Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wednesday-Thursday, July 1-2, 2015: More on Hippolais polyglotta of Hutovo Blato, BiH.

     Since early May I have been following 4 territorial Hippolais Warblers at Nature Park Hutovo Blato near Čapljina. On May 9 I video recorded and photographed one singing male; At the moment, I am seeking independent confirmation that the individuals I have video recorded and photographed are Melodious Warblers. 

     The individual first spotted and recorded on May 9th represents only the second country record; the first was in May 2011. Subsequently, I made trips on May 23 and 31 and again on July 2-3, primarily to assess the status of this and other species. On subsequent trips I found two more actively singing males, plus on July 2-3 two territorial pairs that displayed very agitated behavior by my presence, bringing the total number of territories to four. 

     The photos above were made on July 2. I was able to photograph one of those agitated individuals as it hopped actively around in low bushes and one small tree no more than 3-4 meters high. Both pairs were repeating an alarm call over and over - the non-musical, dry, short, rapid trill with no high notes thrown in.

     Assuming these birds are nesting - their behavior strongly, but not conclusively suggests they are - this would represent a significant breeding range extension southward. BirdLife International Data Sheet for Melodious Warbler shows the southern extent of their breeding range to be in Croatia north of Split, a distance of more than 70 miles (>110km).


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blagaj for Lunch

Stopped at Blagaj near Mostar at the Vrelo Buna (source of the Buna River) for trout lunch in a restaurant near the base of the cliff. Here is the list tallied during the hour we were there. Sunny, warm, T ~ 28C.

1. Rock Pigeon (Wild type) Columba livia (Wild type)   (x)                                                        
many pairs flying in and out of likely nesting crevices and ledges
Breeding Code
N Probable--Visiting Probable Nest site

2. Alpine Swift Apus melba    (10)
Obviously resident and probably nesting in crevises near the base of the cliff where the water flows out of a cave.
Breeding Code
N Probable--Visiting Probable Nest site

3. Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus    (1)

4. Eurasian Crag-Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris    (3)
at least three flying around the cliff.

5. Common House-Martin Delichon urbicum    (10+)

6. Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula    (1)

7. Gray Wagtail Motacilla cinerea    (1)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Probable Nesting Status For Two Warbler Species at Hutovo Blato, Bosnia and Herzegovina

     The first annual ebird Global Big Day on May 9th gave me the excuse to try my luck in BiH where I have lived for the last 4.5 years. While my total fell short of a goal of 90 species, I can blame much of that on the discovery at Hutovo Blato of two warbler species that occupied my attention for far too long as I tried to document them.

     The first, a Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta)  is a second country record, the first having been recorded on May 20, 2011 by Ena Hatibovic and me. The bird cooperated well and I managed to obtain video (see above) and photographs of the bird singing.

     Presumably the same individual was still occupying the same territory on May 23rd and 31st. For atlas purposes, the eBird breeding code, S7 Probable Singing Male present 7+ days, applies here. Additionally I located 2 other singing males nearby around the open water called Skrka. Here is a link to a Google Map that pinponts (C, G, and D) the sightings this May. Pinpoint A is the location of the singing Melodious Warbler recorded on May 20, 2011.

     A nearby Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris), also a singing male and apparently on territory, responded to a recording but did not show himself well enough for photo or video. Subsequently, I did not locate the bird for certain on May 23rd (damp and cool weather kept singing to a minimum). However, when I returned to Hutovo Blato on May 31 I did succeed in recording an individual occupying precisely the same territory as the bird on May 9.  Here is a video of this individual.

     Here is a link to a longer video/sound recording of the same bird: 

     Also on May 31st, I located a second singing male on a hillside facing Skrka. The presence of a singing male more than 7 days apart also establishes Eastern Orphean Warbler as a Probable nester.

     The most recent records at Hutovo Blato for Orphean Warbler according to Kotrošan and Sarajlić in a paper Ornitofauna Hutovog Blata - Stanje i Perspektive are attributed to S. Obratil in a paper dated 2000. However, Shirihai et al. in Sylvia Warblers (2001) treated the species as "two well-differentiated forms that we regard as allospecies," an Eastern (Sylvia crassirostris) and Western (S. hortensis). The IOC adopted the change in a revision dated January 2008. Kotrošan (per. comm) is not aware of any records more recent than 2000.

    Bosnia and Hercegovina falls within the range for the Eastern Orphean Warbler. The hillside where this bird was found is consistent with the description of the habitat preferences for this species by Shirihai et al.