Monday, March 29, 2010

Back From Estonia

Well, that was a hard tour... and again it was the weather that did it. It was Arctic-like conditions up in Estonia, with often sub-zero temperatures, deep snow, icy roads and a frozen sea. The longest and hardest winter for over 20 years the locals said. But, we did not sit the the warmth of the hotels but got out into the field, and took a ferry across the frozen sea. The iced over sea meant we did not see Stellers Eiders but in the forests we did well and found the likes of a daytime calling Pygmy Owl, Black Grouse lekking, a male Capercaillie, confiding Nutcrackers, Black Woodpeckers daily, and a pair of drumming Three-toed Woodpeckers. Lots of animal tracks and signs, too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just No Escaping It.... Snow

Spring here in Hungary... and it looks like it is here to stay this time. But tomorrow I am off to the north, to Estonia and I have just checked the weather there. And guess what? "Heavy snow" is forecast for tonight and just a few degrees over zero in the day. So it is going to be interesting. We'll find some birds, but it could be hard work. I will let you know. One thing though... animal tracks should be easy to find.

Friday, March 19, 2010

2010 Tours...

Well, the sun is out, spring is here, and the birding tour season has now started proper. The various birding and wildlife tours I am involved in this year are filling up with folks wanting to get away. Take at look at Probirder and if a destination takes your fancy, drop me a line and I will try to advise...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Attack of the Woodpeckers

I have been getting a fair bit of correspondence about a problem concerning woodpeckers. Folks in Hungary are now discussing what to do with woodpeckers that attack their wooden weekend houses, building insulation and other structures. A building company here has asked for help in stopping woodies from knocking holes in buildings that are not even finished. Compensation from the ministry of environment has even been mentioned as woodpeckers are protected species and cannot be harmed. It is a debate that is on-going in the USA in particular. Even NASA has been involved. Why do they do it? We still don't really know, but most attacks are probably linked to foraging. What to do ? Well, prevention. The woodies are not going to stop. Netting, fake raptors, paint and wood-filler that puts them off... all sorts of products are out there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just When You thought It Was Safe...

Another load of snow has fallen. A few birds which started singing and thinking about nesting have had a nasty surprise. Just when is spring going to get a grip ?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back From South Moravia

Well winter will not go away. It was cold, often below zero in Moravia. But it was dry and clear and we got some great birds, a mix of woodland and wetland. Such as, Greater White-fronted, Greylag and Bean Geese, several handsome drake Smew, lots of Goosanders in pairs, Red-crested Pochard, Red Kite, 6 different White-tailed Eagles, Syrian, Middle Spotted and Black Woodpeckers, Great Grey Shrike, tons of Tree Sparrows, close-ups of Hawfinches and Penduline Tits and Long-eared Owls in two different roosts. Lots of fresh signs of Beavers, too. We even found time to visit a wine festival...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Into South Moravia...

I am about to set off to the Czech Republic, to be exact to South Moravia, the southernmost part of the country. I will be taking some UK birders around for a few days. Fortunately, spring has broken through so the woodpeckers will be drumming and the first returning migrants passing through. But winter birds like Greater White-fronted and Bean Geese, Smew, Long-eared Owls in roosts and perhaps even Wallcreeper should also there. It is also an active time for Beavers, which are common thereabouts, and their signs will be obvious (see photo from this time last year). There will be no time for blogging, so more next week when I get back to my desk.