Three new birds to year list and lifer orchids

I have received nice birding news from the last couple of days from my favourite birding spot, the Ferencmajor fishponds. Yesterday two Pallid Harriers were spotted which is quite a rare bird here. I was trying to find one today as migrations peaks.

The morning was a bit chilly and fog clouds covered the sun. Bird activity was surprisingly low although bird songs filled the air. I love this time of the year in the temperate zone when Common Nightingale’s and European Reed Warbler’s songs mixing on the same place. The fishponds are home for a good number of many European breeding songbirds. Some heard for the first time this year.

As usual our first spot was the camp hide where we had an nice view to the closest lakes and the air space for possible early migrant Pallid Harriers. We were not so lucky as for the success a whole morning is needed. While others had already reported European Golden Oriole I heard and saw the first ones today form the hide. I was expecting to see the first Little Bitterns but I have to wait for it for a while. A fast Common Swift was flying over the hide.

Leaving the hide I was checking the small islet on one of the lake where Common Terns made some display flight. Despite the lack of suitable muddy grounds, terns tend to use the small islet as a breeding place. 4-5 pairs were flying together above the lake. One of the many disadvantages of such a man made habitat used for commercial purposes is the unpredictable availability of suitable breeding sites. This typically valid for shorebirds. Both migrating and potential breeding shorebirds, such as Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet or Common Tern is highly depending on drained ponds. Fishpond management is dictated by the market which is not necessarily good for an establishment of stable population of shorebirds.

The reported Purple Herons were not found but a single unreported Squacco Heron were seen for the first time this year.

I heard several Common Grasshopper Warblers but I could not spot one. On the southern part of the fishponds an adult White-tailed Eagle and a Common Kestrel appeared.

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From this point flowers were dominant. We found two species of orchids at the pasture of Réti-major which we had never seen before. I have wanted to find he threatened Early Spider Orchid Ophrys sphegodes for a while and now we found many on a small area. The other species was the Military Orchid Orchis militaris almost on the same site but they didn’t overlap in local range. More expected to bloom and hopefully I will find more species in the coming weeks. They are quite exciting and I love them a lot.

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Early Spider Orchid

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Military Orchid

In our way back home I found a Syrian Woodpecker which normally is not a challenge to see except if it is needed for the year list…

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