Snowy woodpeckers

The snow covered estuary of Által Stream was full of bird songs. ©) Gyorgy Szimuly

The snow covered estuary of Által Stream was full of bird songs. ©) Gyorgy Szimuly

I met Dani at 7AM and we headed to the Old Lake in Tata, Hungary, for a snowy morning birding. It was a chilly morning with no clouds, no winds, and the landscape was wonderfully painted white by the fresh snow. Having no scope with us, we targeted to look for songbirds in the embracing woods of the lake. Anyway, much of the lake was frozen, but still a large area was free of ice.

The frozen Old Lake before sunrise. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The frozen Old Lake before sunrise. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Fresh snow covered the riparian forest around the lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Woodpeckers were super active in the woods along the stream. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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We had an absolutely fabulous morning with great lights and sunshine. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Reeds are empty now but soon will be filled by reed warblers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

As expected, birds were rather active after a day long snowing on the previous day. Some species provided excellent views and were present in surprising numbers while some, like Goldcrest, was totally absent. The biggest surprise was the unusually high number of Hawfinches seen mainly in the western side of the lake. They were flying all around in the town, but mostly preferred feeding on Common Hackberry with mixed flock of winter thrushes (Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes).

The early morning blast off of a large flock of wintering Rooks and Western Jackdaws is always the first event at the Old Lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The early morning blast off of a large flock of wintering Rooks and Western Jackdaws is always the first event at the Old Lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Another highlight of the day was watching the incredible activity of woodpeckers. We managed to see 7 out of 7 local breeding woodpeckers and 7 out of 9 Hungarian breeding woodpeckers. (The White-backed Woodpeckers is breeding in the mountains, while the Eurasian Wryneck is a summer visitor in Hungary.) Especially Great Spotted Woodpeckers were quite territorial and we saw several courtships and territory defences. Personally, I was very pleased to see the long seen Grey-headed Woodpecker and the powerful Black Woodpecker.

Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were rather active and territorial mainly in the southern woods. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were rather active and territorial mainly in the southern woods. © Gyorgy Szimuly

This the combined eBird list of 6 completed checklists consisting 53 taxa.

Tundra/Taiga Bean-Goose 2,500
Greater White-fronted Goose 400
Greylag Goose 8
Mallard 1,270
Northern Pintail 8
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian) 38
Common Goldeneye 1
Great Cormorant 106
Pygmy Cormorant 3
Grey Heron 16
Great Egret 5
Common Buzzard 2
Black-headed Gull 140
Mew Gull 95
Yellow-legged Gull 12
Common Wood-Pigeon 1
Common Kingfisher 2
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 1
Middle Spotted Woodpecker 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker 21
Syrian Woodpecker 2
Black Woodpecker 4
Eurasian Green Woodpecker 5
Grey-headed Woodpecker 2
Eurasian Jay 2
Eurasian Jackdaw 300
Rook 3,000
Hooded Crow 28
Common Raven 2
Marsh Tit 2
Great Tit 85
Eurasian Blue Tit 60
Long-tailed Tit 35
Eurasian Nuthatch 25
Eurasian Treecreeper 4
Eurasian Wren (Eurasian) 2
European Robin 6
Common Blackbird 66
Fieldfare 352
Redwing (Eurasian) 20
Song Thrush 1
Mistle Thrush 29
Grey Wagtail 1
Yellowhammer 1
Reed Bunting 2
Common Chaffinch 7
Eurasian Bullfinch 1
European Greenfinch 15
Eurasian Siskin 3
European Goldfinch
Hawfinch 104
House Sparrow 11
Eurasian Tree Sparrow 5

After sunset I counted from my window 525 Fieldfares and a few Redwings flying for roosting. Altogether, over a thousand wintering thrushes must be present in the town.

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3 thoughts on “Snowy woodpeckers

  1. Hi Gyorgy

    Some great shots and an impressive list. Having driven through your lovely country I was surprised to note you only had 2 Common Buzzard. One thing which impressed me was the numbers of these birds sat in trees or on posts adjacent to the highway. Occasionally two very close together. To use an English quote ‘There were Buzzards to cobble dogs with’
    Also there was no snow when I drove through the week previous (thankfully) otherwise I might have been held up.

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