Birding on Texel in Late October


The Dutch Island of Texel is well-known amongst European birders because of the thrilling quantity and high quality of birds it attracts throughout spring and autumn migration instances. Though not as thrilling as Helgoland, which I coated right here lately, Texel is a wonderful location in its personal proper. I spent three full days on Texel in late October, which was nearly sufficient to cowl this surprisingly giant island.

Arriving on the hostel I stayed at within the afternoon, I dropped off my baggage and headed to a website the place a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler was seen earlier that day. A vagrant Isabelline Wheatear was current on the island the day earlier than I arrived, so I felt that I not less than deserved the warbler (one other Isabelline Wheatear was discovered just a few days after I left Texel, so they’re clearly messing with me). Simply as I left the positioning after an extended search, the secretive however energetic Pallas’s Leaf-Warbler appeared within the reeds, exhibiting off its lovely facial markings and vivid rump – excellent begin of the journey!

On my first full day I explored the northern a part of the Island and was notably completely happy to discover a group of Bearded Reedlings – one other lifer (maybe mildly embarrassing for somebody who’s been birding for so long as lengthy as I’ve). As is usually the case with lifers, I noticed extra Bearded Reedlings at a distinct website the next day. Clearly that is simply since you occur to be at an appropriate place and time, nevertheless it feels extra like they wish to mock your preliminary pleasure by exhibiting you that they’re all over the place and also you simply failed to seek out them.

A couple of Bohemian Waxwings have been additionally an ideal addition to my life-list and a long-awaited hen. They have been feeding in a small tree within the village of De Koog and have been very approachable.

Bohemian Waxwing

The morning of my second day was partly dedicated to a Lengthy-tailed Duck within the Mokbaai on the island’s southern tip. I’m was very pleased with this sighting, however observed that these birds by no means appear to be males of their enticing non-breeding plumage, the principle picture you recall from the hen guides. I additionally noticed Eurasian Woodcock, Northern Goshawk, and Hen Harrier within the neighborhood. Scanning via a flock of European Golden-Plovers within the night close to de Coog was worthwhile as I picked out a Eurasian Dotterel, surprisingly late within the 12 months for this passage migrant.

On my remaining day, I spent a while watching waders from the small pier at de Cocksdorp. Frequent Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Frequent Redshank, Eurasian Curlew, Purple Knot, Dunlin, and Sanderling have been feeding fortunately on the mudflats, whereas Inexperienced Sandpiper and Noticed Redshank have been added to the wader tally on a flooded discipline.

Frequent Redshank

A Siberian Stonechat was discovered by the lighthouse on my second day. It was solely current for an hour so I systematically checked each stonechat I got here throughout fastidiously, however all of them remained European Stonechats. This hen me partly due to the complicated taxonomy and identifaction of stonechats. A couple of days after I left Heligoland a month earlier, a stonechat was noticed that would solely be recognized as Siberian (Saxicola maurus) or Amur/ Stejneger’s (S. stejnegeri), and thus for now was simply thought to be an “Jap Stonechat” (each species lumped). I by no means earlier than seemed into this distinction, however seems that this problem happens fairly ceaselessly, particularly with vagrants. A fellow volunteer from my time in Helgoland despatched me a research reviewing variations of S. maurus and S. stejnegeri, which describes the variations very effectively (Hellström & Waern, 2023 – printed in British Birds, sadly solely accessible with a subscription). The rump and uppertail-coverts colour is seemingly probably the most dependable indicator, with S. stejnegeri usually have a hotter tone.

You’re in all probability questioning that I had higher seen the beast if I’m making such a fuss about them right here! Happily, the hen was relocated the next day close by to the place I used to be birding anyway so I ended by an obtained good views of the Siberian Stonechat, throughout just about the one half hour of sunshine I had over the three days. It was fairly a particular particular person, notably its pale rump.

Siberian Stonechat

Total, I additionally very a lot loved the environment of migration throughout my keep. Massive numbers of Greylag Goose, Higher White-fronted Goose, Brent Goose, and Barnacle Goose dotted the fields, and lots of extra vocal flocks flew low over the flat panorama, making for atmospheric moments. Teams of as much as 100 thrushes, primarily Fieldfares and Redwings, handed via and foraged within the bushes as effectively.

I additionally noticed just a few Snow Buntings on the seaside close to the lighthouse. I used to be scouring the realm for Lapland Bunting specifically, however was not fortunate and likewise didn’t have any people flying overhead, or not less than none giving their distinctive calls that always point out their presence. Nevertheless, I used to be rewarded with two Purple-throated Divers feeding proper on the seaside, and a possible however too transient Black-throated Diver additional out at sea.

Purple-throated Diver

October is a superb time to go to Texel, and my journey made this evident to me once more as I noticed just a few lifers I didn’t count on. I used to be very glad with my sightings and with the prospect to discover the island extra completely and at a extra relaxed tempo than I might on my earlier day-trips.


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