Tuesday 30 December 2014

Winter's teeth

Cerkniško jezero - taking a stroll in the fresh snow, under the midday sun.
Winter has now finally arrived. Despite birding in freezing conditions (-11° to -4° C), today I enjoyed my first snow of the season at Cerkniško jezero. The lake was partly frozen and most of the birds were concentrated in one spot. Mostly Mallards Anas platyrhynchos, Wigeons Anas penelope and Coots Fulica atra, with about 15 Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula mixed among them.
The most amazing find of the day was an EAGLE OWL Bubo bubo resting on the ice, somewhere in the middle of the lake (and in the middle of the day!). The bird was quite far (scope views), but the ear tufts were prominent, together with a white "beard" and the distinctive plumage colouring. Possibly a starved bird that came to take a meal on the lake, maybe in the form of a Mallard. However it still remains a very odd observation.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo

Other birds of note during the day included: Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, Fieldfare Turdus pilaris, Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula (2 m in a garden), Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius and a hungry Fox Vulpes vulpes taking a stroll on the ice-covered lake. Some 20 or more Tree Sparrows Passer montanus in a garden were posing for the camera.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

A few days ago I was in the coastal wetlands of Lisert, Isola della Cona and Valle Cavanata with a group of friends. Among the others, we also had birds like Bittern Botaurus stellaris (1st of the season), Goldeneye Bucephala clangula (+20), Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca (flock of 12 on the sea), Scaup Aythya marila (2), Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (1), Red-throated and Black-throated Diver Gavia stellata & arctica, Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon (1), Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, Goshawk Accipiter gentilis and Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (1).
All in all a typical winter scene...at last.