Sunday, 24 June 2012

Late June at home

The people in the villages north of Varna have been complaining that it has been much hotter than usual for late June. Typically it has been 35C in the shade.However compared with Riyadh this is nothing though the humidity is problematic.

Birding has been difficult for several reasons: the birds are keeping in the shade, the humidity gets to you and possibly the worst factor is the wild barley. The barley heads get into your boots and they really hurt. I'm not joking, they are a real pain. 

Nevertheless, over a couple of days and avoiding midday, I have re-acquainted myself with the local bird life. And by local I mean all the bird pictures in this blog were taken within 500 metres of my house - though I did venture, fruitlessly, a bit further.

house martin

In the village itself, house martin and barn swallow are everywhere. If you look carefully there are a few red-rumped swallow and common swift in the air too though I cant vouch that they breed in the village unlike the other two.

northern wheatear

All year round, house sparrow and tree sparrow are also obvious close to houses. I am happy that a pair of northern wheatear are to be found very near my house again this summer. They have been making it into my garden at times too. This year both birds have got two legs. A male bird that visited me last summer only had one!

corn bunting

Once you venture out of the village into the near-by fields then the birding has been tough. One guaranteed bird is corn bunting. It is extremely common and vocal here.

I have heard but not yet seen a black headed bunting. The reason is probably the route I have taken. They mostly stay near the arable fields west of the village. I have been straight out of the front door to the east.

golden oriole

Another noisy and numerous bird is golden oriole. It makes they countryside sound like Africa. However the bird is shy. It may be easy to hear and see in flight but in the open countryside seeing one perched is very tricky. It's a long distance occupation.

red backed shrike

Aside from the golden oriole and corn bunting, pickings have been a bit thin. The red-backed shrike was an exception. 

I really must get out at dawn one day. It is probably only then and towards dusk when many birds are out in the open. 


By way of example. two linnet were seen just as I was finishing my walk last night. It was 6.45pm.

long tailed tit

There is a mobile long tailed tit flock about which you can best see at these times too.

distant booted eagle

Let's not forget that the heat is actually a good omen for seeing a few select birds. The ones I am thinking about are birds of prey which like the thermals. I haven't seen the family of short toed eagle which was in a local valley last year though people tell me they are around again. However I have seen a dark phase booted eagle. Apparently the white shoulders (or landing lights) are diagnostic even from my poor picture.

I saw and photographed a light phase booted eagle over my house in late August last year. I had assumed it was on passage but research suggests they migrate in September. It's beginning to looks like booted eagle is a local bird.

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