Monday, March 30, 2009

Volovske vrchy

Most of our time in Slovakia recently was spent walking in the Volovske vrchy. This mountain range in the east (west of Kosice) is perhaps not as well know outside Slovakia as the Tatras and other uplands, but it is excellent for forests birds. Some species do not give themselves up lightly, after all they are forest dwellers, but the rewards are there for those who are prepared to walk and use some birding skills. There are good numbers of woodpeckers and both Ural and Pygmy Owls are quite common in the old mixed forests. There are even some Wolf and Lynx. Indeed, we found tracks of both of these mammals.      

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Slovakian Birds

I have just returned from guiding two groups of birders in the forests and mountains of south-east Slovakia. It was still winter in places there, with snow above 800m and the occasional icy-wind making things hard. But we worked the best habitats and managed to see some great birds: several Ural and Pygmy Owls, 8 species of woodpecker, Golden Eagle, Hazel Grouse and Nutcracker. Flocks of Hawfinches were everywhere and a really special sight was a roost of 10s of 1000s of Bramblings.  

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Later today I will be heading off into eastern Slovakia, guiding 6 chaps from the UK. We will be mainly looking for upland  forest birds, with some exciting but tricky species to find like Hazel Grouse, Ural Owl, Pygmy Owl, Three-toed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker. I will try to up-date the blog whilst there - as you know, easier said than done in many of the places I visit - and let you know how we are doing.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eastern Greylags

Here is a great photo of a pair of eastern race Greylag Geese Anser anser rubirostris. Note the pink bills and very pale forewings. Taken by Mike Crutch at the Nove Mlyny Reservoir, Czech Republic, March 2009.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

More on our South Moravia trip

On our last day in South Moravia we stopped by the Nove Mlyny reservoirs. A flock of around 1000 Greater White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons were spooked by a White-tailed Eagle and flew over us several times. Here is one of the shots that Mike Crutch managed to get of the geese in flight. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

More South Moravian Highlights

This photo of a Long-eared Owl was taken by Mike Crutch near Mikulov during our Czech birding tour last weekend. There were around a dozen in the roost along with two Short-eared Owls.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

South Moravian Highlights

I am back from South Moravia, Czech Republic. Besides the diverse habitats and pleasant villages our long week-end tour turned up many bird highlights including... a noisy flock of Greater White-fronted Geese being bothered by a White-tailed Eagle, a 3rd year Eastern Imperial Eagle soaring overhead, a couple of superb male Hen Harriers, an Eagle Owl calling at dusk, a roost of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls, numerous flocks of Waxwings, close views of a singing Short-toed Treecreeper, a very obliging Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Black Woodpecker hacking out its roadside nest-hole. I was also pleased to see that European Beavers are doing very well in the region, as the photo here shows! 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

South Moravia

I am preparing to leave for South Moravia, the southern most region of the Czech Republic. I am taking 2 chaps from the UK around for a few days on a birding tour. There should be lots of geese with Greater White-fronts, Bean and possibly Red-breasted. Other birds should include Smew, White-tailed Eagle, Red Kite, Eagle and Long-eared Owls, Syrian, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers and with a little luck Wallcreeper. I will let you know how we get on...

Monday, March 2, 2009


Well, after the exotic avian delights of Brazil it's back to European birds. Both Great Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers visited the garden over the weekend and just now two Bramblings dropped into the garden to take the sunflower seed I have put out. A good garden bird Brambling and a species I have not seen here for quite a while. They are winter visitors hereabouts, which is ironic as yesterday was officially the first day of spring!