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Peter B's Second Big Year 2023


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Congratulations on the century.  Great spot with the Grasshopper warbler, another bird I have yet to see!

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a lovely post starting with the lovely cat to your century. Congrats!

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Peter Connan

Congratulations Peter!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well done on 100, and what a brilliant bird to achieve it

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Two weeks since I last posted when reaching my first century ; in the meantime my mother left hospital on the third of May but will not return home and was admitted in a residential care center in Gent, where one of her sisters is also staying and she will have regularly visits from her family living nearby .

I continued birding when possible though and , after hesitating a long time , bought the Olympus Micro Four Thirds OM-1 with the Olympus ED 300mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens and there I am in good company I think with @PeterHGand @xelasusing it to their and ours satisfaction ; as an amateur it will take me some time to learn to use the gear and I am still using my Sony DSC-RX10 Mark IV which serves me well in most circumstances and remains a great camera to take on safari not in the least for the weight! 

Just before visiting mom on the 24th of April I saw this buzzard in the Gavers 


And after a walk in the Ganshoren Marsh a few days later I came home and even it wasn't the striking male it was still a ..

101° Linnet (Carduelis cannabina - Kneu)  Dilbeek 26th of April 2023 : 


On Sunday the 30th I did more or less the same walk as a week before and was blessed with glorious sunshine to have a better view of the Barn Swallow than earlier  in the Gavers : 


  On the third of May I visited Groot Molsbroek near to the town of Lokeren ,  a nature reserve with a diverse landscape of marsh, wet forest, river dunes, reed lands and open waters.




A few weeks ago the bird flew struck the area with in the meantime more than 400 birds dead , mostly Black-headed Gull and many more sick : Like Groot Broek in Waasmunster it is the non-profit organization Durme who manages this reserve and it fears that the consequences will be felt for years to come !


Groot Molsbroek is also a place were the Black-necked Grebe are present and of the 20 pairs 3 birds are already lost by the flew ... but I saw them from the start even with new life and hope for the future ....

102° Black-necked Grebe ( Podiceps nigricollis- Geoorde Fuut ) Groot Molsbroek Lokeren 3th of May 2023




The reserve is huge and I managed only to do part of it but had heard that there were a few warbler species present , amongst them the Sedge and even the Savi's ...

At last a decent picture of the Reed Warbler and my usual Cetti's ( more to come later ) 




But also a well hidden :

103° Sedge Warbler ( Acrocephalus schoenobaenus- Rietzanger ) Groot Molsbroek Lokeren 3th of May 2023 : 


It was also the moment I had chosen to have a first try with my new gear and why not with a picture of the bird so hit by the disease ...


I had a coffee and a nice chat at the local visitor center and promised to be back soon 






To be continued later today ... as rain from the coronation has reached Dilbeek 

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Look forward to some good photos from your Olympus.

Your last walk made me me think. Sorry about the Bird 'flu.** 

Love the BN Grebe with chick and I may get you an extra tick with that Gull. Not an expert so not 100% sure but the Bill tip being yellowish and the style puts me in mind of a Mediterranean Gull.


I know English is an awkward language but 'Flu' is short for influenza and is often written with an apostrophe  '  ahead of the abbreviated form thus   'flu . Stun your friends with your knowledge.;)

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At first glance I had that Med Gull impression as well, but at a closer look I'm quite sure it is Black-headed. Black primaries, more chocolate-brown than proper black head, color of bill. 


Unfortunately 100s of dead Gulls were reported here last week as well. 


Hope your mother is settling in in her new home Peter! 

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I agree with Michael about the gull. A nice collection of reed birds again from what looks like a good birding area. I am sure you will come to love both your OM-1 and the 300 f/4 lens and I’m looking forward to more photos with the new combo! 

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On the 4th of May I visited Kobbegem again , close to Brussels easy to reach and still a few birds supposed to be present that I need to find 


The first one , a male Common Stonechat , was indeed a local speciality but I saw him already at Groot Broek Waasmunster ; it was a very busy day for the farmers 

surrounded by birds , an invasion of Gulls and Northern Lapwings 








And a lovely view of the Common Whitethroat taken with my new Olympus  





The next day I was in Donkmeer Overmere and the weather was overcast and just before lunch there was a big thunderstorm 


The lake , well known for his restaurants where you can eat eel ,  is historically formed as a meander cutoff of the Schelde River band one of Flanders biggest lakes of which a large portion and adjacent meadows are nature reserve. It is part of the Kalkense Meersen area which I started to visit on the 16th of April .


Another picture of the Reed Warbler and my best view's of the Cetti's Warbler until now  






And then during the downpour two birders arrived and told me they just spotted the Black Kite and after waiting a few minutes there it was under a gray sky


104° Black Kite ( Mills Migrans- Zwarte Wouw ) Donkmeer Overmere 5th of May 2023 : 




The sound of the frogs was all over the place .


As were the noisy birds that certainly didn't steal their name in Dutch !

105° Common Tern ( Sterna hirundo- Visdief ) Donkmeer Overmere 5th of May 2023


And then another bird that I heard a few times since mid April but this time I managed to take a picture even under very bad light conditions ...


106° Common Cuckoo ( Cumulus Canorus- Koekoek) Donkmeer Overmere 5th of May 2023 : 


And yesterday I returned to Watermaal-Bosvoorde and his lakes only open on Saturday : some impressions ...
















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Congrats on the century

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9 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

bought the Olympus Micro Four Thirds OM-1 with the Olympus ED 300mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens

Welcome to the M4/3 team! Your new gear will give you a lot of great photos, especially with that excellent lens. The Whitethroat and the Cetti's are good examples of what lies ahead in your birding life.

@PeterHGwas kind enough to share his C1/C2/C3/C4 settings with me. It is super easy to copy them to the camera using OM Workspace software. 



Edited by xelas
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Thanks a lot Alex @xelasI didn’t mention that Peter already did that when I contacted him last week because I knew he used the same gear and I wanted some inside information as a new Olympus user 

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Siberian Chipmunk.

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pedro maia

Looking forward to see your progress with the new gear, @BRACQUENE but I have to say I wouldn´t dare to use the same gear as @PeterHG:P.

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A great start with your new camera @BRACQUENE

I hope your mother settles well.

Sad about the bird flu.

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3 hours ago, pedro maia said:

but I have to say I wouldn´t dare to use the same gear as @PeterHG:P.

I am the one, who should be worried. It will soon become clear how easy the flight shots are with this camera :ph34r:

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Thanks Fred @Galanafor giving the name of that cute little thing that suddenly appeared right in front of me and @TonyQfor your kind words ; as for the new gear @pedro maia it is the lens that made me decide and the amazing portability of the combination and @PeterHG doesn't need to worry at all  : he remains a class apart but I am glad the OM family is growing thanks to him :D



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Peter Connan

Congatulations, both on the century and the new gear!

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7 hours ago, PeterHG said:

It will soon become clear how easy the flight shots are with this camera :ph34r:

I fear the worst. I am looking the other way and have not read this.:unsure:

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6 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

Thanks Fred @Galanafor giving the name of that cute little thing that suddenly appeared right in front of me

No problem. I knew the genera but not that they occurred in Belgium so googled it. Seems the little beggars are established right across the parts of northern Europe.

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Well done on your century! (It's Mother's Day here in Saffaland, so it was really poignant to read that you had dedicated your achievement to your mum.)


Love the Visdief - here it's a plain Gewone Sterretjie. 


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A week to remember : the intense hunt for two birds : Part 1 


From the 8th until the 13th of May rain and wind kept me mostly inside but in the weekend I visited my mother in Gent and went traditionally out eating with Anne and my two son's for Mother's Day !

Birding resumed the 16th and I returned for the first time since the 23th of January to the Rietbeemd reserve in te Marcq valley close to where mom lives and if you compare the pictures I took then on the same location with those following the transformation is astonishing: 






I was using my two camera's alternately and would do this for the rest of the week and started with some insects alongside the river : 






I particularly was looking out for the orange tip as the conservator of the reserve , my former teacher , who lives in the area told me it was the ideal moment 




Of course birds were my main objective and when arriving early morning the intriguing sound of the Golden Oriole in the poplars and oak trees , which is his habitat be it high in the crown made me alert from the start : again this is a bird ( like the Cetti's ) which is easy to hear but so difficult to get a decent shot off ; after @TonyQ's bearded tit  I am of course pretty sure the jury will be tolerant and take into account my efforts and patience since the start of this BY !! :D

I was trying to locate our friend for a long time , he was so close I could almost smell him but I didn't see the bird so I went wisely on to look for other species and preferably new ones ...

At 8.53 that morning I saw a local speciality bird of prey for the first time ( not the best quality ,sorry for that )


107° European Honey-buzzard ( Pernis Apivorus- Wespendief) Rietbeemd - Les Prés Rosières Geraardsbergen - Deux-Acren 16th of May 2023 :  


A bit later another bird of prey , an Eurasian Sparrowhawk but a far better view than the one I saw earlier this year : 


I was determined to find that Golden Oriole asap so when I went last Saturday to my mom's house to check the mail I realized I was not to far from The Kaaimeersen in Meilegem a beautiful nature area located between the course of the river Scheldt and the old Scheldt river arm where Golden Oriole , Black-tailed Godwit ,Common Kingfisher and Northern Lapwing occur ...

The many ponds and wet areas and the alternation between open and dense vegetation form an excellent biotope for many water birds and migratory birds 




This reserve is situated in what's called the Zwalmvallei , part of the Flemish Ardennes and so inviting on a lovely day 


















When walking around I suddenly heard that familiar sound , went into a muddy area and looked high in the trees ; in the " very " far distance I saw a movement took my Sony to get a quick shot and this will not win a price but for me it was jubilation :rolleyes:


108° Golden Oriole ( Oriolus oriolus-Wielewaal) Kaaimeersen Meilegem 20th of May 2023 : 



To be continued today ...

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A week to remember : the intense hunt for two birds : Part 2 


It is not usual that I visit a reserve four times in a week but this time there was a reason ; my obsession in getting that picture of the Common Kingfisher before Sunday night  

Four times I saw it flying over the lake , sitting even a second or two on a stick just before me but no shot and again let's be honest no shot on the BY ( not even an EBC ) is according to the rules nothing at all : on those long days I was surrounded by birders who were happy to have seen it in the blink of an eye and couldn't understand the necessity of a photo because when they mention on observations.be that they have seen it , nobody would dare to contradict it :o

But let's be positive and all that time spend in "Anderlecht Neerpede" , more than 20 hours , delivered some new species and nice pictures I will share with you
























As for the new species : 


109° Common Swift ( Apus apus- Gierzwaluw) Anderlecht Neerpede 18th of May 2023 : 



110° Black Tern ( Chlidonias niger - Zwarte Stern ) Anderlecht Neerpede 19th of May 2023 : 


Not common in Neerpede !! 

111° Rook (Corvus frugilegus - Roek ) Anderlecht Neerpede 19th of May 2023 : 


112° Common Sandpiper ( Actitis hypoleucos- Oeverloper ) Anderlecht Neerpede 21st of May 2023 : 



In the Bible it is said that God rested on Sunday the seventh day of the week but after staying the whole morning I decided to return to Neerpede in the afternoon even if it was very crowded due to the warm weather : a local birder was with me for a while and just when I had decided to go home after seen it flying over twice she shouted : it is sitting over there on the pavement ( 50 meters at least from where we were sitting) .


113° Common Kingfisher ( Alcedo atthis- ijsvogel) Anderlecht Neerpede 21st of May 2023 : 




I called my wife and said : "I've got him" went to Lou's Plek with her and had a cold Duvel to celebrate the event :)

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Good for you, @BRACQUENE, you are one dedicated birder! And an Oriole as well; just a little jealous there, I fear..;)

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Thanks a lot Peter @PeterHG ; Until recently I thought I was only addicted to safaris as I started to go twice a year but now birding which can be done on daily basis has surely the upper hand ! 

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