Saturday, 29 November 2014

Houbara Bustards

Houbara Bustards (Chlamydotis undulata) are a declining species in North Africa and the sub species fuerteventurae is confined to the Eastern Canary Islands. On Fuerteventura and Lanzarotte the birds are protected and efforts have been made to mark fences and power lines which has been a problem for these and other species of birds.

Houbara Bustards do not survive so well in other areas. In Pakistan earlier this year there was a report of a Saudi hunting party illegally shooting 2,100 protected Houbara Bustards during a three week period in Changai, Balochistan, within a designated protected area. For some years there have been regular reports of trapping Houbara Bustards in Iran and Pakistan for export to Arabia for use as prey by falconers. More information can be read at Bird Life International on the Houbara status here.

These photos were all taken on Fuerteventura during several visits there.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Germany - The Brandenburg Crane and Goose Concerto

Here are some of the latest photos from my recent tour in the county of Brandenburg, close to Germany's capital Berlin.

Mandarin Ducks fly past the apartments in Potsdam just outside Berlin
It's been a record crane count this year with the arrival of 100,000 Common Cranes arriving in northern Germany. 
As birdwatching as a hobby increases in popularity across Germany and other European countries there are more people volunteering to count the cranes as they arrive at their traditional sites across the country.

A female Common Crane sorts out a frisky male

Trick of the camera - Looks like a balancing act!

Feeding on freshly cut maize

A juvenile Common Crane being watched over by parents

Common Cranes singing

Young male Great Bustards
--> Great Bustards had a healthy population before WWII with 3,400 birds in Brandenburg, which accounted for more than half the German population. After the war in the former GDR, numbers had not surprisingly crashed to only a few hundred. In the 1970’s a breeding programme was introduced using eggs taken from local breeding pairs, incubated in the centre then releasing older juveniles. Slowly the number have risen to around 200 birds. Harsh winters have on occasions decimated the numbers over the years but this species may be one that benefits from climate change as winters become warmer.

A bit of half-hearted displaying from this juvenile male

A White-tailed Eagle puts up all the geese and ducks at the Gülpersee

Green Woodpecker

Whooper Swans

The white-headed race of Long-tailed Tits are particularly beautiful

White-tailed Eagle

More Common Crane photos