Common Wood-Pigeon & other birds in elderberry shrub

The elder of the species black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in my garden right outside my work room window is a special attraction. Not only for birds but also for insects and small mammals such as mice. In the elder I’ve seen birds the size of a Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) to the smallest passerine species such as the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus). In total, there are 25 species, including Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius), Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris), Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), Wood Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), 4 types of Sylvia – species, Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis), European Serin (Serinus serinus), European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) and both species of sparrows.

Two interesting reason make the elder a magnet for birds. For one, the elder show the rich-black fruits starting in June and bear the fruit for 2 months. On the other hand, the birds after having made their way through moulting do roam around again or even take the first few meters on the way to the winter quarters. The Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) also Continue reading Common Wood-Pigeon & other birds in elderberry shrub

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

Cream-colored Courser with young in Morocco

Beginning of June might be regarded as already quite late to look for birds in the deserts of Boumalne du Dades (called Tagdilt), Morocco. But The Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) a bird of dry open country, preferably semi-desert is hatching the offspring at that time of the year. Thus a good chance to take images of adult and young birds of this species. Here you see more!
Fortunately the spring 2002 had been quite rainy and the desert was still green enough to provide this very special wader in the pratincole and courser family with enough insect prey which is typically hunted by erratic running on the ground. Looking for larks, I spend a whole afternoon on a plateau at 1,600 m above sea level at the edge of the mountains called Ibel Sarhro when I stumbled over a pair of the Cream-colored Courser which explored the area with young chicks. After a while I found a juvenile individual in the same area, too. From inside the SUV I could photograph these usually shy birds from the immediate vicinity, although they always ran away pretty quickly. They moved on to the rocky, stony ground even faster than the Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes), I had photographed some minutes before in more or less the same area. Again and again I had to move & stop the jeep. I only had a chance, if I catch the moment when they to come to an abrupt stop.  This worked best with the parents, because the young were even more mobile.

These coursers are found on the Canary Islands, too. There I saw 3 individuals on Fuerteventura in October 2011. These birds have long legs and long wings. They have slightly downcurved bills. The body plumage is sandy in colour. Some short description you will find here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream-coloured_Courser

To track birds like larks or coursers in the endless deserts of Morocco is looking like the proverbial needle in a haystack. I had heard it before I left my hometown, and the initial experience confirmed this statement just too much. But the results so far of a photo safari through Spain and Morocco with my SUV in 2002 were very rewarding. With the help of fellow ornithologists, good maps and trip reports from the Internet, I had been in the High Atlas and photographed mega birds as Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris atlas, the southern form of the chemical also found in Scandinavian style), Continue reading Cream-colored Courser with young in Morocco

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

birdline : Message: STILT SANDPIPER in Northumberland

Micropalama himantopus, non-breeding plumage, Progresso in Yucatan/ Mexico

An adult Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus), remains for its second day at Low Newton-by-the -Sea (Northumberland) on the scrape between the village and Newton Pool  (see: birdline : Message: STILT SANDPIPER in Northumberland). There it can be viewed from the footpath at NU 241 243. Please park in the village car park rather than on the adjacent road. This an interesting message for someone from the continent who is birding in Scotland (as I did last year) right now. The location in the northern part of England, close to the border to Scotland, is just 82 miles – or some 2 hours – drive from Edinburgh. If you are planning a visit to the excellent FarneIslands with its 65,000 pairs in 14 species of seabirds, it is just a further drive of roughly 7 miles (or 15 minutes) away.  As far as I can see, an even better twitch for a continental european as for a british birder. The last twitch I could find of a Stilt Sandpiper in Germany was from Strandsee Hohenfelde, Schleswig-Holstein, in July 2008. Good luck!

Cattle Egret taking a shower under a lawn sprinkler

This species of heron is renown to spend a lot of time close to livestock like grazing cattle and grab insects and worms that their hooves disturb. But on these pictures you can see, that the Cattle Egret feels attracted to other human environment as well. Weather the egret seeks the spray of the lawn sprinkler in search of insects and worms or weather it just like a cool shower running along its feathers is not clear.  But anyway, a great impression which couldn´t be missed. Without haste the bird marched under the spray of the water from one side of the green rondell to the other.  The images were shot in March 2012 in the park called Green Mubazzarah near Al Ain/ UAE at the foot of the Hajar Mountains. Green Mubazzarah is a picnic area with streams, grass and chalets at the northern base of Jebel Hafeet before the road starts to climb upwards towards the summit of Jebel Hafeet. Lawn sprinklers are abundant and in full action in the mornings to preserve the green in a extremely desert environment. The green in the desert does not only attract Cattle Egret and other birds present year-round in that area like Chukar, Grey Francolin, Laughing Dove und Eurasian Collared-Dove but also many migrating birds like e.g. Blue Rock-Thrush, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Eurasian Hoopoe, Pied, Northern, Isabelline and Desert Wheatear, Wagtails and Water Pipits.
The birding strategy is to go early in the morning. The official opening times is: 9am to 9pm, but cleaning service start right after dawn so you might be able Continue reading Cattle Egret taking a shower under a lawn sprinkler

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

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

Images of birds for science & public; Western Palaearctic & the World