04/02/2019 Wageningen, Netherlands

Spotted Nutcracker (slender billed): There are some twitches that you know you will remember forever, some that stand out as extra special and this one most certainly fits that narrative.
Dawn and I booked a mini-break to Amsterdam staying on a lovely house boat along one of the beautiful canals that cross-cross the city.
We arrived late on Sunday night and booked a hire car for Monday morning.
After a fun night out and a good nights sleep we picked the car up from Centraal Station and embarked on the short journey to Wageningen, located about an hour east and was on pretty easy roads to navigate.

We arrived on the quiet suburban streets of Wageningen and ran in to two local birders, their English was good and they told us that they hadn't seen the bird in over two hours!!!
I was alarmed, I know that bird has been in this town since well before Christmas, but it had moved from the edge of an housing estate further into town and with the prowling cat population and local sparrowhawks I did think, if only for a second, that it may have gone! maybe for good.
Luckily however almost as soon as Dawn and I arrived and I opened a packet of hazelnuts the bird came straight in, right past my legs and landed right next to me. Within touching distance. This was superb, what an excellent way to see my first ever nutcracker.

The spotted nutcracker has an extensive range forming a broad swathe east-west from Scandinavia right across northern Europe, Siberia and to eastern Asia, including Japan, inhabiting the huge taiga conifer forests in the north.
The Eurasian nutcracker (N. caryocatactes) has several subspecies, each occupying a different part of the range and depending on different conifer species. Some of the populations can be separated on bill size. This individual is classified as a slender billed (N. c. macrorhynchos), which occurs over most of Siberia and is the most widespread of the bunch.
Spotted nutcrackers are not migratory, but will erupt out of range when a cone crop failure leaves them short of a food supply.
This slender billed eastern race being the more likely to do this.
The bird happily and boldly went about 'caching' the nuts, burying them under in the soil besides a kerb and laying dead leaves over them.
Dawn and I along with the two other birders were soon joined by some passing locals one of which came prepared and brought his own monkey nuts.
Taking one from his pocket and extending his arm the bird jumped out of the tree and on to the mans hand. I was blown away.

The bird flew up and drank out of a blocked gutter before disappearing, we went off for some lunch in the town and came back only to have the nutcracker spooked off by a passing sparrowhawk.

(this image was taken on my iPhone)

Sparrowhawk: I was relieved to see that the bird of prey was after the local pigeons - but the nutcracker better keep a sharp eye out! This picture was taken in the garden where it spent much of its time.

This was such a great trip, Amsterdam is a lovely city full of great sights and good food and seeing the nutcracker just topped it off.