Ring Ouzel migrating through the Taunus near Frankfurt/ Main

Sunny weather and clear sky seduced for a nice hike on midday of September 30th through the upper Taunus near Bad Camberg, only 25 km north of the center of the city of Frankfurt. Having parked the car near Riedelbach, the nice Riedelbacher Heide on more than 500m above sea level (asl) was a resting home of a little flock of resting Ring Ouzel, Turdus torquatus. In totel 6 individuals could be seen. Immediately I made some shots with my camera. The birds were quite shy, trying to avoid contact with the photographer. They were uttering their contact call almost all the time. Only one of the images is good enough to proof the observation.
The Riedelbacher Heide is a small – but nevertheless the biggest in the upper Taunus – area of juniper heathland, which is protected as a nature reserve (Naturschutzgebiet).
When we returned to the car in the evening probably the flock has already flewn further south along the slopes of the Hochtaunus north of Frankfurt/Main.
To cope with the growing demand Continue reading Ring Ouzel migrating through the Taunus near Frankfurt/ Main

Black Kite on migration along Black Sea coast Romania

During a trip from September 21st till 24th 2012 to experience migrating birds in Romania a remarkable sighting could be noted. A juvenile Black Kite was seen flying against heavy wind southward on his migration route along the Black Sea coast near the town of Eforie over Lake (Lacul) Techirghiol. Lacul Techirghiol and Eforie are located south of Constanta right on the middle of the Black Sea coast of Romania.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 4 „Falconiformes“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that migration of the Black Kite at the Bosporus/ Turkey could be seen between Mid of August until Mid of September. The pattern of migration is said to be the non-breeding birds first (already end of July or August) than the adult Black Kites and – with a postponement of roughly 3-4 weeks the young birds of that year. In so far the observation fits perfect.

Local ornithologist regard migrating Black Kites in fall as “not common”. It was a very common species in Romania in the first half of the 20 century, but after the ’60s the number of breeding pairs quickly decreased. There are no records of breeding pairs in the last 5 years, but maybe a very few pairs still breed somewhere in Romania. Only during the migration it isn’t a very rare species in Dobrogea. Further south, two were noted moving south from the viewpoint above Sunny Beach on the 13th. Of September 2009. They were noted south of this observation point at Bulgaria´s Black Sea Coast by Branta Tours.

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 like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. One trip already was made to the Black Sea Coast of Romania, Continue reading Black Kite on migration along Black Sea coast Romania

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

Looking for larks in Morocco, PART II

…. A pre-adult Thick-billed Lark (Ramphocoris clotbey) was the next mornings highlight. After spending the night not too far away from the town of Boumalne, I started the day already at dawn. Behind the village, the road winds back to a plateau. Because I missed the turnoff, I drove on and finally stopped in an area that looked very promising due to its rocky, stony surface. First I saw the otherwise ubiquitous Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae). When I was taking photos, I realized a movement underneath my car. This discovery came out as a real winner: a juvenile Thick-billed Lark (Ramphocoris clotbey), which I had never seen photographed so far. Great! Some shots, then the bird disappeared.

Despite this success soon I had to realize that this was not the described direction to move further south to the sandy desert to see more larks and other desert specialists.

So I had to go back and focus myself strictly to the mileage-data in the reports and the road signs – or what I regarded as road signs. Than I started to ask the people on the road for a place called Ikniouin, a destination said to be in the wider environment. But the Bedouin, I ask, were not very helpful. They merely wanted to smoke something. Finally I decided to simply take the next driveway and follow the direction of my GPS. Driving in this stony flat desert Continue reading Looking for larks in Morocco, PART II

Fall bird migration and waterfowl in southwestern USA – August 2013

In late summer (mid-late August/early September), the Brehm Fund for International Bird Conservation, Bonn, offers an ornithological tour to the United States. The southwestern part – located between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico – provides numerous ornithological highlights, which we will do in California and Texas Station.

California, because of its exposed location along the Pacific flyway, has an extremely diverse avifauna (over 640 species), including interesting deposits of water-and seabirds. In addition, up to 10 different species of hummingbirds, such as Anna’s, Costa’s and Calliope Hummingbird, can be observed regularly. Highlights of the trip will detour to the coastal marshes south of Los Angeles (e.g. Western Sandpiper, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow), the lagoon of Malibu (Least Tern, Black Skimmer) and in the vicinity of the Salton Sea (Caspian Tern, Yellow-footed Gull). We will also check typical chaparral habitats (coastal shrub with endemic Wrentit, California Quail, Black-headed and California Gnatcatcher) and visit the coastal mountain range with its coniferous forests (occurrence of Acorn Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, Steller’s Jay). The trip to a bird island of Channel Islands National Park (including endemic Island Scrub-Jay, colonies of Brandt’s Cormorant and California Gull and the possibility of observing whales) can be scheduled optional. In 2009 and 2011 excellent images of pelagic birds could be shot to enlarge the portfolio von Bird-Lens. With a bit of luck these seabirds – as you see here in the gallery– can be seen on the ferry Continue reading Fall bird migration and waterfowl in southwestern USA – August 2013

Herbstzug und Wasservögel im Südwesten der USA – August 2013, Reise des Brehm-Fonds

Im Spätsommer (ca. Mitte–Ende August/Anfang September) bietet der Brehm Fonds für internationalen Vogelschutz e.V., Bonn, eine 2,5-wöchige ornithologische und naturkundliche  Rundreise in die USA an. Der Südwesten – zwischen Pazifik und dem Golf von Mexico gelegen – bietet zahlreiche ornithologische Highlights, wobei wir in Kalifornien und Texas Station machen werden.

Kalifornien verfügt aufgrund der exponierten Lage entlang der pazifischen Zugstraße über eine äußerst artenreiche Avifauna (über 640 Arten) einschließlich interessanter Vorkommen an Wasser- und Seevögeln. Außerdem können bis zu 10 verschiedene Kolibriarten, wie Sternelfe und Annakolibri, regelmäßig beobachtet werden. Höhepunkte der Reise werden Abstecher in die Küstensümpfe südlich von Los Angeles (z. B. Bergstrandläufer, Beldings Grasammer), zur Lagune von Malibu (Amerikanische Zwergseeschwalbe, Scherenschnabel) und in die Umgebung des Salton Sea (Schmuck- und Raubseeschwalbe, Gelbfußmöwe) sein. Wir werden auch typische Chaparralhabitate (küstennahe Strauchfluren mit der endemischen Chaparraltimalie, Kalifonischer Schopfwachtel, Schwarzkopf-Mückenfänger) und die Küsten-gebirge mit ihren Koniferenwäldern (Vorkommen von Eichelspecht, Berghüttensänger und Diademhäher) aufsuchen. Die Überfahrt zu einer Vogelinsel des Channel Islands National Park (u. a. mit Insel-Buschhäher, Kolonien von Pinselscharbe und Kaliforniermöwe und der Möglichkeit der Beobachtung von Walen) kann optional eingeplant werden. In den Jahren 2009 und 2011 wurden in der Gegend sehr gute Fotos von pelagischen Vögeln (Hochseevögeln) für das Portfolio von Bird-Lens gemacht. Bei ein wenig Glück sind diese Hochseevögel – wie hier in der Gallerie zu sehen – auf der Fahrt zum Channel Islands National Park Continue reading Herbstzug und Wasservögel im Südwesten der USA – August 2013, Reise des Brehm-Fonds

Spring migration and birds of prey in Extremadura – April 2013

In spring 2013, there will be an ornithological study tour to the region of Extremadura, southwesternSpain. It includes the provinces ofBadajozand Cáceres east of the border withPortugal, and is not only famous for the best-preserved medieval monuments inSpainbut among nature lovers for its unique combination of oak woodlands, grasslands, agricultural landscapes, lakes and rocky regions. Accordingly, the avifauna is highly diverse (about 340 spp.), with many species having their distribution centers for the Iberian Peninsula and southwestern Europe in that region. The spectrum ranges from common birds like the Lesser Kestrel, Azure-winged Magpie and Thekla Lark to outspoken rarities, such as White-headed Duck, Little and Great Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-shouldered (or Black-winged) Kite, (European) Roller and Great Spotted Cuckoo – species which are only distributed here and/or are already gone at most other places in Europe. The list of remarkable sightings is growing continuously; in spring of 2012, for the first time Lesser Crested Tern and Little Swift were recorded for the Extremadura.
A highlight of the tour will be a visit to the Monfragüe National Park north of Trujillo, which has been established

Continue reading Spring migration and birds of prey in Extremadura – April 2013

Frühjahrszug und Greifvögel in der Extremadura – April 2013, Reise des Brehm-Fonds

 Im Frühjahr 2013 wird vom Brehm-Fonds für internationalen Vogelschutz e.V. eine ornithologische Studienreise in die im Südwesten Spaniens gelegene Region Extremadura geführt. Sie umfasst die Provinzen Badajoz und Cáceres östlich der Grenze zu Portugal und ist nicht nur berühmt für die am besten erhaltenen mittelalterlichen Denkmäler in Spanien, sondern unter Naturliebhabern auch für ihre einzigartige Kombination von Eichenwäldern, Steppen, Agrarlandschaften, Seen und Felsregionen. Entsprechend artenreich (ca. 340 spp.) gestaltet sich die Vogelwelt; viele Vertreter haben hier ihre Verbreitungszentren für die Iberische Halbinsel bzw. Südwesteuropa. Das Spektrum reicht von beinahe alltäglichen Arten wie Rötelfalke, Blauelster und Kalanderlerche bis hin zu ausgesprochenen Raritäten wie Weißkopf-Ruderente, Zwerg- und Großtrappe, Spießflughuhn, Gleitaar, Blauracke und Häherkuckuck – Arten, die in Europa entweder nur hier vorkommen oder an den meisten anderen Orten bereits verschwunden sind. Die Liste bemerkenswerter Nachweise wächst beständig; erst im Frühjahr 2012 wurden erstmals Rüppellseeschwalbe und Haussegler nachgewiesen.

Ein Höhepunkt der Tour wird der Besuch des erst seit 2007 bestehenden Nationalparks Monfragüe nördlich von Trujillo Continue reading Frühjahrszug und Greifvögel in der Extremadura – April 2013, Reise des Brehm-Fonds

Early fall images from the Leinetal/ Hannover

The valley of the river „Leine“ and the surrounding hills called “Leinebergland” is not famous of being one of Germany´s birding hot spots. But a excursion to that charming countryside between the cities of Hildesheim to the east and Hameln to the west has to offer surprisingly good locations to shoot images of excellent birds.
Having been spend one day on invitation of Wolf-Dieter Peest has been very productive – as you can see in the gallery. Wolf-Dieter offers Wildlife Workshops but also the chance to sit in one (or more) of his hides located on ponds, small streams or at the border of agricultural fields. The Leinebergland 30 km south of the city of Hannover, with its many gravel pits, is a paradise for nature photographers. In the early 70s many gravel mining pits were built along the line between Hanover and Göttingen. Having exploited these areas, the remaining ponds and lakes are now on the way back to nature again and offer a new habitat to a huge number of animal and plant species. Many of these ponds are real paradises for nature lovers and the nature- of course. A description of the locations written in german, you will find here!
Wolf-Dieter managed to lease a good number of attractive properties over the last 15 years. There are ideal conditions for a photographic passion to shoot images of wild birds on close distance.
Wolf-Dieter´s favorite bird is the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). Here in that countryside the kingfisher finds the habitat they need. Steep walls of mud or broken steep edges on disused gravel pits. It is said, that nowhere in Germany you will find a better location Continue reading Early fall images from the Leinetal/ Hannover

African specialities on Bird-Lens

On the southern edge of the western palearctic, in Egypt, south of the Sahara, in southern North Africa are living some strange bird creatures which touch the borders of the western palearctic only. Sometimes they occur as a rare breeding species in countries like Morocco or Egypt or you can see them as a strangler on the Canaries, in southern Europe or Northern Africa. Unlike Nearctic species, which are put on the wall especially in fall, because then there is a high influx of birds from Northern American, you do not see the southern specials on a regular basis. But for the keen birdwatcher of western palearctic birds these species are highly though-after mega birds.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer birds of the western palearctic from science & public customers Bird-Lens is proud to present a wide range of pictures shot in Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Are you interested? A first impression you will find in the gallery here. There you will find 42 pictures of various bird species. Continue reading African specialities on Bird-Lens

Pelagic Birds in the Western Palearctic

Pelagic or oceanic birds, seabirds or marine birds all describe bird which spend a significant portion of its life on the open ocean, rarely venturing to land except to breed. Their flight is often described as elegant and beautiful. This is particulary true for the Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris), as you can see on the image on the right. Pelagic Birds are powerful fliers that can remain for hours while gliding or soaring over the waves. When the birds rest, they do so by swimming quite high (floating) on the water. Pelagic birds may be found hundreds or thousands of miles offshore. Pelagic birds typically feed on fish, squid and crustaceans as well as offal from fishing ships or trash dumped into the ocean. Although “Pelagic Birds” does not have a scientific meaning in it´s strict sense, normally you mean albatrosses, shearwaters and petrels are described as being pelagic. The right taxonomic description for these birds are “Procellariformes”. There are lots of pelagic bird species with a great range of sizes and ranges. In the Gallery you will find different types Continue reading Pelagic Birds in the Western Palearctic

Looking for larks in Morocco, PART I

Many species of larks are one of the big treasures of Morocco. If you want to see the most larks in the Western Palearctic (in quality and even in quantity) you have to go for that north-african country which besides the larks offer much more birdingwise. Beginning of June might be regarded as already quite late to look for birds in a desert called Tagdilt, Morocco. But the Temminck’s Lark (Eremophila bilopha), 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. When I arrived on a barren stony desert near the town of Boumalne du Dades I a saw an adult species first. After a while I found a juvenile individual still with white ear-feathers in the same area, too. From inside the SUV I could photograph these usually shy birds from the immediate vicinity, although – after feeding – they always ran away pretty quickly. Again and again I had to move & stop the jeep. I only had a chance, if I could catch the moment when they to come to feed the chick. Here you see more!
Fortunately the spring 2002 had been quite rainy and the desert was still green enough to provide this nice lark with enough insect prey. 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 first Continue reading Looking for larks in Morocco, PART I