Sunday, February 28, 2010

A New Magazine

One of the things I am working on right now is an article for a new magazine called Bird Art & Photography. The magazine is said to be "for anyone who loves wild birds" and will include lots of images. Each issue will focus on the work of leading bird photographers and wildlife artists, complimented with articles of general interest to birdwatchers. My article will, of course, focus on woodpeckers and is planned for the 2nd issue due this summer.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guiding Work Takes Shape

After a winter of travels, admin stuff and writing... my spring bird guiding work is all taking shape. First up, in March, will be a long-weekend in the Czech Republic (South Moravia for geese, ducks, raptors and woodpeckers), then a week in Estonia (sea-duck, owls and grouse the main targets there) and then Croatia (Dalmatia for Rock Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, etc). So it looks like it is going to be all-go again this year, especially as I have another book to write... but more on that another time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The agile Speckled Piculet

Here is another shot (same bird as in previous post) of Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus. This tiny (just 10cm long) agile Picid is passerine-like in its ability to forage on the most slender twigs, as can be seen here. Photographed by Simon Cook.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Speckled Piculet

One of the woodpeckers we really wanted to see in Goa, India, was Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus. It took a while to track down this tiny bird, but in the end we found several. This male was photographed at Backwoods Camp by my fellow woodpecker searcher Simon Cook.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Greater Flameback Work

A female Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus hacked this hole in a tree right outside one of the tents in our camp in India. It made 3 visits, each about 2 minutes long, and this was the result. Despite the fact that the tree was fairly rotten, that is quick and impressive work.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Curry... and more curry

One of the nice surprises on our trip to Goa state in India was the food. It was good. You see, we had been warned about the hazards of eating and drinking there. So we played it safe and ate only well cooked food and drank only bottled drinks. We avoided the salads, which were fresh and looked good but they may have been washed in local water so we resisted. It is the water that often contains the problems. We had curry, mostly vegetable, occasionally chicken, twice a day, every day, with rice, cooked by two girls from the nearby village. The dishes were authentic and good and not as spicy-hot as we thought they might be. We had no tummy-troubles at all. So, it seems some of the advice we got was alarmist, I mean if you are sensible you can eat the real local produce and stay on your feet.

Friday, February 5, 2010


In India we recorded 5 types of Kingfisher. Four bird species (Stork-billed, White-throated, Blue-eared, Common) and this one in the photo here. In fact, the latter, due to it being hot and cold drinks needed, was sighted daily!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Goa Woodpecker Result

So, the birds in India recently, or to be exact, the woodpeckers. We were based in the foothills of the Western Ghats hills in Goa State. Of the 10 woodpecker species of woodpecker that are regular there we saw 8. Some (eg.

Black-rumped Flameback)

were common and easy to find others rare and hard work (eg.

Lesser Yellownape). Here is the list of those seen: Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus malayorum,

Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente,

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos nanus cinereigula,

Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus chlorigaster,

Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense puncticolle,

White-naped Woodpecker (Flameback) Chrysocolaptes festivus,

Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus socialis (a male in the photo here) and White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis hodgsonii.

White-bellied Woodpecker was the number one target of my fellow woodpecker-searching companion Simon, and I really wanted to see that species, too, due to it being a close relative of Black Woodpecker. We spent many hours trying to track it down, heard it drumming, saw the signs, and wondered where they where. Then we finally found 2 males, on the final two days. It was well worth the hard work we put in.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bon Voyage

Back from India! Well, when I wrote "I expect delays at the airport here as snow fell again during the night" before I set off, I was not to know that the snow in Europe would be the least of my travel worries. How about arriving back 26 hours late ? How about having to divert into Dubai because a passenger was ill and having the locals keep us, without explanation, on the runway for almost 6 hours ? How about having to spend the night in Cyprus after that because the crew's air-hours had run out ? How about... oh forget it, let's just say it was a nightmare. Anyway, not to dwell, we saw eight of the ten potential woodpecker species in the Western Ghats in Goa State. In the next few days I will post about these...