Hawk Owl - Surnia ulula

Every other year or two Hawk Owls Surnia ulula will go south from their breeding grounds and will reach southern Sweden and sometimes northern Denmark. But will they ever reach the Nterhlands in such a way everybody can see one here? So far they didn't. But things can change...
Sunday 30 October 2005 Han Luc Holtkamp was having a walk near the radio telescopes of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) of the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy (ASTRON), on the grounds of the former concentration camp Westerbork. There he saw an owl in a treetop just above him, which he identified as an Hawk Owl Surnia ulula. Next morning he tolded his colleague - and birder - Eric Jan Alblas what he had seen. Eric Jan warned the Dutch Bird Alert and together with Peter van Wetter - who works nearby - , they searched the area. After a short search they found the bird in the top of a pine tree at around 10:15 hours. They warned the Bird Line again and through the pager and mobile phone system every birder was alerted. Till dusk the bird was seen by a large crowd of birders, coming from every corner of the country. It could be observed at close range, was seen catching rodents, disappeared for short periods, but was always relocated. The following days, however, it could not be found again.

31 October 2005, Westerbork Dr; © Leo Boon; more pictures at www.cursorius.com.

31 October 2005, Westerbork Dr; © Harm Niesen.

31 October 2005, Westerbork Dr; © Michel Veldt.

This was only the third record for the Netherlands. The first was one shot at Amerongen, Utrecht, on 5 October 1920 (Dutch Birding 6 (1): 24-25, 1984), the second was a bird staying for one day only at Brunssum, Limburg, on 2 April 1995 (Dutch Birding 19 (1): 12-14, 1997).

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