Monday, 29 May 2017

A New Colony + A Colour Ringed Red Footed Falcon.

A visit to another Red Footed Falcon colony was in order and this particular colony had a larger number of birds. This site was a small wooded copse in an area of vast open steppe like farmland. I decided to use this opportunity to try and upskill my rather poor flight photography skills here as I realised I didn't have any flight shots of Red Foots this trip.

As is always the case, I'm constantly on the lookout for colour-rings and so having two induviduals wearing the usual colour coded alphernumeric plastics was appreciated. 

At one point all the Red Foots, Kestrels and Rooks took to the sky forming a rather large ball, and then there was a rather large White tailed Eagle passing by overhead. I then took a walk to a small pool where the Red Foots gather to feed pre-dusk and as I walked through the area a local farmer was doing his thing with his cattle. A really nice spot this and worthy of more time than I was able to give it but my first colour riged Red Foots were nice.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ural Owl's - Carpathian Montane Forest Region.

Another species I had seen previously in Kazakhstan was Ural Owl but again this was a long time back and pre camera days so to be able to see this species again and hope to be able to photograph them was an opportunity not to be missed.

As we walked down and along the track in the photo above anticipation was high hoping that this particular Ural Owl at ths site would show well, a Black Woodpecker flew through and Wood Warblers sang close by. As we appraoched the site we walked slowly looking for the feamle, of whch she soon appeared glarring at us with eyes fixed on our every movement, of which was minimal just enough to align the camera.

The female above was a rather dark individual and even though it was great to watch and study this individual through the scope and click away the light was not great due to the angle. A Middle Spotted Woodpecker appeared from a nest hole in a nearby tree and then the Ural Owl flew through the area we were standing at and landed on a tree behind us allowing the video footage below. 

Collared Flycatchers sang close by and we then left this individual to do her thing and went off to look at the singing Wood Warblers nearby.

Ural Owl number two was a site we visited that same evening at another area some miles away from the first site, as we walked in slowly we loacted this beautiful female perched up watching us through a gap which was just big enough to get a couple of shots, as you can see this is a rather pale individual but beautiful,gentile  and soft looking. I really enjoyed watching photographing this particular bird as Collared Flycatchers appeared from nest holes close by and the sound of the river flowing in the distance. 

This was to be the last stop of the day but what a day, the first day in the Carpathian montane range. Two Ural Owl's, Displaying Lesser Spotted Eagles whilst carrying a lizard! with Honey Buzzards in the same view, singing Collared Flycatchers & Wood Warblers, Saker on the nest+more.

The following morning we headed out and Eastern Imperial Eagles glided by as we walked to a Saker site, where both adult birds were present at the nest, the female sitting with the male preening and watching over the surrounding area while perched close to the nest on a pylon. Savi's, Moustached and Great Reed Warblers blaired out from a small patch of reed bed next to us and Marsh Harriers quartered low close by.  

Then it was time to visit Ural Owl site number 3: This was another nice wood and again Collared Flycatchers continued to show well as we walked in. On arrival we realised that the female was off the nest as we could see the reflection of a chick in the mirror of the nest above, a short scan showed this, the 3rd female also sitting up watching us through a gap in the leaves, this individual appeared to be darker than Ural Owl 2 yesterday but again a rather smart looking bird.

After leaving the 3rd Ural Owl it was time for an espresso break and then on to the same raptor site again, which was a wooded valley on the mountain ridge line. Within ten minutes a Lesser Spotted Eagle lifted out, thermaled and then glided passed us disaprearing to re-appear fifteen minutes later carrying a lizard back to the nest site, a pair of Short toed Eagles theramlled from the wood, a HoneyBuzzard lifted out, an Eastern Imperial flew along the ridge line, a White tailed Eagle flew directly overhead, a Black Stork passed overhead and Common Buzzards and a single Osprey all added to the mix within the hour we spent at this site. 

tt was then time to visit Ural Owl site number 4. 

The sun had grown hot and the sky had turned blue, we walked through the wood and the nest site was empty, disapointment set in but we hoped the fledged chick would be nearby. And sure enough we could hear a call of an adult, we walked throgh and come to an opening where a single dead leafless tree held a stunnig female Ural Owl just sat there, out in the open in full view, with the sun behind us spot-lighting this individual. 

A scramble to get some shots before she took flight was not needed as she sat there un-concerned by our presence as in the photo above and below. She took flight around 15 minutes later and flew in to the edge of the wood where she seemed interested in some Blackbird activity. It was at this moment when we  turned around and were about to leave we stumbled upon the chick the second image down. 

So as i took this video footage below we sat there enjoyng the peace and quiet of the forest and I was pleased with seeing these four different Ural Owls, only another 116 nest boxes to check!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Saker Falcon Hotorbagy & Carpathian Mountain Range.

Having seen Saker very well in both Kazakhstan and China some time back I had hoped to see them on this trip. I was fortunate enough to have 7 individual birds (not including chicks) with 2 different pairs at 2 nest site locations, 2 birds flying together over another location and a single bird over a mountain ridge so I was quite pleased with this tally.

The video below shows the male perched close to the nest with the female incubating inside the nest box.

Whilst at this site Eastern Imperial Eagles, a single Osprey and Golden Orioles flew over, Great Reed, Savi's and Moustached Warblers all sang from a nearby reed bed, Bitterns boomed with Marsh Harriers quatering as a supporting cast. 

The video below shows the female bird feeding young just after the male had returned with food, even though the images and videos are distant here within this post it was nice studying these individuals and always good seeing falcons make use of man made pylon structures even if there is 33kv of AC running through the power-lines just feet away.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Red Footed Falcons-Hotorbagy National Park Part 2.

I spent another day at one of the colonies and I really enjoyed this, having Mont Harrier drift through, Marsh Harriers displaying and Nightingales on song to add a little variation to the mix, Some of my preffered photos here within this post. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Common Kestrel's Hortorbagy National Park.

Each of the Red footed Falcon colonies I visited also had Common Kestrels nesting within and so I decided to try get some images of these as well. There was lots of interaction and activity between both species and at times rather agrresive. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Red footed Falcons, Hotorbagy National Park, Part 1

I have previously seen breeding Red Footed Falcons in colonies within Kazakhstan but that was many years ago and pre DSLR days so this was a welcome opportunity to get up close and personal to this cracking migratory falcon. 

I was quite surprised how aggressive this species can be to the Common Kestrels that were also nesting within this colony and how vocal they are especially during courtship and copulation. 

Having spent a great many hours within this colony I still came to the same conclusion that I have always had that I believe females are just as good, if not better than males for their aesthetic values.