Spoon-billed Sandpipers and other waders in Thailand on wintering grounds

Spoonbill SandpiperThe Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the big megas in the birding space – not only for twitchers, but Thailand in general is an excellent birding destination.

During a trip to Thailand in January 2011 I was looking for wintering birds from the palearctic. The whole trip was a great success, seeing especially many waders which are rare in the western palearctic like Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultia), Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura) and Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus).

But many birders go for the Spoon-billed Sandpipers. For general directions and travel advice visit Nick Upton’s excellent website Thaibirding.com. At the known Spoon-billed Sandpiper site at Pak Thale I spend 3 days. This location is very reliable, with several individuals seen each day there, and up to 3 at once. For details of locations you can also check out these Google maps.  They show the  Spoon-billed Sandpiper distribution not only in Thailand.

At the first time there were Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) and surprisingly 3 Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). I teamed up with a group of german birdwatchers. We also saw one individual Spoon-billed Sandpiper at a site which is called the “Derelict Building” –site in Nick Upton’s description. This site is closer (only 2 km) from a little town called Laem Pak Bia. Behind a dam, drive a dirt track passing a garbage dump and you will see the shallow saltpans already. There were masses of egrets, waders and gulls. So we quickly saw Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva), Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Rufous-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Long-toed Stint (Calidris subminuta), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Broad-billed Sandpiper, (Limicola falcinellus) and many flying Common and Whiskered Tern Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) and Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus). A nice selection of the birds occuring you will find here!

But the best place on finding Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Thailand is certainly at Continue reading Spoon-billed Sandpipers and other waders in Thailand on wintering grounds

The Eckla-carts for photo equipment, a field report

For about half a year I enjoy to transport my photo equipment with the Eckla-Beach-Rolly-Pro Edition II photographers.  I ordered the cart at the online shop”Augenblicke eingefangen“.

The Eckla Beach Rolly -Pro Edition for photographers is advertised as the ideal transport assistance for heavy photo equipment and can have at a weight of just 4.4 kg cope with a maximum load of 70kg. More than enough also for a big photographic equipment. The problem is then more available space  with a surface of 47cm x 39cm (without the additional charging cradle). This is  very handy for the trunk of the car, but sometimes is a little tight for larger photo luggage Eckla-Beach-Rolly Pro Fotografen-Edition II -Foto. But to do so an additional charging cradle is included in the package.

The Eckla Beach-Rolly for photographers as the standard model consists of a sturdy, non-rusting aluminum construction. The large wheels, which are provided for more capacity with a steel shaft, instead of the standard aluminum axle prevent reliably the sinking in loose surfaces such as sand and thereby allow easy transport.

Whether the wheels with alloy wheel and roller bearings provide more ride comfort or simply are more durable over longer distances (5 km return trip, are not a rare event), is beyond my knowledge. But it will have been a reason that these wheels replace the original wheels. Any photo backpack can be attached on the Rolley till Lowe´s Lens Trekker 600 AW.  Additionally the Gitzo tripod, etc. camouflage tent.

Almost 180 Euros for the photographers version Eckla Beach Rolly appear at first glance, quite a lot, but this price is justified given the quality offered. What I additionally had to buy was a strong strap from the hardware store.

The integrated upholstery  is  added into this version with an additional windscreen cover and ensure a high level of comfort. For the session at the photo hide or at rest, the Eckla Beach Rolly is unfolded very simple and reveals a comfortable seat. This is very handy!

The quality of the product of Eckla is very good overall.

Said that, I must stress the point that I found during the assembly that one of the (plastic) mounts for the axle has largely decomposed (broken down) in the box. Fortunately, a short notice to my online retailer “Augenblicke eingefangen” and they send me a spare part for replacement. Nevertheless, Continue reading The Eckla-carts for photo equipment, a field report

Der Eckla-Karren, ein Erfahrungsbericht

Eckla-Beach-Rolly Pro Fotografen-Edition II -FotoVor ca. einem halben Jahr habe ich mir zum Transport meines Foto-Equipments den Eckla-Beach-Rolly Pro Fotografen-Edition II beim Online-Shop „Augenblicke-eingefangen“ bestellt.

Der Eckla Beach-Rolly wird als die ideale Transporthilfe für schweres Fotozubehör beworben und kann bei einem Eigengewicht von gerade mal 4,4 kg immerhin eine maximale Zuladung von 70kg verkraften. Mehr als genug für die Fotoausrüstung. Das Problem besteht dann eher im verfügbaren Platz der Ladefläche, die mit 47cm x 39cm (ohne Zusatzladebügel) sehr kofferraumgerecht ist, aber manchmal doch etwas eng für größeres Fotogepäck ist. Aber dazu ist ja ein Zusatzladebügel im Lieferumfang enthalten.

Der Eckla Beach-Rolly für Fotografen besteht wie das Standardmodell aus einer stabilen, nichtrostenden Aluminium-Konstruktion. Die breiten Räder, die für mehr Belastbarkeit mit einer Stahlachse anstatt der Standard- Aluminiumachse versehen sind, verhindern zuverlässig ein Einsinken auch in losem Untergrund wie Sand und ermöglichen dadurch einen bequemen Transport.

Ob die Räder mit Metallfelge und Rollenlager für mehr Rollkomfort sorgen oder einfach nur auf längere Strecken (5 km Hin und Zurück sind leider keine Seltenheit) haltbarer sind, entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis. Es wird aber schon seinen Grund haben, daß diese Räder die Originalräder ersetzen. Auf dem Rolley lässt sich jeder Fotorucksack bis hin zum Lens Trekker 600 AW befestigen. Dazu noch das Gitzo-Stativ, Tarnzelt etc..

Knapp 180 Euro für die Fotografenversion erscheinen auf den ersten Blick recht viel, doch ist dieser Preis angesichts der gebotenen Qualität gerechtfertigt. Was ich mir zusätzlich noch kaufen mußte, war ein starker Spanngurt aus dem Baumarkt.

Die integrierten Polster werden in dieser Version mit einer zusätzlichen Windschutzbespannung ergänzt und gewähren einen hohen Sitzkomfort. Für den Ansitz Continue reading Der Eckla-Karren, ein Erfahrungsbericht

Ring-billed Gull – a vagrant at the Faehre Hitdorf / Germany

During the last days one adult Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) in non-breeding plumage, continues to stay near the town of Monheim in the state of North Rhine/ Westfalia in Germany at the river Rhine. The bird was first spotted on January, 09th 2013. The location “Faehre Hitdorf” is a place where a ferry crosses the river Rhine, roughly 30km south of the state capital, Dusseldorf. This gull is obviously only the 8th record for the Germany since 2002. Normally this vagrant is found not too far inland. Accordingly most records are from the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 8/I „Charadriiformes, Stercorariidae – Laridae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned 1982 only 1 record for the central part of the western palearctis from January, 13th 1968. Weather this is due to a higher observation density, due to the population growth on the eastern coast of the USA (see e.g. “Recent Changes in the Ring-Billed Gull Population and Biology in the Laurentian Great Lakes” by James P. Ludwig in “The Auk” Vol. 91, No. 3 (Jul., 1974) or due to a change in the migration pattern is not clear. Interesting is, that between 1973 (first record) and 1980 there were – in contrast – 37 recorded observations in Great Britain.

The conservation status of the Ring-billed Gull by IUCN is “Least Concern”. After having suffered heavy losses due to hunting and habitat loss, Ring-billed Gulls once again thrive across the United States and southern Canada—so numerous in some places that they are considered pests. This species was nearly wiped out by human persecution and development between 1850 and 1920. The populations fell dramatically when humans persecuted the gulls on their nesting grounds and killed them for feathers to decorate hats. By the early 1900s many breeding Continue reading Ring-billed Gull – a vagrant at the Faehre Hitdorf / Germany

White-tailed Tropicbird – in Cumbria/ Great Britain

Here are very interesting news, mainly for twitchers in Great Britain: White-tailed Tropicbird – in Cumbria?! | British Birds. But maybe, birdwatchers from the continent are also interested in that remarkable dead bird. Found on the tideline at Mawbray Bank in Cumbria on 6th January, by Peter Scott of Workington, this White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus)is a potential first for Britain. The last observation has been from September 15th 2012 from Horta, Faial on the Azores. Ok, this is not too far away from Great Britain.

The White-Tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) is a pelagic bird, but it may frequent the coast for food. This species breeds on small oceanic islands, on cliffs and sometimes on the ground near the roots of a tree. White-tailed Tropicbird occurs in tropical Atlantic, Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. It breeds on Caribbean islands and northwards in Bermuda. Radiotracking transmitters were fitted to White-tailed Tropicbirds nesting at Culebra, Puerto Rico. A recent study by C. J. Pennycuick et.al. about the foraging Flights of the White-Tailed Tropicbird with radiotracking found out, that at least 2 birds were followed out to 176 km NNW from the nesting colony on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Thus flying vast distances Continue reading White-tailed Tropicbird – in Cumbria/ Great Britain

Birding around Frankfurt Airport: Bad Soden

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have spare time between two flight and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the hilly countryside around Bad Soden. The state (Bundesland) of Hessen still supports a comparatively large number of mixed orchard meadows where the Little Owl (Athene noctua) is a relatively common bird. After North-Rhine Westphalia, Hessen has the largest Little Owl population in Germany.

Bad Soden is located on the southern slope of the Taunus mountains, 15 km north-west of Frankfurt and 20 kilometers northeast of Wiesbaden and 10km south of the highest summit of the Taunus, the Grosser Feldberg. Although a wealthy suburb of the city of Frankfurt a high percentage of the area (15%) is forested. The altitude ranges between 130 m above sea level (asl) and 385 m asl.

The landscape of the so-called Vordertaunus is very scenic and host some excellent birds, which are quite hard to see in other more northern parts of Germany as e.g. European Honey-buzzard(Pernis apivorus), Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas), Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor ), Middle Spotted Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport: Bad Soden

New world warblers in pine-oak forest in Mexico, Part II

…….on the way back back to Patzcuaro I had not been in the pine mountain-forest interspersed with oaks for a long time when I encountered my first Mexican (Grey breasted) Jay of the day. It is a flock, which roam sometimes on the road, sometimes on the lower branches of the pines in search of food. I had to stop and immediately started to keep the situation photographically. Short after I discover the best mixed flock, which I saw so far on this journey. Everywhere there were yellow, red, blue, orange, green colours which obtain the impression of a multicolored Mobilés. Maybe you get an impression when you see the gallery. Some species of bird such as American Treecreeper (Certhia americana), White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), Mexican Chickadee (Poecile sclateri) and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) are related close to species of old world (palearctic) bird species, others, like the Pine Flycatcher (Empidonax affinis) and the Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) Continue reading New world warblers in pine-oak forest in Mexico, Part II

Birding in & around Frankfurt: The Palmengarten

Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany. It is well known although the city limits inhabit only roughly 600,000 people. But the greater Frankfurt area of course is much more populated. If you are on business in Frankfurt and have some spare time between two meetings and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to walk a bit and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the Palmengarten. On an area of approx. 22 hectares near the old american embassy and just north-west of the towers of the banks, the Palmengarten botanical gardens display a range of interesting and beautiful plants. Almost every kind of exotic flora growing around the world can be found here, right in the middle of Frankfurt. The Tropicarium, an ensemble Continue reading Birding in & around Frankfurt: The Palmengarten