Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tree Frogs

There has been a burst of activity of Tree Frogs Hyla arborea this week. I have heard lots of them on the days I have been out of the city. It will soon be time for them to find places in which to hibernate for the winter and I wonder whether all this calling is connected in some way to that? Folk tradition says that they call before it rains... well, it is raining now! I snapped this one in roadside vegetation, he posed nicely probably thinking he was out of sight.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flooded Fields

I went out yesterday with a nice chap from Ireland... his main targets were Great Bustard and Saker and we saw both... in fact we found the bustards in record time, about 30 seconds after making our first stop in the north of the Kiskunsag. The Saker took a bit more time but in the end we saw one being mobbed by a Kestrel. Besides the birds, a feature yesterday was the water and mud. There has been lots of rain this year and the result was evident as every track was wet, muddy, a mess. And the Kiskunsag mud is a special kind of mud, a milky, creamy colour due to the saline soil. Many farmers fields are under water, too... it has been a bad year for them. But we still got the birds!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Black Woodpecker book

Time for another up-date on my monograph on the Black Woodpecker... The manuscript is now being edited and the layout and design worked on at the publisher. Besides the text, the maps, waveforms, sonograms, artwork and photographs all have to be edited and fitted in, too. Seems that I will get the proofs to look at in January. Here is another sneak preview of a draft of one of the sketches that might be included. Just to whet the appetite.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Biggest Twitch

Well, after writing my monograph on Black Woodpecker in the summer (it lies at the publisher being designed and edited) I now have a little time for reading... before the batch of tours I have to guide. A book I have just finished reading was written by two friends of mine, Alan Davies and Ruth Miller. THE BIGGEST TWITCH tells the story of how they went round the world to see as many birds as possible in one year. In doing so they beat the existing world record after seeing over 4000 species! It is full of adventures and told with some wit (Ruth) and humour (Alan?). Sorry Alan! Anyway, I promise that it is a great read for all birders and for all those who travel in search of birds. It is published by Helm (A&C Black), London.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Poland - Moor Frog

This photo of a Moor Frog Rana arvalis was taken on our recent Poland tour by Phil Briggs. I spotted this little amphibian hopping through grass in the rain in a forest near Krakow. This species is interesting because many males turn blue for a time in the mating season.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back from Poland

So, back from southern Poland! Most of our time was spent exploring the numerous fishpond systems around Zator and Oswiecim, east of Krakow, and we had some great sightings. In particular, great views of Temminck's Stints, loads of Whiskered Terns, close views of Short-toed Treecreepers and two different Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, and a memorable moment when a White-tailed Eagle chased an Osprey that was carrying a fish! Some of us even took time out to visit the museums and remnants of the former concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau... disturbing places those.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Southern Poland

So now it is off to Poland again! This time to the south, around the lovely old city of Krakow, where I will be guiding a group of naturalists from the UK. We will explore some great forests for woodpeckers and fishponds for migrating wildfowl and waders. And no trip to Poland's forests is complete without a scattering of fungi and now, in September, there will most likely be loads, of all shapes, sizes and colours... edible and unedible!