Western Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio

On Thursday 16 December 2021 Jorne van den Dool was kayaking and fishing in the Nieuwe Waterschap, just of Alblasserdam ZH. Suddenly a blue bird wuth a red bill drawed his attention in the reeds. He took some pictures with his mobile phone and in the evening he put one of these on a Facebook site asking for help on the identification. There it was quickly identified as a Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, a new bird for the netherlands. Wietze Janse noted the picture and asked Jorne for more information. At first Jorne was a little bit reluctant to share the location (it was also on of his favourite fishing spots), but in the end he revealed the location.
The next morning (Friday 17 December 2021), several birders were present at first light and it took almost no effort to relocate the bird. The bird was feeding in a reed bed bordering a canal and it was best to observe the bird from the opposite site.
I had to pick up a laptop from work in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, so I decided to make a detour via Alblasserdam, but I was trapped in a large traffic jam in Rotterdam which took me an hour to escape, but I was just in time to see the bird quite well for a long period, though from a distance.
The bird ignited a lot of discussion, in the first place it had the colours red and blue and in the second place the primaries had some broken tips and the right wing was hold in a peculiar way.

On Thursday 22 December 2021 Jenny van Dorland found and photographed another Western Swamphen on a parallel road of the Zuidplasweg in Zevenhuizen ZH. She uploaded her observation plus picture on waarneming.nl. The news was quickly spread and the bird seemed lost as it walk on a ploughed field and along a canal before it flew into the Eendragtspolder. Lots of birders congregated to see this individual as well, just to be sure the Dutch Rarity Committee would reject the bird at Alblasserdam. Nick van der Ham and I travelled together to the bird and again we were trapped into a traffic jam for an hour, but we made it in time.

17 December 2021, Het Nieuwe Waterschap, Alblasserdam ZH; © Jan van der Laan.

17 December 2021, Het Nieuwe Waterschap, Alblasserdam ZH; © Jan van der Laan.

17 December 2021, Het Nieuwe Waterschap, Alblasserdam ZH; © Jan van der Laan.

22 december 2021, Eendragtspolder, Zevenhuizen ZH; © Jan van der Laan. The other bird seen from a distance in a reed bed.

17 December 2021, Het Nieuwe Waterschap, Alblasserdam ZH; © Adri Streefland.

22 December 2021, Zevenhuizen ZH; © Luuk Punt. Here the bird was feeding in a field just north of the Eendragtspolder.

Western Swamphens are increasing in numbers and are spreading north and east. The UK has one record in 2016-2017. A bird was discovered at Minsmere RSPB reserve, Suffolk on 31 July 2016 and remained there until 5 August 2016, before being relocated in Lincolnshire on 30 August 2016, where it lingered until 4 January 2017 (Rare Bird Alert). In November 2021 there was also a bird in Belgium from 31 October 2021 to 23 November 2021 at the Vinne, near Zoutleeuw VB.
The first Dutch bird at the Alblasserwaard stayed from 16 December 2021 until 26 January 2022. The other Dutch bird at Zevenhuizen stayed from 22 December until 28 June (!) 2022. On 20 August 2022 the birds were accepted as the first and second record for the Netherlands.

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