Monday, 28 December 2009

Special birds: Slavonian Grebe

The Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus (aka Horned Grebe) is a breeding species in the north of the region and a winter visitor in the south. The southern limit of the breeding range is composed of a few pairs in northern Poland. North of here it becomes more common in the Baltic States on shallow, well-vegetated fresh-water wetlands. It is a smallish grebe and males in breeding plumage in spring and summer have bright golden "horns" which are feathery tufts at the side of the head. Photo by Laszlo Becsy.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Destinations: Soomaa - Estonia

Soomaa is a myriad of bogs, fens, rivers and forests by the River Parnu in Estonia. Much of the area is a National Park with well-marked trails and visitor centres off the gravel roads that cross the park. Great birds here include Black, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, Lesser Spotted and Golden Eagles, Black and White Storks, Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie, Corncrake, Common Crane and Ural and Pygmy Owls. Soomaa floods almost every spring and indeed this is one of the best times to visit scenically but birding in parts of the NP are difficult then, without a boat! Sooma NP is around 30km east of Parnu.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Birding Tours: Hungary May 2010

From 17-24 May 2010, the UK company Birdfinders are running a tour to eastern Hungary. Key species on the trip are Great Bustard, Saker, Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Red-footed Falcon, Pygmy Cormorant, Black Stork, Ural and Eagle Owls, Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers, Aquatic, River and Barred Warbler and 9 species of European woodpecker species are likely. Many birds, like the White Storks in this photo, will be breeding! Here's the link to the trip details:

Friday, 4 December 2009

Destinations: Saaremaa Island - Estonia

Saaremaa is Estonia's largest island. It lies in the Baltic off the west coast of the mainland and is accessible by regular ferries. Besides a spectacular coastline, there are wetlands and forests on Saaremaa and there are "good birds" on the island and on the surrounding sea all year round. Many typical Baltic species breed and sea-ducks including Steller's Eiders winter in good numbers. Both spring and autumn migration can be spectacular in terms of numbers and rarities. A bird observatory and ringing centre at Sorve, in the very south-west of the island at the tip of the peninsula of the same name, has turned up many vagrants. Note that weather can be very variable here, especially in winter!