Friday, 23 December 2011

Destinations: Zagreb - Croatia

Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, has some good birding sites right on its doorstep. Maksimir Park (in photo) lies in the east, near the zoo, and has wooded areas and man-made ponds where Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper and several woodpeckers are resident. In summer Collared Flycatcher, Nightingale, Serin and Golden Oriole are here, too. Savica is an area of ox-bows and gravel-pits near the River Sava where Little Bittern and White Stork, for example, can be seen. Just north of the city are the forests of Mount Medvednica where Black Woodpecker, Dipper, Crested Tit and Goshawk reside. In spring and summer migrant songbirds arrive and breed. Note: better to visit these spots on weekdays rather than weekends or public holidays. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Birding Tour: Estonia Spring 2012

The UK based birdwatching tour company Heatherlea is running a tour to ESTONIA next spring. Dates are 29th April to 6th May, 2012. Key birds sought on the tour will include Whooper and Bewicks Swans, Barnacle, Bean Geese, Lesser Spotted and Greater Spotted Eagles, Hazel Grouse, Great Snipe, Corncrake, Black Stork, Pygmy and Ural Owls, White-backed and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Common Rosefinch and Citrine Wagtail, and many, many more. For further details click here: ESTONIA TOUR

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Special Birds: Syrian Woodpecker

Dendrocopos syriacus is resident from lowland Czech Republic and Austria in the west, to the Ukraine in the east. It is particularly common from Hungary into the eastern Balkans. It is not a forest species, rather it lives in secondary habitats such as orchards and gardens. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Special Birds: Hawfinch

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes is common and widespread in Eastern Europe. It typically occurs in deciduous woodlands but also in parks and gardens in many places. This great photo was taken in Hungary by Laszlo Nehezy.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Birding Tours: Hungary in Spring

The UK based birdwatching tour company Heatherlea are running a tour to Hungary next spring. Dates are May 19-26, 2012. Key birds sought on the tour will include Pygmy Cormorant, Saker, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Great Bustard, Aquatic Warbler and 9 species of woodpecker. Click here for more details: HUNGARY IN SPRING.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Special Birds: Penduline Tits

Penduline Tits Remiz pendulinus are common around wetlands with reeds and willow bushes across the region. Two young birds, Apaj, September 2011, by Gerard Gorman. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Special Birds: Rock Bunting

Great shot of a male Rock Bunting in the Paklenica NP, Dalmatia, Croatia, by Nigel Sprowell. It is fairly common in dry, rocky, bushy areas in the Balkans.

Friday, 12 August 2011

British Birdwatching Fair Book Signing

I will be at the British Birdwatching Fair next weekend (August 19-21) and signing copies of my latest book THE BLACK WOODPECKER on the Lynx Edicions stand (Marquee 1, Stands 27 & 38). Times: Saturday at 2-2.30pm and Sunday at 10.30-11am. Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Special Birds: White Stork

Always a favourite. And in Europe the east is the place with the majority of the world's population breeding. Poland in particular hosts 10s of 1000s of pairs. On migration the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria sees huge numbers pass by in September.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Special Birds: Osprey

Osprey Pandion haliaetus breeds in the north of the region (Poland and Baltic States) and is a fairly common visitor in the south when on spring and autumn passage. This fine photo taken by Laszlo Becsy in Hungary.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Special Birds: Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio is a common summer visitor to Central and Eastern Europe. This one snapped at Aggtelek, Hungary, June 2011, Gerard Gorman.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Birding Tours: Hungary in Autumn

A tour to eastern Hungary in October focuses on one of Europe’s great birding events. Each autumn up to 100,000 Common Cranes from Fenno-Scandia, the Baltic States, Poland and elsewhere in northern Europe congregate here. The cranes are watched flying to roost at dusk in vast skeins and feeding by day in crop fields. There are also some great resident birds like Great Bustard, Saker Falcon, White-tailed and Eastern Imperial Eagle, eight species of woodpecker including White-backed, Middle-spotted, Grey-headed, Syrian and Black, and winter visitors such as Rough-legged Buzzard and Great Grey Shrike. Wildfowl present should include Greater White-front and some Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese. Indeed, eastern Hungary is a key staging area for the threatened Lesser White fronted Goose. Other birds should include Hawfinch, Black Redstart, Rock Bunting, Short-toed Treecreeper, Marsh Harrier, Penduline Tit and Dotterel. A tremendous autumn feast of birds! This great trip is run by UK-based Heatherlea Birdwatching: click this link for more details:

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Special Birds: Western Rock Nuthatch

This species inhabits rocky terrain with trees and bushes in the Balkans. It is often heard before it is seen. Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer by Nigel Sprowell, Croatia, April 2011.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Special Birds: Crag Martin

The Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris is a locally common species in the south of the region, particularly in the Balkans. It breeds in gorges, on cliffs and sometimes on buildings. It is a rather stocky, compact hirundine with only a shallow forked tail. Photo by Nigel Sprowell taken at Paklenica, Croatia.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Special Birds: Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius is locally common in the C and E European region. It is a bird of deciduous woodlands, especially with mature oaks.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Destinations: Aardla Polders - Estonia

The wet meadows, pastures and ponds near the hamlet of Aardla, lie just south of Tartu in Estonia. Spring wader and wildfowl passage here can be impressive with several rarities recorded, too. Breeding birds include Red-necked Grebe and Citrine Wagtail. The paths which cross the polders are often flooded but the area can be viewed from adjacent roads at such times. A good, high birding tower lies at the heart of the area.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Destinations: Draganic Fish-ponds - Croatia.

The Draganic fishponds are situated in the River Kupa Basin, about an hour east of Zagreb in north Croatia (to the north-east of Karlovac and south-west of Jastrebarsko). They lie just off the main A1 toll road. This is an excellent site to see Pygmy Cormorants and Ferruginous Ducks. On spring and autumn passage parties of terns, waders and wildfowl pass through. Raptors include White-tailed Eagle and Marsh Harrier.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Special Birds: Black Woodpecker

Adult male Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius. Photo by Lee Mott, taken in Hungary. A widespread and locally not uncommon picid throughout Eastern Europe.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Books: Woodpeckers of Europe

If you want to see all 10 species of woodpecker that occur in Europe, then you will have to head east. Countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria are home to all 9 resident species plus the migratory Wryneck. Indeed, as a general rule, the number of woodpecker species increases as one heads from the very west (for example, 1 species in Ireland, 3 in Britain, etc) eastwards. This book covers all you will need to know about the European Picidae. 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Destinations: Koprarada, Soomaa - Estonia

The Koprarada (Beaver Trail) is a marked path with board-walk that passes through old forest and bog at the heart of the Soomaa National Park in Estonia. Besides beavers, birds here include White-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Stork, Common Crane and a range of songbirds. Sooma NP is around 30km east of Parnu.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Birding Holiday: Hungary in October 2011

From 1 - 2 October, 2011 the UK-based company Heatherlea are running a birdwatching tour to Hungary. Based at two centres in the east, in the hills and forests of the Bukk Hills and then around the plains of the Hortobagy National Park. Key species seen previously on this route include many thousands of Common Cranes, Lesser White-fronted Geese, Rough-legged and Long-legged Buzzards, Saker, White-tailed and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Stone Curlew, Syrian, White-backed and Black Woodpeckers, Dotterel, Great Grey Shrike, and many more great birds. More details via this link: HUNGARY IN AUTUMN

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Special Birds: Syrian Woodpecker

A real eastern European specialty bird. Resident from the Czech Republic eastwards to Russia and the Ukraine and southwards into the Balkans and Middle East. This photo is of female in Budapest, Hungary.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Special Birds: Great Bustard in flight

A Great Bustard Otis tarda in flight, Kiskunsag NP, Hungary, January 2011. This species is one of the world's heaviest flying birds. 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Special Birds: Common Cranes

Common Cranes Grus grus breed in the northern countries of eastern Europe, from the Baltic States, through Poland to the Czech Republic. South of that they are seen on spring and autumn migration, especially in eastern Hungary in October when around 100,000 can be present. This photo shows an adult (right) with a young bird (note brown head). Taken by Gabor Kovacs, Hortobagy NP, Hungary.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Birding Tour: Hungary October 2011

From 22-26 October 2011, the UK-based Oriole Birding are running a tour to eastern Hungary. The main focus will be the many 1000s of Common Cranes that occur here in autumn. Other target species on the trip will be Great Bustard, Lesser White-fronted and Red-breasted Geese, Saker Falcon, Rough-legged Buzzard, Eastern Imperial and White-tailed Eagles, Pygmy Cormorant, Long-eared Owl roosts, and 8 species of European woodpecker species are also likely. Here's the link to the trip details: FESTIVAL OF CRANES

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Book on the Black Woodpecker

I would like to announce that my monograph on the Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius is due to be published this July. Click here for some advanced details from the publisher: Black Woodpecker Monograph Gerard Gorman.