Tag Archives: Chlidonias hybridus

Caspian Seashore & Volga delta in May

Squacco HeronBird richness on the northern shore of the Caspian Sea is amazing. Caspian Sea is counted the largest inland body of water in the world. More than 100 rivers provide inflow to the Caspian, with the Volga River being the largest. Pristine floodplain forests, flooded grasslands to the horizon, eagles on almost every tree. A trip to the lowlands south of Astrakhan in southern Russia is not easy due to the distances and border formalities. But the only alternative is a trip to the Danube delta. To ease preparation, it was decided to participate in a guided trip in the first half of May 1998 to Volga delta. After that, the trip continued to the hill – lakes region and the feather grass steppe and the semi-desert north-west of Astrakhan.

In the Volga delta we stayed in Damtschik Continue reading Caspian Seashore & Volga delta in May

Wolgadelta im Mai – Erfahrungen von Zug- und Brutvögeln

Whiskered Tern flying over youngWeite ursprüngliche Auenwälder, überschwemmte Wiesen bis zum Horizont, Seeadler auf jedem Baum. Wo gibt es das – noch dazu in Europa? Dazu fährt man entweder ins Donaudelta oder noch viel weiter. Eine Gruppenreise führte in der ersten Hälfte des Monats Mai 1998 ins Wolgadelta südlich von Astrachan im südlichen Russland. Danach wurden die Hügel-Seen-Region und die Federgrassteppe westlich sowie die Halbwüste nordwestlich von Astrachan angesteuert.

Der Tagesablauf in Damtschik an den 4 Tagen sah so aus. Um 5:45 aufstehen, dann kurz balancierend auf Holzbohlen zum Frühstück. Nach dem Frühstück Continue reading Wolgadelta im Mai – Erfahrungen von Zug- und Brutvögeln

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

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