вторник, 4 март 2014 г.

Searching for Pygmy Owls in Bulgaria

The birdwatching trip that is coming up in a couple of days made me do some more surveys for the species requested by my friend. This time it was Pygmy Owl. I new a couple of locations in the Western Rhodope mountains that I wanted to check to make sure the birds are there and I will be prepared for the coming birdwatcher.

We departed on Saturday for a long three-day weekend including our bank holiday on Monday. The trip was fairly short since the area is only about 150 km from Sofia. We arrived in a small place with a couple of guest houses one of which we rented with friends. It had good conditions for a pleasant stay. Nearby were the places that I wanted to visit. Spectacular, old spruce forest that keep the densest population of Pygmy Owl in the country.

pygmy owl
Western Rhodope mountains by Iordan Hristov
On Saturday we walked around the area where we were based but on Sunday we went for a walk along a track where I expected to see or hear the Pygmy Owls. The weather was rather miserable. Snow, rain, snow, and more rain. Some strange combination that didn't make birds being very active. However at several location passerines were getting crazy wanting to mob a Pygmy Owl. This would be a good sign that the birds are familiar with their predator call.

Later on in the same afternoon we went to another track where passerines behaved in the same way. This would be quite a good location where I ought to come back next week with my friend. At one of the sites there was a drum from a woodpecker. Rather secretive behaviour made me think it might have been a Three-toed Woodpecker. Regardless of my willingness to confirm, the bird never turned up. Initially it was quietly feeding on a tree trunk in a very dense coniferous forest. When I tried approaching the bird it just disappeared with no sign for direction. Well I shall definitely come back. See what happens next week.