Sunday, 31 July 2011

July movement continues

Spent most of the day birding the coastal wetlands. A morning stop at the Doberdob lake NR area revealed a nice flock of 20-30 Bee-eaters sitting on the wires (migrants 100%!). Other highlights there included 3 calling Sardinian Warblers, 1 Rock Bunting, 2 Red-backed Shrikes and lots of calling Nightingales (in every bush).
Lisert wetland followed, with the highlight there being: 1 female PIED FLYCATCHER (my earliest autumn record of the species!), Common Sandpiper, HOBBY calling (3 birds at least - local family), 1 WHIMBREL in the brackish pool, 4 Common Eiders offshore and Sandwich & Common Terns.
Midday and early afternoon at Isola della Cona and the nearby low-tide beach of Punta Barene (Staranzano). Still plenty of waders and usual wetland stuff: Garganey (females), 2 Little Bitterns (m and f), Night Heron, 2 Purple Herons, 2 juv. Spoonbills, 1 singing Water Rail (!), 6 OYSTERCATCHER on the mudflats of P.Barene, 6 AVOCETS in the freshwater marsh, Black-winged Stilt (probably the last ones before departure), juv.Little Ringed Plovers, 45 Lapwings, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, +36 Little Stints, Wood Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Common Redshanks, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, 4 MARSH SANDPIPERS (in the freshwater marsh), +300 Curlews and +10 WHIMBRELS on the mudflats of P.Barene and Foce Isonzo, then 3 Snipes, 5-8 Ruffs, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 ad GULL-BILLED TERNS (usual place among Bh Gulls in the freshwater marsh), Bee-eater, Sand Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail, Nightingale, Reed and GR Warbler, 1 Melodious Warbler, Golden Oriole. Also 2 Roe Deers in the freshwater marsh and 2-3 Lesser Purple Emperors along the path.
An overall pretty good day!
Photos above (from top): Avocets (2x), the three Gull-billed Terns, and two different Marsh Sandpipers (2x).

Friday, 29 July 2011

Juvenile Little Crakes in the net

Škocjanski zatok: ringing session today produced two nice juv. LITTLE CRAKES (see pics above) . Also several Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Sedge Warbler, 1 juv. Nightingale, 1 Melodious Warbler, House and Tree Sparrow, 1 Blackbird and 1 juv. Blue Tit.
Not much movement in the wetland in itself, just the usual seasonal stuff: 1 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Pygmy Cormorants, 2 Little Bitterns (m and f), 1 female Shoveler, 2 Pochards, 7 remaining Black-winged Stilts, 1 juv. Little Ringed Plover (just 1!), 2 Curlews, 16 Common Sandpipers, 1 juv. Common Redshank, 21 Greenshanks, 4 Wood Sandpipers in the marsh + 11 flying overhead (heading SW), 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 ad. Common Terns, 1 Turtle Dove feeding in the lagoon (pic), 1 Kingfisher, 2 Nightingales, 12 Great Reed Warblers, few Reed Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler (migrant!), 4 Blackcaps and a flock of +100 Starlings. Usual Red Fox also present.
Turtle Dove:

A Great Reed Warbler in the net:

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Local patch with Kestrel

Local patch: this morning a KESTREL soaring high above the patch, over the pine-wood within the usual Alpine Swifts. It then glided south-eastwards along the ridge. Also a Sparrowhawk mobbing a Common Buzzard over the gardens.
In the past days, notable records included: a Short-toed Treecreeper calling in the garden, Hawfinch (heard), juv. Serins and some Common Terns along the coast. Quite impressive was the sight of an adult male Golden Oriole flying past the house and giving dazzling yellow flashes.
On the butterfly front only a Common Swallowtail...which is in fact not that common here!

On Monte Grisa the other day also a nice mixed party of 7 Long-tailed Tits, 1 juv Crested, 1 juv Great and 1 (probably juv) Willow Tit.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Foxy lady

...actually I'm not sure it's a lady. Anyway this afternoon was spent at Isola della Cona (again!) and this RED FOX proved to be one of the main attractions. Showing very well as you can see; just in front of the main hide on the freshwater marsh.
Overall few waders today and no sign of the two Gull--billed Terns. Numbers are as follows: 1 male Little Bittern, +8 Night Herons, 2 Purple Herons, 2 Marsh Harriers (including one all-dark juvenile), 1 female Honey Buzzard over the marsh, 1 OYSTERCATCHER in flight above the mudflats (also calling), 3 juv. Avocets, Black-winged Stilt, lots of Little Ringed Plovers, several Lapwings, 7 Curlew Sandpipers, 4 Temminck's Stints, approx 40 Little Stints, Wood Sandpiper (not many), 8 Green Sandpipers, few Spotted Redshanks, 4 Greenshanks, Curlews on the mudflats, 7-8 Ruffs, 3 Kingfishers + usual Bee-eaters, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail and a pair of Red-backed Shrikes.

Juvenile Whiskered Tern

Škocjanski zatok: today this juvenile WHISKERED TERN was present in the brackish lagoon. Quite an interesting summer record, mainly because it's a juvenile and not an adult. I've actually never seen a juvenile Whiskered before.
Other birds included: 1 female Shoveler, 4 Teals, 2 female Pochard, Black-winged Stilt, 1 juvenile AVOCET (in the lagoon), 8 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Curlew, 17 Common Sandpipers, 22 Greenshanks, 3 Wood Sandpipers, 2 adult Common Terns, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail.
Also a Red Fox was at the edge of the lagoon...probably looking for a meal.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An average summer day

Local patch - Miramare: very short seawatching session this morning produced 3 Common Terns, lots of Shags, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull and 1 LITTLE EGRET far on the sea, flying towards Grado.

Local patch - M.Grisa: the Blue Rock Thrush chicks are growing fast...seen one in the afternoon, quite adult looking. Then also 10-15 Alpine Swifts (last photo above), 2 Rock Buntings, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Buzzard.

Other today's sightings from roving around the Karst included 5 Buzzards together, 2 Honey Buzzards and a pair of Red-backed Shrikes (first photos above).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Gull-billed Terns & waders havoc!

Quite a lot of wader movement this afternoon at Isola della Cona NR. The water level in the freshwater marsh is low, so there's plenty of mud and shallow water. The highlight though was not a wader, but 2 nice GULL-BILLED TERNS. Both sitting on the ground within a flock of Black-headed Gulls (pics above). Often taking off and calling, then landing again. One also caught a frog and tried to eat it in peace, but was being constantly mobbed by gulls.
Let's go to the waders now, here are the numbers: 2 juv. AVOCETS (actually reported 18, but I managed to get just 2), Black-winged Stilts with chicks, 7 Curlew Sandpipers (all in rusty plumage), 30-40 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 juv. Common Redshanks, +50 Wood Sandpipers, 8 Temminck's Stints, +17 Little Stints (mainly in rusty plumage), 40 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Black-tailed Godwits (ad and juv), 18 Ruffs, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlins (all summer plumage) and 1 Greenshank.
Other birds included 2-3 Melodious Warblers, Great Reed and Eurasian Reed Warblers, several Bee-eaters (still at the local colony), Golden Oriole, 3 Mediterranean Gulls (among the Bh Gulls and Gull-billed Terns), 1 Kingfisher, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 female Little Bittern in flight and the odd Sacred Ibis.
Very poor images today, due to bad light and heat haze


Little Stints & Curlew Sand:

Waders overiew:

Starling & Swallow roosts

Škocjanski zatok (yesterday): a short evening walk on the reserve, just as I was heading back home from Koper. The highlight was perhaps the spectacle of the Starlings and Swallows going to roost in the reedbeds. Massive flocks of both species: about 500-1000 Starlings dropping down into the reeds just before the sunset and 1000-1500 Swallows whirling in loose flocks just after the sunset (dropping down slowly in singles or small numbers).
It's probably a common sight in wetland habitat, but I've actually never witnessed something like this. That goes especially for the Swallows. Needless to say, most of the birds (of both species) were juveniles.
Other birds I could see in the area (no telescope): 7 Greenshanks, 2 Turtle Doves flying past, Black-winged Stilts, 1-2 Night Herons, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Wood Sandpipers, 5 Common Terns, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 8 Pygmy Cormorants and 1 Ruff.

Local patch: yesterday of note 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls on the sea (seen from my window). Also usual Golden Oriole waking me up every morning and Cirl Bunting doing more or less the same.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Raptors over the patch

Local patch: highlight in the form of a Honey Buzzard, soaring at 11.46 in front of Monte Grisa. This is actually the year's first Honey Buzzard to be seen from home. Also a female Sparrowhawk in worn plumage over the gardens (pics above), 1 Buzzard, usual flocks of Common and Alpine Swifts, 1 Golden Oriole calling, Green Woodpecker, Serin. Butterflies included a Silver-washed Fritillary and Scarce Swallowtail. Also interesting the presence of a female BLUE EMPEROR.
Above: the quite bad-looking female Sparrowhawk

Friday, 15 July 2011

Latest from Škocjanski zatok NR

Škocjanski zatok: there's a slight feel of migration in the air with the first migrant waders dropping down from the north. The highlight today was indeed a CURLEW SANDPIPER in worn summer plumage, present in the brackish lagoon with the other waders. All in all an interesting morning; other birds included: 11 Pygmy Cormorants, 1 Night Heron, 161 Little Egrets (in total), 1 Great Egret, 1 female Shoveler, 3 female POCHARD (in the lagoon), 34 Black-winged Stilts, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 female Kentish Plover, 2 Ruffs, 2 Curlews, 10+ Common Sandpipers, 1 juv. Common Redshank, 30 Greenshanks, 10 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 203 Black-headed Gulls (!), 11 Common Terns, 2 LITTLE TERNS (in the lagoon), 1 Turtle Dove (flying over the freshwater marsh with 3 Collared Doves), 2 Kingfishers, 1 Nightingale, 2 Cetti's, 4 Great Reed Warblers, 5-8 Reed Warblers, 2 Melodious Warblers (showing), Serin, 2 Linnets and...surprise surprise: a SISKIN flying over the marsh and calling. A quite odd record for me; I've actually never seen a migrating (I suppose) Siskin in summer!
Pics above (from top to bottom): Reed Warbler (2x), Curlew Sandpiper (2x), Little Terns and Kentish Plover.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Summer woodpeckers

It's summer time and that means that the most dull season for birds has least here. Quite hot in the last few days and not much birding. By the end of July and start of August there will already be some movement. But for now these pics are all I can post. I'm in a kind of woodpecker-mood now as I bought the "Woodpeckers of Europe" book by Gerard I'm studying a bit the subject.
Local patch: indeed there are more records of woodpeckers in this period. Green Woodpecker is calling on a daily basis and flying around in the gardens (2 pics below). The same goes for Great Spot. In fact these two, along with Golden Oriole and Cirl Bunting, being the highlights now in the patch.
A "leafy" Woodland Yaffle:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Blue Rock Thrush caught on camera!

Local patch - M.Grisa: got some fantastic views on a family of Blue Rock Thrushes this morning on the cliffs. The parents were quite noisy so I decided to stop on the path and wait. After a while, first the male and then the female appeared on a nearby rock...and finally also a youngster. The female was giving strange calls I never heard before; frog-like I'd say with some whistling as heard in the Nightingale's calls. The male instead was delivering its song, especially when landing and taking off from the rock. And of course frequently both sexes bringing food to the youngster/s.
Otherwise a bit quite in the area with no relevant raptor movements. Of interest only 1 Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, a few Alpine Swifts and the usual numbers of Common Swifts, singing Rock Bunting and 1 calling Golden Oriole (seen in flight). On the "reptile front": from the path I flushed a Western Whip Snake and later also a Dalmatian Algyroides appeared. Usual common butterflies: 1-2 Great Banded Graylings, Scarce Swallowtail and lots of Wall Browns.
Pics above: the first ones showing the adult male, the last one a juvenile.

By the way the website of my fellow birding friend Igor Maiorano is now alive and can be found HERE (or on the bar on the right). It is actually a photo-album of his trips and his photograpy career. Great images, especially from the different trips around Europe and North Africa. Check it!