While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Monday, 25 August 2008

what are weaverbirds doing in europe, anyway?

one afternoon in Spain, I was wandering back to the car after some lovely sunset birding and digiscoping and I met a young dutch birder.

"seen anything interesting?" he asked.
"well, some curlew sandpipers at the next hide; dunlin, spotted redshank..."
"mmm, nice. have you seen the weaver over here yet?" he asks, fingering his map.
"yes, its a bird from Africa that is in a few places in Spain. and there are a few here" pokes map again.
"weaver?" I'm starting to sound like an idiot.
Fumbling for some semblance of coherence, I add: "so where exactly?"
"here" pokes map again. he seems to like to poke that map.

The next morning I headed out when the sun was still only just getting to Kuwait (maybe it wasnt all that early) in expectation of this great find. A weaver! In Europe. I had no idea. I am new to Europe and am relying on my German/Austrian field guides to the birds of Europe (in hindsight, maybe not the greatest of resources for Spain). Anyhow I was super excited about the prospect of seeing a weaver again.

the digiscoping setup was readied, binoculars within easy reach, and ears wiiiiide open.

it was a beautiful sunrise
the day got warmer
I took some photos of a Dabchick/Little Grebe. And a whole family of swans.

the day got warmer still
I tried to take photos of martins and swifts
a sparrow flew by.

still no weavers
the day got hot
a yellowlegged gull flew by
still no friggin weavers
was the map-poking dutch guy on psychadelics?

eventually I threw in the towel. as an afterthought I decided to check on a nearby hide (in the same wetland system) to see if I could get a little closer to the European Marsh Harrier that was hanging around. Nice hide. some coots.

chep chep chep chep chep chep

hey, I know that call. what is that....
Its a bishop!
A friggin bishop!!!

Thats not a weaver, its a yellow-crowned bishop!

To my delight I managed to get some half-decent photos. here is my favourite:

That day, I also had a great experience with a short-toed eagle (snake-eagle) hanging out above me for a couple of minutes.

Happy birding
Dale Forbes

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Digiscoping birds on the Spanish Costa Brava

Well, in the end I managed to get photos of 75 species of birds in the three weeks I was on the Costa Brava. It was interesting how some days, try as I might, I just couldnt get any decent photos and was presented with very few opportunities. But then on other days, new species were just falling out of the trees all about me.

I probably had the most fun of all trying to photograph the fast-flying birds - the swifts and the swallows. In the end I managed to get some half-decent swallow and swift pics.

Pallid Swift

Black Swift

Barn Swallow

I was lucky enough to still be around when the front rim of the return migration happened. Suddenly from one day to the next, there were Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlins, Spotted Redshanks, Little Stints and all sorts of other little wonders twittering about the wetlands.

Curlew Sandpiper


more photos and some stories in my next post...

happy birding
dale forbes

Friday, 1 August 2008

Digiscoping Birds on La Costa Brava, Spain II

So, not so much luck lately, but here are some digiscoping photos of birds from the last few days:

Some more fun with the purple gallinules

Our local scops owl (Olga) on our porch

Cattle egrets were everywhere in South Africa but I have not seen to many here in Europe so I could not pass up the opportunity to take a photo of them. Besides, the Great Reed Warblers were more intent on calling from deep within the reeds (always out of sight) and the kingfishers always seemed to be landing just the other side of a reed stem or branch.

Does anyone know what this is? I presume it is a planet (Jupiter?) with a few moons around it.

Happy birding
Dale Forbes