Thursday 26 July 2012

Lesser Kestrels on the island of Rab

In the past two days I was on a Lesser Kestrel mission on the island of Rab, Croatia. There's a breeding colony nearby so numerous "naumann's falcons" use the rocky hills of the island as a feeding site. The colony numbers between 25 and 30 birds.
There were about 25 LESSER KESTRELS (both sexes) showing well on a daily basis. Tuesday was still a bit windy so the birds were just seen in active hunting flight. On Wednesday instead the weather was very calm and that allowed several Lesser Kestrels to settle down and perch on some low trees (see pics above). They were usually seen taking large insects from their favourite perches. I can say that all the main features were appreciated very well in the field (of course the most difficult to see were the white nails!). Several males had the distinctive blue-grey "bands" on the wings, but there were also some males without it.
Females were of course more tricky:

Their preferred feeding area:

Other interesting observations on the island included: 2 Short-toed Eagles (seen on both days in the same area), at least 10 Eastern Black-eared Wheatears (both varieties), 1 Icterine Warbler (first of the autumn), 2 Subalpine Warblers.
Black-eared Wheatear:

Short-toed Eagle perched on a pylon:

Small areas of brackish marsh around the island held also 1 Whimbrel, 1 Curlew, 2 Wood Sandpipers & +6 Common Sandpipers, 2 Common Redshanks and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover. Common birds included: Alpine Swift, Woodlark, 1 Honey Buzzard, Cirl Bunting, Bee-eater, Red-backed Shrike, 1 Melodious Warbler, 1 Great Reed Warbler, Golden Oriole, 1 Nightingale, Serin, Turtle Dove, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.
On the ferry back home 2 Common Bottlenose Dolphins and a probable Pochard (quite odd) were seen on the sea between the islands or Rab and Krk.
A big thanks goes to my friend Jurij who arranged the whole twitch and with whom I shared the excellent observations.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Goosander family

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours with a couple of friends on the Isonzo river. We had great views on some Goosanders - initially a female with 6 juveniles, later also 3 other adult females appeared. The family showed well when the juveniles came out of water to rest and preen on the shore (see above). A short video can be seen here. Nearby we visited a small colony of Bee-eaters nesting on sand bank just meters away from the nearest village. Several birds were flying around and some were entering the nest-holes.
In the area we also saw 2 Hobbies, 1 Honey Buzzard and a Kingfisher.
Earlier in the afternoon we made a quick visit to Isola della Cona NR which held more or less the same species as last Sunday. Nice to see were 2 Glossy Ibises (insead of one) and bigger numbers of Curlew Sandpipers, among +10 Little Stints, Wood, Green and Common Sand, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, lots of Spotted Redshanks ect.
A Squacco Heron also showing well, along with a fly-by Purple Heron, 2 Hobbies and +30 Med Gulls.

Friday 20 July 2012


Alarm clock set at 04.40 am this morning and by 06.55 am I was already watching the monster above. It is a BLACK VULTURE indeed! But not just one...
After last year's repeated dips at the Cornino lake nature reserve (NE Italy) this spring another Black Vulture re-appeared at the same site. It was only yesterday that Oviedo (last year's bird - born and ringed in the Cevennes) returned again at the reserve and joined in.
Luckily this morning both birds were still around. When I arrived Oviedo (the ringed bird) was foraging at the feeding station with about 30 Griffon Vultures, 10 Black Kites and lots of Ravens. At 08.05 am when other Griffons started to descend from the mountains, the second bird joined the game. In flight it looked huge and overall very dark with almost no tail at all (see flight pics above). When foraging both birds appeared very agressive towards other Griffon Vultures and usually had the priority on them (last pic shows both birds in the same telescope view). They showed well until 08.45 am when I left the site.
In the area there were also several singing Western Bonelli's Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, Hawfinch and other common woodland birds.