no picture for now)  , I saw in the distance the arrival of the Black-tailed Godwit ...










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Sorry to hear the news of your Mother and hope all goes well with her.

Good to relax with some birds as a a diversion.

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Hope your mother get’s well soon, Peter.

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hope your mum is on the mend and recovering quickly and fully. 


you've been so lucky with the Cetti's! One thing I've noticed through all your photos is the beautiful light - is that because it is spring or is the light always so lovely? because we are at the equator, the light over here can be very harsh from mid-morning 

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Peter Connan

Best wishes for your mother Peter!

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Thanks everybody to sympathize in these difficult circumstances : the good news is that she is recovering well and getting better every day !  

As for the light @Kitsafari March was particularly bad but now in April we had some lovely days and I try to use it to my advantage ;)

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3 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:

Thanks everybody to sympathize in these difficult circumstances : the good news is that she is recovering well and getting better every day !  


 that's excellent news. 

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A visit to Kobbegem again yesterday before going to visit my mother and it was a beautiful spring morning after Thursday's rain and before today's miserable weather 






You could even see the top of the Heysel Atomium in Brussels from the Bird Migration Spot 




Sky Larks everywhere of course and Yellow Wagtail as well 



But also this fellow : 

95° Common Whitethroat ( Sylvia communis - Grasmus) Kobbegem 21th of April 2023 : 



And not far away from that spot birds that are notoriously difficult to distinguish except by their sound , especially the two species that follow , and I am aware of that but studied my pictures for a long time so the first one even if we don't see the legs and the long toe has clearly the same heavily streaked upper parts and flanks whilst the second one is only heavily streaked on the breast and some minor streaking below on the flanks ; the tree pipit moreover has clearly pink legs and curved nails and I am not taking into account that the bird was actually sitting in a tree !

Habitat can be the same in this time of the year so it was not unusual to see both close to one another ...



96° Meadow Pipit ( Anthus pratensis - Graspieper ) Kobbegem 21th of April 2023 : 



97° Tree Pipit ( Anthus trivialis- Boompieper ) Kobbegem 21th of April 2023 : 


And leaving this lovely area I noticed this pamphlet " Save our Farmers'" in protest against the recent nitrogen agreement the Flemish Government has reached a few weeks ago !



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Sunday morning I usually spend in Anderlecht Vogelenzangbeek reserve but this morning after a good night sleep I had other ideas : it had been a while since I did a local walk and looking at what birders had seen recently it was not a bad idea to spend some time in my neighborhood and the first picture of the day was not a bird :D


But a few minutes later high above me a bird I had been chasing from day 1 of this BY but never seen , the biggest of the parakeets present in Belgium with a distinctive big massive red beak and a super long tail , one of the birds that had been spotted yesterday !!

98° Alexandrine parakeet ( Psittacula eupatria - Grote Alexanderparkiet ) Itterbeek Dilbeek 23th of April 2023 : 


My heart was starting to beat fast : could this be my lucky day ? Close to Itterbeek church , where I used to walk daily during the covid years , at 10 past 10 I found another 

bird spotted yesterday in the area ...


99° Black Redstart ( Phoenicurus ochruros- Zwarte Roodstaart ) Itterbeek Dilbeek 23th of April 2023 : 





I took a road I had done a hundred of times in the past close to Sint-Anna-Pede , were the famous painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder lived in the 16th century and suddenly heard a familiar sound in this field and a bit later the bird was settling down in the bush : 


100° Grasshopper Warbler ( Locustella naevia - Sprinkhaanzanger ) Itterbeek Dilbeek 23th of April 2023 : 




I didn't expect to find this one today , but it is I think the perfect one for my century which I dedicate to my mother ! 

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Congratulations, Grasshopper Warbler is an incredible tough one to get a photo of, a good one for your first century! 

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Congrats Peter!

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Congratulations and how nice to dedicate it to your Mother after her illness. 100 not out!

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Congrats on the century and both a wonderful bird and a wonderful thought to celebrate it with!

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Thanks @Tdgraves@xelas @michael-ibk@pedro maia @Galanaand @PeterHGfor the congratulations ;

I am honestly proud of this one because it is a local one obtained in not ideal conditions to say the least like today , without forgetting of course the ten birds seen in the beginning of March in Zeeland just across the border , part of the Netherlands that I like a lot ( I will return to Cadzand in June ) The Grasshopper Warbler was surely a coincidence but it seems that I am more lucky with Warblers than with Kingfishers or Lesser spotted Woodpecker..

Thanks Fred for reminding me of one of my favorite sports we rarely play in Belgium  : I will continue to bat until my first safari which is more than three months away :D 

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