Summer is not just a great time to go to the beach, enjoy the nice weather etc., but also a great time to look back. In this blog I will show you a summery of my short field trips in the Netherlands of last spring. Not all the photos of my trips made the cut.
Spring is the best time of the year in Europe. Nature is very colorful (leafs and flowers) and temperatures are not too high. This means a lot of animal activity with lizards being more colorful than normal.
Traveling to exotic places to find and photograph wildlife is my passion. I have to admit, in the past two years I travelled a lot. I was very privileged and I hope I can do it for many years to come.
Photographing wildlife does not always need exotic locations. Sometimes you can find beautiful wildlife in the Netherlands. This article is not literally about my backyard, because I do not have one. The Netherlands is small (everything is close to my home) and nature is very fragmented like ‘backyards’.
Going out to photograph is one of the great things to do in weekends. Especially with friends. It is one of the good ways to escape from the busy life as a biology teacher.
Testing new gear in Den Helder
Last January my first walk with my camera was in Den Helder. That is the place where I was born and grew up. I just bought a new camera and teleconverter (Pentax K-3 and Pentax DA AF Rear Converter 1.4x AW) and wanted to test my new gear!
First herp of the season on the Veluwe
Last March was the start of the wildlife season for me. It was cold and rainy when I left home. I was not very optimistic.
During the search on the Veluwe (the Netherlands) the weather became better. The sunny intervals were very short (not ideal for herping and photographing). First we saw two female Moor Frogs (Rana arvalis). Every year it could be different but the Moor Frog (Rana arvalis) was my first amphibian (and herp) of the year 2015.
I had hoped to see blue male Moor Frogs by daylight. That is still on my wishlist. They are blue for a short period, that period has to be in the weekend, and I must have time to go when they are blue. This makes it very difficult. It might remain on my wishlist for a long period. This time the male Moor Frogs were not very blue yet. We found some males during a very cold nighttime search.
The search went on. A chocolate Easter bunny was the trophy for the first person to find an Adder (Vipera berus). So there was a lot at stake! Bobby Bok was determined to find it, and he did! Congratulations (and thanks)!
We found only one Adder that day. This was already more than we had expected on this cold, windy and sometimes rainy day!
Dieuwertje and Jasper celebrated their birthday together on 11 April. It was a fun day with good weather in the late afternoon. Dieuwertje, Yara and I rescued some Common Frogs and Common Toads from a ditch.
Testing my teleconverter
I wanted to practice a little more with my teleconverter so I decided to go out and walk in Den Helder. It was a useful practice. For better bird photographs I need more millimeters and probably a professional hide. Maybe something for the future.
A green tradition
Male Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis) turn green in the breeding season. Last year I went to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen (the dunes) to see and photograph them. That was very successful. This year I went back to make it a tradition.
This time it was also successful. It was even more successful, because I got a bonus. The green male Sand Lizards did not only have to beat their opponents, but they also had to win her. After a lot of biting by male and female one male finally got what he wanted, a chance of making offspring carrying his genes. I was able to witness it all (in situ) and make photographs of it. Lucky me!
Weekend to Limburg
In the last weekend of May I went to Limburg. That is in the very south of the Netherlands. It felt like going on a field trip abroad. Limburg is very different than the rest of the Netherlands. They have something that we call mountains, in other countries they call it speed bumps. Another thing is the great (amphibian and reptile) biodiversity in the region.
Bobby Bok and I went on Friday. After we had arrived and had dinner we went on a night search. We found what we wanted. Bobby found a Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans) carrying eggs and he found a Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina variegata). Searching was hard and photographing became ever harder. It started with a little rain, but after a while we were photographing in the pouring rain. We were soaked to the bone. After changing clothes we decided to do cultural things in the centre of Valkenburg.
The next morning we went to a very beautiful location by public transport. The bus was very small and the bus driver was a very nice person who really enjoys her job. We arrived later than we wanted, but we were where we wanted to be. On this location we found Common Wall Lizards (Podarcis muralis), Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans), and one Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis). Dieuwertje and Jasper joined us after a few hours.
While searching for the Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) I also photographed a dragonfly. Unfortunatelly we did not find a Smooth Snake. We did find Slow Worms and Smooth Newts, but I did not want to ‘waste’ precious daytime for the Smooth Snake.
In the evening it was time to look for European badgers (Meles meles). On the way I photographed another dragonfly. The highlight of the trip was on this evening. We saw many badgers around us without noticing us. I really enjoyed the moment. I did not photograph a lot. I have one photo as some kind of proof .
At another location there was another ‘very exhausted’ male Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans).
The weather was not optimal. It was too cold. But still I saw two new amphibian species, the Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans) and Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus).
Reunion in Zwolle
On 20 June, just before it was officially summer, I went to Zwolle. Daphne and Daniël, who we met on Borneo last year, live there. Daniël bought a Pentax camera and wanted to photograph together. That was at least six months ago. We were both very busy, but it had to happen, and I went to Zwolle. We went to Windesheim to photograph wildlife. We did not see as much as we wanted, but I really like the results of the photos that I did make. Besides that, it was great to meet Daphne and Daniël again.
My next blog article will most likely be about my trip to Malawi and Zambia. I will post photos on my Facebook Page (and other social media) before I finish my next blog article. If you can not wait for my blog article or you want to get notified when my blog article is ready, please follow me on social media (scroll down to find my pages).