Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday birding with surprises

Škocjanski zatok NR: the water levels in the wetland were quite high today, especially in the brackish lagoon. This made wildfowl-counting quite difficult, because all the ducks were confined to some remote parts of the lagoon, hiding in the halophyte vegetation. The first good bird I found today was a female GOLDENEYE on the Jezerce pond (see pic above). Another female was later discovered in the deeper water body of the main freshwater marsh (probably a different bird). Within a big, mixed flock of House and Tree Sparrows (by the feeding station) I then discovered a fine male Spanish Sparrow. The bird was reported few days ago on the sightings logbook, so I checked the sparrow flock and was quite lucky to get the bird immediately - big part of the flock was hidden in the dense patch of bushes. Few years ago there was a small invasion of these birds in the reserve, with a wintering flock staying around for quite some time. If I remember well there were no further sightings from that year on. So this could be the beginning of a much awaited return!
By the car park, later I got another surprise: what seemed to be a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF was hanging around some reeds in the company of two other Common Chiffchaffs. The bird had the distinctive, very short and sad/melanconic call.
Other commoner birds today: 3 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Shelducks, 42 Wigeons, 1 Pintail, 73 Shovelers, 355 Teals, 10 Pochards (on Jezerce), male and female Tufted Ducks (also on Jezerce), 1 Buzzard (caught a Mallard in the lagoon!), 3 Water Rails, 683 Coots, 14 Curlews roosting with 16 Greenshanks and 1 Spotted Redshank, then 8 Snipes, lots of Water Pipits, 1 Sardinian Warbler still around (calling in the same place as last week), 1 female/1st winter Stonechat (see below) and 11 Jackdaws over the lagoon.

At about midday I was back again at Lazzaretto, on the Slovenian/Italian border. More or less the same birds as last week, with the addition of a nice Red-necked Grebe on the sea (below) and 8 Red-breasted Mergansers (5 males and 3 females) in courtship display.