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Roze Spreeuw

Even geduld...

Dutch Birding volume 36 (2014) no 1


Northern Hawk-Owl at Zwolle in winter of 2013/14

On 12 November 2013, a train driver on a slow-riding train discovered a Northern Hawk-Owl Surnia ulula at Zwolle, Overijssel, the Netherlands. The bird perched on lines of the railway track within short distance of the passing train. The news was spread but not broadly picked up and searches the next days were fruitless. The bird was rediscovered independently on 24 November; again, the news was spread and, this time, the bird was relocated by local birders after dark and it was then twitched for a few hours in the dark, when perched on railway poles. From 25 November, the bird was seen daily until at least 26 January 2014. It was remarkably confiding and attracted 1000s of birders, also from abroad, and curious visitors attracted by lots of media attention. Probably, it was the country's most-visited vagrant ever. It was identified as nominate S u ulula from Scandinavia and northern Asia and aged as a first-winter. It hunted actively and successfully, mostly on mice, also by day, and prey identified from photographs included European Mole Talpa europaea, Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus, Common Vole Microtus arvalis, Common Blackbird Turdus merula and European Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus.

This was the fourth record for the Netherlands, after birds in October 1920 (collected), April 1995 and October 2005. It was part of an influx from Scandinavia and/or Russia that brought higher-than-average numbers to Finland, Denmark and the Baltic states, as well as three birds to Poland and at least six to Germany, some as far south as Thüringen and Sachsen.

David Uit de Weerd, Marterveld 47, 8017 ME Zwolle, Nederland
Hans Pohlmann, Boerhaar 47, 8131 SV Wijhe, Nederland
Lennaert Steen, Vrouwenlaan 153, 8017 HW Zwolle, Nederland