Birdwatching news and bird photography from Transcaucasia - by Kai Gauger and Michael Heiß

Dienstag, 22. Mai 2012

Skuas and Raptors

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

The numbers of migrating birds decrease day by day and the end of the spring count is near. Seawatching produced a good day of migrating Arctic Skuas together with Common Terns. Two exhausted Arctic Skuas rested along the beach. One of them was already dying, so I checked the beach the next day for more birds, when I found eight (!) dead along the shore.

Arctic Skua on the beach
Still alive - An Arctic Skua chasing a Sandwich Tern

Raptor migration still continues along the foothills with 700 Steppe Buzzards and 35 Steppe Eagles on one day. Only a few Honey Buzzards occured so far.

Large flock of migrating Steppe Buzzards
Steppe Eagle
Nice surprise - Demoiselle Cranes on migration

Distant view of Besh Barmag
Poisonous Levant Viper
After two killed Levant Vipers I was glad to find this one alive
Sheltopusiks are widespread and common in the foothills
Green Warbler in the bushes
Several Rufous Bush Robins sing in the bushes
A Cuckoo with its prey

Samstag, 12. Mai 2012

Photographs of the last days

 Text & Photos © M. Heiß

Birdwatching in May is probably the most comfortable time with warm temperatures between 20-25°C, sunny weather and many birds and great song activity. Calandra Larks and Isabelline Weathears are singing in the steppes, whereas Nightingales, Cuckoos and Turtle Doves are singing in the bushes. Along the lagoon small breeding colonies of Black-winges Stilts can be found and Kentish Plovers and Lapwings have already chicks. The ongoing bird migration produced some further nice encounters.
The only rare species was a single Red-rumped Swallow among migrating Barn Swallows and Sand Martins. Just a few records exist for this species in Azerbaijan.

Rose-coloured Starling is the dominating migrant at the moment
Resting flock in the bushes
Daily several thousand individuals can be seen
The first Honey Buzzards arrived at Besh Barmag
A Hobby on the beach



Marsh Harrier with a fish
A pair of Mediterranean Gulls
Barred Warbler in the bushes
Great Reed Warbler
Ortolan Bunting
The song of Black-headed Buntings can be heard all over the area
Woodchat Shrike
Two Broad-billed Sandpipers in the lagoon
Trouble in a small breeding colonie of Black-winged Stilts
Black-tailed Godwit
Three out of four distant wolves which I found playing on the beach

Donnerstag, 3. Mai 2012

Glaucous Gull and some more

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

 Seawatching became more and more boring the last weeks with only a few migrating terns and waders, but last week I was surprised by an immature Glaucous Gull. The gull had whitish wings and tail and was much larger than the Caspian Gulls and despite the large observation distance the black bill tip was well visible with the spotting scope. Unfortunately, the bird was too distant to produce any record shots and a search for it one day later on a waste dump nearby was unsuccessful. Glaucous Gulls are known to be vagrant in the northern Caspian Sea (Glaucous Gull in Kazakhstan) and this observation is probably in connection with the cold winter and the massive influx of arctic gulls in Europe. This is the first record of this species for Azerbaijan, if accepted by a rarity committee. Also interesting was the observation of at least three Caspian Seals along the coast.
However, spring migration continuous with still good numbers of Red-throated Pipits and Yellow Wagtails. The first Rollers and Rose-coloured Starlings arrived. In the bushes Nightingales, Lesser Grey Shrikes and Cuckoos are singing. And at night the frequent calls of Scops Owls can be heard.
French birdwatchers observed another White-headed Yellow Wagtail and a Demoiselle Crane.

European Bee-eater

Tawny Pipit in the steppe
Small flock of Black-winged Pratincoles on migration
Collared Pratincole resting in the lagoon

Currently thousands of White-winged Black Terns fly North
White-winged Black Terns resting in the lagoon
Griffon Vulture flying overhead
Several colonies of gerbils exist at the study site, but observation can be difficult
A Jackal at the lagoon