Wednesday, 31 August 2011

GOSHAWK & juvenile Honey Buzzard

Local patch: an adult GOSHAWK this morning, soaring over the pine woodland... being one of the few (irregular) records for the area. Later also 1 Common Buzzard and a group of 6 unidentified raptors - either Honey or Common Buzzards, soaring in the thermal, quite high and very far away.

Earlier in the morning a nice juvenile Honey Buzzard was soaring over Barcola, just in front of my window. Overall very dark bird (chocolate-brown) with bright yellow bill-base, but distinctive Honey Buzzard-styled flight and shape.

This evening at 22.25 a Scops Owl gave some short views, while perched on the wires in front of my house. It must have been one of the local juveniles, wandering around in the neighbourhood. It's been quite a long time from the last one seen in my area - usually just heard on a daily basis.

On Sunday evening also a female Pied Flycather at Monte Grisa.

Note: the above picture shows a juvenile Goshawk from Mount Nanos

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Short-toed Eagle ONCE AGAIN!

Today I had in plan to visit the Karst in the morning (for raptors) and the wetlands in the afternoon for waders and any other migrants. The first part went well...the second not so much. Due to the lack of water in the freshwater marsh at Isola della Cona there were few waders left...

Let's say that I enjoyed more the morning with the raptors. Of course it was also nice to see the large variety of common migrants.

So, for a start - Campo Carri near Banne (TS) in the morning produced: 5 Black Redstarts, 3 TREE PIPITS on passage, 6 Woodlarks, 1 PEREGRINE (spotted soaring overhead several times), 10 Whinchats, 3 Northern Wheatears, 1 juvenile SHORT-TOED EAGLE hunting over the grassland (giving great views, especially when "hanging" - see pics above). It continued to hunt in the area for about 30 minutes, then headed eastwards. After 20 more minutes I could see it again over my head! Then also: 1 juv Tawny Pipit, 1 juv Red-backed Shrike, 1 Coal Tit, Rock Bunting and 2-3 Pied Flycatchers (in the cover of the trees).


Later at Lisert (GO): 2 Pied Flycatchers, 1 Common Tern, 4 Gadwalls, 2 Kingfishers, 2 Curlews and among them 1 WHIMBREL, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Northern Wheatears, 3 Nightingales, Blackcaps calling and 1 juv Red-backed Shrike.

For lunchtime I headed to Isola della Cona. Funny enough, I came here to see waterbirds...but perhaps the best birds were 2 SHORT-TOED EAGLES (again!!) soaring and hunting over the freshwater marsh. One was clearly an adult (dark hood, lots of streaking on the underparts and lack of some primaries), the other one probably a juvenile. They drifted together over the river Isonzo, towards Terranova.

Other birds of interst were: 1 female Marsh Harrier, Water Rail singing, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 27 Greenshanks, 1 ad Marsh Sandpiper (moulting to winter plumage), 7 Snipes, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, Tree Pipit (heard), lots of Garden Warblers and Pied Flycatchers along the path, 2 juv Little Stints, 181 Wigeons ("moult-gathering"), some Bee-eaters still around, 1 Curlew, 18 Gadwalls, 110 Teals, 1 Kingfisher, Reed Warbler, 2 female GARGANEY, 2 female Pintail, 1 female Kestrel hunting over the marsh, 1 WRYNECK on a bush (nice one!), 2 Green Sandpipers and 1 Buzzard.

The adult Short-toed Eagle from Isola della Cona:

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Glorious day on the Karst

A SHORT-TOED EAGLE was drifting above Repentabor (TS) several times this morning, while I was attending the traditional Kraška ohcet. Although a social event, I had the opportunity to see also a Honey Buzzard and few Ravens. The day in itself was fantastic, with bright sunshine, but fresh and clear air (due to a north-easterly wind). And the view from the top of the Tabor hill was absolutely stunning. Not to mention the breathtaking view on the Nanos plateau in nearby Slovenia!

Local patch: yesterday a short seawatch from home produced 1 adult Mediterranean Gull. Also 2 RAVENS mobbing a Common Buzzard over the pine woodland. Few days ago also some passage Common Swifts overhead and a flock of 6 Swallows feeding in mid air. Now the Blackcaps seem slightly more vocal too.

Friday, 26 August 2011


Škocjanski zatok NR: after the early morning bird census I decided to check once again the hedges by the main path (at about 10.30am). The most numerous were Garden Warblers (10-15 birds in total) hopping up and down, along with a few Nightingales, some Blackcaps, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 WRYNECK (probably always the same bird) and 7 Reed Warblers. But then I noticed a different bird, sitting on a branch in the thick of the high bushes, but still in perfect view. It was a nice GRASSHOPPER WARBLER; probably an immature, with streaky breast, head, neck and back. Also the undertail coverts were black-streaked and the tail was typically "thick" and rounded like that of a Savi's Warbler. It remained on that branch in good view for about 2 minutes (sometimes preeening) and then disappeared into the thick cover again.

This is actually the first time I SEE a Grasshopper Warbler... I have heard it several times in the past years, but never had the occasion to watch it properly. Despite not being a very rare bird here, it's still quite scarce and most of all: elusive to see. Usually is caught in the nets, rather than being watched in the field.

Other interesting records today included: several Pygmy Cormorants, the 2 CATTLE EGRETS, 1 juv Purple Heron, 1 juv SPOONBILL, 9 Shoverels, 76 Teals, 4 female Garganeys, 1 male Pochard, 2 MARSH HARRIERS (1 juv + 1 male - migrants), 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 singing Water Rail, 1 remaining Black-winged Stilt, 1 Curlew, 32 Common Sandpipers, 16 Greenshanks, 3 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 4 Snipes, 2 Kingfishers, 6 Yellow Wagtails (overhead), 2 Nightingales, 6 Whinchats (on the grazing field), 3 Fan-tailed Warblers, 4 Cetti's Warblers, 1 female Pied Flycatcher and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.

Photo above: Grasshopper Warbler by Steve Round

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Dawn on the Karst - migration influx goes on

Today at dawn I was back at the "Campo Carri" with two other friends. The passage was a bit quieter, but with slightly different species. The most surprising (a bit out of place) were: a Cormorant migrating towards the sea and GREENSHANK (maybe more than one) heard calling several times, somewhere in the sky.

Also the usual variety of small migrants, but as I said, not in big numbers: Tree Pipits heard passing overhead, 2 juv. Whinchats, some Swallows, Nightingales, 4 Common Swifts (flying very high), +3 nice WOOD WARBLERS (showing well in the bushes), about 5 Pied Flycatchers (all juv/female), 2 juv Chiffchaffs, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Common Redstart (maybe the same imm male as on Sunday), 1 Spotted Flycatcher, a few Blackcaps, 2 juv Red-backed Shrikes and about 6 Black Redstarts (including a very fresh juvenile).

Other non migrants included 2 Rock Buntings, 1 juv Tawny Pipit (at least I think it wasn't a migrant...), 1 Black Woodpecker (calling for the whole morning), Crested, Coal and Marsh Tits, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (1 calling) and a small flock of Alpine Swifts.

Pic above: the sunrise over the Karst; looking east/north-eastwards. (the long, highest mountain on the left is the Nanos in Slovenia)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

WRYNECK special

Škocjanski zatok NR: this morning I got fabulous views of a migrant WRYNECK. First in the thick of the hedges, but very close and then perching on a dead branch and preening (see pics above - in various postures). Also today, the hedges by the main path were alive with migrants - mainly Nightingales (some giving excellent views), Reed and Great Reed Warblers, few Blackcaps, +4 Cetti's Warblers and +5 Garden Warblers. The other interesting migrant was a first winter Northern Wheatear flushed from the path. Speaking to the warden, he said this is the first autumn record of the species in the reserve this year. Also of interest were: 2 CATTLE EGRETS (perching on the cattles!), 1 singing Fan-tailed Warbler, several Greenshanks, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 singing Water Rail in the ditch (at 9.30 am), 1 Kingfisher, several Common Sandpipers, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Great Egrets, Teal and Shoveler numbers building up, 1 male Pochard along with 1 male TUFTED DUCK in the lagoon (both in eclipse), still 2 remaining Common Terns (ad + juv) and few Black-winged Stilts on the far border of the lagoon.

Cattle Egrets (one is hidden on the cattle's back):

Showy Nightingale, feeding on the path:

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Electric attraction

I've been around quite early this morning. The alarm clock was set for 5.00 am and by 6.00 am I was already in the field. Basically I had in mind to visit Campo Carri near Banne (TS), looking for small migrants. I'd say that I was quite right with the migratory predictions. The most numerous were (surprisingly) PIED FLYCATCHERS. I counted up to 22 birds, all quite busy fly-catching of course. They were quite vocal too... I've actually never heard so much Pied Flycatcher chatting! There was a nice passage of TREE PIPITS too (the firsts of the autumn) - at leats 15 individuals counted, flying overhead and calling.

Just as I arrived in the area and heard the first Tree Pipits, I looked up and spotted 2 GREAT EGRETS migrating from the continent towards the sea.

Other birds in the area (migrants & non) included: several Nuthatches (one singing from the top of a pylon!), 3 Nightingales, 1 Green Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Rock Buntings, Chiffchaff (also singing), 3 Hawfinches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers (one of them on a pylon too!), 1 single Swallow, 5 imm Whinchats, Crested Tits calling from the nearby pines, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, 1 Woodlark, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2-3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS (all 1st winter - on the open grassland), 1 male COMMON REDSTART (first winter too), 1 Cirl Bunting, 1 calling Black Woodpecker and 1 singing Black Redstart.

Interestingly several species were attracted to an electricity pylon (see pics above): Common Redstart (2x), Nuthatch delivering its song from an odd perch (2x), Northern Wheatear (1x) and a Rock Bunting...not on the pylon, but with one in the background.

And this is the other "non-electric" Wheatear:

A Roe Deer buck was also seen:

Local patch: Short-toed Treecreeper heard on a daily basis plus a Nuthatch calling today. Also 2 Robins this morning at 05.40 am - the only singing birds.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Urban Birder

This morning I finally got my copy of "The Urban Birder" by David Lindo. Check his website HERE

Now I have something to read!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Local scarcities & grounded migrants on the reserve

Škocjanski zatok: back at my usual weekly job I had the opportunity to see two local scarcities (if not even rarities) for the area. A juvenile SPOONBILL and 3 CATTLE EGRETS are present in the reserve since last week. Commonly found throughout the wetlands in Italy, this two species are quite scarce in Slovenia and are irregularly recorded mainly on coastal marshes.

But I don't really consider these as "true" rarities. So today the most exciting thing for me was perhaps the nice fall of migrants with the passerines higher on the list: sevaral Yellow Wagtails, 4 Nightingales, 3 Whinchats (the first of the autumn), 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 WRYNECK showing well on some low trees in the hedges, 1 Garden Warbler (probably more than one!), 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, +6 Blackcaps, 4 MISTLE THRUSHES (flying high over the reserve to SE) and 1 imm. Willow Warbler (very bright yellow underparts). But the commonest migrants were especially the numerous Reed/Marsh Warblers and Great Reed Warblers in the hedges.

The other highlight of the day was a female/juv. Little Crake crossing a stretch of water from a reedbed to the other.

And then the usual selection of commoner birds (wildfowl numbers building up): 15 Shovelers, 8 Wood Sandpipers, 24 Greenshanks, 10 Black-winged Stilts, 21 Common Sandpipers, 2 Woodpigeons (over the lagoon), 2 Kingfishers, 2-3 Fan-tailed Warbler (calling in flight), 2 Swallows (!), 3 Snipes, 1 male Little Bittern, 66 Teals, 5 Pygmy Cormorants, 2 Curlews, 2 Great Egrets, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Common Terns (3 ads + 1 juv), 1 male Pochard, 1 Green Sandpiper and 1 juv Purple Heron.

Above photo: the juvenile Spoonbill

Local patch: a Short-toed Treecreeper calling at 13.35 from a nearby garden and a Scops Owl still singing this morning at 05.30 am.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Break in Croatia

I'm just back from a short non-birding holiday to central Dalmatia (Croatia). Visited areas included the Krka National Park near Šibenik, Murter island and the Kornati National Park (archipelago of 140 islands). The quite hot weather was a limiting factor for birdwatching, but I managed to see a couple of good species. Krka NP held: Short-toed Eagle (quite common), Red-backed Shrike, 3 Whiskered Tern (2 juvs and 1 ad), 8 Pygmy Cormorants, Alpine Swift, Water Rail, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Turtle Dove, Yellow Wagtail, Great Reed Warbler, 3 Golden Orioles, 1 Nightjar (at night), 1 RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (in flight) and 1 black-throated male BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR.

2 Eagle Owls on Murter island were the most interesting sight: a juvenile and an adult sitting on a stony wall at dusk (in very good light). The juvenile was being fed by the adult and was calling loudly (Jay-like call). Then the adult flew away and landed on a distant pine-tree, showing well, with the juvenile remaining on the stony wall among olive-trees.

Also of interest on the island: Turtle Dove (the commonest bird - very tame), 3-4 Common Terns, Sardinian Warbler (common), 1 female Black-eared Wheatear, 1 Cirl Bunting, 1 Nightjar, 1 Melodious Warbler (singing) and several European Green Toads (in the evening). In the town of Murter also several PALLID SWIFTS and 2 juvenile Crested Larks.

Boat trip to the Kornati archipelago held very few interesting birds: 5 Great Crested Grebes, 1 male Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, 1 Red-backed Shrike, 1 Kestrel and 220-300 Shags in tight flock. Also 2 BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS were spotted.

Above: some shots of the trip

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

First wave of small migrants

Sunny, clear and quite fresh morning spent at Isola della Cona, checking the area for migrants. Finally the first passerines in the form of: 1 GARDEN WARBLER (actually a year-tick), lots of Nightingales, 3 Great Reed Warblers, 1-2 female PIED FLYCATCHERS, 2-3 Blackcaps and a very handsome WOOD WARBLER. All these birds more or less on the same tree... and in the good company of the young Melodious Warblers (from the resident pair maybe?), 2-3 juvenile Red-backed Shrikes and 3 Cetti's Warblers (showing pretty well).

Other birds included: Little Ringed Plover (heard only), lots of Wood Sandpipers, Lapwing, 4 juv. Avocets, few remaining Black-winged Stilts, 1 Green Sandpiper, 26 Little Stints, 4 Temminck's Stints, 3 juv Ringed Plovers, 2 Snipes, 2 female Garganeys, 1 Spoonbill, 3 DUNLINS (summer plumage), several eclipse Gadwalls, 2 Med Gulls (2nd winter and juv), 1 male Honey Buzzard (light morph; over the marsh), 1 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Yellow Wagtail and a few Bee-eaters still hanging around. Later in the poplar wood by the river Isonzo I heard a calling LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

Quick stop in the Doberdob lake NR yielded some Bee-eaters perching on the wires and 2 juv. Hobbies circling in the sky.

The lovely Wood Warbler above was taken by Igor Maiorano, few years ago on the island of Pantelleria.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sandwich time

Local patch: 2 juvenile Sandwich Terns today on the sea, fishing together along the coast. It's been quite a long time since the last Sandwich from home...

The last few days also the odd WOODPIGEON again (possibly a pair bred in the area this year), 6 Swallows flying past and the usual Sparrowhawk.

On Monte Grisa 23 Alpine Swifts screaming while escaping a massive rainstorm, 1 Blue Rock Thrush and a dark morph Honey Buzzard.

Photo above by Steve Round

Friday, 5 August 2011

Peregrine in the lagoon

Škocjanski zatok: today's highlight in the form of a fantastic PEREGRINE (looked juv/imm) hunting in the brackish lagoon. Being almost constantly mobbed by the 3 present Common Terns (photos above). All the waders were squeezing to the ground (like the juvenile Little Ringed Plover below) and the arrival of the falcon caused panic among the gulls too.
Other birds of interest in the area included: 6 Pygmy Cormorants, 1 ad Night Heron, 1 female Shoveler, 17 Teals (increasing numbers!), 1 female Pochard, 1 singing Water Rail (after so long!), 11 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Curlews, 25 Common Sandpipers, 2 Common Redshanks (ad + juvenile), 22 Greenshanks, 4 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Snipe (calling in flight), 1 juv BLACK TERN (flying both in the lagoon and freshwater marsh), 1 Turtle Dove, 1 Common Swift (still here!), 2-3 Kingfishers, +20 Swallows, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 calling Nightingales, 1 Fan-tailed Warbler, both Reed and Great R. Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler, 5 Blackcaps and a quite large flock of Starlings (+500).

I managed to take some wader pics too...

Wood Sandpiper:

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover:

Common Sandpiper in its natural habitat:

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

No Eleonora's... but moths instead

I spent the last two days trying to catch sight of a reported Eleonora's Falcon on the Duino's cliffs, but without success. The bird was seen both on Monday morning (11.40) and yesterday morning (6.30). Due to the heat, very few bird activity in the area: 3-4 juv Common Terns, 6-8 Sardinian Warblers (also seen), 13 Common Eiders on the sea, usual Jackdaws on Duino's castle, 1 Cormorant flying SE, a total of 10-12 Common Sandpipers on the rocks at sea level, 4-5 male Blue Rock Thrushes and a quite dull Dalmatian Algyroides. Of interest was an Olive Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris croatica), hovering from flower to flower in the sunshine light.

Local patch: on Sunday evening a Convolvulus Hawk-moth was of interest (pic above) and on Monday 2 Woodpigeons circled around the house a few times. This is probably the only record of the species in the area, outside the main migration periods (when I see flocks flying high overhead).