Sunday, 19 January 2020

Black-throated Thrush

Took the family to Whipsnade Zoo and stealth twitched the thrush- all done and photographed in less than a minute before back to the muppet line. 

Friday, 17 January 2020

Bulgaria, January 2020, Done Deal

Currently at Varna airport, in time to get my flight back to London after a hectic day running around Bulgarian bureaucracy. I had to go to Dobrich, the district centre today to get a registration number, then back to the notary to pick up the notary deed before filing it at the Town Hall with a declaration before checking out of the hotel and back to the airport. All went as well as hoped thanks to emergency assistance from Dimiter and my translator after the registry office wouldn't release the number without the notary deeds (I thought it was going to be another incident like the autumn where we fell foul to Bulgarian bureaucracy HERE). However this time an electronic version was allowed to be sent and everything went through and I am now the very proud owner of a tiny bit of the Via Pontica Migration Flyway.  Very excited about returning in the spring to launch the 'pop up' Black Sea Observatory.

Between Dobrich and the notary office I managed to sneak in a short session photographing the town centre Long-eared Owls.

 Long-eared Owls
 Dobrich above- something very evocative about these ex-communist town centres 

You can just about see the owls in this photo
 What the area lacks in jaw dropping urban design is more than made up for in the natural heritage of this area- the cliffs at the end of my road (above) and our local beach (below)

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Bulgaria January 2020, Local Birding

I had the day off today while the notary draws up the final documents. It gave me a chance to visit the land I've bought in Kamen Bryag and explore the immediate area in winter (a time I probably won't be visiting much) and in the afternoon I visited Shabla Tuzla and then did the harrier roost at Durankulak. 

Ebird list of all sites HERE 

Tomorrow is going to be a work day with three meetings (with the listing office, notary and then the municipality)  to finalise all the paperwork before getting the plane back. I'll be back here in April to start work on the land and set up the recording systems. 

Had about 40 Marsh Harriers (above) and 10 Hen Harrier (below) come into the roost. Also had a Long-legged Buzzard go over. 

I was glad to see these White-fronts pass over the land we bought- on the garden list! Also had Fieldfare and Reed Bunting- birds that might be difficult in the spring and autumn (which is the time of year I'll be mainly visiting). Within a short walking distance I had Black-throated Diver and Hen Harrier too which will presumably be more difficult in spring and autumn,  I also had a good look in the nearby woodland for woodpeckers- not a single pecker but did have Woodcock and Red Squirrel. There was Syrian and Green woodpecker in the garden/land.
Corn Buntings in Kamen Bryag- I was quite surprised how few birds there were in the area (ebird list HERE ). It might be because it's been such a mild winter. The geese that we saw in Romania earlier in the week are usually here in mid-January but are a good 80 miles to the north. The geese staying north mirrors what's going on with White-fronts, wild swans and Smew in UK too- presumably due to global warming. 
Amazingly I had the Great Bustard again which decided to do a fly by 
and here's what the land looks like at the moment 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Bulgaria January 2020, Day in the office

We spent most of today in the notary office doing all the paperwork which hopefully should all be finalised by Friday. I got up early and went down to the harbour at Kavarna, had a few Black Redstarts on the sea front, Black-necked Grebe and a few Yellow-legged Gulls. On the way to the notary office there were four Long-eared Owls in Birch by the cafe, more or less in full view- will go back when I can with the camera to get some pics. 

After we finished work this afternoon I went to lake Darankulak to see the harriers coming into roost but the fog was so dense I couldn't see anything. There's a birding group in the same hotel as me and they went to the site Dimiter and I recced out yesterday but unfortunately today was think fog bank all day and they could only hear the birds. 

Hopefully the fog clears tomorrow as I've got the day off so planning on birding all day. 

 Male (above) and female-type (below) Black Redstart

White-fronts in the fog 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Bulgaria January 2020, Wild Goose Chase

I'm currently in Bulgaria finalising some paperwork to complete the sale of our private nature reserve. Today I joined Dimiter in doing a recce for wild geese. The weather has been mild this winter so the geese haven't arrived in Bulgaria so we set off across the border to Romania to find some geese- mission successful! 
 We started the morning at Lake Durankulak - about 50 Marsh Harriers and 10 Hen Harrier came out the reed bed roost. We also had an immature White-tailed Eagle. Also about 200+ Pygmy Cormorant, 2 Smew,  20 Red-breasted Mergansers and Black-necked Grebes.
 These five Whooper Swans flew over calling at dawn- a magical evocative sight and sound. By the end of the day we had seen about 1500 on our journey. 
 It wasn't until we arrived at the Danube Delta biosphere reserve that we found some geese- over 300 Red-breasted Geese (above). The Branta jizz and flock shape and movements were very distinctive amongst the 20,000 White-fronted Geese, even at considerable distance.
 Whooper and one Bewick's Swan
 White-fronts and Red-breasted Geese
 White-fronted Goose
 More Bewicks Swans
 Whoopers in the mist
This adult Snow Goose was amongst the White-fronts found by Dimiter. There had been a Snow Goose seen in Romania to the north so presumably the same bird. The provenance of this bird is in question but obviously if it is a genuine vagrant which has come over the top of the melting north pole it will be an absolute local mega. 
Highlight of the day was this single vagrant Great Bustard 

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Slim Pickings

 The evenings have been mild this week so I've had the MV on at the Beddington obs. Just a couple of micro moths.

Did a few hours on Wednesday along the permissive footpath at Beddington- very quiet. 

Gulls and micro moths- this is real bottom of the barrel stuff, and I can't even put a name to most of them! 

 This gull had features of a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull but the upperparts looked more argenteus Herring Gull like. 
Acleris sp (above and below) . According to Hants Moths flying tonight page the most common Acleris is schalleriana at the moment although sparsana, ferrugana and notana are all possible.  The one below with the costal blotch looks okay for schalleriana but not sure about the above one.  
Several of these acleris species require genital dissection to identify them. I remember Neil Stocks (A barrister from the Beddington Farm Bird Group) who made the remark that once a naturalist find them-self staring at the genitals of a micro moth (especially in light of global inequality and the sixth extinction etc) they probably need to question life choices that brought them to that point. For those who have arrived at that point, which could be a result of all the right choices, this website is the place to be: MOTHS TWIG AND BERRIES. I'm not quite there yet but heading that way. 
Not sure what this is supposed to be? A worn mompha? A caddis? For God's sake we need Spring to arrive! 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Day Trip to Arundel

Went to Arundel WWT yesterday with the family. Was thinking of doing a bit more video work on my 7D Mark 2 this year. The quality is pretty good and I should be able to use my noc mig sound recording equipment to get some decent sounds too. Here's a few seconds of a Robin showing the quality. 

Birding highlight was the Harrier roost with at least 6 Marsh Harriers and 1 Hen Harrier coming into the reserve as it was getting dark and roosting in the small reed bed.

Here's one of Jacob enjoying feeding the birds (best with sound!)