Female ornithologists in the Netherlands

By Caspar Beckers, Junior Researcher at the Center Connecting Humans and Nature, Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University

Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie

The world of (amateur-)ornithology feels like it was and is a man’s world. Men armed with binoculars follow birds wherever they can find them. This is no different for ornithology in The Netherlands. But if you look closely, it is possible to spot some women amongst those men. Some had a large impact on (local) birdwatching studies. One such important female ornithologist was at the heart of the Bird Study Group of the Amsterdam Forest. This will be a short story about Jacobien (Bien) van Drooge, an amateur ornithologist living in Amsterdam.

Bien van Drooge together with Piet Brander on a bench in the Amsterdam Forest. (R. Vlek. (2014). Verhuizing van het Vogelwerkgroep-archief. De Gierzwaluw, 52(4), 12–13.)

Bien was born in 1907 in a typical Dutch town surrounded by water and nature. She enjoyed the quiet environment, but her interest did not initially extend beyond that. She pursued a law degree, being one of the few female students of that time. Whether due to the economic crisis in the 1930s or her being a woman, however, she struggled to find work as a lawyer. Instead, she became a secretary for the KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) board instead. For the next 35 years, she cycled through the newly created Amsterdam Forest almost every day, and enjoyed the ride through nature. At the age of 46, when she saw a movie about the Amsterdam Forest, she decided to join excursions and to pick up nature study as a hobby.

It was on one of these excursions that she met the forester Piet Brander in person. A dedicated birdwatcher, he helped her with visual identification and especially with listening to birdsongs. He was both knowledgeable and thorough, but lacked the time to systematise his data, and the skill to put his ideas and research on paper. Bien started to help him, eventually typing out all the quarterly observations of birds in the Amsterdam Forest.

They became a powerful duo, founding the Bird Study Group Amsterdam Forest (later it became the Bird Study Group Amsterdam), coordinated by Piet as chairman and Bien as secretary. Bien was also the editor of the group’s newsletter. After World War II, Piet entrusted his observations from before the war to her. She archived these observations in combination with her work for the study group. It was because of her work that the conclusions of 30 years of bird studies in the Amsterdam Forest could be published, putting the forest on the radar for all Dutch ornithologists.

But Bien was more than just an accurate and hardworking secretary. She was a great field ornithologist herself. She could identify birds as easily with her binoculars as by their song. She observed a lot of birds and helped with many inventories. She even organised the inventories of the Amsterdam city parks. Even though she was an outstanding field ornithologist and one of the most important people of the study group, making several bird watching trips throughout Europe and once even to the United States, she was never asked to join the more prestigious ‘Club of Dutch Birders’, possibly because of her gender.

Just as she learned how to look and listen for birds from Piet, so in turn she passed her knowledge on to new young ornithologists. She was always happy to share her binoculars and help others with identifying birds. These young men never dared to call her Bien; she was always miss Van Drooge to them. She rightfully earned this respect, since she helped everyone with the study of birds. She felt strongly that bird study was a hobby for all. Later in life, she fondly recalled how in watching birds everyone, from teacher to baker, to lawyer to psychiatrist, was equal.

Bien van Drooge was a remarkable amateur ornithologist who was of great significance for the study of birds, especially in the Amsterdam Forest.

  • Bestuur VWGA. (1984). Bien van Drooge erelid KNNV-Amsterdam. De Gierzwaluw, 22(1), 1–2.
  • R. Vlek. (2006). In memoriam Bien van Drooge (6 januari 1907-8 juli 2006). De Gierzwaluw, 44(2), 18–20.
  • Bestuur. (2006). Herinneringen aan mejuffrouw van Drooge, door jonge vogelaars van toen. De Gierzwaluw, 44(2), 21–22.
  • J.H.U. van Drooge. (2006). Vogelstudie, een heerlijke hobby voor jong en oud. De Gierzwaluw, 44(2), 23–26.
  • R. Vlek. (2014). Archief van de VWGA en rechtsvoorgangers. De Gierzwaluw, 52(4), 14–25.
  • J.H.U. van Drooge. (1982). Herinneringen aan Piet Brander. De Gierzwaluw, 20(4), 121–123.
  • R. Vlek. (1999). In memoriam: Johan J. Frieswijk. De Gierzwaluw, 37(4), 10–16.
  • J.H.U. van Drooge. (1978). In memoriam Dr. Piet Hirschler. Mededelingenblad Vogelwerkgroep Amsterdam, 16(3), 14–14.
  • J.H.U. van Drooge. (1963). Het Amsterdamse Bos in 1962. Het Vogeljaar, 11(2), 46–48.
  • P.W. Brander, & J.H.U. van Drooge. (1962). Steeds rijker wordt het vogelleven in het Amsterdamse Bos. Het Vogeljaar, 10(2), 307–310.
  • J.H.U. van Drooge. (1962). Eén week „vogelen“ in Noord-Amerika. Het Vogeljaar, 10(5), 407–410.
  • P.W. Brander. (1977). Een stukje historie en voorhistorie van de VWG. Mededelingenblad Vogelwerkgroep Amsterdam, 15(1), 17–19.

Why do I photograph birds?

by Karoline Holmboe Høibo, Faculty of Arts and Education, University of Stavanger

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When the alarm clock rings at three in the morning, because I am planning to enjoy a beautiful dawn, I often ask myself: why do I photograph birds? It’s the same when I crawl out of a tiny tent after 17 hours in the hide, cold, stiff and desperate for the toilet, with nothing to show for it but a couple of starlings on my memory card. At those times, I wonder if I should have spent the time with my children instead. But, once I have managed to get myself up and out, I rarely regret the lack of sleep. There is little that makes me as happy as seeing a buzzard come sailing in over the fields of Jæren to land on a fence in front of my camera lens. It’s like a little rush that I simply must have more of. So, I pack my bag and go out again. Preferably several times a week.

Jays fighting
(c) Karoline Holmboe Høibo, used with permission

I have always walked lots and been out in nature a lot. It was largely the opportunity to, and hope of, seeing something exciting that drew me outside. But I think we seldom saw that many wild creatures, when I was growing up. Perhaps we made too much noise, but lack of knowledge and lack of practice in using our senses to spot them were probably equally important factors. I had turned 38 before I saw my first owl. By then, I was part of a group of photographers and ornithologists who shared their expertise. Photographing birds represents an insight into a secret world for me; access to the mystical and inaccessible which could only be reached via nature programmes on TV in my childhood. With increased knowledge of bird species, their habitats and behaviour, and practice at paying greater attention to things around us, I have many more and far stronger experiences of nature as an adult.

In the winter of 2020, there was a Hawk-Owl at Sandnes. I went out several times to take photographs, and every single time I got into the car to drive there, I got butterflies in my stomach. The simple joy of seeing animals and birds remains at least as great today as it was when I was nine. The trips to Sandnes also resulted in some photos that I am particularly happy with. Birds have always had a central place in art, because of their beautiful plumage, the formations they fly in, and the fact that they represent something magical. These creative and aesthetic elements of photography are absolutely central to why I do it.

An owl in flight against a backdrop of woods
(c) Karoline Holmboe Høibo, used with permission

The art of bird photography goes hand in hand with presence. I have heard many say that they have never heard the birds sing so loud nor experienced spring as strongly as during the corona lockdown. It was the same for me. The peaceful days, when all social life and leisure activities had been cancelled, offered a lot of time for solitary walks in the area. That was when I got to follow the Great Crested Grebes’ courting over several weeks, and see new Tawny Owl chicks as they emerged from the nesting box. I got to experience light that changed according to the weather and time of day, the changing of the seasons and not least the patterns of birds’ lives. For many, experiences of nature are strongly linked to a form of self-realisation through mountain hikes and exercising on skis. I have been there too. But, bird photography can, to a far greater extent, represent outdoor life on nature’s own terms. Sometimes, the Dotterel stands by the road and the best option is to take a picture from the car window. Other times, I have to walk a mile into the wilderness to find what I’m looking for. When a bird then appears, it is useless to chase it. I get good pictures when I take the time to wait for the bird to come to me. The hours go by quickly when I just sit and listen and wait for something to come over the marsh. The strange thing is that I very rarely get bored. The wait provides a space for me to be at peace with myself and tranquil. And suddenly something happens that requires my full attention, because when a bird is to be photographed in flight, using the right technique and with good composition, I become completely focused and in the moment. At one with nature, one often also becomes more at one with oneself.

Hvorfor fotograferer jeg fugler?

av Karoline Holmboe Høibo, Fakultet for utdanningsvitenskap og humaniora, Universitetet i Stavanger

Click here to read in English

Når vekkeklokka ringer klokka tre om natta fordi jeg har hatt ambisjoner om å få med meg det vakre morgenlyset, har jeg ofte stilt meg spørsmålet: Hvorfor fotograferer jeg fugler? Like så når jeg kald, stiv og tissetrengt krabber ut av et lite telt etter 17 timer i skul, uten annet enn et par skjærer på minnebrikka. Da lurer jeg på om jeg ikke heller burde tilbragt denne tiden sammen med mine barn. Men når jeg først har kommet meg opp og ut, angrer jeg sjelden på en kort natt, og det er lite som gir meg en slik følelse av lykke som når fjellvåken kommer seilende inn over jordene på Jæren og setter seg på en gadd foran mitt objektiv. Det er som en liten rus jeg bare må ha mer av. Derfor pakker jeg sekken og drar ut igjen. Gjerne flere ganger i uka.

Jays fighting
(c) Karoline Høibo, used with permission

Jeg har alltid gått mye på tur og vært mye ute i naturen. Det var i stor grad muligheten for- og håpet om å få se noe spennende som trakk meg ut. Men jeg synes sjelden vi så så mye vilt i min oppvekst. Kanskje bråkte vi for mye, men vel så viktig var nok mangelen på kunnskap og oppøvelsen av sansene. Jeg ble 38 år før jeg så mi første ugle. Da hadde jeg kommet inn i et miljø av fuglefotografer og ornitologer som delte av sin kompetanse. Slik representerer fuglefotograferingen for meg en innsikt inn i en hemmelig verden; en tilgang til det mystiske og utilgjengelige som i min barndom bare kunne nås på naturfilmene på TV. Med økt kompetanse om fuglearter, habitat og oppførsel, og øvelse i evne til å legge bedre merke til det som er rundt oss, har jeg i voksen alder langt flere og langt sterkere naturopplevelser.

An owl in flight against a backdrop of woods
(c) Karoline Holmboe Høibo, used with permission

Vinteren 2020 var det ei haukugle i Sandnes. Jeg var ute flere ganger for å ta bilder, og hver eneste gang jeg satte meg i bilen for å kjøre ut, kunne jeg kjenne hvordan sommerfuglene kilte i magen. Den barnlige gleden av å se dyr og fugler er minst like stor i dag som den var da jeg var 9 år. Turene til Sandnes resulterte også i noen bilder jeg er blitt svært glad i. På grunn av sine vakre detaljer og formasjoner, og representasjonen av noe litt magisk, har fugler alltid hatt en sentral plass i kunsten. Den kreative og estetiske dimensjonen av fotograferingen er også helt sentral for at jeg driver med dette. Kunsten går hånd i hånd med nærvær. Jeg har hørt mange si at de aldri har hørt fuglene synge så høyt eller opplevd våren så sterkt som under korona-nedstengingen. Slik var det også for meg. De rolige dagene der alt sosialt liv og fritidsaktiviteter var avlyst, ga mye tid til ensomme turer i nærområdet. Da fikk jeg følge toppdykkernes kurtisering over flere uker, og nye kattugleunger som hoppet ut av kassen. Jeg opplevde å registrere lyset som endrer seg etter vær og tid på døgnet, årstidene som skifter og ikke minst fuglenes livsmønster. For mange er naturopplevelser sterkt knyttet til en form for selvrealisering gjennom toppturer og treningsturer i skisporet. Jeg har også vært der. Men fuglefotografering kan i langt større grad representere friluftsliv på naturens premisser. Noen ganger står boltiten ved veien og det beste er å ta bildet fra bilvindu. Andre ganger må jeg halvannen mil innover vidda for å finne det jeg leter etter. Når fuglen så dukker opp, nytter det ikke å jage den. De gode bildene kommer når jeg tar meg tid til å vente til fuglen kommer til meg. Timene går fort når jeg bare sitter og lytter og venter på at noe skal komme over myra. Det underlige er at jeg svært sjelden kjeder meg. Ventingen gir et eget rom for tilstedeværelse og ro. Og plutselig skjer det noe som krever min fulle oppmerksomhet, for når fuglen skal fanges i flukt, med riktig teknikk og en god komposisjon, blir konsentrasjonen altoppslukende. I ett med naturen blir en gjerne også mer i ett med seg selv.

Vil du se flere av mine bilder, besøk gjerne min instagramkonto: karolinehoibo_photography

Mid-January Waterbirds

By Dr Elle-Mari Talivee, Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences

Eestikeelse postituse lugemiseks vajuta siia

My favourite time for bird counting is in the middle of winter by the seaside. I became interested in ornithology when I was a schoolgirl. Since the 1990s, I have spent one weekend almost every winter as an amateur ornithologist on Hiiumaa, an island in Western Estonia. There, I take part in the international mid-winter waterfowl census. As a bird count it has a fairly long history: the first mid-winter water-bird survey in Europe took place in 1967 and, back then, Estonia was among the initiating countries. The idea is to determine the numbers of the European populations of waterfowl and to know where they spend the winter. The count is done from the air, by sea, and on foot/by car beside the seaside. It is a perfect opportunity to get to know seabirds better and at the same time to help scientists collect data  – that also reflects climate change – with the help of birds.

My day-long walk in January begins as soon as the sun rises (in Estonia in mid-winter there is enough light to recognise species about 09:30) and ends at twilight around 15:00. A spotting scope, binoculars, a bird guide and a notebook together with a pencil (pens tend to freeze) make up the necessary equipment. Then, the counter has to mark down all the seabirds they spot: in Western Estonia, they are usually long-tailed ducks, common goldeneyes, smews, common and red-breasted mergansers, velvet scoters, different seagulls, and mute and whooper swans. White-tailed sea-eagles sit on the stones in the water. Sometimes a fisherman is the only one you meet all day long; you are more likely to encounter a red deer walking out from the coastal forest. The cherry on the cake would be some Steller’s eiders, rare but bold and fancy-looking birds that like the little bays of North-Western Hiiumaa. Besides birds, I am always looking for seals: the warm winters have been harsh for ringed seals in the Baltic Sea, but the curious greys sometimes just poke their heads out of the water in the middle of seabirds.

As a researcher of literature, I am also very fond of stories told about birds. Every winter I try to catch a glimpse of the black-throated loon. The Estonian language belongs to the group of Fenno-Ugric languages and in the ancient tales (and old patterns and petroglyphs) of these peoples, the whole world began from a bird’s egg: and in some of these stories this bird is a loon. In his documentaries about Finno-Ugric heritage, the Estonian President, writer and filmmaker Lennart Meri, used a swan- or loon-like water bird as a kind of leitmotif referring to the common past.

Talvituvate veelindude jälil

Elle-Mari Talivee, Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia Underi ja Tuglase Kirjanduskeskuse vanemteadur, PhD

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Linnuloendustest kuulub minu lemmikute hulka kesktalvine merelindude loendus. Hakkasin hobiornitoloogiaga tegelema koolipõlves ja 1990. aastate keskpaigast olen peaaegu igal talvel veetnud ühe jaanuarikuu nädalavahetuse Hiiumaal, võttes osa rahvusvahelisest talvituvate veelindude loendusest. Linnuloendusena on see igatahes väärikas ettevõtmine: talvituvaid veelinde hakati Euroopas kokku lugema 1967. aastal ja eesti ornitoloogid olid seejuures ürituse algatajate hulgas. Loenduse mõte on saada ülevaade Euroopa veelinnupopulatsioonide arvukusest ja sellest, kus need veedavad talveperioodi. Loendust tehakse lisaks mererannalt tehtud vaatlustele ka lennukilt ja laevalt. Ühtpidi on see vaatlus suurepärane võimalus õppida tundma merelinde, teisalt aidata aga teadlastel koguda infot, mis ühtlasi peegeldab kliimamuutusi – ja teha seda lindude abiga.

Loenduspäeva pikk mereäärne rännak algab siis, kui on piisavalt valge, et linde ära tunda – jaanuaris  umbes poole kümnest – ja lõpeb pärastlõunases hämaruses kella kolme paiku. Põhivarustusse kuuluvad vaatlustoru, binokkel, linnumääraja ja märkmik koos hariliku pliiatsiga (pastakad kipuvad külmuma). Loendaja peab üles märkima merelinnud, keda kohtab: minu lemmikmarsruudil Kõpu poolsaare põhjaküljel on need enamasti aulid, sõtkad, mitut liiki kosklad ja kajakad, tõmmuvaerad, kühmnokk- ja laululuiged. Mõnel kivil merel istub ikka merikotkas. Mõnikord tuleb vastu üksik kalamees, rannametsas kohtab punahirve. Päeva teeb eriti rõõmsaks kohtumine neid väikseid merelahtesid hindava kirjuhahaga, vahva välimusega haruldusega, kes justkui inimest ei pelga ja laseb end lähedalt imetleda. Lindude kõrval loodan ikka näha hüljest: viigritele on soojad talved olnud rasked, ent uudishimulikud hallhülged pistavad teinekord ranna lähedal pea veest välja küll.

Elukutselt hoopis kirjanduse uurijana köidavad mind väga lood lindudest. Mõneski soome-ugri loomisloos saab maailm alguse linnumunast ja vahel on see arvatavasti olnud järvekaur, keda samuti talvisel mereseljal kohata võib. President Lennart Meri soomeugri pärandit käsitlevais dokumentaalfilmides on veelind omamoodi leitmotiiv, mis kordub kaljujoonistel, rahvalauludes ja mustrites.

Extremadura: un paraíso de la observación de aves en el sudoeste de España

Por Diana Villanueva Romero, Profesora Contratada Doctora, Universidad de Extremadura

Click here to read in English

El lugar en el que vivo, Cáceres, es un destino turístico muy popular entre aquellos deseosos de apartarse de las rutas conocidas. En 2005 apareció en la edición online británica del National Geographic que sobre todo prestó atención a su rica historia—su parte antigua fue declarada Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO en 1986—célebre cocina, museo de arte contemporáneo así como su amor por la música.[1] Solo al final de este artículo, hay una referencia al Parque Nacional de Monfragüe, uno de los enclaves naturales más codiciados por los amantes del avistamiento de aves.

El ornitólogo amateur Juan José Viola introduce a dos de sus hijos en la observación de aves a orillas de la Charca de los Arenales (Cáceres, España) (Fotografía perteneciente a la colección personal de Juan José Viola)

No en vano más de un 26% del territorio de la región en el que se sitúa, conocida como Extremadura, fue declarada Zona de Especial Protección de Aves (ZEPA) en 1979: 71 ZEPAs en total. Muchos aficionados a las observación de aves vienen a Extremadura cada año para descubrir la belleza de sus variados paisajes y disfrutar día tras día de esta actividad. Algunos deciden hacer coincidir su visita con alguno de los eventos relacionados que se organizan en diferentes partes de Extremadura cada año: de la Feria Internacional de Turismo Ornitológico de Extremadura (FIO)[2]  que se celebra en el mencionado parque nacional y que va ya por su decimoquinta edición, al Festival de las Aves de Cáceres,[3] o el Festival de las Grullas de Navalvillar de Pelas (Badajoz).[4]  

Un grupo de avutardas despliega sus alas sobre los LLanos de Cáceres (Cáceres, España)
(Fotografía perteneciente a la colección personal de Juan José Viola)

En todos estos eventos es posible encontrar grupos de niños y adolescentes agolpándose en cada stand para conseguir ver lo que se está haciendo y poder participar. Algunos participantes ofrecen talleres donde se colorean dibujos de algunas de las aves más representativas que han hecho de Extremadura su hogar—el milano real, la grulla, la avutarda, el buitre negro y el leonado, el rabilargo, el mochuelo, y la omnipresente cigüeña blanca—mientras que otros pueden consistir en crear una historia o un disfraz con la apariencia de alguna de estas aves. Lo más hermoso de esta experiencia es que al final del día estos jóvenes aficionados volverán a su casa volando literalmente con las alas de la imaginación inspirada por las apasionantes experiencias del día y sabiendo más aún de las aves que ya han aprendido a querer.

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/2015/02/spanish-cities

[2] https://fioextremadura.es

[3] https://festivaldelasavescaceres.juntaex.es

[4] https://www.turismoextremadura.com/es/explora/Festival-de-las-Grullas-de-Extremadura/

Extremadura: A birding paradise in the southwest of Spain

By Diana Villanueva-Romero, Associate Professor (Profesora Contratada Doctora), University of Extremadura

Pulse aquí para leerlo en español

The place where I live, Cáceres, is well known as a tourist site to those wanting to travel off the beaten path. In 2015, it was featured in the British online edition of National Geographic which mostly paid attention to its rich history — its Old Town was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 — renowned cuisine, contemporary art museum, as well as its love of music.[1] Only at the end of this article is there a reference to the National Park of Monfragüe, one of the nature enclaves most coveted by birdwatchers all over the world.

Amateur ornithologist Juan José Viola introduces two of his sons to birdwatching by Los Arenales Pond (Cáceres, Spain) (Photograph from Juan José Viola’s Personal Collection)

Not in vain more than 26% of the territory of the region where it stands, known as Extremadura, was declared Special Protection Area (SPA) in 1979: 71 SPAs in total. Many birdwatchers come to Extremadura every year to discover the beauty of its varied landscapes and enjoy day after day of birdwatching. Some may decide to make their visit coincide with many of the birding events organized every year in different parts of Extremadura: from the Extremadura Birdwatching Fair (FIO)[2] located in the above mentioned national park, already in its fifteenth edition, to the Birds Festival of Cáceres[3] or the Festival of the Cranes in Navalvillar de Pela (Badajoz).[4]

Great bustards spread their wings over the Plains of Cáceres (Cáceres, Spain) (Photograph from Juan José Viola’s Personal Collection)

In all these events it is always possible to find groups of youngsters cramming over every stand in order to get a glimpse of what is being done and asking to be part of it. Some exhibitors may offer a coloring workshop where kids learn to color drawings of some of the most representative avian species that have made Extremadura their home—the red kite, the crane, the great bustard, the monk and the griffon vulture, the azure-winged magpie, the little owl, and the ubiquitous white stork—while others may entail creating a story or a costume representing any of these birds. The beauty of all this is that, at the end of the day, these young birders would go home literally flying on the wings of the imagination kindled by the vibrating experiences of the day and knowing more about the birds they have learnt to appreciate.

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/2015/02/spanish-cities

[2] https://fioextremadura.es/en/

[3] https://festivaldelasavescaceres.juntaex.es

[4] https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Festival-de-las-Grullas-de-Extremadura/

Morgenfugler i Stavanger

Av Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo, Universitetet i Stavanger

To read this in English, click here

Mine oppgaver tilknyttet arbeidspakke 1, er å samle informasjon om Revtangen ornitologiske stasjon på Jæren (Stavanger Museum) og å forske på og skrive om den årlige vinterfugltellingen i Norge og andre europeiske land.  

For å lære mer om fugler, fuglekikkere og det lokale ornitologmiljøet, meldte jeg meg på en fugletur den 26. mai 2020. På grunn av Korona-virus tiltak var det bare plass til 20 personer, men alle vi heldige møtte lørdag morgen klokka 06:30 utenfor Byhaugen kafé.

foto (c) Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo

Midt på bildet ovenpå ser vi ornitolog Øyvind Gjerde som var vår guide på turen. Han har observert fugler i Stavanger-området siden 1977 og deltar i en rekke observasjons- og registreringsoppgaver i samarbeid med lokale og nasjonale organisasjoner og institusjoner. Til hjelp i identifikasjonsarbeidet, hadde han tatt med pedagogiske forstørrede bilder av fuglene vi hørte (men ikke alltid så). Gjerde lyttet og forklarte og viste bilder. På vei ned mot Lille Stokkavatn hørte vi mange flere fugler enn de vi så, på grunn av at de skjulte seg bak blader, på stammer og steingjerder. Heldigvis var svarttrosten, stær og vadefuglene lette å se.

De andre deltakerne var i forskjellige aldre og yrker. Det var en mor med en 5-åring, flere yngre par, noen mindre vennegrupper. Det virket ikke som om noen av oss kunne noe særlig om fugler. I løpet av turen ble vi litt bedre kjent og utvidet samtaleemnet til hagearbeid, kompostering og andelsjordbruk, som har fått økt interesse de siste årene.

(c) Per Erik Skramstad (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Nede ved vannet så vi svaner, forskjellige typer ender (flest stokkender med andunger), og hovedattraksjonen, ifølge Gjerde – en toppdykker. Han forklarte at bevegelsene vi observerte, var en slags “dans” hvor partnerne strakk på halsen og beveget seg mot hverandre som del av paringsakten.

Etter at vi hadde bade hørt og sett bilder av gransangere, gjerdesmett, svarttrost, stær, bokfinker, stokkender, toppdykkere og flere andre … gikk vi tilbake til utgangspunktet. Den lokale bydelsgruppa Bærekraftige Liv (https://www.barekraftigeliv.no/byhaugen/) som organiserte turen, inviterte på økologisk smørbrød og juice fra en lokal baker. Alle deltagerne fikk til og med en blomsterfrøpose spesielt for humler. For en perfekt start på helgen!

foto (c) Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo

Early birds in Stavanger

By Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo, University of Stavanger

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My task for Work Package 1 will be to trace the history of the Revtangen ornithological station at Jæren, and to investigate and report the background and development of the yearly backyard bird count in several European countries.

Partly to learn more about birding and the people involved in it in Rogaland, I signed up for a guided bird walk on May 26th 2020. Due to the Corona-virus restrictions, there were limited spaces, but the 20 lucky ones met at 6:30 am Saturday morning at Byhaugen café.

Bird walk
(c) Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo

In the middle of the above photo is ornithologist Øyvind Gjerde who guided us. He has been birding in the Stavanger area since 1977 and participates in a large range of birding activities. To help us identify the birds, Gjerde brought large bird cards and listened carefully for bird sounds. As we followed him towards the lake, we heard more bird songs than we were able to spot, because the lush green forest gave camouflage to all but the Blackbirds. The walk went on a path covered with leafy trees towards Lille Stokkavatn.

The other participants were of different ages and walks of life, one mother with a five-year-old, some groups of friends, some couples. None of us were experienced birders. We made friends and shared ideas on birding, gardening, making compost and communal farming which seems to have become more popular lately.

When we came down to the lake, we saw swans, different types of ducks, mostly mallards with ducklings, and the main attraction, according to Gjerde – a Great Crested Grebe. He explained that the movement we observed was a “dance” where the partners stretched their necks against each other as part of the mating process.

Great Crested Grebe
(c) Per Erik Skramstad (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

After we had heard and seen pictures of Chiff Chaffs, Wrens, Blackbirds, Starlings, Chaffinches, Mallards, Great Crested Grebes, and several others, and having spotted many of the birds, we returned to the starting point. The local neighbourhood organisation of sustainable living, which organised the walk, provided an organic sandwich from a local baker. All the participants even received a bag of flower seeds for the bumble bees. What a perfect way to start the weekend!

(c) Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo

Despotiki Lake: A wetland of international importance for birds

By Dr Andreas Ch. Hadjichambis, Scientific Director of Cyprus Centre for Environmental Research and Education – CYCERE

Click here to read in Greek

Despotiki Lake, an important wetland of International Importance, is located on the Akrotiri Peninsula (Cyprus) and specifically on the Agios Nikolaos Farm, which belongs to the Holy Bishopric of Limassol. It lies about 100 meters from the Cyprus Centre for Environmental and Research and Education (CYCERE). It is an artificial ecosystem, created in 1960 for the purpose of irrigating the crops of the surrounding area.

Despotiki Lake, CYCERE, Akrotiri, Limassol, Cyprus
Despotiki Lake, CYCERE, Akrotiri, Limassol, Cyprus

Despotiki Lake has an area of one hectare and a depth of about 10m. It is enriched with fresh water from the dam of the river Kouri. Today, it is still used for irrigation purposes but is now considered a very important ecosystem, which contributes to the enrichment of the underground aquifer in the region of Akrotiri. Despite being an artificial lake, the vegetation around it has gradually transformed into natural wetland vegetation. It is a biotope of high importance and ecological value, which attracts many species of migratory and predatory birds. In particular, it serves the needs of thousands of migratory birds that arrive on the island every year. This is due to the fact that it is the southernmost freshwater catchment in Cyprus, i.e. the last stop of migratory birds migrating from Europe to Africa and the first stop they encounter on their return. Cyprus is a very important place for birds nationally, in Europe and globally. More than 200 species pass through Cyprus during their migration. Due to the rich bird fauna observed, Despotiki Lake is an important station for bird watchers, both from Cyprus and abroad. Specifically, more than 50 species of birds have been recorded to date, one of which is endemic: the Cyprus Scops Owl or Thupi (Otus cyprius), 6 of which nest in Despotiki Lake Nerovouttis – Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Black Francolin or Fragolina (Francolinus francolinus), the Little Owl or Koukkoufkiaos (Athene noctua), Trivitoura – Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida elaeica), Common Wood Pigeon or Fassa (Columba palumbus), Barn Swallow or Stavlohelidono (Hirundo rustica) and the remaining 43 are migratory. Several of them, such as the Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) reproduced in Despotiki Lake. Of this total, 10 are protected and are presented in an annex to European Directive 79/409 on the protection of birds. In addition, 156 species of birds have been recorded in the wider area of Despotiki lake, of which 3 are endemic, 17 are nesting permanently and 139 are migratory, of which 32 are protected under the aforementioned European Directive. This rich attraction and conservation of the bird fauna is due to the rich aquatic microfauna of the Despotiki lake, which offers abundant food to the birds.