Wijk aan Zee  birding at a car park

On 11 June 2014, Jonelle gave birth to our wonderful son Julian. My birding activities suddenly changed. Time seemed scarce and getting up early to visit my local patch required planning. Carrying around binoculars, tripod, telescope, camera, microphone and a baby proved challenging. Keeping him comfortable and happy and looking for birds at the same time, asked for exceptional skills.

When Julian was five months old, I decided to try my luck at a car park. After all, birding can be done almost anywhere, so why not from the comfort of my car, I thought. Although a car park of about 14 000 m² with no trees or bushes might seem unattractive to a birdwatcher, this one looked promising to me. It was located right along the coast at Wijk aan Zee, Noord-Holland, and offered nice views over both sea and dunes. Literally, within three minutes I found a Richard’s Pipit and a whole bunch of other great species soon followed (even though Julian missed most of them). Between November 2014 and November 2015, I visited the car park 45 times. The time spent ranged from half an hour to almost four hours per visit. The best bird I saw was a Barred Warbler on 4-5 October 2015. A juvenile Great White Pelican flying north on 29 August 2015 had possibly escaped from a zoo in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland. Oh and the number of parked cars ranged from 4 to 268.

As I was curious about what else might be skulking around, I placed a trail camera in the dunes 500 m south of the car park. I chose a spot where I had once found a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler. While installing the camera on 30 December 2014, I flushed a Eurasian Woodcock – an interesting start of my new project. When I relocated the camera another 300 m to the south four months later, because I was afraid that curious children would discover it, a Ring Ouzel was showing in the very next bush. By mid-June the vegetation on this new spot had grown a lot taller than I had expected, overgrowing the camera completely. Until then, it had captured images of 19 bird species, including Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Woodcock and Bluethroat.

Appendix 1 shows all 125 species I encountered from the car park (c 44% of all species I have ever recorded in the whole IJmond region), including some exciting ones like Olive-backed Pipit and Little Bunting during a couple of visits since November 2015. 

Northern Wheatear intobirding.com

A migrant Northern Wheatear visiting the car park.

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Published 6 March 2018