Fishponds are drained: shorebirds should be here

We have been waiting for the first fall drainage of fish ponds at our local wetlands. Normally it happens way earlier but this year there is a month delay in fishery resulting the lack of shorebirds from the whole region. This is a bad news not only for us, birders, but for the migrant shorebirds which count on landing on suitable habitat for fuelling to reach the next stop over site.

I visited the fishponds by a local group member, Péter Csonka and we had 2 productive hours of birding. Unfortunately shorebird numbers were very low and the lack of some regular species, like Common Snipe, Little Ringed Plover and Spotted Redshank, disappointed us. Especially Spotted Redshank is a late migrant and occurs in larger numbers (a few hundreds) here annually. We’ve seen any during our 2 hours stay.

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There were better times for migrating Common Greenshanks in our region. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The best wader was definitely a juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit which was found last week-end by a young local birder. We saw the following species:

Northern Lapwing 11
Bar-tailed Godwit 1 juv.
Eurasian Curlew 7
Common Greenshank 2
Green Sandpiper 6
Little Stint 2
Dunlin 42
Ruff 12

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Black-headed Gulls are feeding on “junk” fish while fishermen are ‘harvesting’. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Over the “fish channels” about 500 Black-headed Gulls and a few Caspian Gulls were seen. Some elegant Little Egrets were also picking up small fishes from the remain of the water.

Since counting shorebirds was not a challenge we jumped to another pond which holds almost 3,000 wildfowl. The pond was still filled by water but drainage had already started. Diversity was amazing with almost all the duck species seen. I found three Tundra Bean Geese, with about 300 Greylag Geese. This is the first record of this Arctic species for this coming winter season.

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The Mallard is an abundant but a lovely local species. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Among 1,000 Mallards and 1,200 Eurasian Coots there were my first Eurasian Wigeons (9) for this year, Ferruginous Duck (2), Gadwall (15), Northern Shoveler (10), Northern Pintail (10), Eurasian Teal (6), Red-crested Pochard (10) and Common Pochard (5). No Tufted Duck was found.

Usually when there is such a high number of waterbirds at the ponds White-tailed Eagles are regular visitors. We saw two different aged birds. Beyond the usual birds we saw two late migrant birds. A juvenile Red-backed Shrike was flushed off by our car and a very late European Bee-eater was also seen. It seemed to be a juvenile (short tailed). The majority of migrating flocks of the European breeding population has already passed Tanzania, so this bird is way behind the ordinary schedule.

Three year list additions helped to cross the “magic” 200. Now at 201 (what a shame!). During the week-end we celebrate the European Birdwatching Days and we count every birds we can. I hope there will be at least as cool numbers on Sunday as we had on the last day of September.

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