Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Website Work...

It's hard to keep going in the Christmas-New Year-Festive Season period. I mean, work wise. And I like to keep busy. But there is too much food and drink about... So, thesedays I am working on up-dating the Probirder website In particular, I am adding lots of nice new photos. Ttake a look in a few days and let me know what you think.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Black Woodpecker

This morning I accompanied my father-in-law down to his weekend house at Lake Balaton where a little winter maintenance was needed. When checking the building we noticed some holes on the wooden walls and doors. This is not the first time we have found such holes. They are made by Great Spotted Woodpeckers boring into the wood every winter, when no one is around, looking for hibernating invertebrates. I told my father-in-law how this was a major problem in some parts of Scandinavia and that there Black Woodpeckers were often the culprits and how the holes they made are so big that home-owners can sometimes get permission to cull these huge woodpeckers. As soon as we stopped talking about this there was a call overhead and, believe it or not, a Black Woodpecker swooped into the large oak tree in the neighbouring garden. I gave a few calls and the bird responded, came back, landed briefly on another tree, and then headed off again. Now I have seen 4 species of woodpecker by that weekend house but never a Black Woodpecker. It was a weird few moments. Sometimes truth IS stranger than fiction...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Now if there is ONE animal that I would really like to see it's the Wolverine Gulo gulo. This fantastic carnivore, a member of the Mustelidae family (weasel, martens, polecats, badgers and the like) is something of a mystery even to those who live and work in the boreal and Arctic regions where is lives. I have heard that some researchers in Canada, people who spend almost every day in Wolverine habitat see "one a year". But I am working on this! I am in contact with experts in the wilds of Finland who regularly see Wolverines and we are going to organise a short trip for a few keen folks there next year. This photo of a Wolverine was taken by Reino Turunen who is author of the book "Karjalani, Carelia, My Carelia", at Erä Eero's Wildlife Lodge in Lieska, Finland, April 2007.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I went out briefly at the weekend. There were the usual suspects on the bird front in the woods in Buda... Hawfinch, Common Crossbills and a few woodpeckers. A surprise was this Common Puffball mushroom Lycoperdon perlatum. It's a bit late for this, they are usually over by November. But it is mild and damp with no snow at all. Common Puffballs grow on the ground and are white at first, getting greyer and even yellow later. The experts say it is only edible when the spores are fresh and white...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Urban Birder

Are you an urban birder? I know that many of you are. David Lindo is, too, and his local patch is Wormwood Scrubs in London, UK. Check out his excellent website The Urban Birder:
In particular, look at Budapest in his "cities to watch" section... written by yours truly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dead Water Shrew

When out and about I find more dead shrews than any other kind of mammal. They often starve, as their finely tuned metabolism means they need to eat regularly and they are seldom eaten by scavangers due, apparently, to tasting obnoxious. These are some of the reasons why they are often found dead and intact. The species in my hand in this photo is a Water Shrew Neomys fodiens. By the way, it is a common misconception that shrews are rodents, like mice and voles, etc. But they are not, they are insectivores (order Insectivora) as are hedgehogs, desmans and moles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NEW Tracks and Signs Blog

I have set up a new blog! I do like to keep myself busy. It's entitled TRACKS AND SIGNS and will be a place that I can post photos and notes on one of my favaourite subjects. That is, finding the evidence and identifying the clues that betray the presence and activities of Europe's wildlife. That's right, lots of stuff on hoof and paw prints, claw marks, all kinds of dung, droppings, scat, sprait, also pellets, feathers, fur, nests, dens, sets, holes, bones... anything and everything. If you have any photos, comments or suggestions, please send them to me. And please take a look:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beaver Dam

The European Beaver Castor fiber is the largest rodent in Europe. They really are busy animals making dams, forming channels, making trails along which to drag timber. In Poland recently we found dozens of places were they were active, with felled trees, gnawed stumps and tree after tree with tooth marks. This photo shows one of the best dams we found where a deep pool had been created from a tiny stream. I recall a friend in the Czech Republic telling me that the water authority kept destroying a particular dam as it blocked a drainage channnel. But every morning of the next day there was the dam again, freshly built during the night.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Not a lot going on...

It's Sunday morning and there is not a lot going on... indeed, it actually has that "Sunday morning" feel to it. A Syrian Woodpecker called and some Common Crossbills flew over the garden, but that was it. I put some sunflower seed out but nothing has really taken it. Sometimes it is like that, maybe there is a lot of food around, elsewhere. Yet, I reckon that quite a few species will visit once it really gets cold...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winter Work

I think I can say that my guiding work for this year is now over. Winter is here, there are good birds and other wildlife about but the weather is unpredictable and can be harsh. So in winter I spend my time writing, up-dating my websites, blogging more, dealing with "admin" and checking out new places for future trips.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This autumn has been really great for fungi. The forests I have visited on my recent travels, in Hungary, Poland and Serbia, have been full of toadtools and musrooms. This fresh Hoof Fungus Fomes fomentarius (this photo taken in Poland shows why it is called HOOF fungus) was about 20cm across, but they can grow to well over 30cm across. When Hoof Fungi age they darken and harden. They usually grow on beech, at least in this part of Europe. It is not edible.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Long-eared Owl roosts: an up-date

My friends Milan Ruzic and Katarina Paunovic went out to count the local Long-eared Owls at their roosts in NE Serbia yesterday. As soon as they got home they sent me these photos taken by Katerina. They show parts of the biggest roost which held an amazing 534 birds! Several other roosts nearby had around 250 birds each. Now that's a lot of owls by any standards.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fire Salamander - Vrsac Hills

I was just looking through some snapshots I took in Serbia recently and I found this one of a Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra. It was crawling across a forest road in the Vrsac Hills (Vrsacki breg) as they often do just after a downpour. This is classic individual, black with bold yellow markings, which is typical for the Carpathians and its foothills. In some other parts of Europe these placids little creatures can be almost all yellow, more orange and sometimes striped rather than blotched.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Eastern European Bird Tours in 2009

I have been asked by some of you good folks out there to add Poland and Serbia to the destinations that I will guide on private tours next year. So here is the final list of budget birding tours for 2009.
HUNGARY 19 - 22 February, 2009. Winter Break: Geese, Raptors, Wallcreeper....
SLOVAKIA 22 - 28 March, 2009. Forests: Woodpeckers, Owls, Hazel Grouse....
HUNGARY 27 - 30 August, 2009. Birds & Butterflies: an easy wildlife break
BULGARIA 19 - 26 September, 2009. Black Sea Migration, Raptors and residents...
POLAND 2 - 8 November, 2009. Birds & Mammals in the Carpthians: tracking and trekking...
SERBIA 19 - 22 November, 2009. The World's Biggest Long-eared Owl roosts and more...
I hope there is something of interest to you here! Costs and detailed itineraries will be sent to those requesting them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lesser Mole Rats in Serbia

The Lesser Mole Rat Nanospalax leucodon is one of Europe's most mysterious mammals. It is not related to true moles. But this blind, subterranean animal is under threat. It is often regarded as an agricultural pest and its steppe and grassland habitat has for centuries been ploughed up and/or planted with forest. Today it is mainly restricted to lowlands in Hungary, Romania and Serbia. Once again, Eastern Europe is the stronghold of a rare European species. This photo (taken last week) shows a fresh earth-mound (with a mobile phone for size comparison) in the Subotica Sandlands, northern Serbia. These mounds, created when the mole rats throw up earth after digging their tunnels, can be 4 times bigger than mole-hills. Such mounds often run in lines but are also sometimes in clusters. A few days later we found many such mounds at Deliblato Sands a few hours to the south. It seems to be common in that area and indeed lowland Serbia may well be Europe's stronghold for this endangered species.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More about Serbia

I have lots to tell you about my recent trip to Serbia... One of the most impressive things that I noticed last week was the dedication and expertise of the local birders and conservationists that I met. Really good folks who made me very welcome and took me to some special wildlife habitats. Nothing was too much trouble for them. And some of them told me that they were very pleased to see me there as they felt that many "western" birders (and even conservation organisations) neglect or even ignore them. Nevertheless, there is lots going on, but funding is scarce and outside help often lacking. One exception was at the Lake Ludas reserve (Ludasko Jezero) near Subotica, where an EU funded cross-border cooperation between Serbia and Hungary is working well. There is a brand new visitor centre there and board-walks, information boards, nature trails and hides are being implemented so that visitors (local birders, foreign visitors and school children) can get closer to the masses of wetland species that breed or pass through the reserve.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Serbia's Long-eared Owl Roosts

I thought I had seen just about everything there was to see in the bird and birding world of Eastern Europe, but a few days ago I was shown something quite amazing. I was taken to several Long-eared Owl roosts in the Banat region of NE Serbia and it was unbelievable. Almost every village there seems to be home to wintering owls, which are packed into clumps of trees in parks, gardens, church yards and along high streets. One tree in a quiet village near the Romanian border held around 80 birds! The surrounding trees held between 10 to 50 each. There must have been about 300 owls in that street! Here are some facts: There are over 400 known Long-eared Owl roosts in northern Serbia. The average roost has 50 birds, many are 250 birds strong and some number over 400. Single trees average 25 birds. The roosts develop in October and numbers build up through the winter before the owls leave finally in March. All in all, northern Serbia is the world's most important wintering area for Long-eared Owls. It is a sight that all birders should see with great photographic opportunities, and I intend to organise a few trips there for this. The photo here is not the best, just a quick one taken on a small camera, but it does offers a snapshot of one of the owl-filled trees.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Serbia

I am having a great time in Serbia. I have visited some superb sites and seen some very good birds. So far I have been to Lakes Palic, Ludas, and Rusanda, the huge wetland reserve of Carska Bara (3 White-tailed Eagles and 5000+ Greater White-fronted Geese here), seen 16 Great Bustards (a really rare bird here) near the Romanian border and been taken to several MASSIVE Long-eared Owl roosts (that is, over 100 birds in each... more on that later!). Today we explored the Vrsac Hills (but we got rained off). I am VERY impressed with the local birders I have met, they are totally devoted to protecting the special birds and wildlife habitats that Serbia has. I have promised myself that I am going to coorperate with and support these dedicated people in the coming months and years. More later...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brown Bear: droppings

Yet another photo from our mammal tracking experience in Poland. This time, the fresh droppings of Brown Bear found in the Bieszczady Mountains. Note my size 44 (11 UK) boot for comparison. This dropping was rather pale and upon close inspection we found that it was full of seed and grain. The bear had obviously been feeding on grain put out by hunters nearby for Red Deer and Wild Boar. Bears that have fed upon berries and/or flesh are invariably darker than this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bison hair

When tracking bison in Poland last week we also came across another sign of their presence. The bison had rubbed themselves against this tree-stump (see photo) and left some tell-tale hair. The colour, texture and height of the hair on the stump clearly indicates that it was bison. Rubbing against tree stumps like this is probably a kind of comfort behaviour, done to ease an itch or remove ticks. We found a small herd soon after finding this sign.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bison dung & hoof print

The European Bison (aka the Wisent) Bison bonasus is Europe's heaviest land mammal. It is a creature of old forests, not of grasslands, and despite its huge size (bulls can weigh up to 900kg and stand 2m high at the shoulder) can hide away with surprising ease. This was the case in the Bieszczasy forests in Poland recently where we tracked herds on two different days, finally getting good views of family parties before they thundered off into cover. We tracked them by following recent hoof prints (as in the photo with a biro for size-comparison) and finding fresh dung (photo with pine cone for size comparison).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wild Boar tracks

When searching for the tracks of Wolf in Poland we came across many other animal tracks. Here is a typical hoof print of a Wild Boar. Note first of all that this print is made by a cloven-hoofed mammal. Cloven-hoofed mammals have 4 toes: 2 cleaves (at the front) and 2 dew claws (at the rear). Unlike most deer, Wild Boar leave 4 clear imprints, as in this photo. This is because their gait (and the fact that their dew claws are located lower down on the leg that those of deer) results in the dew claws touching the ground. Hence, most Wild Boar leave dew claws imprints, whereas deer usually do not. Most deer leave just 2 slots (left by the cleaves). This hoof print was probably left by a young Wild Boar as the front two claw marks are pointed and narrow. Those of adult boars are broader and more rounded.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wolf Tracks

In Poland recently we spent many hours tracking mammals. The photo here of a Wolf paw-print in wet mud was taken in the Bieszczady Mountains. Wolf prints are very similar to those of a large domestic dog, which is actually not surprising as the Wolves is itself a large dog! Key things to note are: long toe pads which are well spaced-out and splayed apart and long, pointed, pronounced claw marks. Though not shown here the track-line of a Wolf is also rather narrow, whereas most dogs walk in a more of a zig-zag. Location is also important: this photo was taken in a remote area where there are no pet or stray dogs but where there are packs of wolves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Poland: Porcelain Fungus

The cap of this distinctive white fungus Oudemansiella mucida is semi-translucent and shiny as it is coated in a slimy substance. It usually grows on beech and often protrudes straight out of the tree-trunk, often fairly high up. This photo one was taken recently in the Bieszczady Mountains, SE Poland. Some say it is edible but others suggest it is not, so it may be wise to avoid it. Indeed, unless you are absolutely sure that a given fungi is edible, or with an expert on fungi ID, all mushrooms and toadstools should be left alone and certainly not eaten.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Poland: Fly Agaric

Walking in the forests of south-east Poland recently we came across a great range of fungi... mushrooms and toadstools of all shapes, sizes and colours. The Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria was one of the easiest to spot and identify. Many other fungi that we found remained unidentified and we left them alone as some would have no doubt been very poisonous. The Fly Agaric in this photo was found amongst birch trees, with which it always associates. It is an attractive toadstool but poisonous.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Poland: Tatras cable-car

In Poland recently we made several attempts to get to the higher peaks of the Tatra Mts by cable-car, but poor weather, with high winds, meant the car was cancelled for several days. Finally, on a clear, still day last week we were able to take the cable-car from Kuznice to just below Kasprowy Wierch (1987m). At the top we had superb views (see photo here) and soon saw several Chamois. The walk down to Kuznice was some 4 miles, at times often steep, but well worth it as we passed through the different vegetation zones and got a real overview of these spectacular mountains.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Back from Poland

Just got back from south-east Poland. I spent 2 weeks, mainly in the Bieszczady and Tatra Mountains with 2 groups of nature lovers from the UK. Birding highlights included White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Hazel Grouse, Ural Owl, Pygmy Owl, White-backed Woodpecker, Crested Tit, Great Grey Shrike and Nutcracker. Mammals included European Bison and Chamois and we found tracks and other signs of Brown Bear and Wolf. The old forests were full of wierd and wonderful fungi, too. I was unable to get on-line for most of the time and so neglected my blogs, but in the next few days I will add a range of notes and photos from the trip.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Polish Autumn

I will soon be off to Poland to guide two tours. In the SE, mostly in the Tatras and other mountain ranges. Out main targets will be, besides birds, some of the large mammals found there such as Wolf and Brown Bear. I will let you know how we get on

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A pale Tree Frog

Here is a photo of a Europrean Tree Frog Hyla arborea taken in Hungary last week. Note how pale it is. They are usually bright green, sometimes brown, as their skin colour changes to blend in with the colour of their habitat background, usually vegetation, branches or walls. This one was probably spending most of its recent time on a light green surface.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eastern Imperial Eagle

One of the birds that that we had great views of in the last few weeks in Hungary was Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. I managed to show these magnificent birds of prey to my fellow birders at four different sites. Hungary has the strongest European population with over known 60 pairs dotted around the country but most are concentrated in the east. Hungarian conservationists have a EU sponsored project on the species currently running and have placed information boards for the general public in key roadside spots (see photo left).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn Fungi

I have just finished 2 birding tours in Hungary... we visited the Tata area, Kiskunsag, Bukk Hills, Heves Grasslands and the Hortobagy. The weather was mostly warm, very warm for this time of year. We found all kinds of great birds and other wildlife which I will try to find time to write about here in this blog in the next few days. But we also came across some fantastic, often large, fungi in the woods and on the plains, including Oyster Mushroom, Magpie Inkcap, Shaggy Inkcap, Parasol, Hoof Fungus and many others I could not safely identify.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn photo

Yes, very busy right now guiding visiting birders in Hungary... and not often able to get on line... but here is a photo of one of the main events at this time, the dusk fly-in of Common Cranes to their roost in the Hortobagy Nat Park. There are over 70,000 cranes there at this time.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Busy month ahead...

My busy autumn season begins... today I meet a group from the UK and head off to the Bukk Hills to see a few woodpeckers and other woodland birds before heading down to the plain for wetland and grassland species. Then next week another group arrives for more of the same birding goodies... I will try to keep the blog up-to-date with our observations, but it not always easy to get on-line in the places I visit.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Crane numbers increasing by the day

News from the Hortobagy in the east of Hungary is that the Common Cranes are now arriving in numbers. It is only the 1st of October but around 20,000 are already present. Last year saw a record count of about 100,000 at the end of October. The number of these gangly birds stopping over in autumn has steadily increased in recent decades... what will this year bring?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blue Slug

I was in the hills briefly... one of the things I came across was a Carpathian blue slug (Bielzia coerulans). In my opinion, this is one of Europe's most attractive molluscs. This slug is indeed a deep-blue and, as the name suggests, it lives in the Carpathian Mountains but also in adjacent foothills in Hunagry. These creatures are often seen just after it has rained when they creep out into the open from out of the woodland leave-litter and onto tracks and roads.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Birds in Buda

So I took my group of UK birders up into the woods in Buda. Our objective was to add a few woodland species to the fine lowland and wetland list we had got on Friday and Saturday. It was a glorious morning soon the woods were flooded with walkers and joggers. But before the masses arrived we saw a Black Woodpecker (we were to encounter another later). Middle Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers also obliged, as well as Hawfinches and a Short-toed Treecreeper. Some butterflies were out, too, and I also spotted, but failed to catch, a large Green Lizard.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Late September birds

Just got back from a 2 day birding trip to the Hortobagy and Lake Tisza where I guided a group of folks from London. Perfect weather, perfect conditions... Highlights included Ferruginous Ducks, lots of Pygmy Cormorants, Squacco Herons, 8 Long-eared Owls, Black and Syrian Woodpeckers, 3 Great Bustards, 2 Sakers, 3 Eastern Imperial Eagles, 3 White-tailed Eagles and a few hundred Common Cranes. We even saw some "late" Red-footed Falcons, a very late White Stork and a flock of Crossbills. Tomorrow it is up into the woods to add a few more woodpeckers to the list...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Summer ? Winter ?

There have been extremes of temperature in Budapest recently, from very warm for September to very cold for September. And as if to make one last stand, as the weather breaks from summer to winter, a Black Redstart was singing yesterday from the top of a roof opposite. It is not the most stunning of songbird songs, rather scratchy, but nevertheless it is a song. Then a flock of Long-tailed Tits flitted overhead and landed on a telephone wire and one of the local Syrian Woodpeckers called from a yard somewhere...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Cranes are arriving...

Autumn is upon us and the mass migration of Common Cranes through eastern Hungary is beginning. Some 1000s are already here and more will be arriving by the day. Last year a count in the east in late October estimated just over 100,000 of these elegant birds to be present. I will be visiting the areas where they congregate in the coming weeks and will try to keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2009 tour plans shaping up

I have had a few more emails asking once again about my plans for birding tours next year (2009). Well, as usual, I am going to be all over central and eastern Europe! Here are are few dates to note. Drop me a line if you would like more info on these...
Hungary from February 19 – 22, 2009.
Slovakia from March 22 - 28, 2009.
Hungary from August 27- 30, 2009.
Bulgaria from September 19 - 26, 2009.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another great day around Apaj

A day trip from Budapest to the northern part of the Kiskunsag region is always rewarding. But even a half-day can turn up some impressive birds, as was the case yesterday when I took a nice chap from New York out for the morning. His main "target" was Saker Falcon and I had a hunch where they would be, but was not over confident as they do roam a bit at this time of year. Yet, sure enough, two birds soon obliged, both on the ground, one eating prey whilst the other watched. Later the fish-ponds were a bit quiet, at least at first, before 2 Ospreys and then 2 White-tailed Eagles, as well as the usual numerous Marsh Harriers, gave great views.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bulgarian birding next September

I will be guiding a birding tour in Bulgaria from September 19 – 26, 2009. Saturday to Saturday. 8 days - 7 nights That is a year away, but it will soon come around. We will spend time working the Black Sea coast where there will be good movements of birds moving south on passage. We can expect White Pelicans, White Storks, Lesser Spotted Eagles and an assortment of other raptors, wildfowl and waders. We will also go inland to the Eastern Rhodope Mountains to look for Griffon and (Eurasian) Black Vultures. We will also look for some typical Balkan residents like Syrian Woodpecker, Sombre Tit and Spanish Sparrow (the latter here in this photo). Do get in touch if this takes your fancy and you'd like to join us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Both the heat and the Syrian Woody are back...

Well the weather broke... and then got fixed... it has been very hot again. I even saw a few butterflies fluttering about. The Green Woodpecker I mentioned a few days ago has vanished but then an old friend returned, the Syrian Woodpecker. Twice in fact, yesterday when I heard it call in the morning outside in the garden, and then again today, this time to knock a few times on the telegraph pole in the corner at about 5pm.

Monday, September 8, 2008

And then the rain...

After weeks of high, hot temperatures, it finally broke last night. A sudden downpour, thunder, lightning, and this morning it is still raining. At 7.30am a Green Woodpecker called from the garden. In English folklore this bird is associated with rain and indeed, in some places is called the "rainbird".

Friday, September 5, 2008

Summer Weekend with Birds and Butterflies

Another tour I am guiding next year in HUNGARY will run from 27 - 30 August. This is called a Summer Weekend with Birds & Butterflies and is based in the Bukk Hills. This trip will be particularly suitable for "all-rounders" and also non-birding partners. All sorts of bird and butterfly goodies will be seen on that one!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Slovakian birding next March

I have been asked again to put together more birding itineraries in Eastern Europe for 2009. So, following the "Hungary in Late Winter" announced earlier, here is the next one up: Slovakia: Eastern Upland Forests which will run from March 22 - 28, 2009. We will visit some wonderful wooded habitats looking for owls, woodpeckers and Hazel Grouse amongst others. In fact, all Europe's woodpeckers are possible on the route we will take, including the species in the photo here: White-backed Woodpecker. Once again, if you are interested in joining this trip... just drop me a line.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Danube Delta Photos

Here are a few snapshots of habitats from last week's tour around the Danube Delta in Romania...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day trip to Kiskunsag

I took a birder from the UK around the famlands and grasslands of the northern Kiskunsag yesterday. His main "targets" were Great Bustard and Saker Falcon, and we succeeded in seeing both: around 20 Bustards and 2 Sakers. There were plenty of Rollers around, though the Red-footed Falcons had left their breeding areas. Red-backed Shrikes were everywhere! At the fish-ponds we saw Ferruginous Ducks and all kinds of herons, a Short-toed Eagle, numerous Marsh Harriers and a juvenile Montagu's Harrier. It was a hot day in late August and yet this area turned up the goodies one again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hungarian birding next February

I am putting together another "Hungary in Late Winter" birding trip. I did this earlier this year and it was a great success. Next year it will run from February 19 – 22, 2009. That's from Thursday to Sunday: 4 days - 3 nights. We will visit Lake Tata, nearby fishponds and woods, and the grasslands of the Kiskunsag National Park. The main focus of this tour will be to search for wintering and migrating geese. We hope to see flocks of Greater White-fronted Goose, some of the endangered Lesser White-fronted Goose, both Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese and perhaps a few Red-breasted Geese, too. In addition there are also some special resident birds like Great Bustard, Saker Falcon, White-tailed Eagle, eight species of woodpecker including Syrian, Grey-headed and Black, and other winter visitors such as Rough-legged Buzzard and Great Grey Shrike. In most years Wallcreeper winters in stone quarries hereabouts and if this is the case we will visit the best site: on last year's trip we succeeded in seeing this fantastic bird! If you are interested in joining this trip... drop me a line.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back from the Birdwatching Fair

I am back from the Birdwatching Fair in the UK. I met and/or bumped into lots of you and even had the odd Osprey Bitter (or whatever that warm, flat, ale was called) with some of you. I spent an hour or so each day on the Bradt stand signing my new book and guess what... they sold out of the stock they brought. Bradt were very happy! So thanks to everyone who bought it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Off to the British Birdwatching Fair

Perhaps I will bump into some of you at the BBW at Rutland Water. This is the world's first and largest international birdwatching event. I will be there all 3 days (Friday to Sunday). I will not have a fixed place, no stand, just going around, but you can catch up with me from time to time on the BRADT stand in Marquee 2 Stand 26. I will be signing my new book there several times over the weekend. See you soon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Quiz woodpeckers!

Most regular readers of this blog will know that I have another blog entitled WOODPECKERS OF EUROPE and that I often post on it "quiz woodpecker" photos. Interest in this has tailed off recently... are they boring ? or too hard ? Come on, have a go, the birders amongst you can improve your woody ID skills! There are only 10 woodpecker species in Europe, so it should not be too difficult to get close... here is a recent sample on the left. Take a look... here is the link:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More pics from Slovenia

Here are a few more photos from my recent trip to the Julian Alps in Slovenia...