Twitching the Dutch Hawk Owl … on the fly

An out of county interlude – allowable, I think …

It was too good an opportunity to miss. A pre-planned business trip to Utrecht and a long-staying Hawk Owl less than an hour away (52 mins by train + 5 mins in a taxi). It all hinged on having enough daylight left and enough time to get back to the airport to catch the flight home. It was doable – kind of.

I went prepared. Bins, scope, camera and tripod centre column only (for what it was worth) stowed surreptitiously in one bag as hand-luggage. Bowling into to a customer’s premises with a tripod slung over my shoulder would have looked a bit odd. I wasn’t there for a photoshoot.

Visit concluded early afternoon. I could have gone and spent 3.5 hours sitting in the airport. The decision was easy: Zwolle here we come!

An hour later. Walking down Primulapad past the sports field where it is frequently seen. No sign. Then I catch sight of a guy with a tripod disappearing behind some bushes on the other side of Marsweg. He must be in the know. I crossed the road and followed him. As I rounded the bushes I could hear the whirs and clicks of camera shutters and was amazed to see some 20 birders with their equipment trained on some metal framework above an electricity substation. And there it was, ‘The Boy’, seemingly unfazed by the close proximity of its admirers.  Hawk Owl, Zwolle, 10th December 2013 (Mike Alibone) 253.21Hawk Owl, Zwolle, 10th December 2013 (Mike Alibone) 254.32Hawk Owl, Zwolle, 10th December 2013 (Mike Alibone) 255.27

Images & Video: Hawk Owl, Zwolle, The Netherlands, 10th December 2013 (Mike Alibone)

I have always wanted to see Hawk Owl – especially after missing them on a two-week trip to Scandinavia many years ago. Unique and charismatic. It was as beautiful as it was awesome (I hate that word – but it was!).  It spent much of its time loafing and looking and making a couple of short flights before flying off up Marsweg.  My photographic attempts won’t win any prizes. Camera attached to scope, scope rammed against chain-link fence and balanced on laptop bag, just off the ground.

In the excitement I had forgotten I had not moved the time on my watch forward to Dutch time. I had an hour less than I thought. Consequence: train arrives at airport 15 minutes after intended flight has departed. Recovery: caught next cheesyjet flight back to Luton late evening. Mission accomplished.

2 thoughts on “Twitching the Dutch Hawk Owl … on the fly

  1. Nice one Mike, a bird very near the top of my list to see – still. I had a 10 hour stop-over in Holland on my way back from South Africa on 22nd November. If I’d known it was there I may have had a similar tale to tell – possibly without the missed flight.

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