The 2,175th Life Bird: Western Bonelli’s Warbler

Today Dani and me targeted to find the long time chased Western Bonelli’s Warbler in the Eastern Alps in Austria. I was advised by kind Austrian birdwatchers to visit the road between Thörl and Sankt Ilgen up to the Gasthaus Bodenbauer in eastern Styria.

We arrived to the road well before dusk. At our first stop I hoped to hear and see Eurasian Pygmy Owl. European Robin started to sing before any light was visible. The pygmy owl was calling frequently from a pine forest and suddenly landed next to us. As we had no powerful lamp we could not manage to see it but the feeling was nice. The forest was slowly waking up by the songs of Common Chaffinches, Song Thrushes and European Robins.

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A clearing where Eurasian Pygmy Owl was heard. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Song Thrush was abundant along the road. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Of course the main taget was to find and see the Western Bonelli’s Warbler which was told to be common in the area. At a larger parking lot I immediately picked a bird singing but I could not see in the pine tree. Then Dani found it moving and showed it to me. I could see through my SwaroVision but ony for two seconds. As this bird was new to me I was hoping to get a way better view of this tiny bird.

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The Western Bonelli’s Warbler slope. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I decided to drive till the Gasthaus Bodenbauer and see the birdlife of this region. As nothing special was seen we returned to the original spot. In the meantime light rain started to fall but birds were quite active. We have been waking on the road for two hours to find a cooperative bird but we could not see any. Up to 6 birds were singing in the area and all kept territories quite strict. Finally I gave up waiting and decided to climb up to the very steep slopes to be at eye level with the bird. It was fun to climb up on this very steep and slippery slope (70°) in my sandals. This effort paid off as the bird were seen well for as long as we stayed there. It was quite obvious that photography is also possible but careful preparation is needed for good result. The Western Bonneli’s Warbler became my 2,175th life birds on my revised IOC list.

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On our way back I wanted to show a nice White-throated Dipper for Dani and in Thörl we found one lovely bird on the crossing river. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Bird List of the road:

Common Wood Pigeon 4
European Pygmy Owl 1
White-throated Dipper 4
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Black Woodpecker 1
Eurasian Jay 2
Northern Raven 2
Marsh Tit 10+
Coal Tit 14
European Crested Tit 3
Great Tit 20
Eurasian Blue Tit 14
Barn Swallow 10+
Common Chiffchaff 4
Western Bonelli’s Warbler 12
Eurasian Blackcap 30+
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Goldcrest 2
Eurasian Wren 5
Eurasian Nuthatch 6
Common Starling 10+
Common Blackbird 10+
Fieldfare 1
Song Thrush 15
European Robin 15+
Eurasian Tree Sparrow 10
Dunnock 4
White Wagtail 1
Grey Wagtail 6
Common Chaffinch 40+
European Greenfinch 10+
Eurasian Siskin 5
European Goldfinch 15
Eurasian Bullfinch 4

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