Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Warbler ID - Competition

Little Competition - What am I?

No prizes!!

Lazy Pictures!

White Stork - a nest in every village - I just love that and I so really want to live in a village that has one of these breeding in them every year. Villages in BG that don't have storks in are jealous of those that do!! Don't do the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction in Suffolk - bring back the White Stork.

Not seen Squacco Heron for many a moon - last time was in the Camargue when I worked as a wildlife guide.

Another lifer for me - Sombre Tit

Black-headed Bunting (Feldeg)

Woodchat Shrike

Hawfinch - another bird really really common in BG (also had loads in Ukraine in 2009) but one that has suffered massive declines in the UK.

Another Feldeg! such a cracking wagtail although when pressed I do like a good Flavissima!!


Raptors were one of the main reasons for the survey as the SAKAR IBA is one of the best places in BG to see Imperial Eagle (which I was lucky enough to see on the April visit) and Saker Falcon - which I didn't see!!

Unfortunately no pics of the Imperial Eagle which we saw miles and miles away from site. All the books say - find European Ground Squirrel and you will find the Eagle. We only found one colony of Ground Squirrel and we only found one Imperial Eagle - its nice when nature actually reads the book!!

Both visits were very raptor-tastic with 11 raptors seen over the two visits. All were seen on both visits with the exception of Imperial Eagle (Visit 1 only) and Honey Buzzard (Visit 2 only).

Raptors seen included -
  • European Honey Buzzard
  • Black Kite
  • Hen Harrier (passage only - very rare breeding bird in BG)
  • Montagu's Harrier
  • Common Buzzard
  • Long-legged Buzzard
  • Lesser-spotted Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Short-toed (Snake) Eagle
  • Red-footed Falcon
  • Eurasian Hobby
  • Common Kestrel (on way from Sofia to the site - number 12!!!)

Montagu's Harrier definitely breed locally - we had one male fly very close to the vehicle when away from the survey area. Adult male with carrying nesting material and he landed about 10 metres away from the 4x4. Amazing views which were followed by cries of 'Quick get the cameras out!!' Frantic scrabbling ensued however to no avail. Once we were all set up ready to go a Black Kite came through spotted Monsieur Monti's and mobbed him - this was brilliant! Male Monti's being attacked by Black Kite - both in the air having a go. Well no photos but got some great images in my head! Here's a Black Kite from Visit 2 -

Best BOP of the two trips (well apart from the adult Imperial Eagle) has to have been these -

Honey Buzzard - which embarrassingly was a lifer for me - always been in the wrong place at the wrong time in the UK for these. Have even been to know breeding locations in the UK - Norfolk but before spotting them someones pager has always gone off and we were away to go twitching! Best was for Blue Rock Thrush in Hemel Hempsted which of course turned out to be an escaped cage bird. From Norfolk to the M1 and then ending up at Staines Reservoir - what a day!

Locally breeding we think -pale phase Booted Eagle - seen on both visits.
That's it for raptor pictures however good raptor spotting - need another trip but this time in Autumn migration.

Bulgaria - May 2010 Visit Part One

Finally - am so bad at this (things will change and will have some very exciting news in the next week or so).
This will mostly just be a reel of the pictures that were promised probably 2 months ago!

Black-headed Bunting - one of the species that we thought should have been at the site but weren't on the April visit. A little later in migration that was expected.

An extemely interesting species and very pretty - quite unusual in its song which is not very 'bunting' but more Common Whitethroat - can be quite confusing first time you here it.

One of my favorites - Calandra Lark - huge in flight with such an obvious white trailing edge and song/display flight like a terradactyl - large and very slow in flight. I have seen alot of these on all visits to Bulgaria and having to do BBS surveys for this species has been interesting because where they occur they occur in huge numbers. Also there is no BTO BBS code for Calandra Lark so we had to make one up - XL - quite apt really!
Crested Lark - the ultimate 'hard' lark and never yield to a car until the very last minute - the number of times we had to slam on the brakes on agricultural tracks to avoid the little critters.

One of the best birds in BG - Corn Bunting - they are absolutely everywhere which is amazing when you think of how dramatic the decline in the British population has been over recent years. Agricultural reform has not quite hit BG yet and I really hope it doesn't.

= This needs no introduction!!

Another UK bird that has suffered huge declines but is very widespread and common in BG. They also sing most of the day but it has to be said that they are best first thing in the morning!!