Monday 28 May 2012

Bulgaria: raptors great and small

It’s taken me a while to get back to blogging about Bulgaria, had a bit of a mad week at work. That accounted for my failure to get to Herefordshire, where I gather there was some sort of boring brown bird – can’t remember what exactly, but I’m sure it was a three word alliteration like that, anyway.

I did catch up with the London Bonaparte’s Gull yesterday, though, which showed fairly well at Barking Bay. I’ve also nearly added Bonaparte’s Gull to my self-found list… do you get any credit for pointing out what other people have found?! You can read all about it >here< and >here<. Joking aside, well done Rich – I’ll buy you a beer at the Pommelers on Friday evening!

Anyway, Bulgaria had lots more birds than the UK, and they were pretty much all better looking than manky 1st year Bonaparte’s Gulls! Many of them were a lot bigger, too… like this impressive beast:


This is a Lesser Spotted Eagle, and a very well-behaved one at that. After Dancho, our guide, had spotted it in a roadside tree, it did the decent thing and stayed there as we coasted in gradually closer along the verge, and gave awesome views. During the remainder of the trip, we saw about half a dozen more, including a group of three, but none anything like this well. The flight profile is quite distinctive, though, with characteristically drooped wings.


Another highlight (and another tick) came in the form of Eastern Imperial Eagle, the main target of a lengthy trip SW from Bourgas to the area around Topolovgrad. The bird above was one of a pair that gave excellent scope views, hunting low over an area of rolling farmland, then circling majestically high together. It seemed a bit weird to be seeing enormous Golden-like eagles in lowland countryside!


Did I say enormous? Hmm, that leaves me with a problem describing this great lump, then. The only White-tailed Eagle was seen at the mouth of the Izvorska river, on the south side of Lake Mandra. After flying in as shown, it did what birds of prey do best for a while (ie sat around, doing nothing), before gliding over the water and grabbing a snack, probably a young Coot or Moorhen, and carrying it off into the distance!


We saw good numbers of smaller eagles, too – the one above is a Short-toed, and we also saw a number of Booted Eagles. (My photos of those are even worse than these record shots!)


The buzzard list for the trip numbered three, with Long-legged, Honey and Common seen on multiple occasions (the latter two of which are shown above). Hopefully the Common Buzzards in Bulgaria are better protected and respected than those in the UK. If you haven’t done so yet, please sign >this petition< against the DEFRA’s shocking proposal to capture Buzzards and destroy nests near pheasant shoots, despite the complete absence of any evidence showing they cause significant harm. An unbelievable waste of money, given all the alternative conservation causes in the UK.


And finally, a couple of smaller raptors. The Hobby above was hunting newly arrived passerine migrants along Cape Kaliakra, near Kavarna, giving excellent views at times. However smart they may be, though, there was no competition with this pair of Red-footed Falcons… I worried for Dave Mo’s health, he was getting so excited!


Now clearly most of the shots above aren’t going to win any prizes, but hopefully they serve to illustrate the excellent diversity of birds of prey to be found in the country. And we didn’t see everything, either! Our total list was as follows:

  1. Egyptian Vulture
  2. White-tailed Eagle
  3. Eastern Imperial Eagle
  4. Lesser Spotted Eagle
  5. Booted Eagle
  6. Short-toed Eagle
  7. Marsh Harrier
  8. Montagu’s Harrier
  9. Black Kite
  10. Honey Buzzard
  11. Common Buzzard
  12. Long-legged Buzzard
  13. Sparrowhawk
  14. Levant Sparrowhawk
  15. Hobby
  16. Red-footed Falcon
  17. Kestrel
  18. Eagle Owl (if you call that a raptor!)


No comments: