Thursday, 23 February 2012

SPOTTED CRAKE heralds the arrival of spring!

Škocjanski zatok NR: top bird of the day was a SPOTTED CRAKE that I found during the monitoring (see pics above). While I was counting the ducks on the freshwater marsh, this little rail entered in my scope view and entertained me for about five minutes, while it fed out in the open with a bunch of Ruffs. I must say I'm really glad to see the first returning summer migrants!
Other birds that added a "touch of spring" to the air included: 35-40 Ruffs (in different flocks on the freshwater marsh), 5 Black-tailed Godwits and a flock of 14 Lapwings on the grazing marsh.
The White-fronted Geese were still around and I counted a total of 421 birds. They were moving quite a lot, probably visiting the nearby areas for feeding. Within the main flock were also 9 Greylag Geese.
Other birds around today: 17 Little Grebes (very low numbers), 4 Pygmy Cormorants, 3 Great Egrets, 29 Wigeons (confined to the freshwater marsh), 1 female Pintail, 41 Shovelers, 152 Teals, 15 Pochards, 8 Tufted Ducks, 1 Buzzard, 466 Coots (decreasing), 9 Curlews, 4 Greenshanks, 3 Snipes, 640 Black-headed Gulls (awful lot!), 141 Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 Caspian Gulls (usual first-winters), 83 Common Gulls (high number!), 11 Skylarks on the grazing marsh, 10 Water Pipits, 22 Fieldfares (in different flocks over the reserve; 2 feeding on the grass), 9 Penduline Tits, 15 Jackdaws, 3 Hawfinches and Reed Bunting.
Some Ruffs sported quite extensive white on the underparts:

Black-tailed Godwit:

First-winter Caspian Gull:

No sign of Garganeys yet, but the firsts should be here in a while...