Sunday, 30 January 2011

Raven over the patch

Local patch: this morning a Raven flew over the patch heading straight towards the Karst (eastwards)... strangely it was coming from west, so somewhere from the sea or coast. In the garden the usual birds like Blue and Great Tits on fatballs and RSPB birdfeeder, occasional Blackcaps, Coal Tit, Greenfinches heard calling and Sparrowhawk hunting. Few days ago the odd-confiding Buzzard was perching on the tv aerial on a rooftop, just in front of my window. Also a loose flock of 30 Cormorants flew past along the coast and stopped on the sea.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Winter's first Merlin for Škocjanski zatok

Škocjanski zatok (KP): today's highlight was a superb male MERLIN perched on the grass in the freshwater marsh. It remained there for at least 10-15 minutes, giving great views (see pics above). It represents the first record of the species this winter. Other birds in the area included: 2-3 Wigeon, Shoveler, lots of Teals, 2 males Pochard (in the freshwater), 2 females Tufted Duck, +6 Pygmy Cormorant, 1 Great Egret, 1 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawks, 10-15 Greenshanks over the brackish lagoon and 1 female Brambling (ringed) at the feeding station (with all the other finches and tits).

Lazzaretto - Muggia (TS) - on the sea: +12 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Curlew on the mudflats, 5 Great Crested Grebes, +5 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Kingfishers, 1 Black-throated Diver and 1 male Common Eider, which seems to be an irregular visitor to the area.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

RED-BREASTED GOOSE & Slavonian Grebes

Tried to catch up with the rare geese this morning at Isola della Cona: dipped the recently reported Lesser White-fronted and Pink-footed Geese... instead I did found the fantastic *RED-BREASTED GOOSE* within the massive flock of White-fronted Geese (see pic above). The birds were not in the freshwater marsh, but out of the reserve, grazing on the fields at Terranova (GO). The flock contained approx. 1000-1500 White-fronted Geese. Among them were also 2 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE (ssp. rossicus)...and of course the Red-breatsed. Probably the Lesser White-fronted was also within that flock, but I wasn't able to find it (and not even bothered!).
At 10.45 am a superb male Hen Harrier flew past above the fields. Meadow Pipits also heard in the area.
Isola della Cona itself (the freshwater was completely frozen over) held: 5-6 Goldeneyes, 200 Lapwings over Alberoni, 1 BITTERN half-hidden in the reedbed (but seen well), 3 Water Rails (all three gave excellent views - out of cover), 1 Green Woodpecker, 4 Pochards, 1 f Marsh Harrier, Dunlin (flocks on the mudflats), 1 Goshawk hunting.

At 11.45 am a stop on the seaside at Lisert produced 3 nice SLAVONIAN GREBES (see pics below), 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and lots of Great Crested Grebes.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Alpine specialities & Eagle Owls

Spent this nice sunny Sunday climbing onto the mount Cuarnan above Gemona del Friuli with some friends. Although this wasn't a birding trip, we managed to see some pretty nice species. Soaring in the sky at least 4 Griffon Vultures. In the upland habitat we were surprised to find a female Hen Harrier hunting small passerines (in grassland habitat); even stalking a flock of ALPINE ACCENTORS (20-30 ind.). The latter quite approachable when perched on rocks. On the top of the mountain a flock of 48 ALPINE CHOUGHS flew past, while in the woods a bit lower, Marsh Tits and Bullfinches were common. Also two Ravens flew by.
But the highlight of the day was perhaps a pair of EAGLE OWLS singing "in tandem" (both male and female), on the rocky habitat just above the town of Gemona (heard from the town centre!). We managed to see well the female - flying and then perching on some exposed bushes , while the male was a bit more elusive - seen only once in flight.
Pics above: first - Alpine Chough photographed some years ago on the mount Triglav (Slovenia); second - on the top of the Cuarnan.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Blue Tit on the fatball

Local patch: this Blue Tit is now a daily sighting in the garden as it feeds on the fatball. Occasionally also taking seeds from the RSPB birdfeeder.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Pochards & Cormorant roost count

In the evening I went in the bay of Lazzaretto (Muggia - TS) to count the Cormorant/Shag roost.
Total scores:
Cormorant: 109
Shag: 60
Other birds at sea included: 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Great Grested Grebes, 3 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Black-throated Diver.

Škocjanski zatok: today the highlights were 2 Common Gulls, 2 Pochards (male and female - see pics on the top) and a female Tufted Duck in the freshwater marsh. Other birds included 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Curlew, 25 Greenfinches, 1 f Goldeneye in the brackish lagoon, 1 Greenshank, 1 Lapwing, 1 Water Rail (heard) and quite large numbers of ducks in the brackish lagoon (Shovelers, Wigeons...).

Local patch: two Blue Tits this morning taking the seeds from the RSPB birdfeeders along with the usual Great Tits (above) and Chaffinches. Regularly feedeing on the fatball too. In the area also a Coal Tit, usual Buzzard and a nice male Black Redstart.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sunshine against the fog... and a Wallcreeper

This morning I went on the Karst to get a bit of sun, as the coast was completely wrapped in thick fog for several days (and still it is!). Some really fantastic views opened in front of me as I walked towards mount Stena, near Bazovica: complete sunshine all across the Karst plateau... and thick fog as long as you descend towards the coast (see pics above). The highlight was a nice WALLCREEPER on the cliffs at the same spot as usual - showing pretty well I must say! In the pine wood there was a mega-load of buzzing Coal and Crested Tits as well as some Crossbills in medium sized flocks. Also a Buzzard and two Ravens.

Local patch: in the morning a Blue Tit was feeding on the fatball I just put out yesterday. The usual Great Tits were taking seeds from the RSPB birdfeeder... but not even touching the fatball!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Greater Scaups and bunting flocks

Today's birding along the coast was much conditioned by the thick fog that lasted for the whole day. So with very poor visibility I didn't manage to see lots of birds: big "invisible" flock of White-fronted Geese near the Brancolo canal, Pintails at Lisert, few hundred Pochards on the Averto canal, 2 female Greater Scaups (1 on the Averto and 1 on the Quarantia canal), 2 male Tufted Ducks on the Averto, some Goldeneyes, 1f Red-breasted Merganser, 5-6 Cattle Egrets on the fields at Fossalon, Curlew, a hundred Common Gulls on the Averto, Grey Wagtail, 1 Chiffchaff singing at Lisert, several Penduline Tits at Lisert and Valle Cavanata, Siskin. In the Lisert area there was a nice large, mixed flock containing: Chaffinches, some Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings and Cirl Buntings (including breeding-plumaged males) plus a couple of Rock Buntings.
Photo above: Cirl Bunting photographed at Lisert few years ago

Friday, 14 January 2011

A single Fieldfare on the Karst

In the vicinity of Repnič (TS) on the Karst I added some new species to my year list: several Hawfinches were present in the oak canopies, Mistle Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper and 2-3 Marsh Tit. Plus usual woodland stuff: Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Nuthatch... But the highlight was a FIELDFARE flying above the wood with one Mistle Thrush.

HEN HARRIER over the patch

Local patch: this morning at 8.50 a ringtail HEN HARRIER drifted over the patch, being mobbed by the local Hoodies. It followed the coastline, heading north. This is only the second record ever of the species in the area.
In the gardens also: Greenfinch (heard), m and f Blackcap, 3 Chaffinches, 1 male Black Redstart, a small flock of Crossbills flew overhead, Coal Tit, 1 GOLDCREST, Wren, Dunnock (showing well), Cirl Bunting, Goldfinches feeding on plane-trees. On the sea a Great Crested Grebe and 75 Black-headed Gulls.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Another BITTERN showing very well

Škocjanski zatok: today I had some really great views on a BITTERN... in fact the best views of this species in my whole lifetime! The bird was "fishing" by an extensive reedbed just in front of one of the screenings. That was about 10 meters away from me! But it didn't seem scared as it remained out of cover for at least 5 minutes (even if there was a constant influx of people passing nearby). At this distance I could enjoy the bird in all its beauty and examinate the detailes of the plumage. Unfortunately I had only my binoculars and no telescope or camera... so this Bittern remains photo-less.
In the area also: 1 f Stonechat, 2 singing Cetti's Warblers, Reed Bunting, 25 Grey Herons, 2 Water Rail, 10 Meadow Pipit flew overhead, Curlew, Wigeon, 1 Great Egret, Siskins on passage, Tree Sparrow.
There was also a small ringing session, but the birds in the nets were only few Greenfinches, Chaffinches, 1 Tree Sparrow, Blue Tit, some House Sparrows and Italian well as some hybrids.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

FIELDFARES in the patch & coastal birding

Local patch: in the morning I first heard and then spotted two FIELDFARES flying off in the garden area. This is only the second record ever for the species in the patch. Also this morning 1 Wren calling, Coal Tit, Black Redstart.

On the sea at the end of Barcola a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was present (probably the same individual I saw in December) among a flock of Yellow-leggs and BH Gulls.
Miramare was quite disappointing with few gulls, 2 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Coots (!) and the usual Shags.

The Rilke path area (Duino - TS) was more productive with: 11 Jackdaws on Duino's castle, 2 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Rock Bunting, 9 Common Eiders (3 drakes), 1 male PEREGRINE (took off from a perch), 1 male Firecrest, some Bramblings and 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Bittern at Škocjanski zatok

Škocjanski zatok: went to check the Red-breasted Goose, reported few days ago in the reserve, but didn't find any goose at all. Even the "local" juv. Lesser White-fronted was gone. Instead I had nice views on BITTERN, showing well out in the open between two reedbeds. Few other birds around: 5 Pygmy Cormorant, 7 Wigeon, 2 Greenshank, 1 female Goldeneye, 14 Snipe, 2 Spotted Redshank, Shoveler, 1 Curlew.

Local patch: at 14.00 pm a Cirl Bunting was singing!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Norfolk delights

I'm back from my birding trip to Norfolk...a complete report can be found HERE. (pic above: Snow Bunting by DomenS)

The highlights were:
BRENT GOOSE (including the pale-bellied form hrota)
NORTHERN HARRIER (American ssp. hudsonius)
Plus lots of Barn Owls, Pink-footed Geese, Bittern, Fulmar, Slavonian Grebe, Merlin, Knot...