31 December, 2006

Dunstable STW: Winter Offerings

Seasonal stuff - European Robin

Robin at Dunstable Wetland Reserve

A Greenfinch feeding in the sunshine.

Greenfinch at Dunstable Wetland Reserve

A drake Pintail has been present since late November.

Pintail at Dunstable Wetland Reserve

This Little Egret has put in an occasional appearance during December.

Little Egret at Dunstable Wetland Reserve

19 December, 2006

Thurleigh: Hen Harrier - a county tick

This adult female Hen Harrier has been seen regularly near Thurleigh, Bedfordshire. Despite birding regularly in the county for eighteen years i've never seen one, so it was a welcome addition to the list.

Hen Harrier

Hen Harrier

Hen Harrier

One of the three or four Stonechat present on the set-aside:

30 November, 2006

Lesvos Part 7 of 7, 17th May, 2006

Little Tern could be seen daily at the salt pans.

Little Tern

White stork feed at the salt pans and nest on suitable stuctures in surrounding towns and villages.

White Stork

European Bee Eater at the salt pans.

Bee Eater

Bee Eater

Olivaceous Warbler at the salt pans - miles from its usual haunts !

Olivaceous Warbler

A male Red-backed Shrike along the track to the 'Goat Pit'.

Red-backed Shrike

Yellow-legged Gull over the 'Goat Pit'. This area is not for the squeamish !

Yellow-legged Gull

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.

Black-eared Wheatear

The Crested Lark is common here and approachable.

Crested lark

This Middle-spotted Woodpecker was very shy. It has a bill full of food for its offspring but the nest was well hidden deep in a fenced Olive grove.

Middle-spotted Woodpecker

This Eurasian Hoopoe was feeding in the same Olive grove. The shot was taken from the car through a chain-link fence.

Eurasian Hoopoe

31 October, 2006

Lesvos Part 6 of 7, 16th May, 2006

A pre-breakfast trip to Kallonis inland pool. Two Squacco Heron bathed in early morning sunlight.

Squacco Heron

Another of the heron tribe - a Little Bittern in flight.

Little Bittern

This Great Reed Warbler fed openly on the far side of the pool.

Great Reed Warbler

A pair of White Stork at the nest in a village just north of Skalla Kallonis, complete with House Sparrow lodgers.

White Stork

Whilst driving the tracks across to the East River we saw our only Lesser-grey Shrike of the trip.

Lesser-grey Shrike

Bees the size of your fists ! Err... well almost !

Bee sp.

A mean-looking Hooded Crow in the East River.

Hooded Crow

Whilst following a track west of Napi we came across this old stone bridge.

Old stone bridge

Although heard regularly, Cirl Bunting was rarely seen. This individual was the closest one came to the camera, in an olive grove not far beyond the old stone bridge.

Cirl Bunting

Back at the Kallonis inland pool a European Bee-Eater flew overhead.

Bee Eater

An Olivaceous Warbler near the pool.

Olivaceous Warbler

Newly arrived the day before - part of a flock of Rose-coloured Starling feeding in fields behind the salt pans.

Rosy Starling

Still a good few Greater Flamingo on the salt pans.

Greater Flamingo

30 September, 2006

Lesvos Part 5 of 7, 15th May, 2006

There was always something on this small 'flash' behind the salt pans. The water was, however, rapidly diminishing as the week progressed. This morning a Spur-winged Plover posed for the camera.

Spur-winged Plover

En-route to the Achladeri picnic site a Great-white Egret was following the coast line North.

Great-white Egret

The Kruper's Nuthatch proved too difficult to photograph at the Achladeri picnic site. Photography was somewhat hampered as the army were on manouvres in the area - I didn't fancy spending a day in the cells accused of 'spying' ! This Masked Shrike was only slightly more obliging.

Masked Shrike

A Serin 'jangled' from the tree-tops on and off, but never gave easy views through the branches.


A Whinchat posed along a stretch of coastal track. Near Skala Vasilikon, we stopped for lunch at a remote beach cafe. As we left, a greasy obese Greek diner told us, in stilted English, to 'go back home' !


A Yellow-legged Gull tracking the coast.

Yellow-legged Gull

Back at the salt pans, a Common Tern fishes in the main channel.

Common Tern

A Black-winged Stilt had nested on a small island in the main channel resulting in three chicks.

Black-winged Stilt

31 August, 2006

Lesvos Part 4 of 7, 14th May, 2006

This Rock Nuthatch posed for a while close to the main road.

Rock Nuthatch

A few pairs of Isabelline Wheatear breed at the 'Isabelline Triangle' - an exposed area at a road junction. Not easy to stalk, but one did conveniently pop up on a road sign.

Isabelline Wheatear

The further west one travelled, the more Red-backed Shrike were evident. Which image to show ? Well, I never did get a shot I really liked, so these two will have to do.

Red-backed Shrike

It's a testament to what we've done to our landscape when you realize that they once bred around Luton.

Red-backed Shrike

Ipsilou Monastery is a fantastic migrant hot spot - it sticks out in an otherwise relatively barren landscape.

Ipsilou Monastery

First up was a male dark-throated form of Black-eared Wheatear which was feeding in the small, walled, terraced gardens. It was very warm and the strong mid-day light gave problems with contrast, but it was clearly the eastern race melanoleuca which shows a narrow strip of black above the bill.

Black-eared Wheatear (dark-throated Eastern race)

I climbed the final set of steps up to the monastery proper. A group of three photographers had arrived and were setting up shop down a track between the buildings and the low boundary wall - a excellent spot I'd watched from on the last visit in 1999. Other than that we were the only people there - except, that is, a mad monk with bad English who really wanted us to look at the museum !

The three stooges had walked past a calling Rock Sparrow just inside the first courtyard. I hung around and took plenty of shots of this very obliging individual. The last time we were here, it was a trip up to the battlements to get brief glimpses as it entered its nest hole.

Rock Sparrow

Heading back out of the courtyard I noticed the three lads were snapping away from a prime spot just down the track. I kept my distance out of courtesy - not wishing to disturb anything major. Soon I noticed a hippolais in a tree close to the lads. I could not be specific at this point as is was too far, but it looked to have a classic wing panel typical of spring Icterine Warbler. They were photographing other birds in a tree opposite - again too far to see (had left the 'scope in the car).

After a decent time interval, I joined them and, in my best estuary English, enquired the usual 'much abaht?'. Two Wood Warbler and a bunch of Spotted Flycatcher - no mention of the Iccy. These guys looked respectful - post grad types - perhaps all rounders in the natural world. Then one barked 'large hippolais - it's an Olive-tree Warbler !'. Lo, the bird I'd seen from further back had reappeared - was I seeing things ?

Icterine Warbler

The above shot shows the stout flesh coloured bill and grey legs, peaked crown and pale yellow eye-ring.

Icterine Warbler

The above shot shows the neat pale yellowish fringes to the tertials and inner secondaries forming a distinct wing panel, pale lores and the yellowish supercillium extending well behind the eye. Long primary projection. Email me or post a comment if you know different !

Black-eared Wheatear (pale-throated Eastern race, male)

Another male Black-eared Wheatear, this time a pale-throated morph of the melanoleuca race, which posed for a while before going 'over the edge'.