Israel 2015

A recent laptop issue prompted a hard drive back up and a trawl through saved photos.
Whilst doing so I was reminded of our enjoyable birding trip to Israel a couple of years ago, so decided to post a selection of images from the two weeks spent there.
We had chosen to go there in October to connect with juvenile eagles on migration, and were not disappointed.
Juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle - a long wanted plumage for me. A dream of a bird. The fields in the hula valley we're superb for various eagles.
This Yellow Browed Warbler in the humes park, Eilat was the first of the autumn in Israel.
In the desert, scenes like this happen. This on Carnsore point would cause a seizure. Possibly of class A drugs. Cream Colored Courser and Desert Wheatear
Juv Montagu's Harrier. 
Black Winged Kite - always stunning
Hooded Wheatears were particularly abundant that autumn, often found out of their typical habitat.
Pallid Harrier - a juvenile male. The Harriers were, of course, a joy, in particul…

Finnish Focus On.....Grey Headed Woodpecker

Grey Headed Woodpecker. The woodland whistler. 
Grey Headed Woodpecker was a species I first encountered in Hungary, but on that trip views were less than satisfying.
Here in Finland the situation is a tad different. They are extremely common, but only in rural settings. I rarely see them within the city limits (though I have seen two on patch, including one day where I had all six of the winter resident species). 
At our cabin they are particularly easy, sometimes annoyingly so, as this particular male likes to whistle and drum on the first tree outside the cabin door, giving point blank views as he does so.
Grey Headed Woodpecker - Male
Any Woodpecker calling tends to wake me up when we are out there, so it's usually a case of me making the coffee and taking the scope out to see them whilst it brews.
When out in mixed woodland, agricultural land they tend to be one of the easiest species to both find and view. Highly territorial, they frequently whistle from all corners of thei…

The French Connection

On Saturday I met up with visiting French birder, Adrien Pajot, just back from travelling in Ireland, and we headed out to Lohja to get him Nutcracker as a lifer. I dumped a fresh kilo of peanuts on the feeder as soon as we arrived and we did not have to wait long for the birds to notice the influx of food.

First up were a delightful pair of Jay, which instantly began to crop a dozen peanuts at a time before flying off to stash them nearby.

Jay - Adrien Pajot
This behaviour quickly attracted the attention of the Nutcrackers, who amazingly seemed to be taking careful note of each of the Jay's hiding places. I had never seen this behaviour before, but no sooner had a Jay stashed some nuts in a secure location and returned to the feeder, then a Nutcracker would land at the hiding spot, have a little dig around, clearly finding the stash, and then leave, without taking anything. I can only imagine that they do remember these caches for hard times, however it is unlikely they ever real…

All Saints

Wednesday was a day off for All Saints Day.
I had been trying to pop over to the birding store in Viiki for ages, so we decided to combine this with a days birding in the area.
Our first birding stop was Fastholma, where the feeders usually attract a nice mix of species. 
A Nuthatch had been present here for some weeks now, always a decent bird in Finland, being a very rare breeder (less than 20 pairs). In fact this is a species commoner in winter than during the breeding season, and we get birds of both europea and asiatica sub species, with variations of europea including the pale below scandinavian birds (i.e from the west of us in Sweden) and more rufous toned birds from the south.
This bird seems to be a straightforward europea of the paler types, but as a friend always likes to remind me, with some asiatica often staying over to breed, who knows what the mix could be here in Finland.
Generally asiatica birds are small with an obvious kinked, upturned little bill, so likely no i…