Barnacle Goose - Spring in the Netherlands

Spring arrives in the Netherlands

A welcoming green carpet embroidered with spots of yellow, white and purple. Serenades of European Robins (Erithacus rubecula), Eurasian Blackbirds (Turdus merula) and the calls of Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and Great Tit (Parus major) brought in spring to the Netherlands.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) have started blossoming and daisies (Bellis perennis), Long-leaved Grape Hyacinth (Muscari latifolium) and several other flowers whose names I am just starting to identify are catching up. Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) are in full bloom; the riot of pink I see would pose a competition to the riot of orange of the Flame of the Forest back in India.

Spring comes to the Netherlands - Long-leaved grape hyacinth
Long-leaved grape hyacinth
Spring comes to the Netherlands - Red Ribs in flower
Red Ribs in flower

As weekends started to get more sunny, I took a rather long walk around Voorschoten near The Hague. It presented me with sights and sounds that affirmed the advent of spring. A look at the several canals revealed Eurasian Coots (Fulica atra), busy gathering twigs for their waterfront nests. Some coots have already completed their nests and have mated, like the ones near home. I came across a coot that was adamantly brooding in its nest hidden by the reeds. Perhaps there was already a clutch that it was protecting and then there were some that were swimming away with twigs in their beaks — late arrivals in the breeding scene.

Spring comes to the Netherlands - A burst of daisies
A burst of daisies
Netherlands - Dandelions herald the advent of spring
Dandelions herald the advent of spring

Greylag Geese (Anser anser) are easy to spot around farms and by water bodies these days. Flocks of Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) have been flying overhead and congregating in fields and lakes. Interestingly, they were joined by smaller flocks of Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), which gave me the opportunity to observe them side by side and compare them. I had to admonish myself for initially mistaking the Canada Goose for Barnacle Goose. However, the white crown made me recognize my error. I romantically wished I could have seen the other member of the Branta genus — the Brant Goose — alongside these.

A lone male Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) was busy preening in the lake. A pair of Gadwalls (Mareca strepera) appeared and flew out of a rather calm part of the water body into a more crowded one.

Netherlands - springtime
Lovely flowers that I could not identify
Spring comes to the Netherlands - Red-crested Pochard
A solitary Red-crested Pochard drake

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) all made their cameos, as did a pair of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba). Noisy Eurasian Magpies (Pica pica) and Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) made the most of the sun, as did I.

At this time of the year in the Netherlands, flowers are blooming, waterfowl are cackling, days are growing longer. Spring is here and a new cycle of seasons has begun.

Text & Photographs: Andy

Spring comes to the Netherlands - Eurasian Coot
A Coot brooding at its nest
Spring comes to the Netherlands - Greylag Goose
Greylag Geese are a common sight in the Netherlands in spring
Spring comes to the Netherlands - Barnacle Goose
The Barnacle Goose is of the Branta genus
As Vikram Seth might put it – “A Coot of Monte Cristo”
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