Tag Archives: Corn Bunting

A rare vagrant: Pine Buntings in Germany

FichtenammerThough a Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos) is present in the Winsener Marsch near the Lower Elbe south of Hamburg for some days now, the Pine Bunting is a real exception in Germany. No wonder, that the bird keeps the twitcher in Germany in suspense.

Several times in the last days a bright Bunting could be noticed between about 400 Yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella), 4 Corn Buntings (Emberiza calandra) and many Finches (Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), European Greenfinches (Chloris chloris) and Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) and Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus). The white edges on the wing feathers were striking. However, all of the bunting were very mobile and mostly far away from the observers.

The Pine Bunting is widespread in Siberia as a breeding bird in the open pine forest west to the Urals, although its range only barely extends into Europe during the breeding season. After the breeding season, the Pine Bunting generally migrates further south through Asia. In the western Palearctic, however, there are also areas where it is found quite regularly, albeit as a localized wintering bird. The bird can be seen quite regularly in northern Israel in winter. It is Continue reading A rare vagrant: Pine Buntings in Germany

Fichtenammer in Deutschland

FichtenammerAuch wenn eine Fichtenammer (Emberiza leucocephalos) in der Winsener Marsch an der Unterelbe die Twitcher in Deutschland in Atem hält, gilt die Fichtenammer  in Deutschland als Ausnahmeerscheinung.

Mehrfach wurde in den letzten Tag ein heller Ammernvogel zwischen ca. 400 Goldammern (Emberiza citrinella), 4 Grauammer (Emberiza calandra) sowie vielen Finken (Buchfinken (Fringilla coelebs), Grünfinken (Chloris chloris), Grünfinken (Carduelis chloris) und Stieglitze (Carduelis carduelis)) und Feldsperlingen (Passer montanus) gesehen. Auffallend waren die weißen Schirmfederränder. Allerdings waren alle Ammern sehr mobil und meist weit von den Beobachtern entfernt.

Die Fichtenammer ist in Sibirien als Brutvogel des offenen Kiefernwaldes westlich bis zum Ural weit verbreitet, wobei ihr Verbreitungsgebiet zur Brutzeit nur knapp in den europäischen Bereich reicht. Nach der Brutzeit wandert die Fichtenammer im Allgemeinen weiter nach Süden durch Asien. In der westlichen Paläarktis gibt es allerdings auch Gebiete, wo sie durchaus Continue reading Fichtenammer in Deutschland

Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha

The Spanish province of Valencia was visited in summer. One reason was to relax for a week. The second argument was to get a feel for avian delights of an area of the country normally thought of in mainstream tourism terms. As a habitual visitor to the more well-known birding destination of Andalucía and Portugal, I wasn’t expecting too much but was enjoyably surprised by the numbers and variety of Valencia’s avian inhabitants. One day I headed for the steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha. This area is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and excellent birding sites.

A stop at the tiny Bonete Municipal Cemetery en route meant we could search a small lake and a few trees, giving us great intimate views of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron pernocterus), Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), a lonesome Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) and – best of all – a yellow-and-black male Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus). European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are common in these lowland Continue reading Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha

Finken gönnen sich Sonnenblumen

GrünfinkIm Herbst sieht man inzwischen auch in Brandenburg immer wieder Felder mit schon überreifen Sonnenblumen. Offensichtlich werden sie bewußt erst spät – oder gar nicht – abgeerntet. Wahrscheinlich handelt es sich um eine sogenannte “Blühstreifen”- Maßnahme, die finanziell gefördert wird. Es scheint, daß dies besonders auf Flächen passiert, die mindestens 3 Jahre als Acker genutzt wurden. Meist wird solch ein Feld in einer Breite von 6 bis max. 12 m neben Mais-Monokulturen angelegt. Es werden neben Sonnenblumen und Senf noch einige Blühpflanzen mehr ausgesät. Die Maßnahme ist jedenfalls für die Finken im Herbst eine willkommene Gelegenheit sich noch mal richtig voll  zu fressen bevor der Winter für karge Kost sorgt.

Es lohnt sich an solchen Feldern zu halten und auf die einfliegenden Vögel zu warten. Geduld wird belohnt. Nach einer Weile kommen nach und nach verschiedene Vögel angeflogen. U.a. sind dann schnell Grünfinken (Carduelis chloris)  – wie in dem Bild des Blogs -, Stieglitze (Carduelis carduelis) und Feldsperlinge (Passer montanus) zu sehen. Wenig auffällig, aber auch schnell mal mit dabei kommen Goldammern (Emberiza citrinella) angeflogen. Es lohnt sich einen genauen Blick – am besten mit einem Spektiv – auf die Trupps der Ammern zu werfen. Manchmal ist noch eine Rohrammer (Emberiza schoeniclus) auf dem Zug Continue reading Finken gönnen sich Sonnenblumen

Haubenlerchen im Schnee im Fläming

HaubenlercheNach einer Woche Minustemperaturen und anschließendem Tauwetter gibt es wieder einen Wintereinbruch mit Schnee in Deutschland. In der letzten Nacht hat es geschneit. Die Temperaturen liegen um den Gefrierpunkt. An den Straßenrändern taut es aber schon wieder. Die Luft ist kalt und feucht. Die meisten Flächen auf einem ausgedehnten ehemaligen LPG-Gelände liegen an diesem Sonntag still. Die meisten Betonplatten liegen unter einer nur 1 cm dicken Schneedecke. Nur die Wege werden von einem Schneepflug provisorisch geräumt. Das ist zwar noch kein richtiger Winter, aber es liegt Schnee und zwischendurch scheint sogar die Sonne heraus zu kommen. Ideale Bedingungen für eine Erkundungsfahrt in den Niederen Fläming.

An den Toren eines Landwirtschaftsbetriebs, der Nuthequelle Landwirtschaftliche Betriebsgesellschaft mbH, sehe ich dann einen großen Trupp (mind. 40 Ex.) Goldammern (Emberiza citrinella). Dazwischen sind auch 2 Grauammern (Emberiza calandra). Auch Grünfinken (Chloris chloris) sind zu sehen. Die Ammern picken Continue reading Haubenlerchen im Schnee im Fläming

Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany

Grosstrappe, männlichDancing Great Bustard (Otis tarda) at dawn. That must be a great photo project. The courtship is an incredible spectacle. The male Great Bustard transforms himself into a large, white ball of feathers. To do so, he turns the brown, patterned flight feathers out so that the white underside and the white feathers of the elbow face upwards. Than the tail flips up to the back and shows only the white down feathers. On a morning in mid March everything seems perfect. After a period of bad weather, it had cleared the day before and the weather forecast had announced freezing temperatures. When I left early in the morning, the sky was filled with stars. Not a cloud covered the sky and of the temperatures were in the minus degrees – as promised. One of the areas for the Great Bustard is a good half hour away from the my home town. The morning sun had cast a strip on the eastern horizon Continue reading Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany

Eurasian Wryneck and other birds in Bulgaria

Eurasian WryneckI am now back from a trip to Bulgaria for quite a while. As I wrote already in the Bee-eater-Blog, the main purpose was to photograph European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster). But as I mentioned in the recent blog, Bulgaria is full of wildlife which could be found relatively easy. As most of the mornings were spent with Bee-eaters or in a hide for Eurasian Golden Orioles (Oriolus oriolus), evening photo sessions quite often were spent roaming along country roads in the car and photographing any birds I encountered. I came up with pretty good results. There were many passerine birds present. I came across with Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina), Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor), Continue reading Eurasian Wryneck and other birds in Bulgaria

The Dupont‘s Lark at Las Almoladeras in Spain

Dupont's Lark on a stoneAlthough recent research and an action plan by SEO regards the Dupont‘s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) as highly on risk in Almeria, this area is still worth a try.  This Lark is probably one of the highly thought-after bird species if travelling to and birdwatching in southern Spain. I photographed it in mid May 2002. First choice for this lark in southern Spain probably is Cabo de Gata. This is a Parque Natural with almost 50,000 ha (exactly 49,696 ha). Cabo de Gata comprises a Biosphere Reserve of the UNESCO. In general this large area extends from the western side of Cabo de Gata around to the eastern coast as far north as Carboneras. For birdwatchers the best sites are the sierra of Cabo de Gata, the salinas of Cabo de Gata, and a series of steppe areas, of which I tried Las Amoladeras which is Continue reading The Dupont‘s Lark at Las Almoladeras in Spain

Hide Photography in Bulgaria in July; Images from the Dobruja

Eurasian Golden-Oriole, maleThe north-eastern countryside of Bulgaria called Dobruja or in Bulgarian Dobrudzha or in romanian Dobrogea was not famous of being one of Bulgaria´s birding hot spots for bird-lens before. But a trip to the Romanian Dobrogea in may 2012 was already very productive. Thus maybe an excursion to that thinly populated area south of the city of Silistra might be good as well.

No disappointment!

The area is a charming countryside which has to offer surprisingly good locations to shoot images of excellent birds.

Having been spent 4 days at the place aiming to photograph Golden Oriole, Ortolan Bunting, Bee-eaters, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Barred Warbler, Tawny Pipit, etc. on invitation of Iordan Hristov one of the two owners of Nature Travel has been very productive – as you can see in the gallery. The other owner, Sergey Panayotov, and his friend Iordan Hristov offer Wildlife Workshops, trips with bicycles and canoes but also the chance to sit in one (or more) of their hides located in the superb gently rolling countryside of that part of Bulgaria. The center of these activities is an ancient farmhouse with an orchard meadow behind. The area in General is dry and can be – at least in that aspect – best compared to the Macin Mountains in Romania.

One of the main targets was the Golden Oriole photography. For this the tower hide was used. This brand-new photohide is in the yard of a small farmland. The tower overlooks the branches of a walnut-tree where birds often perch. Several bird species have their territories around the yard and they often perch on the highest branches for their displays in spring. When bird-lens was shooting the images you see in the gallery the breeding season was almost over. I felt, that the birds use the exposed position of this tallest tree to orientate between a open field and a forest behind and the cherry trees in the orchards of that nice village. An excellent chance to photograph Continue reading Hide Photography in Bulgaria in July; Images from the Dobruja

Migration of raptors over the Macin Mountains National Park

Because Macin Mountains is famous as an important migration hotspot for raptors in autumn, we decided to visit this site after a visit in May again at the end of September.

An excellent choice. Arriving only at around 11:00h the activity of the “normal” birds were low. But the highlight, we were looking for, was the migration of flying raptors anyway. This time of the day was just right – as you can see in the gallery. We did manage to observe two adult, White-tailed Eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla in a heavy fight with a pair of Common Raven, and a juvenile individual just flying slowly overhead. Short after a Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, hovered over our observation point in search of prey.

Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, is one of the largest buzzards of Europe and is the most common bird of prey in the Macin Mountains National Park. He usually builds his nest on cliffs. Other breeding raptors of that area include Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and Saker Falcon. But of the rarer breeding raptors we did not see one, but one (or more) migrating Pallid Harrier, Circus macrourus , were seen hovering on the cliff along. We were surprised to see so often (or so many) Pallid Harriers here in Macin again – as we were happy to see the migration of Pallid Harrier along the Black Sea coast north of Constanta. An Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, could be observed in a furious air combat with a Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo.

Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, and Lesser Spotted Eagle, Aquila pomarina, were seen just migrating against the steel-blue sky in the wonderful mountainous scenery. It was a brilliant afternoon with not to many images today and large crops to some of them. But the birds which were photographed were top quality.

Of course we did not find any of the breeding songbirds we found in May. As you can read in a blog or see in the gallery at that time we had two species of Continue reading Migration of raptors over the Macin Mountains National Park

Birds in Macin Mountains National Park/ Romania

Just south-west of the Danube Delta only 1 hour drive from Tulcea is the location of the Macin Mountains with its granite hills. With an altitude of max. 450 m asl Macin Mountains are showing nevertheless an impressive outline. Macin Mountains belong to the oldest mountains of Europe. The Macin Mountains feature some significant steppe vegetation (in mixture with Balkanic and Submediterranean forests) and are a great place to see birds. Whereas Macin Mountains is famous as an important migration hotspot for raptors in autumn, we decided to visit this site in May.

We found two species of Wheatears (Common and Isabelline), several species of Larks, European Turtle-dove, Red-rumped Swallow, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Shrikes, Corn and Ortolan Bunting and some other species, you will find in the photo gallery for the Macin Moutains.

Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, is one of the largest buzzards Continue reading Birds in Macin Mountains National Park/ Romania

Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie

A rainy day in May at Romania´s Black Sea coast. Some good birds for a western birdwatcher like Reed, Corn and Black-headed Bunting, Great Reed-Warbler, Barred Warbler and a flying Lesser Spotted Eagle could be seen. A big surprise was what you see on the pictures: a Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, staying in a bush, eventually flying away. After a few seconds a Magpie showed up. Here you can see the Long Eared Owl chased by a Black-billed Magpie in flight. The images were photographed in the nice countryside of Romania north of the city of Constanta.
Basic habitat requirements for the Long-eared Owl are small forests or hedges with some trees. Preferred are open countrysides which nest-sites of Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) or Magpie (Pica pica). It is not clear, why the Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) chased the owl. It is well reknown that magpies could be very aggressive in defending their nest and/or brood. Probably that has been the case Continue reading Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie