Introduction High on the remote tops of the Dovrefjell mountains, there exists one of the great relics of the last Ice Age …
My first ever attempt at video, the result of five nights at Labanoras, Lithuania. The number of animals that appeared staggered me, …
Before the main adventures in the high Himalaya, a four day excursion focussing on the amazing wetlands of Bharatpur, a mosaic of waters, islands and scrubby surrounds that just drip with a multitude of breeding storks, herons and other waterbirds. After a few dry years, the colonies were back to their old glories, Painted Storks in their hundreds the absolute highlight.
Also managed a short stop on the Yumina River at Agra, birding under the shadow of the Taj Mahel. A surpringly good selection of birds in this most magnificent of settings, including River Lapwings and assorted waders.
Trudging the high altitude expanses of the Himalaya for near two weeks, a trip of endurance seeking out the mystical Snow Leopard. A world of amazing beauty, a land harbouring mouth-watering specialities such as Ibisbill, Guldenstadt's Redstarts, exotic snowfinches and oddles more, not to forget a few classy mammals. A very nice trip it was, an adventure too.
A short excursion into Rajasthan to visit Ranthambhore National Park and its immediate surrounds, an excellent few days with an eventful Tiger encounter, plenty of birds and an end with a bump on a train! Top birds included Bonelli's Eagles hunting Cattle Egrets, an Crested Serpent Eagle, several Great Thick-knees and a Large Cuckoo-Shrike feeding a fledged youngster.
Winter is the season for Snow Leopards in the Himalaya, the feline virtually impossible to find at other times. Winter is not however the best season for producing large lists of other species, most birds having long migrated to lower altitudes and mammals such as marmots hibernating. That said, the hardy residents that remain include quite a number of spectacular specialities, such as Ibisbill, Guldenstadt's Redstart and assorted rosefinches, accentors and snowfinches.
In total, only 55 species of bird and six of mammal were noted in Ledakh, but adding my excursions to Bharatpur and Ranthambhore, these totals rose to 197 species of birds and 20 species of mammal.
The annotated lists below include all birds and mammals seen in the period of the trip, 13 October - 4 November 2012.
A month in Africa and another in India, separated and followed by poor weather in Lithuania and a relative lack of activity, my monthly diary had fallen by the wayside. With the start of December and the onset of snow and the sub-zero, time to get the reports up and running again!
And what a month, seven species of woodpeckers on my land, Red Squirrels at both my Vilnius and Labanoras feeding stations, an unseasonal Lesser Whitethroat in Vilnius, an bird showing features of the eastern halimodemdri race and, to top it off, excellent video of a Pine Martin attending my feeders!
The Canary Islands, home to package tour holidays, all-inclusive hotels and budget airlines, a realm of the sun-seeker. Thanks to their geographical isolation however, and due to a number of recent taxonomic splits, the islands also boost a whole raft of endemic and near-endemic birds, including such notables as Fuerteventura Chat, Houbara Bustard, Blue Chaffinch and both Bolle's and Laurel Pigeons.
A mini-break in the Aragon Pyrenees, a winter fiesta of Lammergeiers and Wallcreepers in the mountains themselves and bustards, sandgrouses and larks in adjacent steppes.
The below notes detail all the sightings of birds seen on both Fuerteventura and Tenerife between 20th and 27th December 2012. In total, 78 species were seen, including all the endemics and semi-endemics, a fairly reasonable total for a mid-winter trip.
Of these, 56 species were seen on Fuerteventura and 46 on Tenerife. Two species (Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull) were not actually seen on either island, but at the ferry port on Gran Canaria.