Top Birds at Romania´s Black Sea Coast

South of the Danube Delta is a wide stretch of a sandy shoreline with shallow lagoons. This is part of Romania´s Black Sea coast. May is Migration and early breeding time. Whereas the association of the east Romanian countryside is normally with the core Danube Delta with its speciality birds like Pelicans, Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills, the stretch of coast just south of the Danube Delta up to the northern city limits of Constanta is an excellent birding spot, too. A small group of bird photographers went for that countryside, with the area called Dobrudja more to the west and the area of Vadu at the coast. The tour was organized by Sakertours. The Bird Diversity we enjoyed was high; over 90 species of birds we found in only 3 days, some had just arrived from their wintering grounds in Africa. Highlights of the tour you will find in the gallery. Among others we made photoshots of Great Bittern, Botaurus stellaris, European Honey-buzzard, Pernis apivorus, Montagu’s Harrier, Circus pygargus, Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Aquila pomarina, Imperial Eagle, Aquila heliaca, 2 species of Sparrowhawks Continue reading Top Birds at Romania´s Black Sea Coast

Identification of Sternula Terns in Asia/Africa

When you are going to eastern Arabia in spring, you have good chances to see (and compare) 2 small terns of the genus Sternula. Sternula is a genus of small white terns, which is often subsumed into the larger genus Sterna. Saunder’s Tern, Sternula saundersi, was formerly considered to be subspecies of Little Tern but is now regarded a valid species besides the Little Tern, Sternula albifrons. Both species are never easy to separate in identification.

This  very interesting article   Birds of India: Identification of Sternula Terns in Asia/Africa might give some advice!

Here some more pictures for those birders who visit the Emirates or Oman.

In the Emirates (UAE) the Little Tern Continue reading Identification of Sternula Terns in Asia/Africa

Greater Short-toed Lark just fledged

On Romania´s Black Sea coast May is migration and early breeding time. After having seen many of top birds like in the Macin Mountains, a small group of bird photographers went for the steppe habitat further south. Excellent sightings of larks (Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark and Wood Lark – a bit further to the north) in that nice habitat in the Dobrogea/ Dobrudja near Constanta we made. A young bird heavly dotted with white spots was crossing the road. It must be a recently fledged Juvenile – otherwise the bill would look much different. First I was struggling with the identification particularly concerning Skylark vs. Greater Short-toed Lark. Unfortunately there is not too much about young Greater Short-toed Lark in the internet. The only websites I found were from Annika Forsten & Antero Lindholm concerning larks in Kasachstan and from Javier Blasco-Zumeta and Gerd-Michael Heinze from the Laboratorio Virtual Ibercaja. In many lark species the juvenile indivuduals have feathers with pale edges whereas the adults are lacking the pale edges. To identify the adults is not too difficult. Greater Short-toed Lark is a small pale lark which is streaked greyish-brown above, white below, and has a strong pointed bill Continue reading Greater Short-toed Lark just fledged

Bird Diversity in the Danube Delta

Bird Diversity in the delta of 2ndlargest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta is very high. Over 320 species of birds are found in the delta during the summer, of which 166 are breeding species. A group of bird-photographers decided to visit this site in May 2012 on a trip with Sakertours. Highlights of the tour you will find in the gallery. Among others there were photoshots of 7 species of herons (Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea, Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, Great Egret, Casmerodius albus, Squacco Heron, Ardeola ralloides, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, Little Bittern, Ixobrychus minutus), 2 species of pelican (Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus and Dalmatian pelican, Pelecanus crispus), 3 species of grebes (Red-necked Grebe, Podiceps grisegena, Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus, Black-necked Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis), 2 species of Chlidonias-terns (Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybridus and Black Tern,) Chlidonias niger),  2 species of ibises (Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus and Eurasian Spoonbill, Platalea leucorodia) and top birds like Pygmy Cormorant, Phalacrocorax pygmeus, White-tailed Eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla among others

Starting from Mila 23, a village right in the middle of the Romanian part of the delta Continue reading Bird Diversity in the Danube Delta

White Pelican having taken flight

Just to complement the blog Great White Pelican taking flight in Danube Delta, this blog shows the moment just after starting from the water surface. Even here, you see that the Pelican with the scientific name Pelecanus onocrotalus  with up to 11 kg weight needs quite an effort to evenutally take-off and fly. Hope that these kind of images will be possible forever in the beautiful in Danube Delta.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species Continue reading White Pelican having taken flight

Canon 400mm f4,0 DO IS USM, ein Erfahrungsbericht

Dieses Objektiv, vielleicht mehr als jedes andere Canon-Objektiv, ist Gegenstand eines breiten Spektrums von Meinungen. Natürlich werden, wie bei jeder größeren Anschaffung, Meinungen von Emotionen und finanziellen Faktoren beeinflußt. Die quick & dirty-Zusammenfassung der verschiedenen Stimmen im Netz ist in der Regel:

  • Die Schärfe ist sehr gut, aber fällt dramatisch mit Konvertern ab
  • Kontrast sehr gering (kann angepasst werden, wenn Aufnahme im RAW-Modus via Photoshop überarbeitet wird)
  • Sehr leicht und gut tragbar für ein großes Tele (nicht nur für einen 400mm)
  • hoher Preis
  • Altmodischer Image Stabelizer

Als (nach 25 Jahren) unzufriedener Nikon-Fotograf hatte ich Gelegenheit ein völlig neues fotografisches System zu suchen.

Ich bin Vogelfotograf, der sich auf das Ablichten möglichst vieler Vogelarten für wissenschaftliche Zwecke spezialisiert hat. Zuerst habe ich meine Bedürfnisse genau geprüft. Ich laufe viel in den unterschiedlichsten Gegenden, im Gebirge auf 2500m NN oder im Regenwald. Gewicht spielt also eine große Rolle. Dabei reise ich viel mit dem Flugzeug und hatte früher immer wieder Probleme bzgl. des Fluggepäcks. Das Objektiv sollte gut  – am besten mit aufgesetzter Sonnenblende – in einen überschaubaren Rucksack passen und jederzeit Continue reading Canon 400mm f4,0 DO IS USM, ein Erfahrungsbericht

Canon 400mm f4 DO review; a practical experience

This lens, perhaps more than any other Canon lens, brings out a diverse range of opinions. Of course, as with any major purchase, opinions are always going to be influcenced by emotions and financial factors.
The quick and dirty summary normally is:
• Sharpness is very good, but falls off dramatically with TCs
• Contrast very low (but might be adjusted if shooting RAW via Photoshop)
• Very light and portable for a large aperture lens (not only for a 400mm)
• High price
• Old-fashioned IS
As an dissatisfied Nikon-Photographer I was looking for a completely new photographic system.
I am bird photographer who has specialized in photographing as many species of birds for scientific purposes as possible. First I checked my needs exactly. I hike a lot in different areas to find birds – in the mountains at 2500m asl or in the rain forest. Weight plays a major role. The lens should fit into a (not-too-big) backpack

Continue reading Canon 400mm f4 DO review; a practical experience

Great White Pelican takes flight in Danube Delta

The Danube Delta is home of two species of pelicans. The pelican is the symbol of the Delta. Here is home to Europe’s most important colony: 3.500 pairs live in the Danube Delta . we decided to visit this site in May 2012 on a photographer trip with Sakertours. One of the highlights were photoshots of starting Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus and Dalmatian pelican, Pelecanus crispus.
With his 9 – 11 kg of weight the adult Great White Pelican is one of the heaviest and largest flying birds in the world. Ahead of this pelican species in weight is only the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) and the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). To provide his lungs with enough oxygen, he has five air sacs, which extend through the entire abdominal cavity. A special technique is also the flapping flight, with which he strikes 70 times per minute, a gull (Laridae), e.g. needs 180 beats per minute. With its 3.60 m wide wings the Pelican is able to use (as one of only a few water birds) the thermals by the rising warm air for circling in the air without any physical effort of his own.
Like many birds, the pelican has a very light skeleton. His bones Continue reading Great White Pelican takes flight in Danube Delta

Common Kestrel feeding on trapped bird

loud alarms calls of Blackbirds draw my attention to a place in neighbor´s garden. First I saw a moving wing – white with black pattern. Then the moustache. Hey, this is a female Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, feeding on a Eurasian Blackbird. The dead Blackbird had been accidentally trapped by a fruit net, provided to protect garnet berry, Ribes rubrum, from marauding birds.
Just after I showed up, the kestrel flew away with a piece of his prey in her bill. But only after a while she came back and hung down at the wrapped bird. Unfortunately, I could not reach the neighbor’s yard. Ok, the bird was dead, but it could have been that even the Kestrel gets tangled in the net. Finally, the neighbor had seen the incident and also untied the dead blackbird off the net. A little later I could see the kestrels, as she was feeding with relish the blackbird-meal on a stone wall. Finally, she flew away, not without being aggressivly harassed by the excited fellows of the dead blackbird. Other shootings of that session you can see in the gallery under: www.bird-lens.com.
Common Kestrels eat almost exclusively mouse-sized mammals: typically voles, but also shrews and true Continue reading Common Kestrel feeding on trapped bird

Birds in Macin Mountains National Park/ Romania

Just south-west of the Danube Delta only 1 hour drive from Tulcea is the location of the Macin Mountains with its granite hills. With an altitude of max. 450 m asl Macin Mountains are showing nevertheless an impressive outline. Macin Mountains belong to the oldest mountains of Europe. The Macin Mountains feature some significant steppe vegetation (in mixture with Balkanic and Submediterranean forests) and are a great place to see birds. Whereas Macin Mountains is famous as an important migration hotspot for raptors in autumn, we decided to visit this site in May.

We found two species of Wheatears (Common and Isabelline), several species of Larks, European Turtle-dove, Red-rumped Swallow, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Shrikes, Corn and Ortolan Bunting and some other species, you will find in the photo gallery for the Macin Moutains.

Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, is one of the largest buzzards Continue reading Birds in Macin Mountains National Park/ Romania

An Eurasian Sparrowhawk with Long-legged Buzzard in Romania

May is migration time at Romania´s Black Sea coast. Thus it is prime birdwatching time. After having seen many of the speciality birds like Pelicans, Grebes, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills in the Danube Delta, a small group of bird photographers went for steppe habitats further south. There were already lots of excellent sightings of raptors (e.g. White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle) but what we saw in the Dobrogea/ Dobrudja near Constanta was a surprise. A pair of Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, was circling in the sky. Shortly afterwards joined by a circling Long-legged Buzzard. More photos you see here….

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is widely distributed in Europe. In Romania it occurs as a breeding species, too. Its occurrence status is: Native due to birdlife, but in the east of Romania you can see the Levant Sparrowhawk, Accipiter brevipes, too.  If I am right, this observation was the only one of Eurasian Sparrowhawk during the whole 2 weeks we spent at Romania´s Black Sea coast. But of course it is not a strange thing to see one in Dobrogea. During the winter, Romania has a larger population of the Sparrowhawk because birds from the northern areas of Europe use  to move to the southern areas of the continent.

 The Sparrowhawks are partially Continue reading An Eurasian Sparrowhawk with Long-legged Buzzard in Romania