Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Autumn Sights: Greater White-fronted Geese

Throughout Eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, autumn is upon us and the wildfowl are starting to arrive in flocks. Here is a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons taken in the Czech Republic by Mike Crutch.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Birding Tours: Hungary & Slovakia - May 2010

From 19-28 May 2010 the UK-based company Oenanthe are running a tour to Hungary & Slovakia. The tour takes in the very best of the uplands and lowlands of these two great birding countries. Key species on the trip are: Saker, Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Red-footed Falcon, Pygmy Cormorant, Hazel Grouse, Black Stork, Ural, Eagle, Pygmy and Tengmalm's Owls, Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers, Aquatic, River and Barred Warbler and all 10 European woodpecker species are likely. Here's the link to the trip details: http://www.oenanthe.co.uk/tours/hungary_slovakia_2010/hungary_slovakia_2010.html

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Destinations: The High Tatras, Slovakia

The High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) are Slovakia's highest mountain range. They lie in the north on the border with Poland. The city of Poprad just to the south is the gateway. Most of the area is a National Park. These are serious, rugged mountains with several peaks over 2000 m. The highest peaks can be accessed in season by chair-lift or gondola. Much of the lower elevations were blanketed in conifer and mixed forests until a "hurricane" felled large areas a few years ago. At high levels there are tarns, scree, cliffs and impressive rock formations. The high-altitude zone has Ring Ouzel, Rock Pipit, Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper. Coniferous forests have Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie, Pygmy and Tengmalm's Owls, Three-toed Woodpecker, Common Crossbill, Siskin and Nutcracker. Truth is, this a tough area to bird, and weather can be very changable, so the High Tatras are only suitable for those with plenty of time, energy and patience.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Special Birds: Syrian Woodpecker















Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus is very much an Eastern European bird. The further west it gets in breeding range is central Austria and there are no records in countries west of here. It occurs from Poland, where it is localised, southwards to the Balkans. In parts of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria it is common. This "pied" woodpecker inhabits lowland, secondary habitats such as orchards, gardens and parks. It is rarely seen in woodland proper.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Destinations: Lake Visovac, Krka NP, Croatia

Lake Visovac (Visovac jezero) is a huge waterbody along the Krka River within the Krka National Park in Croatia. It is not always easy to access the waterside, given the often steep rugged terrain, but good spots to scan the water are at Samostan Visovac (west shore: see photo) and the boat jetty at Stinice (opposite on the east shore). Between these two points is the small island of Visovac, though this is not worth visiting for birds. Birds include Pygmy Cormorant, Short-toed Eagle, Yellow-legged Gull, Cirl Bunting, Golden Oriole and Fan-tailed, Great Reed and Cetti's Warblers. On passage wildfowl and waders stop over.