Hi Rick and Elis,
On the saddest day of the year I write you.
Today most of the farmers started mowing so many [Black-tailed] Godwit chicks have been killed today. After Sunday and warm weather they mowed almost the whole polder. I am sad and tired now.
I have found already more than hundred Godwit nests and [Common] Redshanks and [Northern] Lapwings too. Most of them lay in June meadows. Called like that, as they will be mown in June, time to grow up for the chicks.
I have worked so hard, eat in my car, almost sleep in my car. Hope to mark a few nests before the mowing machines arrive. Ronald [Messemaker] helped me a lot. He is a great guy. I already ringed ten adults.
So this is the Dutch story.
Now more rest, we continue on the saved chicks, hope they grow well.
Elis and I will be going to The Netherlands to join Astrid next weekend to see first hand what is happening there and to see Astrid doing the great things she does.
But you don't have to take our word for the fact that what she is doing is important, a short time ago Astrid was honoured by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands for her work with the godwits which she has been doing voluntarily for close to 30 years saving a growing number of godwits every year from the horror of death by grass mower.
The problem these birds are facing is that the cutting of the meadows is happening earlier and earlier each year. Traditionally it was in June or July giving the young birds plenty of time to fledge, but as you can see the cutting is now being done in early to mid may when the eggs and young chicks are unable to avoid the mowing machines. Astrid has been locating nests and with the co-operation of many farmers getting them marked so when the mowing starts the area around the nests can be left and cut later. Once the mowing starts, Astrid rides with the farmers on their machines and looks for chicks and save as many as she can. Inevitably she will not succeed in every case and this must be very upsetting and harrowing for someone so dedicated to her beloved godwits.
|Astrid and a caring farmer with a couple of rescued Black-tailed Godwit chicks. You can see this makes Astrid very happy, however the farmer looks a little bemused by the whole affair.|