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Romania Day 4 - 11th June 2019

Thursday 18th July 2019

Romania Day 3

Tuesday 9th July 2019

Romania Day2

Monday 24th June 2019

Romania Day1

Friday 21st June 2019

Great Grey Shrike and others

Thursday 6th June 2019

The last ten days or so

Sunday 26th May 2019

Good weather at last

Friday 17th May 2019

5 days of not a lot

Saturday 4th May 2019

Week ending 26th April 2019

Monday 29th April 2019

The last couple of weeks or so

Wednesday 17th April 2019

Wales - Day 5

Monday 15th April 2019

Wales - Day4

Thursday 11th April 2019

North Wales - Day 3

Tuesday 9th April 2019

North Wales - Day 1 and 2

Sunday 7th April 2019

March so Far

Wednesday 13th March 2019

The last couple of weeks of February

Sunday 3rd March 2019

The last seven days

Monday 18th February 2019

The last two weeks of January

Wednesday 6th February 2019

Wildfowl Week

Monday 21st January 2019

Slim pickings for a month.

Monday 14th January 2019

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Thursday 18th July 2019

Romania Day 4 - 11th June 2019

I have been making steady progress with the editing so here is the latest.

We were still in the Macin Mountains area and started off this day with a trip round the locality in the minibus - just the two of us and Zoltan, our guide as the two others on the trip were spending the morning in the hide, together with the myriad of very persistant mosquitos.

Out in the countryside, it was amazing to see the number of birds around. This country has become a bird desert in comparison. My friend Neil sat in the front of the bus as his spotting skills are superior to mine. I sat in the back with the sliding door open and managed to get organised with my tripod set up for better stability.

Our target bird initially was a new specied for me - black-headed Bunting and, with patience, we were able to get close enough for decent shots.

We then moved on to a site of nesting Stone-curlews. Unfortunately, the early morning sun was not conducive to good photos but we found a pair with two chicks - rather more distant that we would have liked.

A rare species had occasionally called to drink at the drinking pool hide we were in yesterday - Levant Sparrowhawk - but not while we were there. Zoltan knew the location of the nest and took us there and then we climbed beyond it up the hill to a point where we could see down on the canopy where the nest was. Very frustrating as we could see glimpses of the birds flying under the canopy to the nest but never in the open. Eventually one decided to come out on to the thermals, very distant but at least a record shot.

Time for lunch.

In the hotel grounds, Sakertours had built a drinking pool and hide so we decided to spend some time there before going out in the minibus for the evening.

Quite a busy time with some well known species.

with a juvenile White Wagtail around most of the time.

A Corn Bunting came to drink

and then decided to have a bath.

with an adult White Wagtail also arriving.

Well that was a fruitful and enjoyable time but we then made our way back to the Stone-Curlews to see if we could manage anything better in the late afternoon light.

and then we were able to get quite close to one in the grass.

Finally, we went to an area resembling heathland to see if we could find another new species for me - Isabelline Wheatear.

In fact there were several in the area and we ended up with some respectable shots.

By this time it was mid-evening so dinner and back to the hotel for downloading, recharging and sleep.

Tuesday 9th July 2019

Romania Day 3

With loads of photos to sort from this trip, the last couple of weeks have been frustrating, to say the least. Somehow, I ended up with a trapped nerve in my back - extremely painful - that prevented me from driving or doing any work on the computer. So all those photos have sat there, languishing on the hard drive. Anyway, I have now recovered sufficiently, after being pumped full of anti-inflamatories and pain-killers, to be able to complete the photos from day 3 so here we go.

There was a change of Sakertours guide and Zoltan, who was our excellent guide last year, had taken over for the rest of the trip in the delta. This morning was a longish drive to the Macin Mountains - well not really mountains but a range of forested hills. The hotel was a new one and quite comfortable and, after checking in, we separated from the other two on this trip and went to a drinking pool hide in the forest. Photography here was quite challenging as the light was dappled sunshine if we were lucky so most of the time we were using lowish shutter speeds to keep the ISO to manageable levels.

Once settled in to the hide and plastered with insect repellant, the first visitor was a Syrian Woodpecker, very similar to our Great Spotted Woodpecker. First a female

and then a male

In fact these were regular visitors, closely followed by the local Nightingales. I find it very strange that they are so shy in the UK, hiding in the undergrowth, but will readily emerge into the open in Eastern Europe.

Also regular visitors during this session was a pair of Turtle Doves.

A new species for me, Sombre Tit also made the odd appearance.

as did a very tatty looking Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

The Turtle doves returned to show very nicely

and to drink.

As the evening wore on, the sunlight settled on a branch over the drinking pool and I was just thinking how great it would be if a Nightingale perched on it when it did and even burst into song for the shot of the day.

Later on, the light was going when a surprise Song Thrush appeared. I would not have showed this photo except that it was taken at ISO 8000 and 1/160th second shutter speed. I was very surprised that is usable, if not the best quality.

Time for a meal at a local restaurant followed by a shower to clear off the insect repellent before downloading and recharging batteries and me with some sleep before another very early start tomorrow.

 

Monday 24th June 2019

Romania Day2

An early start - 4:45 - and we were heading for an area where a colony of Collared Pratincoles had been reported. This was one of my target species except they were not on show. We searched and searched and eventually found one sitting on a nest amongst the foliage. Careful stalking and we got close enough for a decent photo.

There were just two ot three birds around and we finally got one standing - better than nothing, I suppose.

Leaving that area, there was a small group of Spoonbills close enough to get a shot.

The high water levels meant that any wader activity was too distant but we found as new species for me - Long-legged Buzzard, quartering a field close to the road. Distant again.

The Danube Delta is a centre of arable farming with acres and acres of wheat, barley and oats being grown. This attracted another new species for me - Black-headed Wagtail, a variant of our Yellow Wagtail. Still distant.

We then went to an area where a Lesser Grey Shrike was breeding and a hide had been set up for photography. At last a bird close enough for decent shots.

Back to the hotel for lunch and a siesta before the afternoons adventure to a different area. A Thekla Lark showed on the road in frnt of us.

and even a Black-headed Wagtail showed well. This one is a slightly different variation as the head is all black.

and a female

and the male displaying to the totally disinterested female.

We then found a small colony of the local ground squirrels, called Sousliks. They reminded me of Meercats but no relation.

Just across the track, there was a nest of well grown Wheatears with three young about to fledge.

A quick shot of another new species for me - Spanish Sparrow

before heading to an area where Stone-curlews are nesting. We just sat down on low chairs in the middle of the field and waited.

Well worth waiting for.

Before returning to the hotel, we revisited the old quarry to see if we could improve on our photographs of Pied Wheatear - short answer - no - but we did find a Little Ringed Plover doing its broken wing ritual.

We sat still in the minibus until it settled down and then back to the hotel for dinner, backing-up and recharging the batteries ready for tomorrow.

Friday 21st June 2019

Romania Day1

On 8th June, a friend and I departed on the 08:30 Ryanair flight from Stansted to Bucharest to start a 10 day photographic holiday organised by  Sakertours. Last year we went to one site, Primera Frontiera, but this time we were moving around for greater variety of species.

After collection from Bucharest airport by our first Sakertours guide, Szabi, it was a three hour drive to our first stop at a village called Sinoe in the south part of the Danube Delta where we were to stay for two nights. As this was a photo trip, there were just two others on the tour, an American couple who were on a 3 1/2 month trip to the Middle East and Europe.

Having arrived at the hotel and with some sunlight still available, Szabi took us to a disused quarry to try to photograph Pied Wheatear that were nesting there. Taking photos from a mini-bus with others bouncing around is not easy, especially since we had to shoot out of a side door, hand held. The birds did not come close but I managed some shots that were worth keeping as it was a new species for me.

There was also a juvenile Northern Wheatear around that did venture a little closer.

but by then the evening light was fast disappearing so it was time to return to the hotel, especially since we were to start the next morning at 04:30, and Romania is 2 hours ahead!!!

Thursday 6th June 2019

Great Grey Shrike and others

The last time that I photographed a Great Grey Shrike was March 2012. The odd one had been reported in the area over winter but the few sightings were always distant. Over the past three weeks or so, an adult had been reported at Needingworth. It was possibly the same bird but this one was more co-operative, spending most of it's time in view on the fence of the Hanson compound at the RSPB site at Needingworth Lakes.

I rarely do twitches as the opportunities for good photos tend to be limited due to the numbers of birders happy with more distant views through scopes. Anyway, with sun forecast, I decided to make the trip on 29th May. By the time I had reached the bird, it was heavy cloud and all I could manage was a shot against the sky - a grey bird against a grey sky - this would not win prizes!!!

But is was the best I could do before it disappeared. There were three Turtle Doves purring away, one of which alighted on a distant bush.

and a juvenile Pied Wagtail showed relatively close.

But that was all and with the weather still poor, I went home.

I tried again on 4th June, hoping for more luck as it was my birthday. The weather was cloudy bright but the bird was showing on the compound fence against a grassy bank so a much better backdrop than before. This time after a couple of hours, it tolerated a very close approach.

It then disappeared to the far side of the compound and out of sight.

On the way home, I called in at Fen Drayton Lakes where a couple of Reed Buntings were showing and singing from the tops of the roadside vegetation.

By lunchtime, I was home, getting ready for my impending trip to Romania. It will be at least a couple of weeks or so before this blog will be updated with what, I hope, will be some scintilating shots from the Danube Delta!!!