Friday, 6 April 2012

Magic cliffs

Local patch: in the early afternoon I had 2 Kestrels (females) from the house - flying along the karstic ridge. A Hawfinch flew overhead as well. Later I made a visit to the cliffs of Monte Grisa, after the sky cleared a bit in the afternoon. As I predicted there were quite good birds around. The most obvious were Alpine Swifts numbering something between 15 and 20 birds. They were all very busy catching insects in flight, so they were flying extremely low, just over the treetops. The noise they make with the wings when the fly past you at high speed is just awesome! Above are some shots I managed to obtain. Not too bad at all.
Several Swallows were within the flock as well and later also a much awaited hirundid flew east: a SAND MARTIN. Quite strangely, this is the first record for the local patch area. I was waiting several years to add a Sand Martin to the list. In fact they are probably regular on passage, but usually I didn't pay much attention to find one. A single House Martin was also flying nearby and 1-2 Common Swifts joined the show later. In the bushy area there were several singing Chiffchaffs and 2 WILLOW WARBLERS (both heard). A HOOPOE was also singing nearby in the deciduous woodland. Two male Blue Rock Thrushes gave their melodic songs from the top of the cliffs (both seen as well) and Rock Buntings, Hawfinch and 3 Dalmatian Algyroides were also around.
A very interesting sighting was that of several different flocks of migrating CURLEWS and WHIMBRELS over the gulf of Trieste. Initially I noticed the first flock of birds (Whimbrels) at 17.45. I could only locate the very high-flying birds by the calls they were giving. From that time until 18.50 I noticed a few other flocks (all located by ear) of both Curlews and Whimbrels. The last flock, numbering about 300 birds was a mixed one. In total there should have been about 350-400 birds migrating N and E. Predominantly were Curlews with about 120 Whimbrels.
It's always a thrill to see visible migration over your local patch!
Pics above (top to bottom): Alpine Swifts (5x), Common Swift and flowering rocky slopes