Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This year's achievement!

This was another good year. In fact, 2011 was the year that I achieved another personal goal. I saw my 7th, and final, species in the Dryocopus genus... Andaman Woodpecker. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Feeding Birds

It's cold, zero C, but there are very few birds coming to the garden to take the various seed and bird-cake I have placed out. A few Great Tits nip in and take the black sunflower seed, but that's more or less it. Maybe it has to get really cold, really tough and food supplies elsewhere to run out ?  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Successful Trip!

So I have done my 4 talks (Woodpeckers of Europe) in the NW of the UK. Seems to have gone well. Thanks to everyone who came along!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

3 done, 1 new one to go !

So 3 talks in the UK done, and an extra one in Leigh, near Manchester, has come up. I am standing in for someone who cannot make it on Friday... last minute, different subject, but good for everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Talk Done... 2 to go

Seems my talk WOODPECKERS OF EUROPE was a success in Liverpool last night. So, on to Wigan !

Sunday, December 11, 2011

3 talks in the UK

I am giving 3 talks in the UK at RSPB local groups this week. I will be at Liverpool (Dec 12th), Wigan (Dec 13th) and North Staffs, Stoke (Dec 14th). Title of my illustrated lecture is Woodpeckers of Europe. If you are in those areas on those dates then see you there!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Birdsounds workshop in the Pyrenees

Now this looks like a really excellent workshop to attend next May, in a great place too, I have been there! Check it out: Birdsounds In The Spanish Pyrenees

Friday, December 2, 2011

Foggy Day Syrian Woody

It was a foggy day out in the Kiskunsag, but managed to grab a few shots of this male Syrian Woodpecker in a false acacia tree. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Andaman Endemic Birds

On my recent trip I saw 15 of the endemic birds of the Andaman Islands. Not bad at all, but mainly thanks to help from an excellent local guide. I got this shot of one, an Andaman Serpent-Eagle, on Mount Harriet, South Andaman.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More from the Andamans

I suppose that if you really take into consideration all that is on this info-board, you'd never go in the sea. Well, we did and guess what ? I got nipped by a jelly-fish, nothing serious mind.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back from India and the Andamans

Well, too many birds and adventures to mention! But in the next few days I will post here (and on my other blogs and facebook) a few photos from Chennai (Madras) and the wonderful Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. By the way, didn't see any crocs at all despite two refreshing swims just off coast.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yes, Andaman Woodpecker

Andaman Woodpecker, the final Dryocopus species, of 7, SEEN ! Here on South Andaman Island. I even managed to get recordings of one drumming and calling. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Andaman Woodpecker

Yes, that is right. My main target on the Andaman Islands is... Andaman Woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei, an endemic species.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Andaman Islands

So now I am preparing for my up-coming trip to the Andaman Islands. Yes, right there in the middle of the Indian Ocean, or is it the Bay of Bengal ? Or the Andaman Sea ? Anyway, it's a long way off ! My main target ? Correct... Andaman Woodpecker.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Corn Bunting

Just back from two day trips in Hungary with two folks from California. The autumn weather was not the best, but some great birds did show. This Corn Bunting was one of many that posed nicely in the gloom.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Basque country

Most of the area I visited in northern Spain was Basque country. Now there is a language... and I thought Hungarian was tough !!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back from Spain

That was a great trip. A few days in the Western Pyrenees, Navarre and the Basque country. In the company of some excellent local birders I explored the various montane habitats and heard and saw my two main target birds: Iberian Green Woodpecker and lilfordi White-backed Woodpecker. It was very interesting to compare the habitats of the White-backed to those in Central and Eastern Europe. Lots of other birds around, too, like Alpine and Common Choughs, Citril Finch and Griffon Vultures (see photo) which are common.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

French Pyrenees

Yesterday we drove over into the French side of the Western Pyrenees. Very different there from the Spanish side. Damper, lusher, more influenced by Atlantic and Northern climates. We searched in particular for the lilfordi race of White-backed Woodpecker and finally heard 2 and saw one.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Here in the Pyrennes

I am in the Western Pyrennes in Spain right now. Wonderful montane landscapes here... gorges and craggy cliffs galore, pastures and mature pine and beech forests. The weather is unseasonally hot, around 30c at times. Birds of note seen so far include Citril Finch, Alpine Chough, Griffon Vulture and, particularly pleasing, Iberian Green Woodpecker!  .

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Western Pyrennees

I am off to Spain, to the Basque country, in the western Pyrenees to be more precise. Amongst other things, I hope to find some lifordi race White-backed Woodpeckers and sharpei race Green Woodpeckers. Watch this space.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jay in the garden

One of our garden birds, Eurasian Jay. Being quite common and a corvid (which many folks, even birders, just don't seem to like), it is often ignored. But it is a stunning bird. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Woodpecker Restaurant

One of my favourite trees in Buda. A dead one riddled with woodpecker feeding holes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kiskunsag and all that

Not a bad day in the Kiskunsag yesterday... 60 Great Bustards in 4 different groups, Great Grey Shrike, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Hen Harriers and a male Pallid Harrier... to mention just a few. And these performing Penduline Tits...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken of the Woods

Was out in the Buda Hills this morning with a nice chap from London, mainly looking for Hawfinches and Black Woodpecker, which we found. Also came upon this young, fresh Chicken-of- the-Woods Laetiporus sulphureus. It's an edible mushroom commonly found on oak trees, though it also grows on cherry, willow and some other trees. It's quite common here in autumn.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two Woodpeckers

Went out yesterday with a birder from the UK. His main targets were Black and White-backed Woodpeckers. The latter in particular not at all easy in September. In addition, it was hot! But we did it. A White-backed after walking the forests of the Gerecse Hills for some hours and later a Black at Lake Tata, despite lots of families, joggers, cyclists and dog-walkers being out. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Syrian Woodpecker again

A Syrian Woodpecker has been calling in the neighbour's garden at around 7am every morning for some days now. It's autumn, what does he want to express ? A winter feeding territory perhaps ? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Syrian Woodpeckers...

Syrian Woodpecker is often a rather 'urban bird', found in parks, gardens, churchyards and the like, but this morning I heard one right at the heart of a concrete jungle. To be exact, behind the Mammut Shopping Centre in Buda, Budapest, in a car-park with only a few scruffy false-acacia trees...  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PHOTOGRAPHERS !!! a reminder

A reminder if that's OK. I am working on a new book, provisionally entitled Woodpeckers of the World: a photographic guide (for the publisher Christopher Helm/A&C Black in London). The project editor is Jim Martin who is looking forward to submissions of top-class photos of woodpeckers from anyone who would like to be involved. So, if you have photos of woodpeckers from anywhere in the world, then contact Jim who'll tell you what is needed. His

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back from the BBW !

Just back from the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water, UK. It was a great success all-round! My book signing went well, too. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monkey Washing Food

We took a boat-trip through coastal mangroves in Malaysia. This Crab-eating Macaque (aka Long-tailed Macaque) and his gang came out to the water's edge and washed food items before eating them. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

British Birdwatching Fair 2011

I will be at the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water, UK, next weekend (August 19-21). I will be signing copies of my new book THE BLACK WOODPECKER on the Lynx Edicions stand (Marquee 1, Stands 27 & 38) on Saturday from 2-2.30pm and Sunday from 10.30-11am. See you there ! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More from Malaysia - White-bellied Sea Eagle

Whilst on a boat in coastal mangroves this White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster suddenly swooped by and I got this snapshot.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back From Peninsula Malaysia

A great trip! Here is the first photo, a Collared Kingfisher Todirampus chloris, a locally common but nevertheless beautiful bird around wetlands in Malaysia. Taken at Air Hitam Dalam Sg. Dua.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Published! My new book is out

I'd like to announce that my new book The Black Woodpecker - A monograph on Dryocopus martius is now published ! ISBN-13: 978-84-96553-79-8. Published by Lynx Edicions. More details can be found on their website at Black Woodpecker monograph

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All Set For Malaysia

So, my preparation for Malaysia has been done. The 25 possible woodpecker species studied and revised. Very much looking forward to seeing the likes of Great Slaty and White-bellied Woodpeckers again and new ones like Bamboo Woodpecker. I hope to get on-line there and put up a few notes and photos, maybe even sound recordings.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Leech Socks

Am I going to need these things ? Do they work ? I have always prided myself on being fairly insect-parasite-proof. But it seems that these south-east Asian leeches can be determined. Still, if I have to donate some blood to get my woodpeckers then so be it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Malaysia trip preparation

Malaysia next week and my preparations are well in-hand. On the woodpecker front (25 species there and they are what my trip is about) I have my iPod loaded with calls and drums and photos for reference, photocopies of key pages from picid literature, maps and GPS coords saved, local guide contacted, car hired, rooms booked... only thing I don't have is leech socks! Though I think it is dry there now and the leeches might not be about too much.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Signing

Well my new book is at the printers, not out yet, but I already have the times of my book signings at the Lynx Edicions stand (Marquee1, Stands27 & 38) at the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water, UK. August 20th Saturday afternoon from 14:00 to 14:30 and August 21st Sunday morning from 10:30 to 11:00.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Helmeted Woodpecker... donations needed !

You see this great bird here in the photo ? Well, you'd like to see it right ? Well, read this request:

Donations needed for Helmeted Woodpecker conservation
Although rare and declining, the Helmeted Woodpecker can still be saved if the old forests that it prefers are conserved and if forest conditions for it are improved in logged forests. To find out the ecological needs of the Helmeted Woodpecker and to implement habitat restoration for it and associated old-forest species, a five year conservation project is now being launched by Martjan Lammertink. It is a joint project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET), and the Paraná Pine Project, a local NGO in Misiones province, Argentina. The project needs funds to cover radio tracking equipment and field expenses and to pay field assistants and Argentinean students. Fundraising from foundations for a little known Neotropical woodpecker is hard, and Martjan would very much appreciate donations from readers of this blog for the project. For more information please contact Martjan at

So, can you help ? It is a VERY good cause. This great photo of this great woodpecker was taken by Martjan and more like it can be seen on PicidPics.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Black Woodpecker book coming soon!

So, finally, the maps are done, the galleys have been checked and the manuscript is at the printing house. My monograph The Black Woodpecker will be out at the end of this month! ISBN-13: 978-84-96553-79-8. For a preview check out the "Look Inside" on the Lynx website: Black Woodpecker monograph

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back to the birds...

Ok, after a few butterflies and herps... back to the birds. Here is a female Red-backed Shrike I snapped at Aggtelek in Hungary when the others were on their knees looking at some tiny butterflies. It's a fairly common bird hereabouts, often at roadsides.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Large Blue

And here is another great butterfly, a Large Blue Maculinea arion. I snapped this fine male in the Bukk Hills yesterday. This species was extirpated from the UK and today only exists there in a few reintroduced populations.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Here's a couple of Swallowtail butterflies I snapped today at Aggtelek in Hungary.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Common Wall Lizard - Croatia

This Common Wall Lizard posed obligingly on a stone-wall in the Velebit Mountains. This male is typical of the region in having an orange throat and belly.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back from Croatia

Just back from Croatia. A great trip with fantastic landscapes and habitats and all kinds of highlights. For example, I got recordings of Black-headed Bunting and Eastern Orphean Warbler, some nice photos of herps and 99 species of butterfly were seen by my companions! And this sign warning about snakes... a chap clutching his throat though the snake apparently has gone for his ankle. Wonderful. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Croatia again

Off to Croatia again though the focus this time is on butterflies. We'll explore the Plitvice, Paklenica and Northern Velebits National Parks... I hope to get some sound recordings of birds, too. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Birdwatch Magazine

I have an article entitled "WOODPECKER ROYALTY" in this month's (June 2011) issue of the UK magazine BIRDWATCH. It focuses on (yes, you got it in one) the Black Woodpecker... 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birding and birding and birding...

No rest. Another trip done. Eastern Hungary from the Kiskunsag to the Bukk Hills to Hortobagy. Now how many is that now that I have done? Well, 100s and 100s... 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Croatia - Rock Partridge

Group participant Nigel Sprowell has sent me some photos from our recent tour in Croatia... here is one of our main target there... Rock Partridge!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Zemplen Hills

It was hard work, it was hot, but we did it...9 out of 9 species of woodpecker and a bunch of raptors in these hills in north-east Hungary...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another tour nearly done

So another successful birding tour almost over... we head for Budapest today. We have seen some great birds in the east of Hungary, species like Saker, Red-footed Falcons, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Eagle Owl, Great Bustard, Collared Flycatcher, Icterine, Barred and River Warblers, Caspian Gull, White-winged Black Terns and all 9 species of Hungarian woodpecker! We also saw a range of butterflies including a Camberwell Beauty as well as other wildlife such as Stag Beetle, Pond Terrapin and Red Squirrel.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Woodpecker Day

Well, that was a great woodpecker day here in Hungary! We started with two Wrynecks, then a Middle Spotted Woodpecker at the nest, then a White-backed at a nest, a Great Spotted, then another Middle Spotted and finally a Black Woodpecker at the nest shown here...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eastern Hungary again

Just back from a trip to the east of Hungary... the Bukk Hills, Zemplen Hills, Hortobagy and areas in-between. Lots of good birds seen including 4 species of grebe, Pygmy Cormorants, Glossy Ibis, Black Stork, superb Ferruginous Ducks, daily White-tailed Eagles, several stunning male Montagu's Harriers, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Saker, Corncrake, a dozen Great Bustards, Eagle Owl, 7 species of woodpecker, etc, etc, etc. And, i almost forgot, the best, closest views of Common Quail I have had in years.  

Friday, May 6, 2011


One of my favourite places in Estonia is Soomaa, to be exact the Soomaa National Park. This lowland area in the heart of the country, of bogs, forests, meadows, pastures and rivers that regularly, and naturally, flood in spring, is an amazing place. Deer, Lynx, Wolf, Bear, Raccoon Dog and Lynx are all here, but as usual the carnivores are seldom seen. Birds are a little easier to find, and we had great views, for example, of Hazel Grouse last week. But truth be told, Soomaa is not a place for a quick dash in and out to see birds or anything... it is a tranquil place that needs time.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Estonia success!

So, another great trip in Estonia completed. The country is a great place for birds and birders. Special birds we saw in the coastal, forest and bog habitats include rafts of Long-tailed Duck, 1000s of geese, daily White-tailed Eagles, drumming Black and White-backed Woodpeckers, a superb Ural Owl, 3 Hazel Grouse, Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail, and Slavonian Grebe and Ruff in breeding plumage. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Green Hairstreak

My recent trip to Croatia was also excellent for butterflies. On sunny days we came across several great species whilst birding. Here is a Green Hairstreak from the Paklenica NP. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Croatia: Skradinski buk

The stepped, waterfalls at Skradinski Buk in the Krka NP are always impressive, but were full of water this year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back From Croatia

Another successful tour in Croatia completed! I will post a few photos in the coming days. Great birds seen were Rock Partridge, Rock Nuthatch, Rock Bunting, Scops Owl, Ferruginous Duck, Middle Spotted Woodpecker at the nest, as many Wrynecks as you wanted and double-figure White-tailed Eagles!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Another to whet the appetite...

I have spent most of this week going through the galleys of the Black Woodpecker book. This is not the most enjoyable part of the process, but is a crucial one, those typos need to be dealt with! Anyway, next week I will be in the field again, with a group in Croatia, I will try to get on-line and blog from there. In the meantime here is another sketch from the book, to whet the appetite...  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Galley Proofs and All That

I am now going through the galleys of my Black Woodpecker book... layout and design looks good. Nice sketches by Szabolcs, like this one, introduce each chapter... 

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Some of the local Great Tits Parus major are still coming to the peanuts.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The amphibians emerge

It is warm enough now for amphibians to emerge from their wintering sites. They are on the move, calling, and breeding will soon be underway. I came across this European Tree Frog Hyla arborea yesterday in the Kiskunsag region, Hungary.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another sneak preview

Here is another design for the cover of my Black Woodpecker monograph. I am not sure yet which photo will actually grace the cover, several options are still be considered. Looks like it is going to be on sale at a good price, too.. just 19 Euro, about 26 USD!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Woke up this morning to the song of a Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla in the garden. This first birds of the year have arrived back. Welcome. I managed to get a recording, too. Listen here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Black Woodpecker Monograph: an up-date

I promised to keep you up-dated. Well those nice folks at Lynx Edicions in Barcelona have just informed me that the galley proofs for my Black Woodpecker monograph will soon be with me. It seems that everything is on schedule for publication this July... 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring sounds

Right! The sun is shining and the birds are calling, singing, drumming... the recording equipment is out ! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Sorts Going On...

I am busy now, as it's still winter (just about), writing and doing the dreaded admin stuff... but spring is definitely in the air and the woodpeckers are drumming and a few birds singing. My next trip, which I am preparing for right now, will be to Croatia in early April... no fool. Though the photo here from last year's trip shows what might await me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Snow... again!

It's back! Again! The snow. Winter will just not go away. Anyway, as I said a short while ago, at least the animal tracks are visible when snow is on the ground. Here's the hoof-print of a Red Deer.