Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Excubitor joy

Autumn's first GREAT GREY SHRIKE is always a thrill. This afternoon I went to look for it in a place where I supposed I could find one on the Slovenian Karst. The area is the same where Barred Warblers breed in spring and the meadows seem perfect for a wintering Great Grey Shrike. And there it was: a fluffy white ball sitting on the hawthorn bushes (see pics). Priceless!
The area held a good variety of other typical autumn birds. Meadow Pipits were feeding on the grassland along with Skylarks, Woodlarks, about 40 noisy Mistle Thrushes and a single Song Thrush. Loose flocks of Chaffinches were constantly passing overhead and were present in every patch of woodland. Among them I could also hear a migrating Brambling, several Linnets, Siskins, some Yellowhammers and the usual overflying Tree Pipits. A flock of about 30 Swallows was also present in the air. Who knows if these are the last hirundines I see this year? Other birds included 2 singing Corn Buntings, 1 Wren, 1 Dunnock, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 female Common Redstart, 2 Ravens and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling from the woodland.

Škocjanski zatok NR: in the morning I had the usual weekly count which failed to produce any really good sightings. There was a clear autumn swing in the air with top birds being passerines: +25 Penduline Tits, 12 Reed and 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Whinchat and 1 Stonechat, 3 Song Thrushes (first for the autumn), 1 Dunnock, small numbers of Meadow and Water Pipits (also first of the season), 4 Tree Pipits, small flocks of Siskins, 1 Hawfinch, 1 Cirl and several Reed Buntings. Also usual waterbirds present with 4 Black-necked Grebes in the lagoon (instead of the usual 2), 2 Garganeys, 1 Water Rail and so on.

Local patch: yesterday the first GOLDCREST for the season was on the pine tree along with several Coal Tits (a small invasion these days). Also a male Black Redstart, Cirl Buntings calling nearby, 1 Garden Warbler on the cherry tree and a couple of JACKDAWS that flew past this evening.