Broad-billed Sandpiper: a long time missed shorebird occurred

A local birding friend called at midday and to told me that he had found Broad-billed Sandpipers and Marsh Sandpiers at the fishponds while closing the 21st Bird Ringing Camp. As the fishponds system is only a few kms away from my home I jumped in the car and visited the pond.

I found the following species and counted the shorebirds:

Pied Avocet 2
Northern Lapwing 59
Little Ringed Plover 5
Marsh Sandpiper 1 adult
Wood Sandpiper 4
Green Sandpiper 1
Common Sandpiper 1
Dunlin 2
Curlew Sandpiper 4
Broad-billed Sandpiper 2 adult
Black-headed Gull 45
Black Tern 7
Common Tern 20

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Passage Pied Avocets has returned to the fishponds. © Gyorgy Szimuly

We haven’t seen Broad-billed Sandpipers in this region for a while so it was nice to see them again.

The camp has been finished with success. Here is a brief summary in numbers:

52 species and 3,139 individuals ringed in 28 days

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Thrush Nightingale is a rare but annual passage passerine. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Top 10 rinegd birds:

Eurasian Blackcap 961
Sedge Warbler 826
European Reed Warbler 454
Great Reed Warbler 164
Garden Warbler 138
Marsh Warbler 133
Common Whitethroat 48
Common Nightingale 42
Red-backed Shrike 35
Savi’s Warbler 30

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Ringed and released Little Bittern next to the ringing station. Taken by iPhone. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Rarity or not? – Birding on the hottest day of this Summer

One of my Facebook friends, a brilliant bird photographer, E.J. Peiker gently ‘smiled’ on the temperature figures I shared on my wall today. He is living in Arizona which is an extremely hot region of the US. Today we had the hottest day of this summer and the measured temperature has broken a 120 years old record. Just shortly after the daily peak, 37-38˚C/98.6-100.4˚F I decided to make a challenge and went out for a short birding as some nice birds had been reported at the Ferencmajor fishponds.

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Hungary’s heat map at 4PM today. I am living just 70km north of the smaller lake where the value shows 38. Image curtesy of http://koponyeg.hu

I only visited the the single mudflat which attracts the passing by shorebirds and other birds. A Whimbrel and a Little Tern, both are uncommon migrants in the region, was seen this afternoon but I could find none of them. This is the very short list of shorebirds I have observed:

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Wood Sandpiper feeding in the shallow water. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Pied Avocet 2
Northern Lapwing 1
Little Ringed Plover 4
Common Snipe 3
Spotted Redshank 1
Common Redshank 1 (overflying high while calling)
Green Sandpiper 1
Wood Sandpiper 4
Common Sandpiper 2
Ruff 4
Dunlin 4
Curlew Sandpiper 2
Common Tern 25
Black Tern 4

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Ruff is more numerous at the fishponds during spring migration. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I found a two ‘strange’ looking Western Yellow Wagtails which did not resemle to the nominate subspecies we have here during the breeding and non-breeding season. The adult bird had an all yellow underpart and head with some dirty yellow or tawny colour on the crown, cheek and hind neck. Other bird was apparently a juvenile bird having stronger markings on the head and also on the breast. I know little about the migration of Western Yellow Wagtail subspecies but these birds should belong to the ‘lutea‘ subspecies. Based on the images I found on the net I would rather vote for lutea as the bird lacks strong markings on the head. I appreciate any help of those who have information on the movements of lutea ssp.

Yellow Wagtail(lutea) male-راعية الخيل الصفراء-صعوة

This bird was identical to the bird I saw in front of me. Image was taken in the beginning of September in Quatar.

R.I.P. Choo Tse Chien: a Sad loss of a Friend

This morning I woke up so early and as usual I checked messages and on Facebook. While browsing for some bird news I found out that my long time Facebook friend, Choo Tse Chien has suddenly passed away. This is a short commemoration about his work.

Shame

Choo was among the very first ones who I became friends on Facebook. Similarly to others he was so open and like minded. His bird photography work impressed me and we started to chat and comment on each others post. Furthermore he was a great Apple fan so we could find topics anytime. His ‘footprint‘ could also be found in the WorldWaders database as he submitted nice records of Oriental Pratincole breeding colonies whenever he found one. Unfortunately we could not manage to meet but I am sure in the next years we could have met somewhere in Malaysia, his homeland.

The shocking news has been multiplied by the fact that he was only 41. He died yesterday by cardiac arrest. So young and so talented. It is always too hard to write about a human loss but when a man, a strong one, leave us at this age, words come so slowly.

Thanks to his family I was allowed to post a few of his images here to remember a great nature and bird photographer.

I pass my deepest sympathy and condolences to Choo’s Family.

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Should you wish to write some line, do it on his still running Facebook profile. His family is managing it this time. https://www.facebook.com/tsechien His images can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/tsechien

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Rest In Peace, Choo. You won’t be forgotten! Have a nice journey wherever you are now!

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Evening ‘eBird’ counting

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Common Sandpiper at the fishponds. © Gyorgy Szimuly 

As weather killed my day to look for migrating raptors I decided to have an evening birding session at the fishponds. Temperature was down a bit by 6PM and despite it was sweaty I enjoyed it. I decided to make a total count involving all the 13 ponds. I am not the man of words today so here is the result.

Greylag Goose Anser anser 450
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 155
Gadwall Anas strepera 30
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 215
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata 4
Garganey Anas querquedula 6
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca 35
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina 18
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 162
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca 5
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 5
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 60
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 129
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus 10
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus 2
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 15
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea 4
Great Egret Ardea alba 6
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 12
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 3
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 1
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo 2
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus 10
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 6
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 1,310
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 29
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 4
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 1
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 2
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 6
Dunlin Calidris alpina 2
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 75
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 36
Black Tern Chlidonias niger 6
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 45
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus
European Turtle-Dove Streptopelia turtur
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Common Magpie Pica pica 4
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 24 
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 60 
Common House-Martin Delichon urbicum 10 
Great Tit Parus major 4
Eurasian Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus 2
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 150 
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 16

Frustratingly slow birding for the migrants

Today I had another try for observing migrants from the tower at the Ferencmajor fishponds. Weather was killer with 33˚C/91.4˚F temperature in shade. The bservation tower is an open construction so heat feel was way higher than 33˚C. 40˚C/104˚F forecasted for the weekend so better to make birding early in the morning.

As usual this time of the year I go stationary birdwatching in a hope to catch some nice migrant flock of storks or cool raptor species. This region doens’t lie along the most productive migration routes for these birds but time by time nice flocks appear. Today it was frustratingly slow and almost boring. Here are the records of the 7 hours burning birding:

White Stork 3 migrating
Black Stork 2 migrating
Western Marsh Harrier 4
Common Buzzard 3
Short-toed Snake Eagle 1
Northern Goshawk 1 ad male
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1
Peregrine Falcon 1 juv.
Eurasian Hobby 2 juv.

I had a great view on 4 beautiful Ferruginous Pochards, an overflying Great Bittern and many Pygmy Cormorants.

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In the ringing camp a Eurasian Wryneck made funny neck spins while photographed. Taken by iPhone. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Further signs of migration at the fishponds

This morning I spent about 4 hours in the brand new observation tower in a hope to see some nice migrants. Weather was quickly warming up and reaced 30˚C by midday what forced me to leave the tower. During my stay I saw the following interesting species:

Black Stork 1
White Stork 1
White-tailed Eagle 1 juv.
Western Marsh Harrier 3
Common Buzzard 2
Long-legged Buzzard 1 juv.
Northern Goshawk 1 male
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 2
Eurasian Hobby 2
Peregrine Falcon 1 juv.
Common Greenshank 10 migrating
European Bee-eater 58
European Golden Oriole 1 male migrating
Red-backed Shrike 2

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Red-backed Shrike. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Potential lifers around me

It sounds a bit silly to have nice life bird lists from Asia, Africa or South America while there are a couple of potential new resident bird species just ‘next door‘. Quite many potential lifers are around me which I yet have to find. Here is a short list of the European breeding birds to be seen. One of the most shameful and already embarassing miss of all the potential species is the Hungarian resident Ural Owl. It’s been 12 years now I am not able to manage to find one (mainly due to laziness…).

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My potential lifer zones in Europe. Red pin is my current location.

Zone 1
Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) – Hungary (250km)

Zone 2
Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) – Austria (250km)
Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) – Croatia, Austria, Italy (600-1,000km)
Western Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) – Austria, Italy (300-800km)
Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella) – Austria (550km)

Zone 3
European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) – Croatia, Corse (1,000km)

Zone 4
Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara) – Sardinia, Italy (1,600km)
Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) – France, Spain (1,200km)
Western Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis) – France, Spain (1,300-2,200km)
Corsican Nuthatch (Sitta whiteheadi) – Corsica (1,400km)
Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata) – Italy, France, (1,000-2,000km)
Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) – Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain (800-2,200km)

Zone 5
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) – Greece, Spain (2,200km)
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus orientalis) – Croatia, Greece 1,200-2,000km) 

Zone 6
Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) – Mallorca (2,200km)
Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) – Spain (2,700km)
Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis) – Spain (2,700km)
Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) – Spain (2,700km)
Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) – Spain (2,700km)
Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura) – Spain (2,700km)
Balearic Warbler (Sylvia balearica) – Mallorca (2,200km)
Western Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna opaca) – Spain (2,700km)
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) – Spain (2,700km)

Zone 7
Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) – Scotland (2,700km)
Leach’s Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) – Scotland (2,700km)
Pink-footed Goose (Anas brachyrhynchus) – The Netherlands, UK (2,200km)
Scottish Crossbill (Loxia scotica) – Scotland

Zone 8
Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) – Turkey (2,700km)
Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos) – Turkey (2,700km)
Cyprus Warbler (Sylvia melanothorax) – Cyprus (2,400km)
Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca) – Cyprus (2,400km)
Kurdish Wheatear (Oenanthe xanthoprymna) – Turkey (2,700km)
Trumpeter Finch (Bucanetes githagineus) – Turkey, Spain (2,700km)

Zone 9
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) – Norway (3,400km)
Booted Warbler (Iduna caligata) – w Russia (2,200km)
Azure Tit (Cyanistes cyanus) – w Russia (2,000km)
Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) – Finland (2,700km)
Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla) – Finland (2,700km)
Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola) – Finland (?), w Russia (2,700km)

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Northern Gannets at a North Sea colony. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I did not list the Canary Islands, Madeira and Iceland where a couple of additional lifers could be found.

Update:
Western Bonelli’s Warbler was ticked in Thörl, Austria on 2 June 2012
Melodious Warbler was ticked in Doberdo del Lago, Italy on 19 May 2012
Citril Finch was ticked in Dorbatsch Naturpark, Villach, Austria on 19 May 2012

Bird migration is on

I spent the all morning at the bird ringing amp which has been running for more than a week now. The temperature was quite chilling in the morning with a maximum of 12°C. Later in the morning very strong wind determined the success of trapping birds.

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Trapped and ringed Little Bittern. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Ringing of a juvenile Song Thrush. © Gyorgy Szimuly

As usual I was moving up to the brand new bird hide where there is a good visibility to the fishponds even up to the hills. During about two hours spent in the hide I saw some bird species as follows:

White Stork 10 migrating
Black Stork 2 migrating
Pygmy Cormorant 32
White-tailed Eagle 1 ad
Common Buzzard 4
Western Marsh Harrier 1 juv.
Common Kestrel 2
Eurasian Hobby 2
Black-tailed Godwit 1 overflying
Common Greenshank 1 overflying
European Bee-eater 20

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White Stork flocks are appearing for their southbound migration. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I also visited the tern island for shorebirds but found only a few a birds:

Common Ringed Plover 1
Little Ringed Plover 3
Common Sandpiper 4
Dunlin 1
Common Tern 30
Black Tern 2

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Common Ringed Plover is a regular migrant in low numbers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Late in the morning we managed to catch 8 Mute Swans which were moving out from the water and crossed the roads in front of my car. One of the bird was ringed in Slovakia. Catching result was quite nice in the morning with a nice number of Eurasian Blackcap.

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One of the Mute Swans before being ringed. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Quiet times

It’s been a while since I posted something to my blog. I am covered by business tasks and nothing exciting has happened with me. At least birding wise I could not go to the field too many times. At my desk, however, I set some ideas. I am thinking for a while how technology could be utilized for better birding. Yes, I am not a pioneer in it but still have some room to develop something cool for birders. For the time being I keep these ideas in secret but something new will come out in the next couple of months.

Once I am at my desk I manage my new image gallery created under the 500px.com umbrella. This brand new social site is for photographers and I enjoy every minute of browsing exceptional images- Good to ‘meet’ new like-minded people even if the majority is not bird photographer. I am not reviewing 500px here but in a later post. Instead I share some great nature and wildlife images I found. Commenting and liking is available upon a very simple registration (and after filling the profile info). My images are here.

Neighbours by Janez Tolar (JanezTolar)) on 500px.com
Neighbours by Janez Tolar
Flickers in love by Joaquin Paredes (Jake_Paredes)) on 500px.com
Flickers in love by Joaquin Paredes
Buachaille Etive Mor by Wolfy . (Wolfy)) on 500px.com
Buachaille Etive Mor by Wolfy .
Pink Lotus Blooming - Greater Flamingo by Kiran Ghadge (kiranghadge)) on 500px.com
Greater Flamingo by Kiran Ghadge
Wild charm of a sunset by Vitaliy Rage (lordrage)) on 500px.com
Wild charm of a sunset by Vitaliy Rage
Master at Work by Mario Moreno (mariomoreno)) on 500px.com
Master at Work by Mario Moreno
Hidden by Gorazd Golob (gogo1803)) on 500px.com
Hidden by Gorazd Golob