Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wild Boar Road Sign

I took some stick for leaping off the bus and taking this photo of a road-sign warning about Wild Boars on the road. Several of my group were "amused" but I am not sure why... I think it's a great sign. Taken near Skradin in Dalmatiia, Croatia. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

More From Croatia

When looking for birds on tours we always come across other fauna. And we do not neglect them. For example, I found this attractive longhorn beetle species Dorcadion arenarium walking cross a track in Dalmatia last week. Photo by my co-leader on the tour Alan Outen.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Back from Croatia

Just back from Croatia where I took a dozen folks from the UK, USA and Canada around for a week. We visited sites in Dalmatia such as the Krka and Paklenica National Parks, Lake Vrana, Pag Island and the Velebit Mountains. However we had a some days of poor weather, with strong winds and rain, but still managed to chalk up a good range of birds, herps, insects and plants, including 10 species of orchid. In the next few days I will post more photos and notes on the trip.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Next up... Croatia

I am getting ready for my next trip, a week-long all-round natural history tour in Croatia. To be more precise, in central Dalmatia, hugging the Adriatic coast, taking in the Krka and Paklenica National Parks, the Velebit Mountains, Pag Island and Lake Vrana. I will try to up-date this blog when there but, once again, that will depend on time and getting to an internet connection. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lizards and the like

There was winter, then spring, briefly, and now it's like summer. There are four seasons but spring just seems to be short. One sign of the sudden warm weather is the number of butterflies on the wing and also the hoards of lizards suddenly about. In Budapest Wall Lizards are common, in limestone areas nationwide Green Lizard is not at all rare and Sand Lizards are common throughout the lowlands.  Phil Briggs took this shot of a well camouflaged Viviparous Lizard, which is a bit more localised, in Hungary last week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hortobagy... more non-bird stuff

Red Squirrel in the Buda Hills by Phil Briggs from the recent tour to Hungary by the WWT London Wetlands Centre Group.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hortobagy... non-bird stuff

When birding with visiting groups I never neglect the other kinds of wildlife that we invariably encounter. For example, last weekend we saw mammals such as Noctule Bat, Red Fox, Roe Deer, Red Squirrel, European Souslik and many Brown Hares "boxing". Reptiles were Viviparous Lizard and Grass Snake and amphibians included Fire-bellied Toad (ever popular) and Marsh and Edible Frogs. On the insect front Squash Bug (Coreus marginatus) and Fire Bug were identified and butterlies seen were Green-veined White, Brimstone, Peacock, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell. Not a bad little selection at all. This photo of Fire-bellied Toad Bombina bombina in my hand was taken by group member Philip Briggs. Don't worry, I quickly let it go back in its puddle. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Collared Flycatchers are here

Yes, spring IS here... I saw my first Collared Flycatchers of the year in the woods above Budapest yesterday.  Two of them singing and checking out potential nesting sites in old woodpecker holes. When I see Collared Flycatchers up there in April I know spring has certainly arrived. These little black and white birds are also proof that you do not need to be brightly coloured to be striking.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring on the Hortobagy

Just back from two days in and around the Hortobagy, in eastern Hungary, with a group of folks from London. I can report that spring is finally arriving. Birds seen included White Storks already on their nests, a fly-over Black Stork, lots of Pygmy Cormorants, a late flock of Greater White-fronted Geese, many ducks including Garganey and Ferruginous Duck, flocks of Common Cranes passing through, a Common Bittern walking by the roadside and others booming, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, parties of Ruff, a dozen male Great Bustards, singing Savi's and Moustached Warblers and busy Penduline Tits at point-blank range. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Blue Trail

In Central and Eastern Europe walking routes and trails are often colour-coded. The colour of each trail is painted on posts, trees & rocks and corresponds to those on maps. I came across this blue one on a tree in a Slovakian forest recently where it seems a woodpecker has tried to take a short-cut!