Hay fever break

As annoyingly usual the summer is about itching and tearing eyes, blowing nose and never ending sneezing. I don’t have to tell how awful it is for a birdwatcher. It also means that birding is limited as I have to stay indoor as much as possible.

Today I fed up by watching the walls and the still alive computer screen and picked up my girls for an afternoon walk around the Caldecotte Lake in Bletchley. It was probably the warmest day this summer peaking 24°C. Birding was very moderate as it was quite windy but the middle of summer is always quiet.

The most exciting species was the Eurasian Hobby. Two birds were hunting mainly on insects (dragonflies) over the south lake. Both the south and north lakes was full of Common Swifts. I love these birds but I missed their screaming over their breeding sites.

On the west side of the south lake I found some beautiful Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) which I have never seen before. Luckily the grass wasn’t cut there so they could bloom.

Andi and Kea in the beginning of the 3 km long walking. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Andi and Kea in the beginning of the 3 km long walking. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A view to the Caldecotte Lake from the footpath. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A view to the Caldecotte Lake from the footpath. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Pyramidal Orchids. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Pyramidal Orchids.  © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Pyramidal Orchids. © Gyorgy Szimuly

One of the 5 Mute Swan families on the south lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

One of the 5 Mute Swan families on the south lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Panorama view of the eastern side of Caldecotte Lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Panorama view of the eastern side of Caldecotte Lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Breeding site of Common Swift near the south lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Breeding site of Common Swift near the south lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The only breeding platform for Common Terns. Sadly the last week seen chick has disappeared. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The only breeding platform for Common Terns. Sadly the last week seen chick has disappeared. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Little Egret was still in nice breeding plumage. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Little Egret was still in nice breeding plumage. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Complete eBird checklist:

Greylag Goose 149
Canada Goose 246
Mute Swan 43 (5+6+3+4+4 cygnets)
Mallard 85
Tufted Duck 2
Great Crested Grebe 2
Great Cormorant 1
Grey Heron 2
Little Egret 1
Common Buzzard 1
Eurasian Coot 34
European Herring Gull 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Common Tern 3
Common Wood Pigeon 7
Common Swift 94
Eurasian Hobby 2
Common Magpie 8
Eurasian Jackdaw 3
Rook 2
Carrion Crow 9
Eurasian Skylark 1
Barn Swallow 9
Common House Martin 11
European Blue Tit 2
Long-tailed Tit 2
Eurasian Wren 4
Sedge Warbler 1
Eurasian Reed Warbler 4
European Blackcap 5
Common Whitethroat 1
European Robin 2
Eurasian Blackbird 3
European Starling 5
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) 4
Reed Bunting 1
Common Chaffinch 2
European Goldfinch 4
House Sparrow 7

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The Big Circle: From the Heart of Europe cross Asia Minor to Western Siberia

The Collared Pratincole will be one of the awesome species we will see on this trip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Collared Pratincole will be one of the awesome species we will see on this trip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

It looks to be a crazy routing, isn’t it. One said: Think big! So I did, as always!

This is a first step in the planning of a mega trip I will go with my son, Dani. This will not be a simple birding trip but a part of a complex public awareness project I have been working on for a while. I am so excited by this, though it is very challenging. Fantastic birds, interesting people and magical landscapes will all be the part of this trip. This 10,000 km long trip will be fully documented live. Photo and video journal will be posted daily. But there is a long way to go…

Personal: Ups and downs

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I know, by time, every devastating life event will fade away and melt into the infinity. Yet, the process of any kind of disappointments towards the complete relief is hurtful and often accompany with physical pain. Our life is full of wrong decisions, mistakes and sometimes we step on wrong tracks, and I am sure I am not any different. What makes most of us different from the rest of us is the capability to learn from our own mistakes. However, large number of us are unable to learn from their mistakes simply because they are convinced that the way they act is the right way to act. Most of the cases time clearly tells that they are wrong.

I have been facing very difficult times with family issues and while I try to understand everything I slowly loose my faith in the past. Has everything happened the way I was told since my childhood? I am not sure anymore. Probably I am pretty sure in everything, I am just unheroic to confess it. Do I need help? I am not sure. What help would be efficient? Going birding and watching at all the feather details of birds and their beautiful song? Talking to a real friend, who many times in my life advised me to do things differently, and who is not just nice to me but HONEST! Or, probably I just have to hug my beautiful wife once again and step over it, all over again and for good? Making a shell around me/us to avoid being hurt once again. Probably that would be convenient.

Many human beings are infected by jealousy and deep hate what simply impossible to be treated. Whatever grand gesture you make towards them is useless and futile. I have well surrounded myself with many of however, that wasn’t always my decision. The best I could do to be far far away from those harmful people. This has been done. This pushes us towards a solitary life but that is still better than being attacked everyday by their negative energy. Yet, some shocking news have reached me unsolicited. I don’t blame anyone. I blame myself being emotional towards my family despite many many unpleasant experiences (what a gentle and polite expression for all those happenings) of the past.

Life is challenging and forces us to find solutions for survival without intermission. I think I don’t need help. I’ll be fine by time.

Next Chapter…

Morning choir

I know myself. If I go to bed at 1AM, there is no way I could wake up at 3AM to go out birding. That’s why I skipped sleeping last night and spent some time with posting a news in the WorldWaders News Blog until the early phase of dusk. Again the target was the Blue Lagoon NR. Not for rarity hunting but to have a peaceful birding morning without noisy dog walkers and picnickers. It proved to be a very different birding experience despite nothing exceptional was seen.

I arrived to the entry point of the reserve at the lake of an angling club at dusk where a nice Tawny Owl was calling frequently. This was the first time I have heard this bird here as this was the first time I have started birding there that early. It is probably too late to say that the bird was in its territory but it still could be possible.

As it became lighter and lighter (very slowly due to the thick cloud coverage) every bird started to sing full throat. It was amazing and at some points made counting really challenging. What surprised me the difference in the number of Eurasian Blackbirds and Song Thrushes compared to the counts of previous daytime visits. The density of the thrushes was the highest since I had started to bird in this area.

The rest of the morning has been just like another average day. Common Whitethroats were actively carrying food for chicks but I couldn’t find their nest, however didn’t put too much effort to find it. European Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tit fledglings were signs of a successful breeding attempt despite the cold spring. Watching the freshly fledged cute Long-tailed Tits from 2 meters from me was just an adorable moment.

eBird list:

Canada Goose 8 (2 pairs with 1+2 goslings)
Mallard 7 (1 pair with 2 ducklings)
Grey Heron 1
Common Moorhen 2
European Herring Gull 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull 4
Common Wood Pigeon 22
Tawny Owl 1
Green Woodpecker 1
Common Magpie 6
Eurasian Jackdaw 53
Rook 70
Carrion Crow 32
Common House Martin 2
Great Tit 5
European Blue Tit 6 (3 juveniles)
Long-tailed Tit 11 (8 juveniles)
Eurasian Wren 16
Willow Warbler 3
Common Chiffchaff 5
Eurasian Reed Warbler 11
European Blackcap 9
Garden Warbler 4
Common Whitethroat 4
European Robin 25
Eurasian Blackbird 35
Song Thrush 17
European Starling 1
Dunnock 2
Reed Bunting 3
Common Chaffinch 1
Eurasian Bullfinch 2
European Goldfinch 3
Common Linnet 6

Thanks to my Facebook friends I could name a flower I took a picture of. I presumed it was a species of orchid but then it was confirmed to be the Heath Spotted Orchid. It is just before blooming so it is better to revisit the area in a couple of days.

Heath Spotted Orchid in the Blue Lagoon Nature Reserve. This image is a crap but I try to get a better one when it is blooming. © Gyorgy Szimuly.

Heath Spotted Orchid in the Blue Lagoon Nature Reserve. This image is a crap but I try to get a better one when it is blooming. © Gyorgy Szimuly.

Later in the morning I saw the regular Red Kite over the area mobbed by Carrion Crows. It was seen from our flat.

No Spotted Flycatcher

I was again too lazy to wake up as planned so by 4 hours delay I walked to the Blue Lagoon Nature Reserve as the easiest option to do some birding. I hoped to see at least one individual from the Spotted Flycatcher flock which arrived in England yesterday.

The 3.5 km long birding route produced the very same species as the days before. I listened carefully to an unusual bunting song, I had heard a few days ago, but just the normal Common Reed Bunting songs were heard. The whole area was very noisy and full of bird song.

Regarding the butterflies, I saw only two pairs of Orange-Tip and possibly a female Large White, although I mainly looked to the sky.

To get an idea of the whole area here are some images.

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This nice footpath along the northern side of the main pool is a favourite site for European Robins, European Wrens and even Long-tailed Tits. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Scrubs are the place for Common Whitethroats and Common Chiffchaffs. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Scrubs are the place for Common Whitethroats and Common Chiffchaffs. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Blooming Hawthorn bushes edging the reedbed. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Blooming Hawthorn bushes edging the reedbed. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Beautiful Meadow Buttercup field in full bloom. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Beautiful Meadow Buttercup field in full bloom. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Garden Warbler were singing while I was photographing this Meadow Buttercup 'carpet'. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Garden Warbler were singing while I was photographing this Meadow Buttercup ‘carpet’. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Another wider image of the blooming meadow. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Another wide angle image of the blooming meadow. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Small patches of reedbeds edged by Willow and Black Alder trees preferred by Common Reed Buntings and Eurasian Reed Warblers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Small patches of reedbeds edged by Willow and Black Alder trees preferred by Common Reed Buntings and Eurasian Reed Warblers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Complete eBird list:

Greylag Goose 1
Canada Goose 2
Mute Swan 2
Red Kite 2
Common Moorhen 1
Herring Gull 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull 35
Stock Dove 1
Common Wood Pigeon 14
Eurasian Collared Dove 1
Common Swift 12
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Green Woodpecker 1
Common Magpie 6
Eurasian Jackdaw 26
Rook 18
Carrion Crow 60
Eurasian Skylark 1
Great Tit 7
European Blue Tit 8
Long-tailed Tit 15
Eurasian Wren 11
Goldcrest 1
Willow Warbler 5
Common Chiffchaff 6
Eurasian Reed Warbler 14
European Blackcap 13
Garden Warbler 2
Common Whitethroat 5
European Robin 28
Eurasian Blackbird 13
Song Thrush 3
European Starling 9
Dunnock 6
Common Reed Bunting 5
Common Chaffinch 2
Eurasian Bullfinch 4
European Greenfinch 6
European Goldfinch 17
Common Linnet 10

European Robin is one of the most abundant songbird in the reserve. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The European Robin is one of the most abundant songbird in the reserve. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Massive Spotted Flycatcher flock in England

I normally don’t post birding news from the other parts of the country, especially not, if I am not there. Probably I should… Today, however, I couldn’t resist not to post a few lines about the massive migrating flock of Spotted Flycatchers seen by birdwatchers this morning at the Portland Bird Observatory in Dorset, south England. Looking at the site on the map it suggests that this could be a very attractive spot, an entry point, during spring migration.

Spotted Flycatcher by Nikolai Petkov.

Spotted Flycatcher by Nicky Petkov.

Spotted Flycatcher by Yoav Perlman.

Spotted Flycatcher by Yoav Perlman.

On his Twitter feed, Martin Cade, from the Portland Bird Observatory (@PortlandBirdObs) reported 550 birds at around 9AM but by 11AM he estimated their number well over 1,000!!! Most of the birds just flew over the area while some landed in the gardens.

This was such a remarkable moment in bird migration and an event what is not possible to witness every year! According to the tweet of Graham Appleton, the Director of Communications at BTO (@GrahamBTO), it gives hope that the British population hasn’t crashed.

BTO was concerned by actual status of the Spotted Flycatcher  population based on the BirdTrack graph.

BTO was concerned with the actual status of the British population of Spotted Flycatcher based on the BirdTrack graph.

To add something personal to this post, I have still been waiting for the first Spotted Flycatcher to see in the United Kingdom. I hope in the coming days they appear in one of my local patches.

Thanks to Nicky Petkow and Yoav Perlman for letting me use their images!