Category Archives: Bird Identification Aid

Congo Serpent-Eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis) in the Cameroon lowlands

SchlangenbussardDriving from Edea down to Kribi in April 2017 we managed to catch a bird, unobtrusively crouching on a branch of a medium-sized tree right along the road. The bird had large eyes, but was sitting right in the open. Wow, this was the Congo Serpent-Eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis) is a medium-sized eagle that occurs in densely forested areas throughout western and central Africa. Normally prey is spotted in dark forest, either on a tree trunk, in foliage, or on the ground. But they also hunt along roads and forest clearings and may perch over rivers.

The Congo Serpent-Eagle is part in the family Accipitridae, and is classified in the monotypic genera Dryotriorchis. This species is found in West and Central Africa, with its range stretching from Sierra Leone south to Angola and west to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo Serpent-Eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis spectabilis) is found in upper Guinean forests of Western Africa, while Congo Serpent-Eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis batesi) is found in lower Guinean forests in the south of Cameroon and Gabon.

Although monotypic, it seems to be closely related to Circaetus- Snake-Eagles like the Short-toed Snake-Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and is possibly a link between these and the Asian genera Spilornis – Serpent-Eagles like the Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela). This Continue reading Congo Serpent-Eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis) in the Cameroon lowlands

Blue-crowned Motmot in Pantanal

Blauscheitel-MotmotThe Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota) is so common in the Pantanal,  that you hardly can miss it. Besides being one of the most colorful birds of the Pantanal, it is also one of the most spectacular birds of the Pantanal by the colorful and unique shape of the tail feathers. The bird is specialized in hunting insects and small vertebrates from a fixed landing.

The song is similar to that of an owl, most often emitted in the lightening and darkening, although it can be heard at any time of day and night. It starts with a short, severe, accelerated call (understood as udu or hard). When another Blue-crowned Motmot responds, they accelerate the singing and increase the number of “udus”.

Although it activates its calls all day, it is impressive how difficult it is seeing it in the shadows of the vegetation, despite the intense color of the body and head, besides the size of the tail. The bright green of the plumage is yellowish on the belly and chest. Around the red eyes, a large black mask is ending in two ends. Ripping the entire mask, the intense cobalt blue is lighter and more extensive on the Continue reading Blue-crowned Motmot in Pantanal

Dull-capped Attila in Pantanal

RostattilaThe Dull-capped Attila (Attila bolivianus) has rufous-brown upperparts and tail and it has a gray-brown crown. The underparts and  the rump are rufous as well. Remarkable is the white iris. Also known as the White-eyed Attila, the Dull-capped Attila is principally an uncommon inhabitant of seasonally flooded forests, including on river islands, as well as gallery woodland in the Brazilian Pantanal, where it feeds alone or in pairs, and sometimes joins mixed-species foraging flocks. Nonetheless, the species is probably most frequently detected by virtue of its loud whistled song. Mainly rufous-brown, the White-eyed Attila is most easily identified by the pale yellowish-white iris. The bird forages in the canopy and subcanopy of varzea forest and old second growth. It is similar to the Cinnamon Attila but is distinguished by a gray-brown crown and – as said already – the white iris.

The Dull-capped Attila is uncommon and widespread also in Amazonia where it is known to range on the south side of the Amazon and lower Marañon River.

The location of the photo-shot was taken on the farm Pouso Alegre. This is a pousada which is very well situated 7 km away from the Transpantaneira. The location is only 33 km south of Pocone in the northern Pantanal. The whole pousada is a great Continue reading Dull-capped Attila in Pantanal

Rufous Hornero on a termite mound

Rosttöpfer The Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus) is so common in the Pantanal, that you hardly think of taking a picture, as you think, that you will do it next day. Ok, this time some pictures were shot, when the bird was standing on a termite mound. There is some examination ungoing to study the interaction between birds and termites in Brazil. A study found 218 bird species feeding on termites or using termitaria for nesting or perching . The study found out, that termites are used as a food source are exploited as a nest site for some bird species as well. Some bird species also perch on the top of termite mounds to search for their prey or to conduct territorial or courtship displays.

The Rufous Hornero is one – or the best-known- of the Ovenbirds and is from the same family as the Woodcreepers or the Spinetails. The bird looks a bit like a thrush but is very plain with a dirty white supercilium and a rather long, slightly Continue reading Rufous Hornero on a termite mound

Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher at the nest

Rostzügel-TodityrannA trip during a scientific excursion in the northern Pantanal between the 20th of December 2012 and the 10th of January 2013 showed a lot of excitement. One day I perceived a movement right along the path I was walking. A small bird with a transversely lying blade of grass quickly disappeared in the thicket. I can then see the place where a Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher (Poecilotriccus altirostris) diligently enters his nesting material. It appears to be an Cerrado islet that stand out slightly. The area is well closed with tight standing stems. Nevertheless, I get access to this only 3 meters in diameter measuring grove. After all, I’m standing right in front of his hanging nest. Only a short time later the Continue reading Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher at the nest

Vagrant Dusky Thrush in Western Europe

NaumanndrosselA strong, white supercilium, blackish cheeks and long white submoustachial stripe on a Thrush in late fall might mean just a Redwing (Turdus iliacus). But sometimes, it is something different, something “better”. Dutch birders in Groningen were (almost) lucky to find a Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) yesterday. Unfortunately the bird was found dead on a table. Additionally ist was gripped by a cat. The bird was found in Beijum on the northern part of Groningen in the eastern-most province of the Netherlands.

The last Dusky Thrush in Europe I heard from, was detected on Scilly (GB) on Wednesday 26 October 2016.

The author of a report on a birdguides-article of a Dusky Thrush on the Islands of Scilly realized during a birding walk, that a distant thrush-like bird did not show the flanks of a Redwing and looked superfically like a Dusky Thrush. The the scope it was clearly visible, that the bird showed in general a blackish-and-white plumage with strong golden-brown wing-panel, black chevrons on white flanks, a flaring white supercilium, blackish cheeks and Continue reading Vagrant Dusky Thrush in Western Europe

Kittlitz’s Murrelet between glaciers in Alaska

KurzschnabelalkThe big push for the last days of the birding tour in Alaska was to search for the Kittlitz’s Murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris). Kittlitz’s Murrelet is a rare member of the Alcid family of diving seabirds that includes the puffins, auklets and murres. This was one of the birds highest on my list, as it is a species that numbers in the low tens of thousands and does only rarely migrate along the west coast of the United States, and therefore can be seen mainly near its breeding grounds in Alaska. But in Alaska too, this bird is uncommon and local and there are recent evidences of decline.

After a 2 week trip with the tour operator High Lonesome to the Pribilofs Islands, St. Lawrence and Nome to observe the impressive bird migration along the shore of the islands to the Bering Sea I wanted to complete birding in Alaska with some birds I missed or could not see further to the west.

During summer, populations of Kittlitz’s Murrelets are concentrated in areas with large glacial fields. For this I participated in a chartered boat trip with Saltwater Tours from Seward. From Seward Harbor we started in early June. We went on a veritable boat, which is approved for 20 people. We headed on Resurrection Bay south. When pulling out of harbor, we saw the first Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) sitting on rocks along the shore. Suddenfly Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) raised their heads out of the water. Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) could Continue reading Kittlitz’s Murrelet between glaciers in Alaska

Pintail Snipe on a remote US-Island in the northern Pacific/ Alaska

SpiessbekassineGambell, a small village on the north-western tip of the remote St. Lawrence Island is an outstanding outpost not only for North American Birders. A short trip with only a few days with High Lonesome yielded all sorts of good birds, both Asian and North American origin.

During a 6-day trip guided by the tour operator High Lonesome a group of mainly US-birders was amazed by the impressive but regular bird migration along the shore of the island to the Bering Sea further north. An almost as important feature was the possibility to catch-up with maybe the best vagrants sightings of the spring 2016.

There had been some very good Asian species this spring. Far outstanding was the Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura), which was finally only identified by checking the images shot and discussing sighting and sound impressions in the group. First reviews from experts for ID-confirmations turned out to be positive.

The snipe was flushed at close distance in the so-called Far Boneyard, flew low and a very short distance on first flush and then flew farther and higher on second flush, always from dry ground, although bird flew high it circled back around, we were not able to flush it a third time the bird called once, not particularly sharp like Common/Wilson’s but also not particularly wheezy (fairly short and quiet call). The images of the bird show a coloration very Continue reading Pintail Snipe on a remote US-Island in the northern Pacific/ Alaska

Identifying Eurasian dotterel on migration

MornellregenpfeiferA bleak agricultural prairie in a low mountain range of Germany. The gaze falls on monotonous furrows. Only on the horizon forest can be discerned. The area seems to be empty of birds. Only at some distance a Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) is circling in the air. Nevertheless, this kind of habitat can be of great importance ornithological-wise. After a while, you might hear a trilling call, a melancholy “pjurrr”. Now it is time to watch-out carefully. Intense screening of suitable areas with binoculars or spotting scope to spot resting Eurasian dotterel (Eudromias morinellus) usually results only with a lot of time and patience in success. Due to the excellent camouflage of the resting birds you cannot expect fast sightings. Once you have discovered a Dotterel, it is relatively easy to determine the bird. In non-breeding plumage Eurasian dotterel may – under certain circumstances – be confused with the European Golden-Plover (Pluvialis apricaria). Dotterel in breeding plumage, however, are not to be confused with any other species to be expected in Germany. The following tips should help in determining ID-characteristics of the birds.

Dotterel in breeding plumage are characterized by the bright white superciliar stripe. On chest and belly they showy a reddish-brown color. A narrow white chest band is very typical. Moulting birds in the plumage, fade all the colors, the belly is yellowish to white blotchy. At that time a chest ring is far less noticeable. Juvenile individuals or Eurasian dotterels in non-breeding plumage are to be confused Continue reading Identifying Eurasian dotterel on migration

Lanner Falcon for the western Palearctic

LannerLanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) is a highly thought-after species for a central European birdwatcher. Lanner Falcons are the large Falcon in the Mediterranean region and in Africa. This Falcon is replaced by the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), a raptor widely distributed in warm-temperate zones from southeast Europe (mainly Hungary) and Turkey to the Central Asiatic steppes. The five species of large falcons (Falco sp.) which occur in the western Palearctic constitute one of the most impressive and exciting groups of birds in Europe. They have long attracted great interest and attention among ornithologists and non-birdwatchers alike.

The Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) breeds in western Palearctic from its  northern limit in Italy with 100-140 pairs over Greece with 36-55 pairs, Turkey with 300-600 pairs to Armenia with 20-30 pairs. In the east the trend is unknown but the general perception is declining. There are 3 subspecies in the West Palearctic, with Continue reading Lanner Falcon for the western Palearctic

Seabird Photography

KapsturmvogelAn Albatross sailing the seas, an agile Petrel, a dynamic Shearwater. These are real challenges. Bird photographing in general is quite a difficult task. Add in a rocking, heaving boat, crowds of people, salt spray and fast moving agile targets and you have a most challenging undertaking. For certain digital photography has not revolutionized bird photography, but has made Bird Photography a lot more less strengous. This is true in general and has been especially so in seabird photography. If you look back on some of the so-called analog (or predigital) “Seabird Photo” books you will see the amazing steps forward that have been made in the last 15 years. For Seabird Photography I personally have been using a consistent set-up for the last years. This includes the professional flagship Canon “sports & journalism” camera currently the EOS 1 D X with a Canon f4.0, 400mm DO lens. This in most cases without a teleconverter (TC). If using a teleconverter, it is a 1.4 Canon teleconverter of the II-series. The Canon EOS 1 D X with a Canon f4.0, 400mm DO is a very fast set-up with a unique ability to achieve very high shutter Continue reading Seabird Photography

Where to find Eurasian dotterel on migration in Germany

MornellregenpfeiferA Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus or Eudromias morinellus) is a cute little bird of the northern landscapes of Scandinavia. The Dotterel is a member of the plover family which migrates between the breeding grounds in northern Europe to North Africa, where it winters. In a roosting place they often behave quite familiar and usually persist even on a few meters distance. However, larger flocks are sometimes shy and fly away even in case of low interference. In spring especially coastal areas are preferred. In fall Eurasian dotterel show-up at resting areas sometimes far inland. To find these interesting birds, you should obey to some findings.

Preferred habitat is usually characterized by open, exposed areas with short vegetation. A convincing reminiscent of Scandinavian countryside. In the cultural landscape with its large-scale agricultural Continue reading Where to find Eurasian dotterel on migration in Germany

Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland

SteppenweiheDescribed in old literature as a rare vagrant, the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is much less rare in NW Europe nowadays. It is not yet clear, whether this is due to the numbers of birders in the field, increasing knowledge of the immature and adult female plumage, migrations watchpoints or due to a change in the migration patterns of this bird species. At least on the coast and in the eastern parts of Germany Pallid Harriers can be regarded as scarce migrants now. Visiting the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – very interesting observations of a hunting immature Pallid Harrier could be made. The lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch are an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect habitat for raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus), Western marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) visit the area Continue reading Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland

Taiga Bean Goose in Havelland near Berlin

WaldsaatgansBean Geese on their wintering grounds near Berlin. The Havelaue west of Hohennauen – north of Rathenow – is a vast plain of the North German lowlands. In January, the landscape was – at temperatures around 0 ° Celsius – under a thick blanket of foggy clouds. The air was humid and cold, and the country is very quiet. Abundant rains in recent days have flooded the meadows. Some parts of the meadows and pastures are under a thin layer of crumbling ice. The river Havel flows in the background.

End of January some 100 Geese, mainly Bean Geese (Anser fabalis) could be seen not far from the road from Hohennauen to Parey. Obviously, the geese came in search of food to the fields and meadows. The preferred resting grounds must surely be in the polder Continue reading Taiga Bean Goose in Havelland near Berlin

Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri, as a vagrant for the Western Palearctic

SumpfseeschwalbeTerns in general are excellent fliers, which may, from time to time, appear as vagrants outside of their home range. Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri, are no exception in that. Only some days ago, a Forster’s Tern was found on the coast of Ireland. An adult winter Forster’s Tern could be observed at Corronroo along with Common Loon (Gavia immer), 3 Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis), some Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator), Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), 2 Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), 3 adults and 1 first-winter Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) or (Larus melanocephalus) and 1 second-winter Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus). This would have been an excellent selection of birds for a continental birding day in the middle of wintertime. Other Forster’s Terns could be found in Galway on Mutton Island, at Nimmo’s Pier, at Doorus and off Newtownlynch Pier. All observations were made between mid December 2014 and beginning of January 2015.

In the Western Palaearctic the first Forster’s Tern, probably an adult specimen, was taken Continue reading Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri, as a vagrant for the Western Palearctic

Least Tern for the Western Palearctic

Amerikanische ZwergseeschwalbeClosely related bird species occurring in different continents are always a special challenge for keen birders. It is not too long ago, that ornithologists found out, that a Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) was found in East Sussex. This was new to Britain and the Western Palearctic. Also on other sites along the western coast of Europe and Great Britain, you might have 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. Least Tern was formerly considered to be subspecies of Little Tern but is now regarded a valid species besides the Little Tern, Sternula or Sterna albifrons.

In the case of a small Tern in East Sussex, a Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, with a distinctive Continue reading Least Tern for the Western Palearctic

Pulli – young birds on Northern Sea Coast

SturmmöweSpending the yearly vacation this time in the Netherlands, it was possible to look for birds as well. Besides an observation of an adult Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) north of Callantsoog in the newly established nature reserve “The Nollen van Abbestede”,  I could see a lot of young birds – the so-called pulli – of various birds on the sea shore.

Identification of Pulli – young birds in general – not only on the coast of the Northern Sea – is not an easy task. Sometimes you are lucky with the „Handbuch der Voegel Mitteleuropas“, by Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim. For waders some useful information you will find in “Strand- und Sumpfvögel Europas – Einschließlich Nordafrika und des Nahen Ostens”by Wolfgang Makatsch. Some nice information with images of clutches, locking jaws, dune-plumage, some photos of the nursery of the birds you will find in “Vogelnester : nach Farbfotos erkannt” in the selection  Sauers Naturführer by Dr. Frieder Sauer. Besides that, there are little comprehensible images Continue reading Pulli – young birds on Northern Sea Coast

Buff-barred Warbler in the Himalayas

Goldbinden-Laubsänger

The Buff-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus pulcher) or Orange-barred Leafwarbler is an arboreal bird of conifers of the middle strata in the Himalayas which could be observed on various expeditions’ trips along mountain roads in India and in China. As you can see in the image, the bird occurs above tree-level in juniper and rhododendron scrub, too. In these days, beginning of January, in India it had a strong favor for the flowering rhododendron. As much, that that the bird´s chest was covered with nectar Continue reading Buff-barred Warbler in the Himalayas

The Dupont‘s Lark at Las Almoladeras in Spain

Dupont's Lark on a stoneAlthough recent research and an action plan by SEO regards the Dupont‘s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) as highly on risk in Almeria, this area is still worth a try.  This Lark is probably one of the highly thought-after bird species if travelling to and birdwatching in southern Spain. I photographed it in mid May 2002. First choice for this lark in southern Spain probably is Cabo de Gata. This is a Parque Natural with almost 50,000 ha (exactly 49,696 ha). Cabo de Gata comprises a Biosphere Reserve of the UNESCO. In general this large area extends from the western side of Cabo de Gata around to the eastern coast as far north as Carboneras. For birdwatchers the best sites are the sierra of Cabo de Gata, the salinas of Cabo de Gata, and a series of steppe areas, of which I tried Las Amoladeras which is Continue reading The Dupont‘s Lark at Las Almoladeras in Spain

Brown Shrike still in Gelderland/ NL

Brown ShrikeThe vagrant but long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) – a first for the Netherlands – can still be found on the same location. As you can see on the website of the birding community in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” this 1st winter Shrike near the German border between Doetinchem and Emmerich still attracts twitchers and ornithologists. The bird has been present in Netterden – in the Netterdensche Broek – in Gelderland for almost four weeks now. The Brown Shrike had been found near Gendringen at the January, 18th 2014, in the utmost south-east of the province of Gelderland not far from the German border. So far, this individual has being quite cooperative and could be seen in beautiful sunshine yesterday February 12th 2014 sitting Continue reading Brown Shrike still in Gelderland/ NL

Parrot Crossbills drinking in a pond in Mulderskop/ Limburg

Parrot CrossbillParrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) close-up in a puddle while bathing. The photos on the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” were really sensational. The Sunday before, I had made already for a short trip to an area nearby for the long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)​​. The Brown Shrike was a first sighting for the Netherlands. So rare Parrot Crossbills are not, but this year seems to be an irruption year. After visiting the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl”, we decided to look for these rare Crossbills which are seldom found in Central Europe. The target area was not far from the German border south of Nijmegen. The Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) had been present for several weeks on the border between Limburg and Gelderland already. Parrot Crossbills are currently to be found Continue reading Parrot Crossbills drinking in a pond in Mulderskop/ Limburg

Bullfinches: White-red-black balls in action

Bullfinch flying upEurasian Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, are usually thought-after species for the wintertime photographer. These colorful finches are now increasingly observed at the feeding tables when wintertime proceeds. Last year they could be seen with other wintering birds at the feeding sites, too. The favorite food of the birds observed in recent winters is a product made from beef tallow and fat oatmeal mixture. In many regular stores they are selling the birdseed. But the laid sunflower seeds are eaten alike. Particularly striking is the highly aggressive behavior of the bullfinches to each other. If multiple birds are in the same area, the same table of food, photography is often not possible, because as soon as a bird is flying to the feeding place, it is already chased away from the next. Especially the males are sometimes quite aggressive. Due to the shooting conditions in winter you are shooting at slow shutter speeds sometimes. Here you can make a virtue of the necessity. At 1/ 30 sec , the Finches are only dimly seen. To show the dynamics of the dispute is all the better advantage. This is beautiful to see in the Gallery. Too long exposure times, however, are not appropriate since then only colors can be seen.

It is always a fascinating experience, when not only the Bullfinch arrive at the bird table, but also Robin (Erithacus rubecula), Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Tits (Parus sp.) and Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) and sometimes even Continue reading Bullfinches: White-red-black balls in action

Albino Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) in Devon

Eurasian OystercatcherDuring a visit to the hides im Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve I was lucky to observe a partly albinotic Eurasian Oystercatcher. This was on the afternoon of 22nd of August 2013. The website of the reserve refers to abnormalies in plumages with oystercatchers which occur with some regularity most years. Otherwise, this wader is very frequently found on the southern coast of Great Britain. This is especially true for overwintering birds and migrating birds in fall.

I saw this unusual Eurasian Oystercatcher in a flock of roughly 100 of his congeners. Standing a bit by side all the time, it was neither mobbed nor attacked by the other, “normal” Oystercatchers. I could see that this bird had red eyes. In deed it is a partial “albino”. In an article by Charlie Fleming, an albino Oystercatcher is mentioned already for July 2009. The plumage looks quite the same. So maybe this bird still survives at Dawlish Warren for at least 4 years.

My main reason for my visit to Dawlish Warren was, to check if I could catch up with the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) seen a few weeks ago. Additionally a Slavonian Grebe (or Horned Grebe), Podiceps auritus, had been reported. Unfortunately I dipped with both rarities. But the leucistic Oystercatcher was an excellent photo opportunity, too.

Of a white Eurasian Oystercatcher I had not heard before. But from Germany Continue reading Albino Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) in Devon

The Northern Goshawk – aerial shots and more

Northern GoshawkWhen scanning images of the portfolio of bird-lens.com it was noticed that the Northern Goshawk is still significantly under-represented . Therefore locations were actively scanned which are known to be frequented regularly by Goshawks. For this purpose sites near wetlands were visited especially in late summer or fall, where many (larger) birds rest and / or moult and are therefore available as prey for inexperienced, young Goshawks. Here, I could see and even photograph a young female Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) approaching me within a few dozen meters. As a result you can see some pictures of this wonderful Northern Goshawk in flight. So strong and breast -heavy like the bird on the pictures in the gallery, the female Goshawk can be differentiated easily from the Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) by size alone.

Other images were shot from an elevated vantage point in the forest. You need time and patience. But then you see pretty easy that Northern Goshawk breeding pairs are territorial. It was also shown that the nests are evenly distributed in the suitable breeding area. Breeding birds defend the environment of their nest within a certain radius, which should not exceed 1km.
Outside the breeding season, territorial behavior is observed, too. Other raptors as the Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) shown on the images are vehemently attacked. Especially adult males show a year-round commitment to the nest area and defend their territory. On the other hand young female Goshawks, independently roaming in others territory as shown in the picture apparently penetrate easily into foreign territories.

The Northern Goshawk is about 45 to 67 cm in length and has a wingspan of about 130 cm. The female is larger than the male. The adult plumage is brownish gray on the back and consists of a white chest which is finely barred black. Young birds are brownish until the first moult on the upper side. The barring on the breast is replaced in young birds by a streaking or a line drawing. The stripes can be found Continue reading The Northern Goshawk – aerial shots and more

Kumlien’s Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni) on Varanger, Norway

Kumlien's Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni)Kumlien's Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni)

During observations to the northern part of Norway from February 28th – 3rd of march 2013 I shot images of a very pale gull, what I thought at that time was a regular adult Iceland gull. But I showed the image – more by accident – in the BirdForum and one of the experts asked for more pics of that bird to verify if the seemingly dark grey outer webs of P9-10 are real or just a light effect. I send the images and now they think it is a Kumlien’s Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni).

Kumlien’s Gull is a large gull which breeds in the Arctic regions far west of Varanger. The main breeding sites are in Canada. But Kumlien’s Gull is migratory, wintering from Labrador west across the Great Lakes and south to New England There are some observations outside that range. Thus the bird is quite a regular vagrant in small numbers to Scandinavia, Great Britain,  Ireland and the Atlantic islands. So there was one observation in January 2012 near Trondheim, Norway or in February 2009 on Madeira. According to http://madeira.seawatching.net/articles/Kumliens_2009_Madeira.pdf there has been an unprecedented influx of Kumliens Gulls into Southern Europe in the early part of 2009. Numbers involved are difficult to gauge but as many as ten could have been recorded in Spain where previously only two birds had been recorded before. Others were recorded in Belgium and Portugal, with a single adult also seen on the Azores.

The reason for this influx is Continue reading Kumlien’s Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni) on Varanger, Norway

Male King Eider on Baltic Sea of Germany

King Eider - maleDuring the last days one male King Eider, Somateria spectabilis, continues to stay at Kalkhorst at the shores of the Baltic Sea. The german sea resort is approx. 15km distance east of Travemünde, Lübeck. This male King Eider in beautiful breeding plumage is obviously only one of the few records for 2013 so far south for the Western Palearctic and has been observed from the beach of Kalkhorst.

In contrast these birds are very common in the north of the Western Palearctic. On Varanger/ Norway bird-lens.com was able to shot this nice pictures right from a floating hide in the middle of the harbor. Not King Eiders alone, but also Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri) and Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and many gulls in 5 different species. A selection of the best shots you can find here in the gallery!

The Bird on the Baltic Sea could be seen yesterday from Continue reading Male King Eider on Baltic Sea of Germany

Ferruginous Duck near Frankfurt – Germany

Ferruginous DuckNow that winter has proceeded quite well some good birds show up on “stupid” spots like recreation areas and parks. In a series of blogs Bird-lens has already described some excellent spots like the Langener Waldseen to observe birds, but this spot came to my awareness the first time. This was due to the fact that a female Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) showed up on a abundant gravel spit near Offenbach-Rumpenheim, just 10 km east of the city of Frankfurt. The location is called the “Schultheisweiher”. Normally the Ferruginous Duck is looking for the companionship of Aythya – ducks like Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula). The Ferruginous Duck was discovered on the 31st of January 2013 on the Schultheisweiher is there now for more than 1 week.

The photo was shot yesterday when the sun came out after heavy clouds and snow showers distracted a visit on the previous days. The female Ferruginous Duck could be seen next to at least 22 Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and approx. 50 Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) on the north-western corner of the lake. The female Ferruginous Duck could be seen first only sleeping, then preening the plumage and finally swimming and even diving.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. This nice image is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed.

Harriers on wintering grounds in Awash NP – Ethiopia

Having seen the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), a species of a graceful flying raptor already during trips in September on its migration route along the Black Sea coast near the town of Constanta south of the Danube delta at the Black Sea coast of Romania and north of Astrakhan along the Volga river in Russia I was keen to see this “near-threatened” species during a stay in Ethiopia, too. Before, I had seen Pallid Harriers already on their wintering grounds in South Africa (Kruger Park) and Tanzania (Serengeti). But literature said, that Pallid Harriers occur in Ethiopia during passage and some overwinter, albeit in small numbers. A good bet to try it in the arid environment of the Rift Valley, as Pallid Harriers main wintering grounds are open grasslands and agricultural areas in the savannah belt in Africa, south of the Sahara. But J. Terraube et al. (2011) in an examination of “Broad wintering range and intercontinental migratory divide within a core population of the near-threatened Pallid Harrier” showed that birds wintering in Ethiopia spent the winter in the most anthropized habitats, a mix of pastures and agricultural areas at the vicinity of several villages.

In that combination the perfect place to look for, was in my opinion the Awash National Park. This is because the Park’s location in a region of semi-arid grassland and its accessability only 2 hours drive from our stay near Debre Zeit. We spend a phantastic time in the park, seeing 90 species of birds in just 8 hours (from 9 to 5). In the afternoon we had our first harrier in the eastern part of the central Ilala Sala Plain. A 1st winter individual of Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), could be seen in Flight gliding gracefully over the savannah of the Ilala Sala Plain. We followed the harrier in a pick-up for a minimum of 5 minutes allowing excellent (and close) shots of the flying birds as you can see in the gallery. One and a half an hours later a male harrier could be seen very well. But again, a Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) as you see on the image of the blog. But then, after 30 minutes more, there was sitting another harrier. This time you could see a pale collar behind Continue reading Harriers on wintering grounds in Awash NP – Ethiopia

The birds of Remseck

Die Vögel von Remseck – im Großraum Stuttgart is a new book which describes local avifauna in the south-western part of Germany. It is intended primarily to show that common birds can be found at what time and at what locations without much trouble. If you follow some advice, then we can observe in the course of a year almost anywhere from 50 to 100 species of birds. “On our doorstep” but also breed birds that are rare and vulnerable. Those who delight in the bird watching, which is also often participate in the protection of these and other organisms.

This book, with images of approx.. 270 species is aimed at the beginner and want to help him to find the most common species of native birds “on the doorstep” to observe and identify. Even in the garden, in the park or at the bird feeder, there are several ways to. The text is written in german but a short abstract for the best local birding sites in the surrounding of that nice town on the river Neckar speak for themselves – or find a german friend, who can translate it for you. The booklet is full of nice images like the one you see as part of the blog. One pictures is showing the Eurasian River Warbler of the author of this blog, which has been already commented in a previous blog. At the beginning of the booklet a rough geographical map points the 12 top bird observation places and you can see, what you can expect there. An overview with images of the „the typical “species of bird, in Continue reading The birds of Remseck

Vagrant Fox Sparrow in Estonia

During the last days one Fox Sparrow Zonotrichia or Passerella iliaca, continues to stay in the town of Haapsalu, Estonia at the Baltic Sea. The bird was first spotted on last Sunday. The location Läänemaa/ Haapsalu is roughly 100km away from the Estonian capital, Tallinn. This thrush is obviously only the 5th record for the Western Palearctic after Iceland in November 1944 and Northern Ireland June 1961 plus two records from Germany (caught at Mellum, May 1949 and Scharhörn, Hamburg 24.04.77). In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 14/III „Passeriformes, Emberizidae “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim considered these birds as ship-assisted vagrants. There is also record in Denmark from 08.01.2010.
The picture show a bird in its home range habitat in southern California. This bird belongs to the subspecies Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis (Sooty Fox Sparrow). This is the west coast (of the US) taxa in the genus Passerella. Although some of the excellent images shot of the vagrant in Estonia give the idea that the Fox Sparrow in Estonia belongs to the nominate form Passerella iliaca iliaca (the so called Red Fox Sparrow), bird-lens attaches the photo to give you some idea of appearance. More pictures you will find in the gallery.

The Fox Sparrow in Estonia belongs probably to the generally central and east coast taxa in the genus Passerella. This is the brightest colored group. The Sooty Fox Sparrow is browner and darker than the Red Fox Sparrow A nice report of the twitch you see here. Just in the middle of November another European rarity, the Dusky Thrush was also spotted in Estonia. And now, some weeks later the Fox Sparrow has shown up.
In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“,Band 14/III „Passeriformes, Emberizidae “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that this is a bird of any overgrown

Continue reading Vagrant Fox Sparrow in Estonia

An early Common Gull, Larus canus on Romania´s Black Sea coast

September is fall migration time in Romania´s Black Sea coast. After having seen the spectacular mass migration of Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus, in an area south of the Danube Delta with its wide stretch of a sandy shoreline with shallow lagoons we arrived at the sandy beach near the little town of Vadu. The shoreline was dotted with gulls (Common Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus, Yellow-legged Gull, Larus michahellis, and Mediterranean Gull, Larus melanocephalus, Little Gull, Larus minutus and some Caspian Gull, Larus cachinnans. Additionally Gull-billed Tern, Sterna nilotica,  Sandwich Tern, Sterna sandvicensis and Common Tern, Sterna hirundo,) and waders (Common Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula, Eurasian Curlew, Numenius arquata and Sanderling, Calidris alba). A blog describing what could be seen on that excellent birding spot will follow very soon on the 30th of October 2012.

One observation of a gull was remarkable. A gull in non-breeding plumage was swimming not too far from the shore. Heavy streaks on the neck were clearly visible and the bill showed a black ring on grey ground. A black area below/in front of the eye underlined the head markings even more. Only checking the images at home, it was possible to identify this gull as a Common (or Mew) Gull, Larus canus moulting in 2nd winter plumages. According to local ornithologists the Common Gull in September is an unusual record. Usually the Common (or Mew) Gull, Larus canus is starting to appear on its wintering grounds Continue reading An early Common Gull, Larus canus on Romania´s Black Sea coast

NABU | Vogel des Jahres 2013: Die Bekassine

Common Snipe is “Bird of the Year 2013” NABU and the national federation for Birds (LBV), NABU partner in Bavaria have voted in Germany endangered Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) to the “Bird of the Year 2013” as you can see here:  NABU | Vogel des Jahres 2013: Die Bekassine. More information, you will find following the link to the Landesbund für Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V (LBV).

In Germany actually there are only 5500-6700 breeding pairs left – about half the population of 20 years ago. The Common Snipe is to advertise as an ambassador for the preservation of wetlands and wet meadows. The deaf great snipe bird with beige-brown plumage and the distinctive beak is due to his vociferous courtship flight often called “complaints bird”.

“The snipe had really good reason to complain because of bogs and marshes their habitat is fast disappearing. It is high time the last Moore strictly protected in Germany – in the interests of climate protection. The same applies to wetlands. We can not accept the fact that lowered the water table and dewatered areas, grasslands plowed, cultivated crops such as corn for biogas plants over large areas, and degraded peat meadows are planted in, “said NABU Vice President Helmut Opitz.

“The fact that the Snipe is threatened with extinction in Germany, is mainly due to the systematic destruction of their habitats. The habitat Continue reading NABU | Vogel des Jahres 2013: Die Bekassine

Rare buntings in the western Palearctic

For middle Europe, Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim listed 16 species of buntings of the genus Emberiza plus the Corn Bunting, Miliaria calandra, of the genus Miliaria, the Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis, of the genus Plectrophenax the Lapland Bunting (also known as Lapland Longspur), Calcarius lapponicus, of the genus Plectrophenax in his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 14/III „Emberizidae“. In total there are 19 species of buntings occurring in the west-center part of the Western Palearctic. The List of the birds of the whole Western Palearctic count for 25 species in this respect.

Of the rarer species of buntings some species occure as vagrants from the northern or eastern parts of Asia, as the Pine Bunting, Emberiza leucocephalos, the Yellow-browed Bunting, Emberiza chrysophrys, the Rustic Bunting, Emberiza rustica, Chestnut Bunting, Emberiza rutila, the Red-headed Bunting, Emberiza bruniceps, the Black-faced Bunting, Emberiza spodocephala and finally the Little Bunting, Emberiza pusilla. The plumage normally is quite drab due to their bush- and ground-dwelling lifestile a rare bunting is not easy to identify. This is particulary true for the females. Here you can find some images in the gallery of the rarer species of buntings.

Of the rarer species of buntings only the Little Bunting can be found with some regularity mainly in fall in western Europe. In Germany Little Buntings were observed at the Lisdorf Beringungsstation on the 13th of Oct 2011 and in Mecklenburg at the Greifswalder Oie on the 25th of Sept. 2011. On the Island of Helgoland, Little Buntings are twitched several times during the fall migration. On the other hand Helgoland was a temporary home for the Rustic Bunting, Emberiza rustica, Continue reading Rare buntings in the western Palearctic

Identifcation of flying Chlidonias Terns in breeding plumage

 Looking at field guides like „ Collins Bird Guide“ from Peter Grant, Dan Zetterstrom, Lars Svenson and Killian Mullarney the ID look quite simple. But even in the breeding plumage Chlidonias – or Marsh – Terns can cause some headache identifying in the field. Then even the Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) can be confused with the Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) especially if seen in poor light facing the sun when both terns look remarkably dark.

Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybridus
Black Tern, Chlidonias niger

  A remarkable fact is, that the scientific name arises from Whiskered Tern´s similarities in appearance to the Black Tern but also to the (more whitish) Sterna – Terns.
To distinguish Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) and the 3rd member of the genus, the White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) is even more sophisticated. The wings do not always look decidedly white – as the name suggests. Often the upper parts of the wings do not look so much brighter than in the Black Tern. On the other hand a good deal of black is shown in the underwing-coverts. Hence the black & white contrast of the underwings might be the best criterion to distinguish flying White-winged Tern from Black Tern in the field.  

White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus

 

Black Tern, Chlidonias niger

 In flight, all these terns appear slim – less so the Whiskered Tern. The wing-beats are full and dynamic, and flight is often erratic as they descend to the surface for food. Chlidonias – or Marsh – Terns do not dive for fish, but forage on the wing picking up items at or near the water’s surface or catching insects in flight. They mainly eat insects and fish as well as amphibians. The feeding habit is quite unlike Continue reading Identifcation of flying Chlidonias Terns in breeding plumage

More Bird Images in Picture Shop

Having checked the output of trips to the Emirates, Oman, Romania & Poland, Bird Lens is proud to show more excellent images of birds shot in these countries at excellent destinations in the gallery of the pictures shop. There were some excellent opportunities to photograph on several occasions in the desert, in the mountains and on the water. Besides the birds added are Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), Ferruginous Pochard (Aythya nyroca), Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), Little Crake (Porzana parva), Grey Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus), Grey-faced Woodpecker (Picus canus), Palestine Sunbird (Cinnyris oseus), Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka) and many more.

If you are interested in a particular species, please use the list of the western palearctic or use the “Search”-Function in the left column in the “Pictures Shop” or search by  the taxonomic systems in the “Pictures Shop”, too. To cope with the growing demand for top shots of Palearctic birds from customers all over the world Bird-Lens is proud to present a wide range of pictures now in the gallery. Are you interested? In the gallery you will find now 2.282 pictures of in total 668 species often in different plumages or as male/ female. Further updates of the image stock in the “Pictures Shop” is coming soon. Just give Bird-Lens Continue reading More Bird Images in Picture Shop

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