The garden at Lumen became a place of pilgrimage for birdwatchers this week. The cause of all the excitement was the rare subalpine warbler.
The little bird was spotted on Thursday evening by BSc student of Forest and Nature Management Robert van der Meer. He was working on the Campus Challenge, an event organized by WSBV Sylvatica study association in which participants have to identify as many species of plants and animals as they can in one hour. ‘Unbelievable! Inadvertently focused my binoculars on a subalpine warbler,’ wrote Van der Meer on Facebook and a Dutch nature website waarnemingen.nl. ‘I knew it was a subalpine warbler straightaway,’ he says. ‘I am a fanatical birdwatcher and I’ve seen it before.’ The other students couldn’t believe it at first, but it turned out to be true. The bird is easily recognized from its colouring.
The news had predictable consequences. Birdwatchers from far and wide descended on the campus to see the subalpine warbler with their own eyes. Or rather, through the lens of topnotch binoculars and cameras. Gardener Wieger Wamelink knew what to expect. ‘Before you know it, our garden will be trampled to bits.’ On Friday the public were still allowed into the garden, but from Saturday they could only see the bird from the Mansholtlaan.