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