Category Archives: Birds of Romania in May 2012

Birds to be seen in the trip to Danube Delta, Macin Mts, Black Sea coast from 13th – 20th of May 2012

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

Black Terns catching flies in the Danube Delta

I was almost titeling Black Tern flycatching… but then I found an interesting nice article in Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_(birds)) to the meaning of feeding strategies of birds involving catching flying insects in the air. Wikipedia says, that the term “flycatching” refers to a technique of sallying out from a perch to snatch an insect and then returning to the same or a different perch.” Ok, this is not what I saw in mid May 2012 in the Danube Delta. For sure, a flock of approx. 50 Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) in a joined effort with some Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) were catching flies in a swift, elegant and almost effortless looking manner but now I know, you should not call it “flycatching”.
2 species of Chlidonias – Terns, Black Terns and Whiskered Tern are breeding in the Danube Delta. Mid of May they have just arrived from their wintering grounds and they are in urgent need of nutrient-rich food after the strenuous migration and in preparation of breeding. A mass occurrence of black flies is the right food to fill up resources for the tasks ahead. The gallery show more pictures of the terns in the air that one unforgettable evening mid of May in the Danube Delta/ Romania.
According to a very nice article in Wikipedia. The various methods of taking insects Continue reading Black Terns catching flies in the Danube Delta

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

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

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

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

Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie

A rainy day in May at Romania´s Black Sea coast. Some good birds for a western birdwatcher like Reed, Corn and Black-headed Bunting, Great Reed-Warbler, Barred Warbler and a flying Lesser Spotted Eagle could be seen. A big surprise was what you see on the pictures: a Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, staying in a bush, eventually flying away. After a few seconds a Magpie showed up. Here you can see the Long Eared Owl chased by a Black-billed Magpie in flight. The images were photographed in the nice countryside of Romania north of the city of Constanta.
Basic habitat requirements for the Long-eared Owl are small forests or hedges with some trees. Preferred are open countrysides which nest-sites of Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) or Magpie (Pica pica). It is not clear, why the Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) chased the owl. It is well reknown that magpies could be very aggressive in defending their nest and/or brood. Probably that has been the case Continue reading Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie

Eurasian Spoonbill in Germany

2012 might become a good year for the Eurasian Spoonbill , Platalea leucorodia, in Germay – and a good year for the birdwatcher to observe one far away from the coasts. Right now, you can see up to 8 individuals at the “Große Flutmulde” on the Bislicher Insel near Wesel/ Lower rhine valley. Another location is the nature reserve “Bingenheimer Ried” in the Wetterau near the town of Giessen/ Hessen, where one individual has been seen at least until the 19th of June 2012. The Eurasian Spoonbill is a rare breeding bird in europe with a stronghold in the northwestern part of the Netherlands (Ijsselmeer) or Germany. 46 years ago, Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim wrote in his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 1. Gaviiformes – Phoenicopteriformes that only in 1962 there have been successful breeding on the island of Memmert and that Eurasian Spoonbill could be seen in Germany only on the north-western coast or – very rare – in Bavaria. Since then, western populations have increased during the last decades. But still, in the center of Germany this bird is a rare but regular visitor. Mainly there are birds in non-breeding plumage, but a Eurasian Spoonbill in breeding plumage could be seen on  15th of June 2007 in Niederweimar near the town of Marburg/ Hessen.

This species has an extremely large range Continue reading Eurasian Spoonbill in Germany

Syrian Woodpecker and Fall webworm moth

with Fall Webworm Moth (Hyphantria cunea) in Bazilescu Park, Bucharest

The Fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea) seems to like the Bazilescu Park, a small park near the home of Cristian Mihai in Bucharest. During the last weeks beginning in May he saw maybe hundreds of individuals from this species, most of them entirely white, only a few showing a variable number of black dots (see first two pics in his article on birdforum). During this time, Cristian Mihai had the opportunity to see a lot of birds eating them. They are easy to find, because they are easy to spot on the dark bark of the trees, sometimes gathered in large numbers (for instance, in a morning, Cristian Mihai saw a tree with more than twenty moths from this species on its bark). During this season, birds obviously need a lot of food for chicks, so this “invasion” seems to be highly appreciated by them, as you can see in the image of a Syrian Woodpecker here.
Continue reading Syrian Woodpecker and Fall webworm moth