Friday 27 May 2011

A newly cut field

The bird it seems every birder in Bulgaria wants to see this week is rosy starling. Outside of the Caucasus, Bulgaria is probably the best place in Europe to see this bird.  It usually arrives from India about now. However it is nomadic and although some nesting colonies are in the same places every year they are notoriously well hidden.

As far as I know no one has seen it yet this year or else I would have expected it to be announced on the facebook group which looks at Bulgarian birds.

The most common sightings are in an area a few kilometres north of my village. Granted the terrain there is more steppe-like which seems to please them more than other areas. However it was not inconceivable that I would see them today when I went out for a birding walk.

I was drawn to a newly cut field on the edge of the village. These types of fields often attract large numbers of birds seeking either seeds or exposed insects and worms or both. I used to visit them regularly in Libya because they were such a magnet for birds.

newly cut field today near my village

I idly dreamed that it could attract rosy starlings!  Actually it wasn't a bad hypothesis.  The field certainly had many common starling and if rosy starling had been around I'm sure they would have joined them.

common starling in local newly cut field

The second most common bird in the field was probably yellow wagtail. This bird is similarly attracted to Libyan cut fields on passage. I had assumed the local populations of breeding yellow wagtail was small until I saw the numbers today. Just where do they hide themselves normally?

female (left) and male yellow wagtail (right) in local field

There were also significant numbers of corn bunting, black headed bunting, skylark, tawny pipit and house sparrow. There were at least two white wagtail, two turtle dove and a few linnet all crammed into one field. 

local linnet

The picture above was taken at a house near mine rather than in the field today.

At one stage the birds in the field became agitated by something and it wasn't me. First the house sparrow bolted for the trees and then some other birds followed.

female kestrel poised to dive

The reason was the appearance over-head of a female common kestrel. Kestrels rarely attack other birds so it was surprising that some of other birds bolted but they did.

common kestrel over the field 

The kestrel did dive but I think it caught a vole which I suppose is another species exposed by the field cut.

unusual view - almost directly below a kestrel

I found the 45 minutes in a cut field very interesting today. I'll try it again. Who knows next time there may be rosy starling around.

I've got two other bits of news from the past two days. First I keep seeing the short toed eagle I have reported on before. I'm pretty sure I know where it roosts now too. A friend told me he saw it the other day eating a snake right in the middle of the road between our two villages.

local short toed eagle

The second tit bit is that I have noticed that while my road has mostly barn swallow nesting, the village as a whole seems to have more house martin nests. This is especially true of the older houses.

one of many house martin nests

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