Long time seen shorebird galore

I have spent a bit more time in the field as usual for the last couple of days. September is no longer an easy month for me but birding somehow sets me free of worries and sadness.

The fishponds are a good escape point from daily stupidity. One of the largest ponds are under drainage and nice mudflat is available for the migrating birds, mainly shorebirds. Compared to the previous years we found a relatively nice numbers of shorebirds.

I was lazy to write daily posts so I combine here two days birding results.

On the afternoon of 22 September I found an adult Western Osprey crossing the fishponds without stopping while counting shorebirds. 10 minutes later another juvenile bird was coming from the very same direction and also flew over the waters without stopping. A young local birder found a Red-necked Phalarope which I could not find again. This was the 2nd dipped Red-necked Phalarope in a row in this area…

22 September

Little Egret 2
Western Osprey 1 ad. + 1 juv.
Northern Lapwing 78
Common Ringed Plover 3
Eurasian Curlew 2
Common Snipe 61
Spotted Redshank 56
Common Greenshank 4
Green Sandpiper 8
Wood Sandpiper 4
Sanderling 1 juv.
Dunlin 55
Little Stint 12
Curlew Sandpiper 6
Ruff 14 

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Dunlins are stopping by regularly in low numbers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Numbers of shorebirds (and other notable species) counted on 23 September.

Little Egret 4
Eurasian Hobby 1
Northern Lapwing 95
Common Ringed Plover 9
Little Ringed Plover 1
Grey Plover 3
Eurasian Curlew 2
Spotted Redshank 53
Common Greenshank 5
Green Sandpiper 5
Wood Sandpiper 3
Sanderling 1 juv.
Little Stint 8
Temminck’s Stint 1
Dunlin 45
Curlew Sandpiper 8
Ruff 18
Common Redstart 1 juv.

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Northern Lapwing numbers increased slightly since the 22nd of September. © György Szimuly

This weekend was also for ringing songbirds on the same location where we organise our summer ringing camp. The target was to see what we can catch in the second half of September when, normally, there is no ringing activity. More than 120 m long mistnet line produced quite nice numbers. On 23rd we ringed over 160 individuals while on 24th it was over 180. Majority of the ringed species were European Robins and European Blackcaps but some nice species was also trapped like Common and Black Redstart.

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European Robin migration is at its peak. © György Szimuly

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Common Grashopper Warbler is a regular migrant and breeding species in the area in quite low numbers. © György Szimuly

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Mainly juvenile European Robins were trapped. © György Szimuly

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European Stonechat in its interesting fall plumage. © György Szimuly

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Juvenile Red-backed Shrike is quite a late migrant here. © György Szimuly

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Eurasian Oystercatcher arrived by the storm

This afternoon I went out to the fishpods with my local birding buddy and checked the drained pond. Last night we had a powerful but short storm and all night long rain. We hoped to find some nice birds as a result of the storm.

We started birdwatching in light pouring rain which stopped during our presence.

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Pond 4 of Ferencmajor fishponds when it was started to be drained a few days ago. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Map of Ferencmajor fishponds, Naszály, Hungary. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Shorebird numbers were increasing considerably and some nice uncommon visitor was found. When a Western Marsh Harrier was patroling over the mudflat all the birds were blasting off including a juvenile Eurasian Oystercatcher. We found a Grey Plover in full perfect breeding plumage. In general we feel that the migration is in a bit delay.

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Eurasian Oystercatcher was seen in August 2007 for the last time. It is considered to be a local rarity. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Here is the list of interesting birds:

Pygmy Cormorant 47
Little Egret 1
Black-crowned Night Heron 3
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Eurasian Hobby 1
Eurasian Oystercatcher 1 juv
Northern Lapwing 1
Grey Plover 1 ad
Common Ringed Plover 6
Common Snipe 40
Spotted Redshank 79
Common Greenshank 5
Wood Sandpiper 4
Green Sandpiper 11
Little Stint 14
Temminck’s Stint 1
Dunlin 58
Curlew Sandpiper 4
Ruff 20
Barn Swallow 20

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Curlew Sandpiper is a regular migrant in decreasing numbers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

More mudflats, less shorebirds?

Something wrong is going on here. There are extensive mudflats available at the fishponds but I counted a disappointingly low number of shorebirds this morning. There is fresh mud, dried mud, liquid mud but birds are not present. Migration should be on its peak this time of the year despite today 32˚C (89.6˚F) was measured which is exceptionally hot in mid September.

Here is the list of the shorebirds and some other species I counted:

Pygmy Cormorant 33
Little Egret 2
Common Ringed Plover 9
Common Snipe 32
Spotted Redshank 24
Common Greenshank 3
Green Sandpiper 3
Ruff 18
European Bee-eater 4
European Stonechat 2

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Green Sandpiper. © György Szimuly

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Female Red-backed Shrike. © György Szimuly

A short visit for shorebirds

I’ve been quiet in the last few days. Around the sad anniversary of the loss of my loved Dad I normally move to the remote corner of the house and stay silent. These are the days to remember and organise things in my head.

Today I moved out to see some birds. One of the fishpond was completely drained and fishing was already over. I met there a local birding friend and checked the shorebirds together. While we counted them a juvenile White-tailed Eagle was soaring over the drained pond but nothing special was seen during our one hour stay.

Counted shorebirds on two suitable ponds:

Northern Lapwing 6
Common Ringed Plover 29
Little Ringed Plover 2
Common Snipe 50
Spotted Redshank 117
Common Greenshank 15
Green Sandpiper 1
Wood Sandpiper 12
Little Stint 2
Curlew Sandpiper 2
Dunlin 3
Ruff 23 

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Common Greenshank numbers are increasing compared to end of August. Yesterday 38 was counted. © György Szimuly

Testing a new raptor watch spot

Yesterday I decided to try a new location where there is a brilliant 360˚ view to the hills and the valley of the Danube River. The spot is at the backyard of the Hilltop Winery, one of the most productive winery in Hungary. Weather was more than pleasant on the last day of August. It was peaking at 32 C˚ and no clouds were visible most of the day.

Before we moved up to hills we visited the Ferencmajor fishponds where one pond started to be drained for fishing. The increasing mudflat attracted many birds including some shorebirds. I made two visits there today, one in the morning and also in the evening.

Here are the results of some interesting birds seen on the drained pond:

Common Shelduck 1 ad female
Northern Lapwing 9
Little Ringed Plover 6
Common Ringed Plover 1
Common Snipe 3
Eurasian Curlew 6
Spotted Redshank 15
Common Redshank 1
Wood Sandpiper 8
Green Sandpiper 3
Common Sandpiper 3
Broad-billed Sandpiper 1 ad + 1 juv
Little Stint 2
Dunlin 3
Curlew Sandpiper 2
Ruff 7

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Green Sandpiper is a regular migrant at the fishponds. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I also spotted a Spotted Crake which is not often seen here. 2011 Year List changed to 228.

We arrived to the northern part of the Gertecse Mountains beofre 9AM and started to watch and count birds of prey and storks moving around. It was surprisingly productive but birds showed up in very low numbers. This place is not lieing along a tyipcal migration route. It would be awesome to see so large numbers as fellow birdwatchers have been counting in Batumi, Georgia. Anyway it was nice to see some nice raptors.

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Evening view to the hills from the observation spot. Vineyard is visible in the bottom left corner. Taken by iPhone. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Here is the list of birds seen:

Black Stork 1
Eurasian Honey Buzzard 6
Common Buzzard 12
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1
Short-toed Snake Eagle 1
Eastern Imperial Eagle 1 subad (yesterday evening 1 adult on the same place)
Lesser Spotted Eagle 1 juv
Common Kestrel 1
Common Raven 12
Barn Swallow 140
Common House Martin 55 

Lesser Spotted Eagle was a great surprise as it was a very scarce raptor here. I decided to go there again in a week when other species could start/peak migration, like Booted Eagle.