Sunday, 8 May 2011

Have the bee-eaters returned?

I have been waiting for the local bee-eater to return. I thought they had two days ago when a flock of about 20 birds descended on a wood I was visiting at the time. They stopped there all the time I was there. At one time there were 17 birds on a single tree.

However I haven't seen them locally in the 36 hours since and I now wonder if like the previous two flocks they are just passage birds.

bee-eater, Klimentovo near Varna

Near-by I also saw two woodchat shrike. This is an uncommon bird around here. I am surprised that my first summer shrike was woodchat shrike rather than lesser grey shrike or red-backed shrike which are much more common.

female woodchat shrike

Often a female woodchat shrike has a yellower head than the male but not this one. It was equally as orange brown as the male in the pair.

male woodchat shrike

The only easy way I could distinguish between the sexes of these two was that the male has a much stronger black mask over the top of the beck.

spotted flycatcher

I increased my sightings of flycatcher species locally from one to three. In an earlier blog I showed a pied flycatcher on passage. In the last two days I have seen plenty of spotted flycatcher and a couple of semi-collared flycatcher too.  Its a confusing time at the moment with some passage birds mingled in with local breeders. This is true for these flycatchers although I must say the semi-collared flycatchers at least looked very comfortable. 

semi-collared flycatcher

Comparing the semi-collared flycatcher with the pied flycatcher I saw a week or two ago, there is the big white spot above the beck (rather than two small ones) , the collar! and more white on the wing. 

a new shot of a golden oriole

I can confirm the golden oriole which I featured in the last blog are here to stay. They were in pretty much the same place as a few days ago.

One topic I haven't yet give much coverage of locally is bird of prey activity. There is plenty of it. Excluding passage birds, above the skies just south of the village you can see common buzzard, sparrowhawk, and kestrel. I have also seen a pair of eagles. A silhouette of one of them is shown below. I have never pretended to be very good with the ID of eagles. It is my biggest birding weakness. I can manage short toed eagle and bonelli's eagle as I had experience of them in Libya.

 first shot of eagle

Three eagle species visit this area in the summer. My very hesitant guess is that the birds were lesser spotted eagle. I hope they are summer residents and I'll get more chance for a closer and longer look.
second silhouette of an eagle

Of course my village is on a major passage route too but these birds weren't in any hurry to travel north. One passage bird I did have seen in the past two days over-head was osprey. You have to remember we are only 4 kilometres from the coast as the crow flies.

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