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World Migratory Bird Day 2020 in the Netherlands

© Rob Dekker

By Eurosite member the Dutch Montagu’s Harrier Foundation

The weather forecast looked promising for Saturday May 9th 2020, World Migratory Bird Day. This was good news for the Dutch Montagu’s Harrier Foundation since harriers are easier to find when on the wing. If rain clouds fill the sky with their dreariness it always seems to translate to the mood of most birds. However, when the sun is shining their behaviour is more obvious and that is exactly what we need when searching for nests. Together with several volunteers the province of Flevoland in the Netherlands was traversed to find breeding pairs of Montagu’s harriers, marsh harriers and if extremely lucky, hen harriers. It is coincidental that our field day is also World Migratory Bird Day. Although it is hard to imagine any better way to spend this special day than by protecting some of our most vulnerable migratory raptor species.

Life does not come easy to the ones breeding in agricultural fields. After travelling over the endless miles of the Sahara Desert, crossing the Mediterranean Sea without support of thermals and avoiding all dangers initiated by humans, such as wind turbines, migratory birds deserve safe habitat to arrive to. We are there to reduce risks caused by agricultural activities and ground predation by placing a protective fence around their nests. Even though the world through our eyes has changed dramatically by all measures concerning the coronavirus, migratory birds continue to arrive as they always do. Although the sky may be just a little bit clearer for them too at the moment, they still need the same protection against us humans among many other things. But we are also the ones who can make the difference, proven by all our volunteers, more than willing farmers letting us do our work on their land, and everyone else sending us their field observations or help in any other way.

Some very observant volunteers also found out about the silent return of GPS-tagged Montagu’s harrier Anneke. She was already in her breeding area in the Netherlands, while the last signal of her tag came from Mali. Photos of Rob Dekker showed her as alive as ever! Since then, the settings of her GPS-tag are changed and we have received all the data of her long journey (see image). Follow Anneke and other tagged Montagu’s harriers on their journey online: https://grauwekiekendief.nl/volg-zenderkieken/.

Birds connect our world, let’s not lose their native ability to broaden our horizon.

Photograph by © Rob Dekker