Monday, 8 February 2016

Lake Kerkini - Help

The last few images of last week's short trip to Lake Kerkini concern birds we saw but could not readily identify. Moreover the photos I did manage to get are little more than useless. First up is a Turtle Dove species, probably a first winter but what species? Our first reaction was Turtle Dove being noticably smaller than the Collared Doves it was with but I'm by no means certain.

Turtle Dove with Collared Dove

Turtle Dove 
Moving on, Terns in winter.
Whiskered Tern 

Whiskered Tern 

Whiskered Tern 

Whiskered Tern 

And finally an easy one: a Gull. I like a challenge but Gull ID just aint my thing

Yellow legged Gull 

Probable Caspian Gull 
Many thanks to Yoav Perlman for his help with the identification of these species

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Lake Kerkini - part 2

1st - 4th February 2016

On our second full day we decided to explore the hills to the north towards the Bulgarian border. The weather was excellent and the plan was to drive high enough to be able to scan the surrounding hillsides for Rock Partridge, a species John and I had never seen before. Despite climbing high into the hills we were out of luck but we knew it would be a long shot. We did see Sombre Tit and Cirl Bunting and large flocks of Chaffinches but little else. After coffee we drove back towards the lake to explore a different part of the shoreline.We were particularly keen to find the flock of Lesser White fronted Geese which regularly winter there. We found flocks of White fronted geese but they were too distant to positively identify any Lessers. There were plenty of other species on or around the lake though.
White tailed Eagle


Pygmy Cormorants

Great White Egret


Golden Eagle mobbed by Hooded Crow

Hen Harrier

Little Owl, familiar sight around the village at dusk


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Lake Kerkini - The Pelicans

1st - 4th February 2016
The main focus of our trip was the Pelicans and the boat trip provided some wonderful photographic opportunities as the birds came in close for the chance of an easy meal. The camera was red hot as we snapped away with Pelicans sometimes all around us. This is a selection:

Dalmation Pelicans, Lake Kerkini, Greece

Group huddle

Dalmation Pelican

Dalmation Pelican
Dalmation Pelican

Dalmation Pelican with juvenile White Pelican

Juvenile White Pelican

Dalmation Pelican

Dalmation Pelican

Dalmation Pelicans

Dalmation Pelican

Friday, 5 February 2016

Lake Kerkini, N.Greece - Day 1

1st - 4th February 2016

            I met Nikos Gallios at the Bird Fair last year and over the winter arranged a birdwatching trip to Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece, staying at his comfortable family hotel nearby in the village of Chrysochorafa, I went with John Holtham who arranged the transport and flights. We flew to Thessalonika and then drove North to the small village quite close to the Bulgarian border. It was a trouble free journey, both the flight by Easyjet and the drive to the Hotel. We had the hotel to ourselves as Nikos was 'between groups' so we planned the next couple of days around a boat trip on the lake. Our main objective was to see the Dalmation Pelicans which although a globally threatened species occurred in good numbers on the lake. We would spend our first day on the lake and around the lake exploring the wealth of birdlife in the area.
Day 2 would be spent in the mountainous terrain to the north searching for a secondary objective -Rock Partridge.
The weather was ideal, warm sunshine and windless, a stark contrast to the weather we had left behind in the U.K. After a excellent Greek breakfast we followed Nikos to the lake shore where his boat was kept. Even before we got in we could see Pelicans at close quarters hoping for any fish the local fishermen might discard. More Pelicans approached as we moved slowly away from the shore. The fishermen were happy to throw undersized fish for the Cormorants as well as the Pelicans. A positive attitude to wildlife, happy to share the bounty of the lake.

Fishermen and Pelicans

Lake Kerkini is big, some 12 miles long in fact and supports huge numbers of birds: Wildfowl. Herons and Raptors. In addition there are Flamingos, Swans, Spoonbill, and both Pygmy and Greater Cormorants in large numbers. Much of the lake is fringed with trees where we found Syrian, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, and Buzzards. Other raptors perched on the dead tree stumps that littered the extensive dried up muddy areas. White tailed, Golden and Spotted Eagles plus a Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Kestrel and Merlin.

Lake Kerkini

Lake Kerkini

Day 2 and images of both Dalmation and White Pelicans plus other species will be in a later post.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Tale of the lost Pork pie

Wednesday 27th January 2016

It's that time of the year for looking for a new angle on an old theme. At least that's my excuse for being a little flippant with my daily birding report. Actually the story of the missing Pork pie is downright silly.
 I often pop in to Morrisons on my way back from Draycote and/or Brandon Marsh for a coffee and to stock up on Kippers. Yesterday I managed to leave my waterproof decorating a chair in the Cafe but worse than that my proposed lunch, an individual hand crafted Pork pie was in one of the pockets. It was only when I got home that I realised the error of my ways. I phoned Morrisons and spoke to a rather nice lady called Michelle who went off immediately in search of the pie.After a short wait she returned with the news I'd been hoping for. The pie was safe still in the pocket of my coat. What a relief.
Clearly an earlyish visit to Morrisons next morning was the order of the day followed by a visit to Brandon Marsh where I saw my first returning Oystercatcher of the year.

Siskin, Brandon Marsh

Also had some close views of Siskin before moving on to Draycote Water. I was keen to see the 'regulars' I'd missed the previous day and fortunately it wasn't too long before they were in the bag and I was back to the car for lunch - Pork pie.

'Surfin' Smew, Draycote Water



Tuesday, 26 January 2016

White fronted Geese at Draycote Water

Tuesday 26th January 2016

A couple of local walks over the weekend and a brief trip to Ladywalk. Ladywalk produced a small flock of Siskin and and a few Chiffchaffs while a walk along the river Anker from Woodford lane to Mancetter produced 4 Chiffchaffs, so not much to Blog about really. Today I took a drive to Draycote; a good place to be if you enjoy falling off your Windsurfing board at regular intervals in the blustry wind. Managed to miss seeing most of the regulars(birds) but the regular (birders) were more obvious in there Polar gear. No sign of the White fronted geese on my first mini search but luck was with me as I didn't have to wait too long before they flew in with Greylags and landed quite close.

White fronted Geese, Draycote Water

White fronted goose

4 of the 6 White fronted geese

White fronted goose

White fronted goose

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Nondescript Birding

Thursday 21st January 2016

Another rather nondescript day's birding report to match the weather but at least there aren't any nondescript photos to go with it today. Did the Caldecote patchwalk. Very few small birds about at all. just a few Skylarks. Plenty of Corvids, a mixed flock of just over 200 Fieldfare and Redwing on the Hall meadow, several Grey Herons and several Buzzards loafing about. The most interesting birds were probably the pair of Stonechats which have been around for some time now and a single Snipe which is only the second one I can recall seeing on the walk. Back at home the female Blackcap is still coming to the garden feeder but the finches seem to have disappeared.