Tag Archives: Siberian Rubythroat

Grey-cheeked Thrush as a vagrant in the WP

GrauwangendrosselThis medium-sized thrush with its brownish-grey upperparts and tail, its pale underparts with heavier spotting on the breast, a plain grey face with some light streaks but no eye-ring would be a real mega – if identified as such in the Western Palearctic. Grey-cheeked Thrushes (Catharus minimus) are rare vagrants to the WP, with only a few records each year. All recent sightings were noticed from – sometimes – remote islands in the Atlantic as from Corvo on the Azores, St Agnes from the Isles of Scilly, Ireland, Iceland, Fair Isle or Orkney (both Scotland). Most sightings are from the fall migration with a peak at the end of October but with possibilities between end of September and the beginning of November. A record from May – as happened on the May, 26th 2015 from the County Mayo on Ireland is a real exception.

A trip to the tiny village of Gambell on the north-western tip of the big St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea yielded Grey-cheeked Thrush as the only representative of Catharus – Thrushes. Some tough birders flew in from the end of May to observe mainly the seabird migration. But during our seven-day stay on the Gambell– led by a guide from High Lonesome Tours – we could Continue reading Grey-cheeked Thrush as a vagrant in the WP

Passerine vagrants on St. Paul – Pribilof Islands

RubinkehlchenAs the plane gets closer to the barren island of St. Paul, the first impression is Brown und Olive-green. Later we see that there are not only brown and olive colors on the island. Metre-high waves of a dark blue sea are breaking against the rugged, rocky coast which is shimmering black. As we land, sunrays are breaking through the clouds. Enchantment in a wild landscape. The melancholic character of the open tundra is obvious. When we get off the plane in front of the hangar, it is very quiet at once. What a contrast to the noise in the machine. Only now and then we hear the melancholy flight song of Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus) or the high trill of the local race of Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis).

Barren tundra-covered hills dominate the landscape of the Pribilof Islands. But these island also host the largest seabird colony in the Northern Hemisphere with 98 percent of the world population of Red-legged Kittiwake (Rissa brevirostris). In addition, the strongest breeding colony Continue reading Passerine vagrants on St. Paul – Pribilof Islands

High Lonesome BirdTours St. Paul Trip 2016

HornlundThe High Lonesome BirdTours trip to St. Paul Island this year was successful beyond expectations. Not only did we get great looks at all the seabirds, ranging from auklets, murres, puffins, and kittiwakes, we also managed to time our arrival just right to catch up with a slew of vagrant birds. The list of shorebirds that were found on the island during our stay included dozens of Wood Sandpipers, several Longtoed Stints, Common Greenshank, Common Snipe, and a breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper (quite rare in Alaska). A Brambling was also a nice find, but was trumped (I think we all agreed) by a stunning male Siberian Rubythroat which we all managed to see well, even in the scope!

Another welcome rarity was a male Tufted Duck spotted among the common Northern Pintails on Salt Lagoon during our first evening on the island. The seabird cliffs of course never disappoint with Least, Parakeet, and Crested auklets in full swing, plus the Pribilof speciality, Redlegged Kittiwake. We studied the Kittiwake in flight, Continue reading High Lonesome BirdTours St. Paul Trip 2016

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

Zugvogelraritäten auf den Pribilofs

BruchwasserläuferDie kleine Saab-Propellermaschine ist schon seit gut einer Stunde über dem unendlichen nördlichen Pazifik unterwegs als in weiter Ferne ein brauner Streif Inseln im windgepeitschten Meer der Beringsee auftauchen. Das sind die Pribilofs. Wir steuern St. Paul an. Der Flug hat immerhin gut 3 Stunden mit Unterbrechung in einem verlassenen Nest gedauert. Braun ist die vorherrschende Farbe, die man beim Anflug auf St. Paul wahrnimmt. Mit Platz 2A hatte ich einen der vorderen Plätze ergattert und kann ganz gut auch den Rucksack unter dem Vordersitz unterbringen. Die Gepäckafubewahrung oberhalb der Sitze ist nämlich extrem schmal. Das sollte man als Fotograf beachten. Die Maschine hat schon ein paar Jährchen auf dem Buckel. Als die Turbo-Props am Flughafen von Anchorage angeschmissen wurden, denkt man, das kann doch nicht wahr sein. Es werden Oropax verteilt. Das Getöse der Maschinen wird man nur 3 Stunden lang nicht los.

Als wir näherkommen, sehen wir, daß es nicht nur braune Farbe auf der Insel gibt. Meterhohe Wellen aus einem dunkelblauen Meer brechen gegen die schroffe, felsige schwarzschimmernde Küste. Als wir landen, brechen auf einmal Sonnenstrahlen durch die Wolkendecke. Sie verzaubern ruckzuck die wilde Landschaft. Der melancholische Charakter der offenen Tundra ist offenkundig. Als wir aus dem Flugzeug vor dem Hangar aussteigen, ist es auf einmal ganz ruhig. Was für ein Kontrast zu dem Lärm in der Maschine. Nur ab und zu erklingt der melancholische Fluggesang der Spornammer (Calcarius lapponicus) oder die hohen Triller der Beringstrandläufer  (Calidris ptilocnemis).

Baumfreie, Tundra-bedeckte Hügel prägen das Continue reading Zugvogelraritäten auf den Pribilofs

Pribilof: Inseln im windgepeitschten Meer

RotschnabelalkWeit draußen in der Beringsee, fast 500 km westlich vom Festland Alaskas und knapp 400 km nördlich der Aleuten, liegen die Pribilof-Inseln im windgepeitschten Meer der Beringsee. Angeblich sind die Inseln nach dem russischen Pelzhändler Gavrill Pribylov benannt, der im 18. Jahrhundert in St. George Island an Land ging. Die Witterung ist rau, die Wolken hängen tief, es regnet praktisch jeden Tag. Was also treibt Naturfreunde und Fotografen auf so schwer zugängliche, kalte, regenreiche und kulinarisch unterversorgte Inseln?

Die Antwort ist schnell gegeben. Die Inseln beherbergen wohl die größten Seevogelkolonien der nördlichen Hemisphäre. Vor allem die Insel St. George verzeichnet das größte Vorkommen an Seevögeln in der nördlichen Hemisphäre.

In diesem Archipel herrscht ein unglaublicher Reichtum an Fischen und anderen Meerestieren. Viele der aus dem Meer ragenden Felsklippen sind daher von Seevögeln vereinnahmt. Mehr als 2,5 Millionen Seevögel von 230 Arten nisten auf den Pribilofs.

Die Pribilof-Inseln werden auch das “Galapagos des Nordens” genannt. Mit seinen riesigen Kolonien Continue reading Pribilof: Inseln im windgepeitschten Meer

Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope) in May on the Pribilofs

RubinkehlchenLooking for Vagrants at Hutchinsons Hill, the northernmost tip of the island of St. Paul, resulted in a perfect male Siberian Rubythroat on the 24th of May 2016. A group of 10 birders travelled to the Pribilofs with High Lonesome and we had already exiting observations with great adventure with great leaders and excellent organization. When we arrived in Hutchinsons Hill, we first walked in line along the hill. But besides an Arctic Fox and the abundant Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) and Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), we did not see something. Suddenly, our leader shouted out: “ Siberian Rubythroat”, and again  “ Siberian Rubythroat”. Immediately the group was highly alerted. The 2nd leader had to push a bit for discipline because everybody wanted to get perfect views and – even more important – excellent photos. Finally the Siberian Rubythroat could be pinned-down in a combination of green vegetation – probably sellery – and dried grass. The views in the scope were short but striking. Then the bird flew away. Without hope, we started sitting and wait for more vagrants to come. After a while, someone got a glimpse on a brownish bird, which turned out to be a Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). We congratulated Continue reading Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope) in May on the Pribilofs

Rubinkehlchen bei Amsterdam

RubinkehlchenSogar der britischen Birder-Website www.birdguides.com war es einen eigenen Eintrag wert. Ein männliches Rubinkehlchen (Luscinia calliope) ist weiterhin in den Niederlanden zu sehen. Inzwischen haben schon viele Twitcher aus ganz Europa (.a. Schweden, Dänmark, Polen, Belgien, Frankreich und natürlich Großbritanien und Deutschland) diesen Vogel in Hoogwoud, im Norden von Amsterdam aufgesucht und teilweise auch tolle Fotos geschossen.

Bird-lens.com war zum Glück schon im Jahr 2007 mit Fotos auf Happy Island im östlichen China erfolgreich. Diese Insel ist wohl eine der besten Stellen um im Herbst Continue reading Rubinkehlchen bei Amsterdam

On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

RubinkehlchenHappy Island is considered to be (one of) the best location to watch the East Asian migration. This turned out to be already on the first – very successful – photo morning of my stay on a late autumn day on Happy Island. Wow, a real hotspot for migratory bird observation on China’s south-east coast. I got up at 5:45 am. I grabbed not only the Continue reading On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

Cranes on Happy Island, Chinas´s Helgoland, Part I

China’s Helgoland? Is there such a thing? Well, it depends on what you consider to be the specific characteristic of the “Shijiu Tuo Island” or “Bodhi Island” (in English simply “Happy Island”) mentioned island.

Shijiu Tuo Island or simple Happy Island, about 3 hours drive from the seaside resort of Beidaihe located on the Yellow Sea to the east, is at first appearance rather like one of the Northern Sea islands as Texel, Norderney or even Wangerooge. This applies both to the topography as well as the distance from the mainland. Happy Island is not an off-shore island. Therefore it only takes a small boat to bring passengers to the island – in about the same time what it takes to ship from Harlinger Siel to Wangerooge.

Beidaihe is located east of Beijing – about 300 km from the international airport.

The resort has been in the international media at the beginning of August 2012, as this year the Chinese leadership resided in this seaside town to a multi-week retreat to prepare for the upcoming change in power. Previously, the communist party retreats were held regularly in the summer in the nice place. Large parts of the state bureaucracy were carted in the hot months to Beidaihe with its convenient seaside climate. Security is of course very strict at that time but in October / November – the best time for bird migration observation – the resort is very quiet and not crowded. Perfect conditions to go for the beach or in the park adjacent to the Lotus Hills – the Lian Feng Mountain Park – to look after local and migrating birds. So far so good. But now more to Happy Island.

Happy Island at the widest point is only 1.5 kilometers wide and 3.5 kilometers long. Albeit this island offers an impressive diversity of habitats – as does Helgoland. There are grasslands, sandy beaches, small ponds, dense coastal scrub, sand dunes, shrimp ponds and – in the middle a collection of trees that could be almost called a small wood. The wood is picturesquely located right around a Buddhist temple.

The surrounding sea impresses the observer with wide mud flats at low tide. This is an excellent food area for migratory and native birds – such as our North Sea islands. Here waders as Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus), Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis), Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina) can be seen. Rarities are Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) and finally Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis). One of the highlights is Nordmann’s Greenshank (Tringa guttifer), who is the almost annually observed. Unfortunately I draw a blank on that bird as I missed the Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), who is also a scarce passing migrant. A special feature is the observation opportunities for the otherwise very rare Saunders’s Gull (Larus saundersi) and Relict Gull (Larus relictus). Both could be photographed beautifully. So far, the impressive number of 408 species has been proven for the island, of which only 29 are valid as breeding species and 379 as migratory.

The Fall – from September to mid-November – is a very favorable season for bird watching Continue reading Cranes on Happy Island, Chinas´s Helgoland, Part I