Monday, 29 September 2008

Destinations: Enisala - Romania

The village of Enisala lies in eastern Romania in the Dobrudja region. Tulcea and the Danube Delta are less than an hour to the north by local roads and the town of Babadag just a few minutes to the west. Enisala is easy to locate from a distance as it lies by an impressive ruined fort that overlooks the vast Razelm lagoon. A good mix of birds can be seen here from spring through summer into autumn as there are reedbeds by Razelm, fish-ponds nearby and grassy stepp and crop fields around the fort. Highlights are Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Tawny Pipit, Bee-eater and in some years Rose-coloured Starlings nest.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Special birds: Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl Asio otus is very widespread in Europe and often fairly common, if somewhat ellusive at times, in good habitat. However in the countries of the east of the continent it is often a common breeding species and in winter can be found in large roosts (up to a 100 birds together is not unknown) even in urban areas. It is thought that many of the birds in such roosts are those which have moved south from the colder northern regions. The species usually raises its brood in disused corvid nests and will readily take to nest-boxes.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Birding Tours: Slovakia, March 2009.

If you are keen on owls and woodpeckers, then the following birding tour to Slovakia might be for you. Slovakia: Eastern Upland Forests will run from March 22 - 28, 2009 and take in some wonderful wooded habitats looking for owls, woodpeckers and Hazel Grouse in the east of the country. All Europe's woodpeckers are possible on the route to be taken, including the species in the photo here: White-backed Woodpecker. Ural, Tengmalm's and Pygmy Owls will be sought, too. Once again, if you are interested in joining this trip... just drop me a line

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Destinations: Nove Mlyny - Czech Republic

The Nove Mlyny reservoirs lie in South Moravia about 40km south from Brno and just 12km north of the Czech-Austrian border at Mikulov. In spring and summer there are colonies of nesting Black-headed Gulls, with some Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls and Common Terns, on islands in the middle section of the system (there are 3 large man-made waterbodies here). Some grebes and wildfowl also nest. Areas with reeds host Savi's and Great Reed Warbler, Bluethroat and Penduline and Bearded Tits. From autumn through to late winter large numbers of Bean, Greater White-fronted and Greylag Geese, Smew and other ducks reside here. The geese roost and drink on the waters and graze in surrounding crop fields. Several White-tailed Eagles winter, too.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Birding Tours: Hungary, February 2009.

If you fancy getting to grips with wintering geese and resident birds of prey and wooodpeckers, then consider joining this "Hungary in Late Winter" birding trip. This original birding itinerary will run in the New Year from February 19 – 22, 2009 (from Thursday to Sunday, for 4 days, 3 nights). The tour takes in Lake Tata and nearby fishponds and woods and the grasslands and farmlands of the Kiskunsag National Park. The main focus will be to search for wintering and migrating geese with flocks of Greater White-fronted Goose, perhaps some Lesser White-fronted Geese, both Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese and a chance of a few Red-breasted Geese sprinkled amongst them. In addition there are some resident birds like Great Bustard, Saker Falcon, White-tailed Eagle, eight species of woodpecker including Syrian, Grey-headed and Black, and other winter visitors such as Rough-legged Buzzard and Great Grey Shrike. In most years Wallcreeper winters in stone quarries hereabouts, too. If you are interested in joining this trip, get in touch via this blog.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Books: Central & Eastern European Wildlife

After decades of relatively little in the way of literature (especially in English) on birds and birding sites in Eastern Europe, recent years has seen a small burst of activity by authors and photographers. Though covering much more than birds my recent book Central and Eastern European Wildlife (Bradt, July 2008. ISBN-10: 1 84162 231 1) should be useful when travelling and birding (or rather wildlife watching) in the region. The book is a visitor's guide and covers Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Butterflies, Dragonflies, and has sections on Habitats and and brief overviews of 15 countries from the Baltic to the Balkans. It is available directly from Bradt Travel Guides and elsewhere on the net, as well as in major bookstores. Gerard Gorman.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Special birds: Red-necked Grebe

Of the 5 species of grebe in Europe Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena has the most easterly breeding distribution. It is the second largest in size after Great Crested Grebe, the species with which, in some plumages, it is most likely to be confused. It occurs on still, freshwater, vegetated wetlands such as lakes, riverine backwaters and fish-ponds. It is nowhere abundant though particularly good numbers breed in the Danube Delta, Romania. Indeed the photo here by Daniel Petrescu was taken there.