Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Early Harvests Can Spell Disaster For Our Monty's

Back home and raptors dominate the skies.
The summer heat kicking in, adding to newly fledged birds of prey's chances to hone those hunting skills amid massive, bubbling thermals, that have been building up for the past week. Large raptors like this juvenile Spainish Imperial Eagle, seen here soaring with a Booted Eagle, search out the landscape below, for rabbits or other prey along the edge of the Alcornocales forest between Facinas and Benalup in Cadiz province
You can clearly see the size comparison between one of the largest and the smallest of the European Eagles.

This Short-toed Eagle (above) is an adult returning to it's nest with young, with a freshly caught snake

Away it goes, heading for the Alcornocales forest

Off to it's nest...

A close up view of another Short-toed Eagle

Red Kites were pretty common across on the Guadalquivir from Sanlucar to Trebujena

The Northern Bald Ibis have been doing well breeding this year at two main locations on The Strait of Gibraltar. The chicks from three nests and the birds on the cliffs at Barbate will be ready to leave their nests soon

One of the group that are colonising the cliffs inland from Barbate

Montagu's Harriers are under ever increasing pressure from earlier harvests. The Monty's is a ground-nesting bird like all harriers and has been suffering over the years with the phenomenon of consistant breeding arrival on territories against an increasing occurrence of earlier or warmer Spring seasons in the north. This means in effect that the cerial fields where they nest, are planted ealier by famers and subsequently ripen sooner. The mechanised harvest in mid-June can eliminate their chicks still in the nest on the ground. I shudder to think about how many bales of straw contain the remains of Montagu's Harrier nests and chicks...

A male Montagu's Harrier passes over baled-up straw in the second week of June.
There are of course some very good and worthwhile projects running in a lot of areas in Spain like the ongoing action plan as reported around the German-Dutch border organised by CABS (Campaign Against Bird Slaughter).

Male Little Bittern

Cone-headed Mantis crossing our terrace

Little Tern

Little Swift at Bolonia. Some White-rumped Swifts were also seen last week

Male Marsh Harrier

Greater Flamingoes at the Guadalquivir River

Copper Demoiselle in the Alcornocales Parque Natural near Facinas

Cactus bloom

Black Kite

Black-eared Wheatear.
I personally hate taking shots of birds on barbed wire, but this little male of the race that has no black throat patch was just too good an opportunity to pass by. He later flew off and out of range for any 'natural' shot...

Sunflowers in June

Purple Swamphen up close and personal!

A Clouded Yellow butterfly on Purple Viper's Bugloss

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Germany, The Bavarian Alps, 1st - 8th June 2011

It was some years ago I revisited the Bavarian Alps to do a recce for Limosa Holidays, setting up an itinerary for a birding and wildlife tour there. This was my seventh time in this stunningly beautiful part of the world and I never get tired of it's grandeur or the variety of wildlife it contains

The Common Rosefinch is one of my favourite birds that we catch up with on the week's tour. It's one of those birds that seem to have tremendous vocal energy and males seem to constantly belt out their call in the lower woodland fringed pastures. Such a pretty bird

Right beside Murauer Moss Nature Reserve is a little 'gasthoff' where you can sit outside in the shadow of the little church and gaze across the orchids and butterflies of the peat-bog and the stunning line of Apine peaks, drinking a pils and enjoying a plate of home-made goulash soup!

What spectacular views on a clear day from the top of the Zugspitz, Germany's highest peak. At almost 3,000m high (10,000ft) we could see for over 100kms in any direction

Dancing Alpine Choughs...

...zipped past advertising for postcards

On the inappropriately named Wankberg the sights of Ring Ouzel, Water Pipits and Dunnocks were all appreciated by the group

Ring Ouzel

A Fieldfare in summer plumage, first the back...

...and now the front. Quite different to the winter visitors that are seen in the UK and other countries

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Water Pipit

Some of the boat houses, early morning at Kochel-am-see

Goosander in flight around the hotel

On the way to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Picture-postcard beauty

Lush green pastures

The German National symbol for a Natural Park

Roman Snails

Bright-eyed Ringlet (Erebia oeme)

A Garden Spider on our hotel window. The red effect was caused by me trying to take a macro shot with my little Panasonic Lumix camera, by placing a finger over the flash. With no control of the flash on a dull afternoon, I tried this 'reduced flash with finger', resulting in the shadow of the blood and flesh colour being transmitted to the spider! Who needs photoshop!!

A few Honey Buzzards were seen but the commonest raptors were Red and Black Kites and of course Common Buzzards. We also saw Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine and Hobby

Our hotel has a great restaurant and spectacular views of sunset over Lake Kochel each evening

A male Reed Bunting

Red-backed Shrike

A few shots of the beautiful Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly

Spotted Flycatcher

One of the largest and fastest hover flies I think I've seen. Any ID help would be appreciated


A male Blackbird looking splendid