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Another Great Day in the Pyrenees - 2020 (1 Viewer)

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
I started another post about my Hobby experience the other day. With a golf game lined up I thought some practice was prudent and went to hit a few balls at the range.

I was hitting 100m gap wedges when a Hobby flew down and tried to take the ball mid flight. It failed but got pretty close pulling up at about 3m. It then scooted between a big gap in the trees and I hit another - the bird came bag super quick from the side and went for the second ball. Although again failed it was brilliant to see!!

It gave up but gave me a fly by....

The golf itself wasn't too bad with some Vultures, some great views and then an Osprey passing fairly close by. I played pretty poorly but then considering the number of times I have played (2x9 holes, 1x18 in the last 15-18months) was pleased with some holes, one birdie and a handful of pars.

Anyway, and the main reason of the post is last night I went to listen fro the Eagle Owl and he (although I thought she at the time) started called just after 8pm. I thought female initially because it wasn't the usual huhu called just a slightly longer huu (single note). I tried to record it but on the phone it's super faint. I checked on xeno-canto but this call is listed as male a well so on balance I'm thinking territorial call male. (I will try and download call from phone but probably won't come through)
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Anyway, and the main reason of the post is last night I went to listen fro the Eagle Owl and he (although I thought she at the time) started called just after 8pm. I thought female initially because it wasn't the usual huhu called just a slightly longer huu (single note). I tried to record it but on the phone it's super faint. I checked on xeno-canto but this call is listed as male a well so on balance I'm thinking territorial call male. (I will try and download call from phone but probably won't come through)

And there he was calling 13h30 until at least 15h45

Enough time for a friend to arrive from Lourdes. We proceeded to scramble up through the bushes to get an uninterrupted view but it was tricky and steep. He flew when I guess we were within 50m, hadn't intended to get that close but couldn't work out through the bushes which was the way o go for a view and didn't really get one....

He flew over the valley and went to sleep in his usual roosting spot. Could have saved a chunk of time and some erratic heart beats if he had been there to begin with.
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Trip done to Lisbon. It was ok just s little more uncomfortable in the car than I expected - the seat belt fastener was sticking into my back! 38 hours!

Looks like the wind up on Tuesday so sea watching here we come... Had a Spot Fly, Iberian Chiffchaff and a Firecrest already.

Some photos here

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=4075030#post4075030
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Well things haven't been good! Locked up, little tie to get out and not much flying in the skies!

Partially ended today, so I can travel up to 20kms for 3 hours exercise. This opens up most of my birdwatching sites or certainly the ones of interest.

As it happens I managed to get out for a morning this week to help the Parcs in looking for a Lammy nest. We found the old nest but no birds in it. After about 30 mins one came into view flying high over the cliffs but didn't stop. 30 seconds later another appeared and followed the first into the distance. One returned about 30 minutes later and sat near the nest but again flew off...

Will be keeping n eye on it. Its a little far for photos but its nicely isolated and in a very pretty valley. Great.

Heading out Goshawk hunting in a minute...
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Another brief sortie up the mountain. Target was Gos and then Wallcreeper. I did mange to see a Sparrowhawk but I don't know why not a lot else. It was 6 degrees so a definite temperature chute. I scored a super super late Ring Ouzel the other (which Richard reminded me of in his post). No Eagle Owl either today after two days sat out in the warmth.

I clocked a Lammy but for 3 seconds over a ridge. Nothing in the nest. Maybe another 'aire' or just a roost as I spotted some wool, sheepskin, perched on a mountain ledge, no bird though.

Even higher up the mountain I saw a Black Squirrel as it dived off the side of the road into cover. A Great Spotted Woody as well. No pipits even on the bare ground. Sadly the road I wanted to explore for Wallcreeper was closed - probably ice so good tha the barriers were done in one sense.

On the way home 14 Griffons high up. Great to be out...

Dragnil left me a feeder in autumn so I get some pleasure watching the Sparrows and Tits feeding. Thanks Draggers... Plus had to already replace the sack of food he left with it and need another reload!!!
 

dragnil

Home Rule for Yorkshire
Supporter
I'll bring some more in May if the dreaded Covid permits.
More common than sparrows on our site in Luz but here in the flatlands Nuthatch are uncommon. We've a pair in the garden at the moment - lovely birds...
 

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Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
Ah yes, those black Red Squirrels, someone told me it’s linked to the type of forests they live in, they’re certainly very dark here in the evergreen forest but nice and red/orange in the deciduous habitat, does anyone know if it’s diet related or a longer term habitat adaptation ?
As the ( Monty Python?) sketch goes: “6C? You were lucky!” Snow and temperature hovering around zero all day here.
 

3Italianbirders

Well-known member
Italy
At my parents' old place in Umbria (hilly, mixed deciduous woodland, some stone pines, cypress trees, olive groves you get the idea) there used to be both red and black Red Squirrels. And also elsewhere in central Italy you can get both. Don't know if this means anything!
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Ah yes, those black Red Squirrels, someone told me it’s linked to the type of forests they live in, they’re certainly very dark here in the evergreen forest but nice and red/orange in the deciduous habitat, does anyone know if it’s diet related or a longer term habitat adaptation ?
As the ( Monty Python?) sketch goes: “6C? You were lucky!” Snow and temperature hovering around zero all day here.
0 and snow would be nice as we were supposed to be getting ready for the ski season - which has been delayed for obvious reasons and the lack of snow!
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
I'll bring some more in May if the dreaded Covid permits.
More common than sparrows on our site in Luz but here in the flatlands Nuthatch are uncommon. We've a pair in the garden at the moment - lovely birds...
Chickens.... Don't count them...

I saw that Quantas have already said that, at some point, only passengers who have been vaccinated will be allowed to travel on their planes. There will be a third spike in the new year and then maybe after the spring holidays!

Keep safe and really hope that things take a turn for the better...
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
0 and snow would be nice as we were supposed to be getting ready for the ski season - which has been delayed for obvious reasons and the lack of snow!
Yeah, lack of snow would definitely be a killer for skiing unless you want to do water skiing ;)
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Ah yes, those black Red Squirrels, someone told me it’s linked to the type of forests they live in, they’re certainly very dark here in the evergreen forest but nice and red/orange in the deciduous habitat, does anyone know if it’s diet related or a longer term habitat adaptation ?
As the ( Monty Python?) sketch goes: “6C? You were lucky!” Snow and temperature hovering around zero all day here.

At my parents' old place in Umbria (hilly, mixed deciduous woodland, some stone pines, cypress trees, olive groves you get the idea) there used to be both red and black Red Squirrels. And also elsewhere in central Italy you can get both. Don't know if this means anything!
Don't know the answer. Today was probably the blackest I have seen, it was a way from evergreens. You sometimes see them on the walk to the Cirque Gavarnie and they tend to be in the Beech...
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Getting close to the end of the year and managed a shopping day/drive through some mud day at Tarbes.

1000, at least, Lapwings at the airport provided some entertainment and I spent some time scanning them for something different. Used to be a regular site for Golden Plover but they seem super rare now. Nice to find 5 Crested Larks amongst the hundreds of Skylarks - haven't really had time to follow them this year and not seen them when I have passed. A chiffchaff and three Black Shouldered Kites were nice.

Up to the military camp and I was a little too scared to take the back route. I can't really afford to get stuck and have to explain that away - 'yeah I'm shopping' wouldn't really pass here! Anyway a Marsh Harrier but no Hen...

A little outing the day before at Lourdes produced Black Woodpecker which was nice and not something I have have had much opportunity to see this year!
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
At least from 16th we no longer need the attestations so you can get stuck in the mud to your heart’s content and at last truthfully say, “I’m birding”.(y) I might even venture away from my mountain hideout to reaquain’t myself with ducks and gulls ! Unusually high numbers of Golden Plovers in Switzerland this week so perhaps another airport visit for you in a few days might pay off as they move south...
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
At least from 16th we no longer need the attestations so you can get stuck in the mud to your heart’s content and at last truthfully say, “I’m birding”.(y) I might even venture away from my mountain hideout to reaquain’t myself with ducks and gulls ! Unusually high numbers of Golden Plovers in Switzerland this week so perhaps another airport visit for you in a few days might pay off as they move south...
I'll keep my eyes peeled! I've been sort of winging it, pardon the pun, with two attestations one for 'commercial' when I'm close to businesses who might want recycled plastic furniture and one under 'guide touristique' when I would argue I'm prospecting for birds (guide touristique being principally bird guide) - but whilst a local policeman or PGHM gendarme (most of whom I know) would probably be ok I'm scared of one from 'town' who may be less flexible.....

Nipped out today and scored the Eagle Owl again, in his 'rainy day' spot, a little bit away from the nest but under an overhang. I was looking for Wallcreeper but without success, only really half arsed as I was on phone and texting and some email type work...
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
9 holes of golf yesterday. Black Woodpecker calling in the woods, or laughing at my misdirected drive. Some Kites overhead and another raptor which had me suspicious of Booted - there have been one or two kicking around for winter the last couple of years...

Crested Tit as well was nice and also a White Stork kicking around at Argeles. That was super rare for winter for me!

The day before I had a Lammy really close over the house. So close that it raised suspicion of maybe the nest from a couple of years ago. Naturally I headed out to investigate but I wasn't at the best angle but the nest doesn't look 'occupied'.

Other news - Eagle Owl prospecting has begun and my friend got a contact near Gavarnie last night!
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
Do the E Owls usually start calling that early in your neck of the woods? I think our local pair are later, well into the New Year ( mind you I didn’t manage any contact this year so it could be observer incompetence playing a role here.....).
Have done a bit of research into various species’ altitude occurrence and will put on my Halfway up the Alps thread later so you can compare Pyrenees and Alps.
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
So this is, now, quite late to my mind...

I used to start prospecting mid December but when one of my girls had music near a pair down the mountain I took the opportunity to go and listen. The earliest I heard there was 8th December where previously was the 21st...

Our 'local' bird was calling beginning October - see earlier post here - and during the day. I don't think this is normal but then I recall heading to Narbonne in October each year and having the Eagle Owls calling regularly. The difference I always thought was that there there are numerous pairs (I think they said about 27 pairs in the Clappe alone!). As I understand it young birds are tolerated in their home territory for a period of time but then in autumn start to disperse (I actually had in my head October - which may have come from some satellite data as to when young birds disperse), this would lead to more territorial calling and pushing youngsters away - just supposing.

I think with a stable pair with little competition calling is short and sweet. Sometimes you hear one hoot and the bird then disappears. At this time of the year the male tends to call form one side of a gorge but then flies across to join the female on the other. They say hello and he disappears over the cliff to hunt.

I think I'm heading to Gavarnie to find this one tonight, south facing cliff offering good range of habitat for hunting and obviously the cliff for air currents to get into the air quickly.

Having had the discussion specifically for here, we struggled to find nests/territories of Eagle Owls - it took three years to pinpoint our local pair! This may have been due to the fact that the prospecting was too late when calling reduced (low density area) - literally one hoot and off - which sometimes you can miss or think was that it? etc (ours is near a river which can be noisy, a road which can be 'busy' at the wrong time, bizarrely sometimes the noise of the cars can be misleading). Another issue is the time of day/dusk because if you are trying to prospect in different areas is by the time you relocated to a different area the calling has stopped! Conclusion was the main reason was that we were looking in the wrong places - looking too high! So they 'nest low hunt high' is the new motto! This is obviously more specific to our topography - steep gorges... we also can't get to the higher mountains due to the snow.

My advice would be to get out there now and be home in time for tea!

Interestingly, we also made the same mistake with the Wallcreeper where we assumed the nests were all above 2000m! I was sent an interesting article based on a Suisse study this morning. Wallcreepers around Martigny which isn't too far from you Richard. They found nests down to 650m (bearing in mind Martigny is 450m so not much higher and Luz is 750m) - maybe I need to look lower!!!
 

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