After a stay in Berlin, Germany, we went to the Veluwe, a national park in the Netherlands. This was perfect on our route and a pleasant diversion from the many hours of asphalt gliding by.
Two buzzards far away in the early morning light.
First encounter and too high expectations
One of our first encounters with the wildlife in the Netherlands were a couple of buzzards. In the early morning we thought we saw them and a closer look with the telelens confirmed it. They were pretty far away but it was still a nice sight.
It made us wonder what else we would see during our stay. We were still an hour away from the Veluwe. However it turned out that nature would mostly be calm. The large number of wolves that were present at the moment (we didn't see any) and the cold temperatures made the animals rather calm and shy.
Entering the woods
We entered the woods and the first thing we saw was a squirrel. It was a red squirrel, a species that is not native to the Netherlands. It was a bit annoyed by the cold and didn't want to pose for a picture.
A curious red squirrel. Slightly annoyed by the cold.
Small spiders, crawling everywhere.
Enthousiastic about the first encounter we continued our walk. Getting a good shot of a jay can be tricky. This one didn't seem to care that much. The forest was still and quiet. We were the only ones there. It was a nice moment.
A beautiful Jay.
Back at the car, we decided to drive a bit further. I knew another spot from back when I was a kid on summer camp in the area. The rain slowly started to fall and the sky turned dark.
At the next location we got rewarded for facing the cold. A fellow nature-enthousiast told us about the great grey shrike that was in the area. Not too long after, we saw it in some treetops left and right.
A great grey shrike in the treetops.
Overall the next days were very quiet. The wolves were nowhere to be seen, but it was all over the news and enough to keep deer hidden in the forests.
One early morning we got up really early to search for some wildlife in an open area. We entered the woods around sunrise and headed to a tower that was in the area. We saw some large deer in the distance, but they were too far away to get a good shot.
Big deer in the distance.
Since there was not a lot of activity and we hicked for many many kilometeres, I shifted my attention to the landscape. The forest was beautiful and the light was great. The patterns of the scenery were very interesting.
Also the colors were very wintery. As soon as the sun came out, the colors were very vibrant. The light was very dynamic and the shadows were very long. The different hues of brown and orange were remarkable.
Static and yet dynamic.
An unexpected spectacle
We made peace with the fact that we would have to settle with enjoying the landscape. But than, we got a pleasant surprise.
The first signs of interesting wildlife is often a couple of extremaly expensive lenses. We saw a couple of photographers with very expensive lenses. We thought they were looking for wolves.
It turned out they were looking for a very rare bird. Around five crossbills were spotted in the area. We went the way were they had been spotted and saw two or three specs on the horizon. They had just left for the night. We were too late. We decided to try again the next day.
After more than an hour of incredible cold wind and lots of hail, the sky cleared up. The colors were very vibrant and it looked like a spotlight was suddenly turned on.
And at this very moment we saw a couple of crossbills. They flew overhead and landed in a tree. We were very lucky to see them. They were very far away, but it was still a great sight.
A whole flock of crossbills.
Then a whole group arrived. The flock was very large (about 20 birds) and they were very close. They flew in circle and landed closer and closer. A small pond in front of us had lured them in. They were thirsty and some photographers wouldn't scare them off.
The light couldn't have been better. The colors were very vibrant and the birds were very close. I was a bit jealous of the photographers with their expensive 600mm lenses. But seeing the spectacle with my own eyes made up for it.
Sunny & lively
Our pessimism about the wildlife was proven wrong by the wearher. The sun turned every smallest detail into a spectacle. Virbant colors and a lot of birds changed the whole morning. It was almost like the forest had waited for this moment.
No people allowed
Crested tit (male)
We ended or short stay with this fantastic light. We also got a couple of cute birds in front of our lens. Especially the crested tits were nice and we don't seem them very often.
We would love to come back some day, but maybe when it's a bit warmer and when the days are longer...
Woodpecker in the woods
Thanks for the nice trip!