четвъртък, 17 април 2014 г.

Crossbill photography

Crossbills are lovely birds but they rarely get to come down to eye level for a decent shot. This time I got them collecting minerals from the wall of a mountain chalet at one of the ski resorts nearby Sofia, Bulgaria. The birds were pretty tame but didn't want to sit on the proper perch.

The first image here is most natural one:

bird photography in Bulgaria
Crossbill in Bulgaria, copyright Iordan Hristov
bird photography in bulgaria
Crossbill photography in Bulgaria, copyright Iordan Hristov
bird photography tours in Bulgaria
Crossbill photography in Bulgaria, copyright Iordan Hristov

Crested Lark photography in Bulgaria

Crested Larks are already at their breeding grounds. They often sit pretty relaxed so it is not quite difficult to get their picture.

bird photography in Bulgaria
Crested Lark in Bulgaria, copyright Iordan Hristov

Yellow Wagtail in Bulgaria

Spring is time of migration. Lots of birds of various races fly long distances to get home to breed. This past weekend I witnessed a group of Yellow Wagtails from at least three races. I couldn't get shots of all of them but there were definitely a few of them. The local race in Bulgaria is Motacilla flava feldegg. Other than it there was also dombrowskii and the nominate flava. I managed to picture this feldegg below which is probably last year bird because of its still undefined supercilium. However, you would see marks of it on the lore and behind the eye. Typical for this age is the grey-ish head.

bird photography in Bulgaria
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava feldegg, copyright Iordan Hristov

сряда, 16 април 2014 г.

Scops Owl in Bulgaria

It's been rather busy in the last couple of weeks. I started a BirdID training course for the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of birds and had quite a few field days. During one of these days I got a phone call from the co-teacher saying he has found a roosting Scops Owl. I couldn't dash out immediately because I was with the bird id students but after a bit of consultation, they all wanted to see it and here we are. We arrived at the place nearly twitching it a couple of hours later and the bird was still there. It was rather high on the tree for a decent shot but it was still pleasant to see him in a day light.

The first shot below is my favourite:

bird photography in Bulgaria
Scops Owl photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
bird photography in Bulgaria
Scops Owl photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
bird photography in Bulgaria
Scops Owl photography, copyright Iordan Hristov

неделя, 16 март 2014 г.

Birdwatching in Bulgaria, tailored trip 8-15 March, recap

In the period March 8-15 a friend and i did a tailored birdwatching trip in Bulgaria and Greece. You can see previous day to day posts but here I shall try to recap all the information with some figures.

My friend came over with the aim to see 8 target species: Dalmatian Pelican, Saker Falcon, Capercaillie, Three-toed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Pygmy Owl, Rock Partridge and Black Vulture. From all these 8 species we managed to see half of them: Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Owl, Rock Partridge and Black Vulture.

We knew in advance that the chance for observing the Saker Falcon was really low and we were aware of it so we were hoping for pure luck. Because of the heavy snow that fell in the last week we couldn't reach the sites for Three-toed Woodpecker. We did try but it was totally impossible. For the Capercaillie it was still early. We know its active lekking is after April 20th but still wanted to try. We visited two lekking sites but there was still no activity there. For the White-backed we were trying every day at several location but had no luck. The birds were not active yet. Moreover at some of  the sites it was snowing. Nevertheless we had fantastic views of the Pygmy Owl, the Dalmatian Pelicans and 7 Black Vultures. The Rock Partridge we only saw in flight.

Having in mind that our target were specific birds we still managed to do a pretty good list of birds counting a total of 126 bird species and 5 species of mammals for 7 day period (see the full checklist at the end of the material). Some of the highlights are the species I mentioned and Bewick's Swan, several Great-spotted Eagles, Sardinian Warbler, Sombre Tit. During the trip the migration had started so we enjoyed over 50 Black Kites, over 100 Common Buzzards, several hundred White Stork, dozens of Black Storks, Eurasian Sparrowhawks, a dozen of Ferruginous Ducks and Garganeys.

In total we have driven 2002 km for this 7 day period. This is more than preliminary planned but it was important to visit all the possible sites to ensure success of the trip. And I think we did it.

Here are a few photos from the trip:

Black Stork © Iordan Hristov
Black Stork © Iordan Hristov
Black Vulture © Iordan Hristov
Black Vulture © Iordan Hristov
Black Vulture © Iordan Hristov
Black Vulture © Iordan Hristov
Coal Tit © Iordan Hristov
Coal Tit © Iordan Hristov
Golden Eagle © Iordan Hristov
Golden Eagle © Iordan Hristov
landscape photography
Ponor mountains, Bulgaria © Iordan Hristov
Black Kite by Iordan Hristov
Black Kite migration © Iordan Hristov
More photos are available on my day to day posts. See links below:
day 3: Greater-spotted Eagle photo
day 4: Pygmy Owl photo
day 5: Golden Eagle photos
day 7: Black Vulture photos

Checklist for the trip
Dates: March 8-15, 2014

1 Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
2 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
3 Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus
4 Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
5 Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus
6 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
7 Great White Egret Egretta alba
8 Little Egret Egretta garzetta
9 Black Stork Ciconia nigra
10 White Stork Ciconia ciconia
11 Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
12 Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
13 Mute Swan Cygnus olor
14 Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
15 Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii
16 White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons
17 Greylag Goose Anser anser
18 Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
19 Wigeon Anas penelope
20 Gadwall Anas strepera
21 Teal Anas crecca
22 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
23 Pintail Anas acuta
24 Garganey Anas querquedula
25 Shoveler Anas clypeata
26 Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
27 Pochard Aythya ferina
28 Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
29 Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
30 Black Vulture Aegypius monachus
31 Black Kite Milvus migrans
32 White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
33 Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
34 Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
35 Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
36 Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
37 Buzzard Buteo buteo incl. buteo and vulpinus
38 Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
39 Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga
40 Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca
41 Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
42 Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
43 Peregrine Falco peregrinus
44 Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca
45 Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
46 Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
47 Coot Fulica atra
48 Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
49 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
50 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
51 Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
52 Yellow-legged Gull Larus  michahellis
53 Caspian Gull Larus  cachinnans
54 Feral Pigeon  Columba livia domestica
55 Stock Dove Columba oenas
56 Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
57 Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
58 Little Owl Athene noctua
59 Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum
60 Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
61 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
62 Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius
63 Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus
64 Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
65 Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
66 Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
67 Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
68 Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
69 Crested Lark Galerida cristata
70 Woodlark Lullula arborea
71 Skylark Alauda arvensis
72 Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris
73 House Martin Delichon urbica
74 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
75 Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
76 White Wagtail Motacilla alba
77 Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
78 Dipper Cinclus cinclus
79 Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
80 Dunnock Prunella modularis
81 Robin Erithacus rubecula
82 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
83 Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
84 Blackbird Turdus merula
85 Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
86 Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
87 Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
88 Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
89 Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
90 Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
91 Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
92 Goldcrest Regulus regulus
93 Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
94 Marsh Tit Parus palustris
95 Sombre Tit Parus lugubris
96 Willow Tit Parus montanus
97 Coal Tit Parus ater
98 Great Tit Parus major
99 Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
100 Nuthatch Sitta europaea
101 Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
102 Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
103 Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra
104 Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
105 Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
106 Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
107 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
108 Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
109 Serin Serinus serinus
110 Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
111 Siskin Carduelis spinus
112 Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
113 Linnet Carduelis cannabina
114 Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
115 Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
116 Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
117 House Sparrow Passer domesticus
118 Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
119 Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
120 Starling Sturnus vulgaris
121 Jay Garrulus glandarius
122 Magpie Pica pica
123 Jackdaw Corvus monedula
124 Rook Corvus frugilegus
125 Raven Corvus corax
126 Hooded Crow Corvus cornix

Mammals seen:
1. Wild Hare Lepus europaeus
2. Balkan Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica
3. Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
4. Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
5. Red Deer Cervus elaphus

събота, 15 март 2014 г.

Bearded Tit photography

The birdwatching trip is over and here i am awake at 5,30 a. m. on Saturday morning. Hm. This early start has to be utilized. I quickly grabbed my camera and off I went to the marshes near Sofia. My main target was the Bearded Tit. There are plenty of birds there so why not try a few shots.

The Sun was up at 6,30 and gently lit up the frosted grass. It was -6 C. Along the way I recorded quite a few Stonechats which were nicely singing. Corn Buntings, Sombre Tits and Skylarks were also announcing their territories. However, they were still not quite in their breeding behaviour and rarely sit still for long.

I arrived at the marsh at about 9 after a few attempts to get some shots of Black Redstart and Corn Buntings. The marsh was very lively. This was a good sign. Parked the car and off I went into a small hide in the middle of the marsh. Wrens were singing here and there. The call of Water rails echoes from different directions. There are at least 3 in this little area.

I arrived in the hide and soon I heard the first call of the Bearded Tit. It wasn't even 5 min when the birds arrived. Click, click. Nice one.

Here are a few shots:

bird photography in Bulgaria
Bearded Tit © Iordan Hristov
Bearded Tit © Iordan Hristov
Bearded Tit © Iordan Hristov
Bearded Tit © Iordan Hristov
Bearded Tit © Iordan Hristov
While sitting in the hide I recorded a couple of Marsh Harriers, Great White Egret, Water Rails, a family of Penduline tit and at least 6 Bearded Tits.

The fatigue from the previous days overtook and I felt like going to get some sleep. That would be enough for today.

Stay tuned for the coming recap of the tailored birdwatching trip last week.

петък, 14 март 2014 г.

Birdwatching in Bulgaria: tailored trip 8-15 March, day 7

Today was the day of birds of prey migration. We didn't start that early but our willingness to go to the vultures' feeding site by Dadia woke us up at about 7 a.m. We had a brief continental breakfast and off we went.

We were the first customers at Dadia visitors' centre for the day. They weren't willing to send the van to the hide straight away so we had to wait for half an hour. In the mean time we logged a couple of birds on the car park. There was a Cirl Bunting and a Syrian Woodpecker. Woodlark was singing out loud.

In 40 min we were in the hide. What a place. Just set the scope and started counting. Two on the top of the rock, three on the other rock and one on the tree. These were all Black Vulture. My friend was really happy to see that many at a time.
Black Vulture by Iordan Hristov
On a tree we had an immature White-tailed Eagle and a Black Vulture. They were pretty identical in size. On a tree nearby there was an immature Greater-spotted Eagle. Later on a juvenile Golden Eagle flied past. Apparently the species is not very regular visitor to the feeding site.

White-tailed Eagle and Black Vulture by Iordan Hristov
White-tailed Eagle and Black Vulture by Iordan Hristov
Soon groups of Black Kites started coming over. They were followed by quite a few Common Buzzards and a couple of Sparrowhawks and Black Storks. Wow, I love migration. We counted a total of over 50 Black Kites, and more than 60 Common Buzzards.

At certain point the feeding site got empty and the migration stopped so we decided to leave. On the way down to the visitors centre we counted a few more Black Kites and a few Steppe Buzzards. Nice male Sardinian Warbler called just before we arrived at the car park.

It was time to go. We had a long way to go to Sofia which is about 5 hours drive from Dadia so we headed home. This was the end of a great one week journey. I shall write another post with a summary and a checklist of all the birds we saw which are over 150 species I assume.