Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Guyana... I am off there very soon to check the destination out. There is a chance of 21 species of woodpecker species in Guyana and so, as mentioned a few posts ago, my woodpecker quest will continue there. I will try to keep you informed but, as ever, that's not always easy when one is birding in far-away places where internet connections may be lacking.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pale Tussock Moth

I found this hairy beauty, a caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth Calliteara pudibunda, making its way along the fence outside a hotel in the High Tatras, Slovakia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rowan Berries

In autumn Rowan trees (aka Mountain Ash) burst with bright red berries. In the High Tatras in Slovakia last week they lit up the forest edges impressively.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Camberwell Beauty in Slovakia

Here is the Camberwell Beauty we saw in the High Tatras in Slovakia last week. It landed on a rock and posed for a few seconds. And it was indeed a beauty.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back From Slovakia

Just back from Slovakia. My companions and I walked in the High Tatras and the Volovske Mountains where the scenery was often stunning. The Rowan (aka Mountain Ash) trees were ripe with red berries and the forest fungi out in force. Bird highlights included Lesser Spotted and Golden Eagles, Ural Owl, Black, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, lots of Common Crossbills and Crested Tits and many Nutcrackers, two feeding on the ground at point-blank range. Invertebrates included a freshly emerged Camberwell Beauty butterfly and a large Long-horned Beetle which I have yet to identify to species. More later...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Slovakian Forests

I am off into Slovakia for a few days. To be precise, taking two English chaps around the upland forests of the east of the country. Their bird targets are pretty tough... a collection of forest owls and woodpeckers, in particular Three-toed (like the one in the photo here) which is often tricky. Hazel Grouse is another "difficult" one we will try for. Looks like the weather will be with us, and we have time, with dawn at 6am and dusk some 12 hours later, so I am quietly confident. But forest birding can be hard work... we will see and I will let you know how we get on.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

One woodpecker that I very much doubt I will ever see is the Ivory-billed Campephilus principalis. You will have heard of this giant, if not you must have been hiding away for the last few years, as the debate on whether it still exists or is extinct, whether it was found recently or not found, has raged. I have been reading up on the species and the debate... there are more books on Ivory-billed than any other woodpecker. They include IN SEARCH OF THE IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER by Jerome Jackson, THE GRAIL BIRD by Tim Gallagher and THE IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER by James T Tanner. The story is all very sad, often strange and at times shocking.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to Finland

My mate Godfrey has just sent me a spreadsheet of all our wildlife sightings in Finland in July. Mammals were our main targets on that trip and our final totals were: 6 Brown Bears, 8 Wolverines, 5 Wolves, 1 Red Fox, 2 Elk, 25 Forest Reindeer, 3 Red Squirrels and 3 Arctic Hares. Not bad at all! Certainly brings back the memories. By the way, I am off there again in July 2010 with another small group.... if you are interested, drop me a line.

Friday, September 4, 2009


My research for my woodpecker quest goes on. You might recall that when I was planning my Brazil "woodpecker" trip earlier this year my number one target was Campo Flicker. I do not know why, but the more terrestrial woodpeckers such as the flickers fascinate me. My up-coming trip to Guyana offers the chance of another Colaptes species Spot-breasted Woodpecker aka Spot-breasted Flicker.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Woodpecker Quest

Most of you will know that my main passion on the bird front concerns woodpeckers. You probably know, too, that I wrote the handbook WOODPECKERS OF EUROPE and also keep a blog of that name. Truth is, the only birding list that I am really concerned with these days is my world woodpecker list... yes, I am trying to see all of the world's 220 (or so) species. Probably impossible to do that. But this autumn and winter I will be off, again, long-haul, to woodpecker rich places. South America is likely as I need to see the likes of the one in the photo here... Lineated Woodpecker. I will keep you informed.