Saturday 11 June 2011

Wet birds on hot days

We had a couple of very hot days in the middle of the week. I couldn't go birding in the morning because I had Bulgarian lessons and because of my hectic social calendar in the evenings (sic) I was stuck with birding in the heat of the afternoons.

This is where my Libyan experience of birding in the heat came in useful. I had an adage there - "where there's water there's birds".

It didn't work too badly for me in Bulgaria either on these hot days.

starling splashing about

Like many Bulgarian villages, mine has a drinking fountain and trough. Some entrepreneurial local has dug a short channel from the overflow of the trough to his garden. The local starling, house sparrow and probably other species too took advantage of his channel not only to drink but to bathe.

After having this mini success at actually seeing some birds in the heat, I walked out to another trough I know outside the village. I thought this had more potential to see more rural birds It's a beautiful walk at the moment along the side of wheat and rape fields towards the forest. There is of course the incessant sound and sight of skylark too.

flowers by the side of a rape field

It's the wild flowers that make it so beautiful.
poppies in a wheat field

I don't really think the farmer wants as many poppies in his wheat as he has got but it certainly brightens the place up.

water trough outside the village

Very soon you come to a water trough which is a memorial to a man who died young. I wonder if he was the farmer's son? You can see the plaque.

In the hot weather I suspect all the birds in the locality drink here at some time during the day. It would be worth staying put for a few hours if you have the patience. I stayed about an hour in mid afternoon and as with the village trough there was as much bathing as drinking. 

soaked corn bunting after a bath

The water is absolutely crystal clear. There is only a slight sign of algae in the holding area at the end. You can see the bottom of the trough easily. The water must be very pure.

bathing corn bunting

Local corn bunting are very attracted to the water. They drink, bathe and even wallow. 

a wallowing corn bunting in a patch of muddy water next to the trough

Ortolan bunting also enjoy the place. It would be hard to believe that black-headed bunting near-by don't visit it as well.

ortolan bunting just out from a bath

However the most regular sighting at the trough are yellow wagtail. They simply love the place. They obviously spend a lot of time in the water.

yellow wagtail at the trough

yellow wagtail

I counted at least two pairs of adults and on the first day there were fledglings present too.

a wet yellow wagtail fledgling

Barn swallow and house martin were flying regular sorties over-head. Some times barn swallow would stop to perch.

greenfinch at the trough

So what other birds visit? Well greenfinch definitely drink and bathe there. Red backed shrike perch very close but I did see one drink. The trough is next to a copse where I can hear or see golden oriole, nightingale, blackbird, turtle dove  and whitethroat. I would be very surprised if there don't visit at other times.

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