A truly epic Euro-twitch!
It's been a while since we've done a quick and dirty twitch to the continent (Dec 2014 in fact) but the lure of this beauty was too much.
With the channel tunnel at only £46 for a day return and the mega queues of the weekend having died down to a trickle at the site Jus and I were up for it.
After a 01.23 tunnel and a 4 hour drive north to the village of Hoogwoud in Noord Holland (c20 miles north of Amsterdam) we arrived at the house to news the bird had already been see even though it wasn't yet light! Paying our 5 euros fee we quickly made our way upstairs to the balcony overlooking the garden and within about 10 minutes the male Siberian Rubythroat popped into view - wow! I don't often wax lyrical about birds but this bird was an absolute stunner, in the dingy conditions that metallic red throat positively glowed! Over the next 2.5 hours we filled our boots from both the balcony and looking down an pathway just outside the garden where the bird showed regularly under a laurel bush, on a lawn and on the path. Into the bargain a Siskin was flying around regularly, 6+ Tree Sparrows were in adjacent gardens and best of all for us Brits a Short-toed Treecreeper showed briefly but well in a tree right by where we stood.
We eventually quit the scene and headed south through Den Haag and down along the coast. A Great White Egret and plenty of geese (Barnacles, Brents and White-fronts) were seen near Leiden before we arrived at Brounesdam, a harbour on one of the bridges linking the coastal islands. Unfotunately history was the repeat itself from 2014 as we failed to find Black Guillemot but Black-necked Grebe, Great Northern Diver, c5 Red-throated Divers, c40 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Kingfisher made it well worth the stop. We also clocked up 1 Common Scoter, 2 Goldeneye, loads of Eider and a Little Grebe.
Next up was another small harbour at Oosterscheldeking where our 2nd shot at Black Guillemot paid off with great views of a nice 1w bird in the harbour mouth plus a Slavonian Grebe, c8 Red-breasted Mergansers, Rock Pipit, another Kingfisher and a Common Seal on one of the pontoons.
Last port of call was the beach on the edge of Wilhelminadorp just north of the village of Goes. Here the wintering female Pine Bunting gave us some wonderful views in grass and along the tide line in a small bay before memorably sitting on a fence post almost saying 'come photograph me'! Here we had our 3rd Kingfisher of the day. A single Great White Egret and a continuing stream of Common Buzzards (we probably saw 20+ all day) concluded things as we headed back towards Calais.