Saturday 29 April 2023

Bulgaria Spring 2023 Day Three- Local mega

Another great day with a strange twist. Live trip report HERE. I found (joint found) a 5th for Bulgaria today in Kamen Bryag but a couple of hours after I put the news out Pavel let me know that he had photographed the same bird this morning. I heard what I thought was a rare bunting ticking yesterday evening and the bird has presumably been around the village for some of the winter.  

I started the day off at the Cape again, the highlights were a couple of Ortolans, a Monty's, a couple of Long-legged Buzzards over the Steppe and a Firecrest, I've not seen Firecrest on the Cape before. 

After lunch I spent a little bit of time on the plot clearing some ground vegetation around the trees we planted and I did a quick vegetation survey. 

In the evening I went to Shabla Lakes and Shabla Tusla where since yesterday new birds in included a Greater Flamingo, Grey Plovers, full summer plumage Spotted Redshanks and a few more Curlew Sands.

In the evening I had Nightjar flying round the plot back at Kamen Bryag. 

Little Bunting- only the 5th record for Bulgaria

Can't get enough of the Cape Kaliakra Pied Wheatears
A couple of interesting ficedula flycatcher- presumably a first-summer male Pied above (with a very contrasting rump) and a female Collared (below) . Will do a separate post on the ficedulas as some very interesting birds around. 

Seems to be a good year for Squacco Herons
Male Whinchat 
Curlew Sands
Greater Flamingo 
Our Nightingale on the plot that sings day and night 
White Wagtail 
After birding the Cape I spent a bit of time looking at the plants on the Steppe habitat- found some Lady's Orchids with the usual stunning Spring steppe plants such as the Fern-leaved Peony (above)

Friday 28 April 2023

Bulgaria Spring 2023 Day Two

The strong north east wind is still blowing so I wasn't expecting too much today but even a slow day on the Black Sea Flyway is an excellent day. 'Live' Ebird trip report here. 116 species today, not bad for a day list. 

I checked the moth trap first thing (nothing apart from 3 Muslin moths) and then headed to Cape Kaliakra where I met Dimiter and his group. After lunch at Shabla I did Shabla Tusla and Shabla Lakes before teaming up with a bird group who took me to a new site, the Shabla Pump Station which was an excellent little spot.

Highlight of the day was a couple of Little Crakes at the Pump House,  a Bulgaria tick. 

Adult male Pied Wheatear
First-summer male Pied Wheatear
Female Pied Wheatear
Pied Flycatcher
Wood Sandpiper
Squacco Heron
Female (above) and male (below) Little Crake

Thursday 27 April 2023

Bulgaria Spring 2023 Day One

Arrived this afternoon with some time to do some local birding around Kamen Bryag. Ebird list here. I had an incredible 68 Turtle Dove on the road between Balgrevo and Kamen Bryag. 

Amazing to see Whiskered Terns flying low over our plot in a fairly strong northerly wind. 

The wind must be holding up the passerines as not too much about. 

It's great to be back.

Pied Flycatcher
Woodchat Shrike
Corn Bunting
Little Owl
View along the Black Sea coast over Varna looking north 
Despite the cold strong northerly it was delightful walking along the King's Spear covered steppe/karst cliff line
Before (above) and after (below) shots of the work we are doing on our meadow- come out alright

Wednesday 26 April 2023

The Old Vic- garden mega

2 Shelducks flying over the garden this morning is the best it gets round here- garden tick. No photo as I was unarmed feeding the chickens. The garden bird list is now on 96 here . It was interesting to compare today's garden bird records with this time last year. There were three Blackcaps holding territory by now last year but apart from one record last week they have not arrived yet. A Willow Warbler this morning is quite a good Spring record. 

The moth trapping has still not picked up properly. It's either been wet and windy at night or warm during the day and then clear skies at night with even some light frosts recently.  I've also missed a couple of good nights because been away working. I had two traps out last night and only got two species; Hebrew Character (6) and Clouded Drab (1).  A Muslin moth about a week ago was the last new species for the year.

Fortunately I'm off to Bulgaria tomorrow for a couple of weeks so might have some better content for this blog rather than my omelette below. 

Muslin moth- NFY
Frosted Green- seems to have been a reasonable showing of them this Spring 
The chickens are laying over 20 eggs a week at the moment so I'm having to come up with different ways of eating them- here's a wild mushroom omelette
 Another lack of content photo. Here's our Scooter Blenny, a native of the tropical seas from East Africa to Indonesia hiding out the Sixth Extinction in the office. 
Here is the moth trapping set up nowadays, the 125W Robinsons (above) and pimped up Heath Trap (below) - the only thing lacking is moths 

Saturday 22 April 2023

We did it! 100 species in the mini-zoo

It's harder than it sounds! Trying to keep 100 different species of pet alive and well all at the same time is quite an involved exercise. However today with the acquisition of an Emperor Scorpion and a Jasmine and Duncan coral we hit our target of 100 species.

Well done team which is basically Jacob. me and our suppliers at Exotics at Heart (thanks Kevin) and Fish n Finns (thanks Kieran and Liam) and also well done to Holly for tolerating all this and also for reluctantly agreeing to take significant payments to look after all these creatures when I'm away. 

Emperor Scorpion- species number 100. 050623 Update- actually not this species, its a Malay Forest Scorpion
The mini-zoo is comprised of four different tanks (micro-environments); a Paludarium (above rear and below) with both a tropical freshwater and tropical arboreal component, a Reef tank (saltwater tropical coral reef), an arid Leopard Gecko tank (above) and an Invertebrate tank. 

Reef tank (above) and Invertebrate tank (below) 

Our Panther Chameleon called Davina (or Dave) is the Queen of the zoo here pictured with a Giant Atlas Moth
There's the odd other species dotted around the house and garden including the chickens (above) and the dog

Click on the facebook post to view videos of the different tanks and some of the species 

Friday 21 April 2023


A little experiment to see how fast I can do a blog post in the field using the R7 wi-fi connection to my phone and Ebird . 
A few bits this morning including the Lesser scaup , a Little gull , Whimbrel , Dunlin , Yellow wagtail , Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warblers  and Swifts . Ebird list Here. A nice haul of year ticks. 
Ok done it but it’s very fiddly but just a phone with Lightroom on , camera and 4G required now - no laptop with internet needed. 

Male Lesser Scaup (above and below) . Somewhat better views than when I last saw this bird at Staines Res here and nice to actually get the real deal at Farmoor after only getting half of one before here
An Oxfordshire lifer which puts me on a humble 172 (both ticks this year have been American ducks- American Wigeon and now Lesser Scaup ) here

Adult summer Little Gull 
Common Tern
Snow Goose