Monday, August 31, 2009

Roman Snail

The Roman Snail Helix pomatia is very common in Hungary and indeed in most of Central and Eastern Europe. It is also known as Edible Snail, though it is not the only snail that can be eaten... if you are that way inclined. The shells can be quite large, up to 5cm in width, and are usually pale in colour with subtle brown spirals, bands and lines. I often find them up trees, sometimes half-way up a trunk or, like this one here in the photo, nestled in a good spot. Does anyone know why they climb trees like this ?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yaffle and Yaffler etc

I am reading a book entitled The Cult of the Green Bird by Antony Clare Lees. It's about the mythology of the Green Woodpecker through the ages and it's full of fascinating stuff. For example, many of you will know of the English folk names Yaffle and Yaffler for this bird, due to it's laughing call, but what about these other names, many with a weather theme: Awl-Bird, Woodwall, Hakel, Laughing Betsy, Ecall, Eccle, High Hoe, Rain Fowl, Wet Bird, Fina, Speke, Galleybird, Sprite, Cut-Bill, Yappingale, Snapper, Weather Cock ?

Monday, August 24, 2009

So, I am back from the British Birdwatching Fair. It was a busy event with guides and tour companies from all over the world offering their birding trips and conservation organisations doing their stuff. There were stands packed with optics and books, outdoor clothing and other birding gear on sale and talks and lectures on not only birds but other wildlife, too. I caught up with many friends and it was a great success all round.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

British Birdwatching Fair... again!

A year has flown by and it is that time again... the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water, UK, is upon us again. Dates are 21-23 August, this coming Friday to Sunday. On the Friday from 2.30 I will be signing books on the WildSounds stand. Otherwise I will be "doing the rounds" strolling around (laid-back networking?) and spending time on the stands of travel companies such as Wildwings, Heatherlea, Birdfinders, answering any questions that clients have on destinations like Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Czech Republic etc. I will also drop in to see the publishers Bradt and no doubt bump into some of you folks as I go.... see you there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Urban Birder in Budapest

David Lindo, aka The Urban Birder, has a piece in the latest issue of Bird Watching Magazine (a monthly mag in the UK) on his trip to Budapest. He mentions his time with me birding my local patch and a few other sites in the city. Look it up...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Droppings And All That

When on birding and wildlife watching trips I never neglect the other stuff. I mean, I encourage folks to look at everything... birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants etc. And I am also very interested in the tracks and signs that animals make and leave. And here is a recent photo of a nice Beech Marten Martes foina dropping. In fact, I have another blog totally devoted to this wonderful subject called, yes, that's right, TRACKS & SIGNS:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Rain Did Go Away

Well, the rain did go away and our trip round round eastern Hungary produced a good list of birds, butterflies, moths, reptiles and amphibians. Weather is always a factor on such tours and can really influence where you go and what you see. Anyway, we did well and some of the bird highlights were Black Stork, lots of White Storks in fields and some still on nests, 15 Great Bustards, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Saker, Long-legged Buzzard, swirls of Bee-eater, Rollers, Lesser Grey Shrikes, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl and masses of passage waders on the last day...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It happens and when it does, it is hard work. Rain. Yesterday it poured down several times while I was guiding folks on a natural history tour in the Bukk Hills. We still managed to find things... flowers, some birds and a few butterflies and other invertebrates like this bee on a thistle, when it cleared. But it is never easy or as pleasant as when the weather is kind. On we go today, and it looks like it might get better.

Monday, August 3, 2009


The Silver-washed Fritillaries Argynnis paphia are really out in force thesedays. They are one of the largest butterflies hereabouts and when fresh are bright and flashy. They can be locally common in warm bushy and wooded areas and I snapped this one in the Bukk Hills, Hungary.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tree Frog

Here is a European Tree Frog Hyla arborea that I snapped recently at Hortobagy, Hungary. They are great little amphibians that once found are easy to photograph. Note that it is a rather dull green colour as it has been sitting on a dark surface. Most are bright green but this changes depending upon the habitat they are in and colour of the surface they have been on.