Thursday, 1 December 2011

White-fronts & beyond

Škocjanski zatok NR: I'm very pleased to report 4 juvenile WHITE-FRONTED GEESE today on the reserve. I found them grazing together on a small patch of grass in the freshwater marsh (see pic below). Only one of the four had some white on the forehead and a bit of black streaking on the belly (suggesting a sub-adult or something similar). Last year we also had 4 White-fronts in this period on the reserve, but these birds are far than common here. However more or less regular in the last years, even though it's always quite a surprise seeing a goose around. Hope they stay for the winter...and maybe we'll get some other geese as well!
The other highlight for the reserve today were 2 SARDINIAN WARBLERS "chatting" to each other in the bushes along the lagoon. I managed to see one and discovered it was a female; it showed for a few seconds on the hedge. The other one was only heard calling. It's known for Sardinian Warblers to wander around in winter, but finding them in a wetland area was a bit odd.
Other birds recorded this morning during the census included: 2 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Shelducks, 73 Wigeons, 65 Shovelers, 574 Teals, 8 Pochards and 4 Tufted Ducks on Jezerce pond, 4 Water Rails (showing well on the path), total of 676 Coots, 2 Lapwings in the lagoon, 15 Curlews, 1 Grey Plover (in the lagoon), 16 Greenshanks, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 17 Snipes, 516 Black-headed Gulls (just to report the large number), 11 Skylarks, 10 Water Pipits, 6 Meadow Pipits, 1 Grey Wagtail, 15 Penduline Tits, flock of 17 Jackdaws over the lagoon, 1 Hawfinch and other usual finches plus Reed Buntings.
Snipes feeding on the mud:

In the early afternoon I had time to check once more the bay of Lazzaretto on the border. I must say I was quite impresseed by the good variety of birdlife that was around (both on sea and on shore). The 2 Grey Plovers were still around on the mudflats, along with a Common Sandpiper, a Little Egret and a Curlew that took off immediately as I arrived. Two Reed Buntings were calling from the tiny patch of reedbed and just from beneath it, two showy Water Rails emerged. They came out to feed on the mudflats and they stayed out of cover for the whole time I was there. Sometimes they both ventured quite far away from the reedbed, out into the open. While I had them in my scope view, a cat crossed just few metres behind (see pic)! The didn't seem too wary about the potential predator...
On the sea the interest was provided by a beautiful male Red-breasted Merganser (another one was seen flying offshore), 5 Black-necked Grebes, 5 Mute Swans, 3 Great Crested Grebes and 2 fishing Sandwich Terns (one landed nearby). Also a Black Woodpecker called a few times from the nearby wood.
Grey Plover:

Sandwich Tern posing:

Common Sandpiper:

Red-breasted Merganser:

Water Rails...and cat:

I'll have to check more often this area, especially in the winter period. The potential is quite good, with the possibility to see scarce species and unusual ones for the area. Red-necked Grebe is regular here, along with the more rare Slavonian. Divers are probable too, with the top mega of this area: a White-billed Diver seen here several years ago! And not to mention the migrating Short-eared Owl I got last spring...