Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday, March 30: A Look at the Past Week, Eurasian Spoonbill

     The morning dog walks have not yielded much in the past week. New arrivals in Kobelja Glava were Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) on Sunday, 27.03, and a Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) today (30.03). Along with the usual cast of corvids, I now see Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), and Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) on a more or less regular basis during the walks. Fieldfares, which were omnipresent earlier in March, have now "disappeared."

     A Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) highlighted a trip to Dolovi/Gornje Telelovo Polje this morning. According to Ptice Kantona Sarajevo (2010) by Kotrošan et al., sightings have previously been limited to August, October and November, so this represents a first Spring record. The bird flew in from upstream on the Miljacka and landed briefly twice opposite the sewage treatment facility before flying off in the downstream direction of the Bosne River.

     Also today, the partially flooded field on the west side of the Bosne near Dolovi produced just 4 species of waders: 8-10 Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), 2 Green Sandpipers (Tringa ochropus), a Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), and 1 basic-plumaged Dunlin (Calidris alpina), a new bird for my Bosnia list.

     On Saturday, we had to exit the country and come back in with a new 90-day stamp, so we drove down to the Adriatic via Mostar. Alas, in Croatia not Bosnia, a Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) hovered virtually motionless in a headwind over a low ridge, while a probable Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes), looking almost falcon like, made a couple of short diving passes over the same ridge before disappearing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, 22 March - A Sarajevo Canton First?

     The weather moderated a little today with temperatures "soaring" up to 8C, and for a while the sun came through the overcast to create a Spring-like feel in the city.
     Checking out two of my favorite Sarajevo Spring-birding sites today, both within about a half kilometer of each other and in the vicinity of the confluence of the Bosne and Miljacka Rivers, produced four Bosnian firsts for me: about 50 Graganey (Anas querquedula), 2 Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), 4 Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa), and 9 Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax). Three Black Redstarts (Phoenicurus ochruros) was a new cantonal first for me.
     I'm astonished that Ruff is not listed in Ptice Kantona Sarajevo, by Kotrošan et al (2010), so this may represent a Cantonal first record. The Night-Herons are apparently unrecorded before April; their appearance in late March, therefore, is not that much of a surprise. Because of it's recent history, birding here and elsewhere in Bosnia is certain to significantly contribute to what is known about bird distribution and abundance. It's what makes being in the field here exciting.  
     Also of interest were 2 drake and a hen Shoveler (Anas clypeata), a female Eurasian Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), at least 45 Common Cranes (Grus grus), a Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), 3 Common Redshanks (Tringa totanus), 25 Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and over 100 Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday, March 21

It snowed overnight (less than a cm) and there was  very light flurries in the air this morning as I walked the dogs over the usual route in Kobelja Glava. Not unexpectedly, I spotted my first Hoopoe (Upupa epops), sitting in the snow, and a male Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). The walk also produced the first Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis); two flew up into a fruit tree in one of the many open backyards in our neighborhood. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday, March 19 - A Migratory Push, Part 2

     What follows is speculation. The clouds sitting low like a blanket over  the hilltops left open corridors formed by the two major valleys, one that stretches south toward Foča and the Montenegro border, and the Miljacka River "canyon" that bears east and southeast. Our ridge is a low natural divide between Sarajevo and the Bosne River valley that serves as a passageway going north to Croatia and Hungary. From a vantage point on the ridge near our house in a two-hour period between 1130 and 1330, I watched several migratory flocks move northward. Common Cranes (Grus grus), Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), and 9 Eurasian Marsh-Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) formed the bulk of the movement. Had the skies been clearer, perhaps the migration would have been moving over higher up, allowing the birds to disperse on a broader front.

     Here is the complete list:

Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea     5

Eurasian Marsh-Harrier - Circus aeruginosus     9

Common Crane - Grus grus     260

Sky Lark - Alauda arvensis     20 

Stonechat (European) - Saxicola torquatus rubicola/hibernans     2 (non-migratory)

European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris     30

Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs     165

Saturday, March 19 - A Migratory Push, Part 1

     The low pressure brought with it rain overnight in Sarajevo and snow on the hills above about 1200 meters. Low heavy clouds obscured the hilltops around the city, and the temperature dropped 4-5C from Friday. 

     A morning trip (0830-1000) to the fields bordering the Bosne River near Dolovi (Ilidza) yielded five new species for my Bosnia list including Common Crane (Grus grus), Common Redshank (Tringa totanus), Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) and Linnet (Carduelis cannabina). 

     The mixed flock working the manure at the road edge included 60 White wagtails (Motacilla alba) and the Yellow Wagtails that included at least 5 male M. f. feldegg  and 10 M. f. flava.

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     7
Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea     3
Common Crane - Grus grus     8
Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus     15
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus     2
Common Redshank - Tringa totanus     1
Common Wood-Pigeon - Columba palumbus     1
Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis     1
Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica     4
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix     8
Common Raven - Corvus corax     2
Sky Lark - Alauda arvensis     5
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica     3     Migratory push today. 3 seen at a distance, but no question what they were.
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita     1
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos     1
Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus     1
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris     40
Western Yellow Wagtail (Blue-headed) - Motacilla flava flava/beema     10     A mixed flock of wagtails, pipits and linnets. There were unquestionably at least 5 feldegg and 10 or so neutral gray-headed, presumably ssp. flava. There were a couple of intermediate darker gray individuals.
Western Yellow Wagtail (Black-headed) - Motacilla flava feldegg     5     Solid black crowned feldegg - no superciliary.
White Wagtail (alba) - Motacilla alba alba     60
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis     3
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta     5
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs     2
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis     3
Eurasian Linnet - Carduelis cannabina     3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus     25

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday, March 15, 2011 - 5 New Species for my BiH list

     Morning trip beginning at the large field west of the Bosne River near Dolovi settlement. The field is partially ploughed away from the road, but there is considerable standing water. I hope for waders. Today, there were 11 Gray Herons (Ardea cinerea), 3 Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) and a flock of about 12 Green Sandpipers (Tringa ochropus). A mixed flock of Water Pipits (Anthus spinoletta), White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) and a couple of Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) were also there. A distant flying Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is only my second record for Sarajevo in three months. Two singing Song Thrushes (Turdus philomelas) were my first for BiH.

   Farther along the Bosne toward Vrelo Bosne, I spotted 3 Wood Pigeons (Columba palumbus), my first for the year and for BiH. Earlier, in the vicinity of Otes, a part if Ilidza, I saw my BiH first Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).

    At the park, there was a lot of bird activity including two species new to my BiH list: Gray-faced Woodpecker (Picus canus), and Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris). Here is my list for the park today:

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     2

Common Wood-Pigeon - Columba palumbus     3

Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto     1

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Dendrocopos major     5

Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis     1
Gray-faced Woodpecker - Picus canus     1
Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica     10
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix     5
Common Raven - Corvus corax     2
Marsh Tit - Poecile palustris     2
Great Tit - Parus major     4
Eurasian Nuthatch - Sitta europaea     6
Eurasian Treecreeper - Certhia familiaris     2
Eurasian Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes     1
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula     2
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula     4
Fieldfare - Turdus pilaris     20
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos     5
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris     2
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba     2
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs     5

Late in the afternoon, I spent about an hour at the small park near Stojcevic where I recorded the following species:

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     3

Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis     3 ( Two present here at least since early January)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Dendrocopos major     5

Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius     2

Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica     10
Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula     5
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix     5
Marsh Tit - Poecile palustris     3
Great Tit - Parus major     5
Eurasian Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus     2
Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus     2
Eurasian Nuthatch - Sitta europaea     4
Goldcrest - Regulus regulus     2
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula     3
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos     4
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs     10
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris     2
Eurasian Bullfinch - Pyrrhula pyrrhula     10
Hawfinch - Coccothraustes coccothraustes     1

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday, March 11 - Late Afternoon

Checked out the confluence of the Miljacka and Bosne Rivers - not much going on there other than a few Gray Herons and some Mallards. So I headed over the back route toward Dolovi on the Sarajevo map. Just west of the Bosne are some large open fields that have some standing water. Saw 2 Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), Green Sandpipers (Tringa ochropus) as well as at least 10 more Gray Herons (Ardea cinarea), White Wagtails (Motacilla alba), Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) and two Redwings (Turdus iliacus).

Most intriguing, but alas unconfirmed, I almost certainly twice heard Common Crane (Grus grus) in the distance, but I could not verify the source of the sound.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring is in the Air

     The weather this morning was cloudy with a NW breeze that made the +2C temperature seem colder. The morning dog walk produced a flyby White Wagtail the first of the season up in our neighborhood. In retrospect, that was an omen. As the temperatures moderated when the sun burned through before noon, the flat and narrow flood plain on the Željeznica opposite the Obi Center in Ilidža produced a mixed flock of about 75 White Wagtails (Motacilla alba), 100+ Starlings (Sternus vulgaris), 15 or so Sky Larks (Alauda arvensis), 10 Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and at least 3 Water Pipits (Anthus spinoletta). On the water, there was a beautiful drake Shoveler (Anas clypeata), a first for me in Bosnia. In addition, 90 Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and the usual assortment of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were also present.  The Gulls and the Meadow Pipits were a Canton first this season.

    Sitting in a snow-covered field near Vrelo Bosne, a flock of 11 Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) were also a Bosnia first for me.

    Not a bad start to the migration season with two personal firsts for Bosnia and two seasonal firsts in Sarajevo.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday, March 5 - Wood Lark

Walking the dogs in our neighborhood, I was surprised to see an early Wood Lark sitting in the top of an apple tree in the middle of a field singing, albeit quietly, as if it was Spring! In another field there were 9 Skylarks. Twice I have had a Skylark this past week underneath my feeders. The male and female Cirl Bunting were back. I also saw a European Robin and a Hawfinch (both scarce but present through the winter).