Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hungary: A few warblers

River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis) - overall hard to see.

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Cuckoo silhouette.  Where ever you see or hear a great reed warbler you will see or hear a cuckoo.

Above and below - Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinioides).  A real skulker singing deep in the reed beds. 

Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina) above and below.  The only yellow-throated European warbler.

Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria) vocalizing.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hungary: Other good birds that should not be overlooked

Not the greatest photos, but definitely good birds taken in various areas around Hungary.   

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)

Purple Heron 

Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur) taken through the front window of the car.  We saw these a few times, but overall their numbers are way down secondary to shooting.

Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

Yellow Wagtail; this bird knows where its bread is buttered.

Terrible photo of the beautiful, graceful Montegue's Harrier (Circus pygargus).

Baby Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)

Adult Penduline Tit

Adult Penduline Tit

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citronella)


Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Reed Bunting.  Love this bird.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).  Very similar, but not quite as cute as our Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) nest on chimney.  In the days before utility poles, this was the traditional white stork nest location.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Red-backed Shrike

Another bird seen every day and in many habitats.  Common and beautiful.  

This is mostly what I got for my photo attempts - a fleeing red-backed shrike; this one where the little hook on its bill tip is seen.  But I saw the bird enough that I could be persistent.

A little closer.

Head turned away and a little fuzzy.

Looking right at me and also showing the pinkish breast.

But finally in reasonable light with a gleam in its eye

Perhaps a little closer.

In shadow, but still in good light, with its black mask and pinkish flanks showing nicely.

There may have been a couple of other reasonable photos, but I deleted in favor of those I show here. Like the Roller, a really beautiful bird that was seen often.   

Sunday, July 20, 2014

European Roller and Bee-eater

European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is so beautiful - in flight and perched.  It is common in grassy farmland with scattered trees.  We saw this bird nearly everyday.  The roller is a cavity nester and below it is occupying one of the monitored nest boxes. 

Even seeing the bird perched on an overhead utility wire is spectacular, but in flight it's really breathtaking.  Then the color pattern on the back of the bird is in view.  The photo below is the best I could do.

On-line images can be found that really reveal the beautiful feather patterning and coloring on the back of the Roller.  One in particular, by a photographer named Margo Coetzee, shows this in a really spectacular way.

The bird above and below was perched on a utility wire not too high up and very near the road.  The only way I could get this photo was to use the car as a blind.  Otherwise, there is no getting near this bird.  It will flush in a blink.

It's food are the large insects, grasshoppers and beetles, that also occupy the grassy habitat.  The bill has a tiny hook on the tip that makes it seem shrikey but it's not a shrike.  One can never see too many Rollers.  Just not possible. 

The bird above is a dreadful photo of my life Garganey (Anas querquedula).  The bird never really did take it's head out of the water, but the white crescent over it's eye is still visible.  From photos, I think of the Garganey as one of the most beautiful ducks.

The habitat was beautiful.

Another kestrel in it's nest box.  This box was placed well away from the road.

I made multiple attempts to get a photo of a perched Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus), but it's another easy flusher.  The Stonechat above was perched near the edge of the road.  I missed the perched shot but got this instead which I liked just as well.

European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) were nesting in a banked sand-pit adjacent to the parking lot of a national park entrance.  Again, no chance for perched shots other than the dreadful attempt of the two perched on the snag within the copse near the sand-pit.  

But they flew out from their perches over the grassy area and one came close enough to get these photos.

We didn't see Bee-eaters as often as Rollers, but they were still plentiful and their habit of nesting in colonies meant that when one was seen many were seen.

The habitat adjacent to the sand-pit where the Bee-eaters were nesting. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fire-bellied Toad

This was a late afternoon find on the day of our White-backed Woodpecker success and after our wine tasting event.  There has been a lot of rain in Hungary this spring and early summer.  During my visit it rained hard during three nights and, on this day, the downpour which chased us into the wine cellar occurred.  There were muddy pools nearly everywhere.  

These pools must be favored by the fire-bellied toad, also called firebelly toad (Bombina bombina), because we heard and saw them again in similar pools elsewhere.  I learned more about toads just by reading this Wikipedia link.  For example, there is no distinction between toads and frogs by taxonomy.  

I heard an unbirdlike booming sound like a one-toned instrument coming in to pace an orchestra from a few locations.  Gerard went to the nearest pool and caught one of the vocalists.

Turning it over in his hand revealing the orange, speckled smooth belly gives clear indiction of how the little thing got its name.  Like the Fire Salamander found earlier, the skin of this amphibian has a toxic coating to deter would be predators.  I didn't pick up the toad, but I did touch the salamander.  Before knowing of the toxin on the skin, I must have touched my face because I felt a mild tingling and twitching of the skin beneath my eye that lasted approximately fifteen to thirty minutes. It seems unlikely that a mild toxin would deter a large predator like a stork, heron or egret, but maybe.   

We thought the toad below was probably full of eggs.

And to hear the fire-bellied vocalist, click on my 40 second You Tube link below.