Sunday 6 June 2010

A short visit home to Bulgaria

one of the valleys at my Bulgarian home - May

I have a home in a Bulgarian village just north of Varna in the hills and overlooking the sea. This is where I spend most of high summer and Christmas. I went there for a short break after term finished in Tripoli and before my move to Benghazi. I was there from May 13th until May 20th.

I bought an improved camera in Varna which I had promised myself so my shots in Libya should be better in future.

I had the opportunity to do a little bit of local bird watching and to try out the new camera.

My swimming pool attracts barn swallow and there are nesting house sparrow in or on my house. Around the village are also flocks of spanish sparrow. I heard many nightingdale in the village. This is a sound I am familiar with because of the very large numbers who migrant through Tripolitania. Although they were much more vocal now in Bulgaria here they breed.

The fields have many breeding skylark. I wondered whether any of them had joined the large flocks which winter in Libya. The valleys had several bee-eater.

And on the wires I saw lesser grey shrike.

lesser grey shrike - village north of Varna - May

On a walk to another local village I spotted a few of the other local summer breeding shrike -the red backed shrike.

female red backed shrike - north of Varna - May

male red backed shrike - north of Varna - May

While I was experimenting with camera I took several photos of this common shrike. I wonder if I will see them on passage this autumn around Benghazi?

male (right) and female red backed shrike - north of Varna - May

On my walks in the surrounding countryside there were very many corn bunting. They were very common on bush tops.

two pictures of corn bunting - north of Varna - May

I also saw a smaller number of its cousin - yellowhammer. One of the birds was particularly difficult for me to identify (right hand bird below). I guess it is a juvenile. My experience of yellow hammer was limited to Azerbaijan in winter. It is strange to bird a different area. It takes time to adjust. I can never be a "twitcher". I dont like the idea of counting the number of species you have seen. I prefer to "get to know" my birds. If you go on a holiday to Venezula for 3 weeks and collect 400 new birds presented by spotters - so what. Are you a better bird watcher than someone who knows their region backwards but doesn't count numbers. I don't think so.

yellow hammer adult -left and juvenile- right

I am told the yellow throat on the juvenile is diagnostic. But I am no expert!

There were two other birds of note which I saw locally. One was golden oriole. I saw this bird fleetingly twice on passage near Tripoli but it is a common breeder near my village. But this time it avoided my photographic attention.

Finally I saw a kestrel and its nest. I was surprised that spanish sparrow seemed to be nesting directly below it.

I wish I had had more time to bird watch but domestic arrangements and my short break didn't allow for it. Next time will be different.

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