Rain in the UK, rain in Hungary

I fed up by being bored indoors due to the torrential rain we have here in Hungary so decided to make a nice walk to the eastern park and south east forest around the Old Lake in Tata. At my departure snow was intensively falling and while I generally like this feeling it was less preferred to see it today, on 31 March, in Central Europe.

The eastern park with neglected building. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The eastern park with neglected building. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Flooded river edges the foothpath. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Flooded river edges the foothpath. © Gyorgy Szimuly

River has already flooded the adjacent areas. © Gyorgy Szimuly

River has already flooded the adjacent areas. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Bridge has already been washed away by the flooded river. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Bridge has already been washed away by the flooded river. © Gyorgy Szimuly

As expected bird activity was very modest as only a few bird species were seen. Probably the best moment was watching 28 Mistle Thrushes feeding on mistletoes. This was an unusual number of this species in this region.

The river which feeds the Old Lake has just started to flood the terminal forest making impossible to walk around the lake. The bridge over the river has already been washed away. In the last 3 years this is the second time the Old Lake is going to flood the surrounding areas.

White Wagtails were on the move to their breeding sites. © Gyorgy Szimuly

White Wagtails were actively feeding at the shoreline while on the move to their breeding sites. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Number of Hooded Crows seen today was somehow lower then in the previous years. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Number of Hooded Crows seen today was somehow lower then in the previous years. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Full species list of birds seen and submitted to e-Bird:

Mallard 38
Garganey 6
Great Cormorant 3
Pygmy Cormorant 1
Black-headed Gull 18
Common Kingfisher 1
Green Woodpecker 1
Hooded Crow 4
Great Tit 9
Blue Tit 1
Long-tailed Tit 4
Eurasian Nuthatch 2
Eurasian Wren 1
European Robin 4
Black Redstart 2
Eurasian Blackbird 9
Song Thrush 5

Mistle Thrush 28
European Starling 8
White Wagtail 7
Common Chaffinch 1
Eurasian Bullfinch 5
European Goldfinch 1
Hawfinch 3

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Crossing the Channel: a bit of pelagic birding

We are on the way to Hungary for a short Easter Holiday. At 5:15 we departed to Calais, France from the port of Dover, UK. It was still dark at our departure but luckily light was improving quickly allowed me to spend more than an hour on the deck for birding. The weather was windy but acceptable.

Ferry departing for Dover. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Ferry departing for Dover. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I always love crossing the Channel as pelagic birding is so close to my heart. Here is what I saw from port to port:

Common Scoter 4
Red-throated Loon 3
Arctic Loon 1
Great Crested Grebe 7
Northern Gannet 44
Great Cormorant 4
Eurasian Oystercatcher 3
Sanderling 35
Black-legged Kittiwake 34
Black-headed Gull 15
Little Gull 85
European Herring Gull 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull 8
Greater Black-backed Gull 9
Black Guillemot 24

Eurasian Oystercatcher is a charismatic member of the coastal bird community. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Eurasian Oystercatcher is a charismatic member of the coastal bird community. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Mixed adult and immature Little Gull flocks passed by at the Port of Calais. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Mixed adult and immature Little Gull flocks passed by at the Port of Calais. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Plenty of Northern Gannets were flying around the ferry whil others were swimming. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Plenty of Northern Gannets were flying around the ferry whil others were swimming. © Gyorgy Szimuly

By approaching the Port of Calais more and more birds was seen. The migrating Red-throated Loons and an Arctic Loon was a nice surprise to me. Watching the long migrating queue of Little Gulls was nice. I wonder how many birds are passing by a day. They flew in small groups followed by other groups. On the sandy beaches Sanderlings were feeding but I could not identify other waders.

At the Port of Calais 3 Eurasian Oystercatchers were feeding with European Herring Gulls. I tried to spot some Purple Sandpipers or Ruddy Turnstones without much of luck.

Thank you!

I am delighted by the huge number of birthday wishes I have received since woke up. Let me share this image of my favourites with you! I am blessed to have you!

Northern Gannet. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Northern Gannet. © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

Bearded Reedling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Bearded Reedling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Eurasian Oystercatcher. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Eurasian Oystercatcher. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Wood Sandpiper. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Wood Sandpiper. © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

Walking among Red-breasted Geese: the Slimbridge feeling

When the sun is shining through our window in the morning I am always forced to go out and see the birds in their full spectacle. Today was not any different and despite the yellow warning of snow for much around London and south east England we departed to spend a nice day in the famous WWT Centre in Slimbridge.

A nice sculpture of the late Sir Peter Scott, the funder. He is always among his birds and his binoculars. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A nice monument of the late Sir Peter Scott, the funder. He is always among his birds and his binoculars. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Close-up with a beautiful  Red-breasted Goose. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Close-up with a beautiful Red-breasted Goose. © Gyorgy Szimuly

At our arrival we were immediately impressed by the lots of birds walking or swimming literally around our legs. Greylag Geese, Mute Swans, Tundra Swans (#75 bird in 2013), Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Common Shelducks (#76/2013) and Common Moorhens were present at the entrance. As scanned a flock of Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Black-headed Gull I heard an Eurasian Oystercatcher calling though I could not see it.

Nice flock of Red-breasted Geese walking on the footpath. © Andrea Szimuly

Nice flock of Red-breasted Geese walking on the footpath. © Andrea Szimuly

Introducing the cuteness of waterbirds to Kea. © Andrea Szimuly

Introducing the cuteness of waterbirds to Kea. © Andrea Szimuly

Kea is in touch with Greylag Geese. © Andrea Szimuly

Kea is in touch with Greylag Geese. © Andrea Szimuly

Mixed flock of the beauties. © Andrea Szimuly

Mixed flock of the beauties. © Andrea Szimuly

Apparently birding was a secondary activity since Slimbridge is more like a zoo than a primary birding location what Kea obviously enjoyed a lot. At the South Lake I allowed myself a little time for birding. While walking towards the hide a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits (#77/2013) flew to the lake. A Common Redshank called south of the South Lake. The hide was an excellent shelter from the freezing and really unpleasant weather. At our arrival the 14 Black-tailed Godwits were on the mud together with 6 Northern Lapwings. No other wader species was seen even though a Pied Avocet and a pair of mating Eurasian Oystercatchers were reported from the previous day. The unfrozen part of the lake was full of waterbirds including Greylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Mallard, GadwallEurasianEurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, European Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull.

Northern Lapwing. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Northern Lapwing. © Gyorgy Szimuly

On our way back to the Centre 4 Common Redpoll was seen in the bushes at the edge of a small ditch.

Just before entered the village 4 Eurasian Curlews were feeding on a pasture. Which was again a new bird for the year (#78/2013). The 79th year lister was two Grey Partridge which I saw outside Slimbridge.

Getting familiar of a woodcock site

This spring I wanna see something I have never seen before. Being a great fan of waders it is a bit weird that I have never seen a Eurasian Woodcock roding over its breeding site. I have got some guidance via the local birding mail list where to try to see it. Thanks for it!

Today I spent almost two hours in the Little Linford Wood which is just outside of the city of Milton Keynes. This tiny reserve looks to be a great place for many birds in the breeding season including the elusive Eurasian Woodcock. Large part of the forest is very wet which is a key requirement in the habitat selection of the woodcock. By this fact suitable clothing (rubber boots) is needed to explore the remote muddy patches of the forest, which I apparently haven’t got.

One of the numerous wet patches in the forest. © Gyorgy Szimuly

One of the numerous wet patches in the forest. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Little Linford Wood Nature Reserve. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Little Linford Wood Nature Reserve. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Little Linford Wood Nature Reserve. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Little Linford Wood Nature Reserve. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I did not see the woodcock today but I will give it some try by visiting the area at dusk and twilight. Walking in the awaking forest was really pleasant as most of the bird species sang. As it is getting to be a daily routine I started eBirding straight from the field.

A Common Buzzard was chased by Carrion Crows. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A Common Buzzard was chased by Carrion Crows. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Here is the list of species I could see and hear:

Common Buzzard 1
Common Wood-Pigeon 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 3
Green Woodpecker 1 (heard only again)
Eurasian Jay 3
Common Magpie 3
Eurasian Jackdaw 3
Carrion Crow 3
Marsh Tit 1
Coal Tit 2
Great Tit 11
Blue Tit 14
Long-tailed Tit 9
Eurasian Nuthatch 3
Eurasian Treecreeper 1
Eurasian Wren 5
European Robin 12
Eurasian Blackbird 11
Fieldfare 15
Redwing 3
Song Thrush 1
European Starling 30
Dunnock 1
European Goldfinch 4

Fieldfares and Redwings were flying over the area but I had a feeling they stopped somewhere around the car park. Just outside the forest I saw and heard my first European Skylark singing over the arable lands off Haversham. Three species was added to the year list: #69 European Skylark, #70 Coal Tit, #71 Marsh Tit.

Spring is at the corner in the Great Linford Wood

After a long period without birding I finally forced myself to go out for a short walk to see the apparently improving spring. While the nights are still frosty the daytimes are warmer and sometimes sunny. The Great Linford Wood is a nice escape of the over developed Milton Keynes. Vegetation still sleeping although the hazel has been blooming as usual.

There were no any special bird present in the woods but it was very birdy and noisy. Many birds started singing including the characteristic Song Thrush. Green Woodpeckers called from 3 different places and I heard a Eurasian Treecreeper singing for the very first time in my life. That is such a sweet song. Many pairs of Common Magpie started to build their nest while Common Wood Pigeons were mating or chasing each others.

I was also enjoying eBirding in the field. When I finished birding I submitted my data still in the field with the iOS BirdsEye BirdLog World app. I found this app very useful and easy to use. Read some reviews here.

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Great Tit was quite abundant in the forest. © Gyorgy Szimuly

European Robin. © Gyorgy Szimuly

European Robin. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Common Buzzard 1
Common Wood-Pigeon 19
Great Spotted Woodpecker 4
Green Woodpecker 4 (heard only)
Common Magpie 18
Eurasian Jackdaw 4
Carrion Crow 19
Great Tit 31
Blue Tit 25
Long-tailed Tit 8
Eurasian Nuthatch 3
Eurasian Treecreeper 2
Eurasian Wren 7
Goldcrest 1
European Robin 17
Eurasian Blackbird 14
Redwing 42
Song Thrush 3
Eurasian Siskin 10

I was a bit surprised by the lack of Common Chaffinches. In Hungary they are already singing this time of the year. Is the whole UK population wintering outside the British island?