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Pallid Harrier during a BirdID course in Bulgaria 2015

Pallid Harrier

Spring has come and with it comes the new course for bird identification that I will be leading in 2015 for a third time. Over 30 people signed up for this bird ID course organised by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and the Norwegian Nord-Trondelag University College. The programme includes visits to a great diversity of sites all around the country to ensure great coverage of habitats. This course becomes rather popular in the last years and we already sign up participants for 2016.

The first trip was in the city park but we still managed to see a few rather exciting birds. The weather was pretty miserable on the first day, but we still managed a few goodies like Dipper, Firecrest, Black Stork, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, Lesser spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers.

Pallid Harrier

during our first day of the Bird ID course for 2015

The second trip led us outside the city. It was meant to be a trip for common birds but became a trip for rarities and unexpected birds. Super Sunny weather was the reason for intense bird migration.

En route to our first place we stopped for a coffee in a small village. While enjoying it we saw our first White Storks and a Little Owl sitting calmly on a chimney. Once we were at our destination it was steaming with birds. Skylarks were actively singing, Thrushes were all over…While enjoying these common birds one of our group shouted out…see… a male Pallid Harrier dashed over a meadow not far from us. It quickly disappeared but I had enough time to see the proper wing patter of this rare bird. It went out of sight but half an hour later the Pallid Harrier was in the air. This time we managed to see it rather well and had enough time to have some really good views and remember its gizz.

Pallid Harriers are rather rare and they are mostly seen on migration. Most of the observed birds are seen along the coast and occasionally inland. Often we observe them in early spring march-april when up to 10 individuals cross Bulgaria. Stunning bird.

We continued our trip and more birds started turning up. Lesser spotted, Syrian and Great spotted Woodpeckers were all at the same place. House martins were already around as well. Further on we had a rather unexpected Ring Ouzel in the middle of the fields. We noted our first for the year Short-toed Eagle, Stonechats, Northern Wheatears, and many other common birds.

Everyone was rather pleased with the trip. We got only positive feedback for this productive bird id training and birdwatching trip.

Here is the full checklist of the birds seen:

1.White Stork (Ciconia ciconia).
2.Little Owl (Athene noctua).
3.Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra).
4.Skylark (Alauda arvensis).
5.Jay (Garrulus glandarius).
6.Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).
7.Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo).
8.Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).
9.Robin (Erithacus rubecula).
10.Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) – male.
11.Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).
12.Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix).
13.Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).
14.Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea).
15.Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus).
16.Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus).
17.Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris).
18.Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor).
19.Great spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major).
20.Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).
21.Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus).
22.Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis).
23.House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).
24.Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros).
25.Rook (Corvus frugilegus).
26.White Wagtail (Motacilla alba).
27.Raven (Corvus corax).
28.Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus).
29.Magpie (Pica pica).
30.Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus).
31.Coot (Fulica atra).
32.Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella).
33.Great crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus).
34.Great White Egret (Casmerodius albus).
35.Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis).
36.Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
37.Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).
38.Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus).
39.Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe).
40.Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla).
41.Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes).
42.Greenfinch (Chloris chloris).
43.Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis).
44.Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus).
45.Great Tit (Parus major).
46.Blackbird (Turdus merula)
47.Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
48.Wigeon (Anas penelope)


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