woensdag 29 februari 2012

Falafel, beer, birds, sand, rain, and pretty women.

Last night we had a walk through the very alive city of Tel Aviv. It was busy on the streets with people, making it a pleasant watch as tourists. We soon noticed that the Israelis aren't those that have patience in traffic. On the streets you get overwhelmed by claxons! Have patience my dear friends! While walking on the busy ''Rehovs'' we soon noticed flying Egyptian Fruit-Bats! Amazing!! The bats were hunting among the trees in the street. A few times we could see one clutched on some branches, busy eating.

This morning we got out of our bed around 9.30. After a shower and some pitabreads we decided to make a walk to the north, along the promenade and then to the park at the Yarkon river.
Our room, overlooking the wild (empty!) Mediterranean Sea.
The coast of Tel Aviv.

After getting fully sand-blasted we arrived at the Marina of Tel Aviv. Here we saw our first Laughing Doves and Hooded Crows.
Hooded Crow.

A little bit later we ended up at the Yarkon river. Soon we found the first Pied Kingfisher. A life bird for Christian. In the end we had 6+ of these. Common Myna's were a common sight everywhere too.
Common Myna.

We walked east along the river. We saw Swifts, Barn Swallows, Russian Jackdaws, 4 Spur-winged Plovers, a few Spanish Sparrows, 2 Hoopoes, some Stonechats, a Common Sandpiper, Little EgretRing-necked Parakeets, White-spectacled Bulbuls and last but  not least a White-throated Kingfisher! Christian discovered the bird a bit further down the river, and a bit later we had great views of it!

The Yarkon river.

While looking at the White-throated Kingfisher, a Kingfisher flew past us. And above that, we got into a splash shower that lasted for about 20 minutes. After it was over, we walked back to our hostel, making a nice detour through the city. We came across all sorts of interesting buildings etc.
High towers
Allenby St.
I bought a cool scooter!
The Carmel market, a real must to see when visiting Tel Aviv!
Christian, in full concentration.
Candy! After I took this photo the guy of the sop asked us for a dollar haha.

Tonight we went for something to eat and ended up at a place where we had some good falafel.
Falafel with Carlsberg.

Oh and I forgot the pretty woman:

dinsdag 28 februari 2012

Tel Aviv!

We just arrived at our hostel, the Beach Front Hostel, situated along the beach. We arrived on Ben Gurion Airport almost one hour late, at 17.45. The security check on Schiphol was very thorough- all our stuff was taken out of our backpacks for a good check - but we had nothing to hide ofcourse! The flight was nice, with good food (the pitabreads and humus!). We took the train of 19.00 (GMT+2 here) and after a short train ride and an adventurous bus ride we arrived at our hostel. 

Currently, there is a strong wind blowing and it is raining, which is a bit of a pity. I think we will go out in a bit and explore the area a little. 

Tomorrow you can expect a more elaborate story and ofcourse photos!!

Good night for now,

Fabian & Christian

maandag 27 februari 2012

28th of February - 24th of April: Israel!

Dear readers,

Tomorrow I will leave Holland and I will be staying in Israel for almost two months! I will go together with my friend Christian Brinkman. Christian will keep up a blog as well: http://www.cbirding.blogspot.com!

First we will be visiting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for a week, before heading out to Eilat where we will be staying the rest of the time. Moreover, I will spend my last week in Israel ringing at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory! In Eilat we will help out with the ringing at the IBRCE ( see http://eilatbirding.blogspot.com if you want to know what we've missed already!). Roni Vaisanen (http://ronivaisanen.blogspot.com), from Finland will also be staying with us at the IBRCE so it should be good fun!

During the coming two months I will try to update my blog as often as possible, so stay tuned!

The next update will be from Tel Aviv!

donderdag 23 februari 2012

Quiet garden ringing

There haven't been any highlight in the garden's ringing sessions lately. I'm just ringing the normal fare of birds: House Sparrows, Greenfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Blackbirds.

On 12-2 I ringed this odd male House Sparrow:
 Having a short outer secondary (symetric)
Having -to what seems to be- an old tertial (symmetric). I have no idea how to inteprete this old tertail. Would this make it an 2cy or a >2cy? Probably the latter since a juvenile tertail would be more rounder with a small brown edging (+ feather would be poorer condition) unlike the above.
I recaptured this adult female Blackbird today. When I ringed it on the 18th of January I didn't notice that this bird looked a bit odd (Bad ringer!). It was in the field, last week that I noticed the bird was a bit 'Ring Ouzel' like with the bib. It is ofcourse, just a Blackbird. It noticably had a decrease in weight as it first had a weight of 95.6, and today it only weighed 72.3 grams...
 Today's Greenfinch was a 2cy male.
Compare that 2cy to this bright >2cy male, from the 12th.
From the 2cy male Greenfinch of today: compare the juvenile tailfeathers with the adult tailfeathers.

zaterdag 18 februari 2012

6th of January: Coto Donana

------200th blogpost------

6th of January: Coto Donana

Friday the 6th of January my dad and I headed out early in the morning to the Coto Donana. From Sevilla we were only 30 km away from some good birding places in the park. As we only had one day we had to make some choices: which place in the park should we visit. After we'd done some research we came to the conclusion we should go to the Dehesa de Abajo, which ironically, is situated just outside the park. We chose this place as we would have the highest chance of seeing Marbled Duck and Knobbed Coot. It turned out to be a great decision, as we saw plenty of cool things! 

The first bird we saw was a Hoopoe in La Puebla del Rio. A bit further to the south, near Las Colinas we saw 4 Cranes foraging in a ricefield. In some willows near small pools of water we found 30 Black-crowned Night Herons, small numbers of Night Herons winter in the Donana. Adjacent to the restaurant (forgot the name) on the roundabout near Las Colinas we saw a Squacco Heron in the ricefield. Soon, we come across the Dehesa. We park the car at the parking lot and start walking towards the two hides that overlook the Laguna. What a magnificent view in the early morning with thousands of Shovelers!

The laguna, overloaded with birds!

It didn't took long before I found one of our targets: 4 Marbled Ducks were swimming among the thousands of Ducks, close to the hide. A later count resulted in an really impressive number of 26!!! Marbled Ducks. 
The (probably) rarest duck of Europe!

Further observed species: hundreds of Pintails, 7 Red-crested Pochards, some Teals and Wigones, 300 Black-winged Stilts, 4 Ruddy Shelducks, 2 couples of Marsh Harriers:
A very bright male!

Among the hundreds of Coots we were unable to find our other target bird, Knobbed Coot. We walked a bit more into the Dehesa, seeing many tens of Blackcaps, feeding on olives. We saw our first swallows too! A few Barn Swallows and about an equal number of Sand Martins were foraging above the water surface. Both Green and Common Sandpipers were found along the edge of the water. In between a group of 100 Lapwing, 200 Pied Avocets, we found 4 Ruffs, 9 Greenshank, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Little Ringed-plovers. The presence of Greater Flamingos wasn't a surprise as well as 10 Greylags. Above the Dehesa we saw flying Night Herons as well as 3 Booted Eagles, of which one was chased repeatedly by some 100 Jackdaws. A group of 10 Woodlark was feeding on the path.

On the other side of the road, in the flooded ricefields, we saw 16 Purple Swamphens, foraging out in the open. A behaviour we weren't used to see with this species a few years ago. But since the numbers have exploded of these Swamphens, they are now often easy to see. Two Black Storks, flying over, was a warm welcome. Two Squacco Herons and two Spoonbills were foraging, together with plenty of Little Egrets, in the ricefield. A Penduline Tit was calling in the reeds. 

After a warm meal at the restaurant Venta del Cruce (I remember the name now :)) we drove into the ricefields, to see if we could find anything worth mentioning. And sure we did......!

Three Black Storks were the first to be found, not much later we found other 'black' birds!

As we drove further we suddenly saw a loooooot of Glossy Ibises foraging in the ricefields next to the road. Approximately 3000!!! Glossy Ibises were foraging in these ricefields alone already. What a sight, what a sight..

To give an impression..
And some being chased off by a mad (?) farmer, claxoning with his car.

We had luck with a very cooperative Squacco Heron too, providing excellent photo oppertunities:
A selection of three out of 100 photos, haha.
A typical scenery, in the Spanish ricefields.

And before we knew it, the day was over. We drove back through the famous Alcaznar Pinewoods (also a good site for Lynxes), not seeing a lot noteworthy, and then headed off to Sevilla, where our last night in Spain had started. We had a great tapas meal at a restaurant called BoBo in Sevilla, it was a good ending of a very succesfull two weeks!

The next morning we had to go to the airport quite early. Around 10.00, the airplane took us from 20 degrees Celsius and sun, to rain, cold temperatures, and dreary weather again...

donderdag 16 februari 2012

5th of January: Elanio Azul and Sevilla

In the early morning we hear two Eagle Owls calling in the hills near our appartment at Los Pinos. We pack all our bags and head in the direction of Sevilla. According to my dad, the area between Cordoba and Sevilla is very good for Black-winged Kite. He has seen them on a couple of train rides he made from Sevilla to Cordoba, for his work. So once we were in this area I kept my eyes wide open of course! Around 11.45 I see a possible Short-toed Eagle from out of the car. While we were driving on the highway I see a raptor; quite large and whitish, with complete white underparts and a triangular tail. It is however, a rare bird in winter, but there are wintering birds present in Southern-Spain every year, so you never know. Too bad I had such poor views on the bird.

It is not until ten minutes later, when, in the vicnicity of Ecija, halfway in between Cordoba and Sevilla that we see the first Black-winged Kite of the trip! It passes the highway JUST in front of the car, showing amazingly well. I couldn't resist a happy (and very loud) shout! Coool. Further new species for the trip include White Storks and quite a few Red Kites. A bit further near La Campana we decide to get off the highway to find a place to have a short lunchbreak. This is what you could've called one of the better lunchbreaks in Spain:

Our second Black-winged Kite was found hunting above the road to La Campana. There was no traffic on the road so we could stop the car and my dad was able to take great pictures! I was unlucky, as I was seated in the back, so I only have a poor shot through the front window.
Red Kite. Photo taken from the driving car!

We arrived in Sevilla in the early afternoon. We presumably saw two Lesser Kestrels, but they dissappeared to soon. The afternoon was spend exploring the city of Sevilla:
La Giralda, Sevilla
La Giralda again
View on the city
The Osborne Bull (photo taken between Cordoba and Sevilla)

woensdag 15 februari 2012

4th of January: I'd Rather Photograph A Hoopoe Than Seeing A Lynx!

We left to La Lancha quite early in the morning, not knowing we would miss a Lynx in one minute.. On our way to La Lancha we were stopped by several Red Deer, showing well next to the road:
Nice male.

And a bit further down the road we were rewarded with a close Hoopoe, warming up in the cold!
The cold Hoopoe.

A few minutes later we arrived at the Lynx spot, to find out we had missed a Lynx in one minute... What we saw: running Lynx-watchers, Lynx-watchers searching through their telescope etc.. It feels pretty bad to miss a Lynx but ofcourse you can always come up with excuses why you've missed it. To look on the bright side: we photographed a nice male Red Deer and a Hoopoe!
Searching for Lynxes, even the other family members participated as you can see!

Dissappearing fog on a sunny morning.

At the Lynx-spot we had good views of a Dartford Warbler and we had a flyover Fieldfare. Later in the morning the Vultures became active again. Both Black and Griffon were seen. In addition, when we were already on our way back I discovered a displaying eagle: Spanish Imperial Eagle. It was showing perfectly well through the telescope and not much later is was joined by a second bird. We heard it calling as well!

A Sparrowhawk passed by near Los Pinos.

In the afternoon we headed to the Santuario de La Virgen de la Cabeza. A monastry (and village) situated on the highest hill in the Sierra. From there you have an amazing view over the Sierra. The Sierra Nevada is even visible. On our way to there we had a good view of our first Golden Eagle of the trip. What are these birds majestic! Flying around with their wings up, just wonderful! At the monastry I started scanning the sky with the telescope resulting in one Spanish Imperial Eagle, two Golden Eagles of which one was displaying; it was diving down on high speed, folding together its wing, before heading up again. This specatcle durated a couple of minutes. I always get so excited when seeing eagles, they're just so cool! Further raptors included a Peregrine and a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle. When we went back to our appartment it was already dark. This had been our last day here. The next day we would leave to Sevilla, our last destination of the Spain-trip.

maandag 13 februari 2012

3rd of January: Another day in the Spanish Sierras

I interrupted the Spain trip report to share other cool sightings I did the past weeks in Holland, but I still would like to share the rest of the trip, so back to Spain!

On the morning of the 3rd I woke up around 7.30. I went outside, listening to a calling Tawny Owl. Hawfinches were present in the trees nearby and I saw a foraging Cetti's Warbler, skulking along a fence at the parking lot. We drove to La Lancha, which would be our first visit there. On our way we could add Crested Tit to our list. We waited the entire morning for Lynxes, with plenty of other Lynx-watchers, but none showed up. We got told that they weren't active yet, for some reason..
Amongst others, Sardinian Warblers kept us busy.

In the late morning the vultures started to fly which resulted in good views of lots of Griffon Vultures and about 15 Black Vultures.

 Black Vulture
Griffon Vulture

Around 13.30 we took off to Los Pinos to get ourselves some lunch. The way back was quite productive as it resulted in lots of Vultures and our first two Spanish Imperial Eagles! Ooh eagles are so freakin' awesome!
Spanish Imperial Eagle

After our wel deserved lunch at the Los Pinos restaurant my dad and I took off again, in the late afternoon. We left to the Rio Jandula in the hope of seeing Lynxes. 
Azure-winged Magpies are abundant throughout the Sierra.

We had a fly-by of a Great White Egret but other than that it was quiet, concerning the Lynxes. After the sun had dissapeared behind the sierra we drove a bit further, down the embalse. When we got out of the car I noticed a raptor sitting a few hundred metres away on a pylon. I got the scope out and checked the raptor. It was a small eagle with a long tail and real 'eagle bill'. These features made us ID it as a Bonelli's Eagle. My dad didn't pay as much attention to the bird as I did but luckily for me, I took a record-shot with my camera of the bird. It's something I always do when in a hurry or seeing a bird we cannot identify immediatly. My dad wanted to get closer but before we had closer views we noticed it had dissapeared without us noticing! Too bad, but luckily I got some pics. They're bad but at least you can distinguish something from it...
Distant, as you can see..
And a huge crop..

And then another surprise: while finding out the eagle had gone my dad discovered a flying Eagle Owl! It was passing us by overhead, really closeby, giving us amazing views through the telescope (eventhough it was almost dark!), What a great ending of the day!