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mvecht`s Big Year

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One of the stops on the trip was Gamla Nature reserve not to far from lake Gallilee.

The main attration here is the Griffon Vultures. There is a breeding program to try to strengthen the population.

27 April Gamla Nature Reaserve

Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)

Unfortunately no safaris planned this year but at leat I got to see a safari animal :D


#119 Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)







The highlight of the trip together with the Black-crowned nightheron was this one

#120 Aegyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)




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Today I took a lunchwalk at Egaa Engsoe. The White-tailed eagles put on a display with several unsuccesful hunts, but too far away for pictures. #137 Icterine wrbler (Hippolais icterina)

The last pictures from the trip are from Dana Point Harbor, CA #175 Heermann`s Gull (Larus Heermanni)   #176 Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)   A few Sea lion`

#220 Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis cyanophrys)  

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A quick trip summary

27 April full day trip (14,5 hours) to Hula Valley (Agamon Hahula), Gamla Nature Reserve and Bet Shean fishponds.

3 visits to a park near the hotel. Leumi Park, Ramat Gan

Total count for the trip 77. This number would have been much higher if I had visited 4-6 weeks earlier.

18 lifers

16 already on BY 2019

47 new ones.

Maybe I should get away from the sofa more oftenB)

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Congrats on the 100. Some great shots and really interesting to see what birds Israel has 

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A belated congrats on the 100th bird - the night heron is always a thing of beauty!


Love your vultures and the Israel trip was very productive one. 



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@ImSA84  I did realise until I strrted planning the trip but Israel is great for birding. Apparently mor than 500 million birds migrate over Israel each year including several million raptors. This migration path serves a lot of the birds going between Eastern Europe, Russia and the Stan`s to Africa.

I have put on a list for future trips, but next time I want to hit the spring migration in Eilat in the south where up to 150,000 raptors can be seen in one day.

@Kitsafari  thank you for the kind words and please keep posting more of the lovely birds from Singapore.

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Really interesting Michael! I've been told that Israel is excellent for birding during migration, and you're proving that. A fascinating mix of some European locals and exotic species. And how cool that Hoopoe is the national bird! Congratulations on your first #100! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Important lesson in BY. Take the picture when you have a chance.

At Hula reserve in Israel I was told the collared doves were abundant so initially I did not take pictures due to light or environment.

After that no more collared doves on the trip in Israel!

Anyhow I have a sofaB)

First Collared Dove of the year at our house.

17 May at home.

#121 Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia  decaocto)



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My wife and I are heading home after a week in Eastern Sicily.

It was not meant as a birding holiday so I brought my old Nikon P600 superzoom (24 - 1440 mm equivalent)

it is a great tool for birds that are sitting still, but it features an electromechanical zoomthat is very slow combined with a low resolution viewfinder and very slow autofocus making it very difficult to use for birds inflight. Anyhow EBC so that did not prevent me from trying.

First stop was Syracuse.

#122 Spanish Sparrow (Passer Hispaniolensis) 19 May


#123 House Martin (Delichon urbicum) 19 May Syracuse


#124 Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) 19 May Syracuse in a small papyrus reebed in downtown Ortigia

Swarbler4729.JPG.efea0b0a71ac323a7698ed0d81984b91.JPGGoldfinches were abundant on the entire trip.

This one was feeding from a flower pot in an open window in an apartment.


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In Siracusa some Sheerwaters were seen far out at sea but it was not possible to take any photos.

On the train ride to Taormina we saw Flamingo`s just north of Siracusa but again no possibilities to take pictures.

Our hotel in Taormina was overlooking the ocean and had some nice views of Etna. We laso had a small garden just below our room.

#125 Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) 21 May

The bird was seen daily but was very good at hiding.

Sardwarbler4827.JPG.dbefce81373d29125da761ada4751b01.JPG#126 Serin (Serinus serinus)  were seen daily in multiple locations


Alpine Swifts were seen in front of the hotel daily and so was

#127 Crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) Capotaormina

seen daily in high numbers close to the room but I only got this EBC of a nesting bird


As we were travelling light I did not bring my sofa:D

I am not a beach person but rumours had it that there were Peregrine Falcons in the area so we found some beach chairs and had this view.


It did not take many minutes before we spotted two juvenile Peregrine`s sitting on a cactus.

Shortly after we had a nice view of the family with 4 birds on the wings at the same time.

The birds were then seen frequently for the rest of the trip.

One of the young birds got a small prey. Note that the brest is striped rather than barred and that the cere is blueish rather than yellow.


The last thing we saw before leaving our room was the two juveniles flying close by.


We spent the last day in Catania. Both common and Pallid Swifts were abundant.

This is really an EBC but I could not do any better

#128 Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

PSwift5058.JPG.181c81701d8c395929bc4dd68a724d2b.JPGWe are currently at Brussels airport and took a quick trip to the city as my wife had never tried "Mussels from Brussels".

A nice surprise was to see a Peregrine Falcon hunting over Grand Place.

Edited by mvecht
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Dave Williams

I do like Sicily, Inspector Montalbano sums the place up especially the food! You saw some good birds too.

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Today I went to Northern Jutland in Denmark

to visit a National Park called "Lille Vildmose". The area is what is called a raised Bog.

It is an excellent place for birding. It is also the only place in Denmark where you can spot Moose, that was reintroduced two years ago.

Golden Eagles nest here. I did see one but it was too far away for pictures.

Unfortunately a lot of the birds were quite distant so not the best pictures today.

#129  Red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio)



#130 Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)



#131 Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

Beautiful bird, but very good at hiding so often it is only heard.

This came down to feed on the ground for a few seconds but the surrounding grasses disturbed the focus.



#132 Red-necked grebe (Podiceps grisegena)



#133 Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis)



#134 A very distant Great egret (Ardea alba)



Relatively uncommon in Denmark so I will use this very poor picture

#135 Garganey (Spatula querquedula)


Quite common in Denmark but the first for me this year. It is the one resting by the waters edge. EBC!

#136 Common Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)


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That red-necked Grebe is a real beauty!

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Today I took a lunchwalk at Egaa Engsoe.

The White-tailed eagles put on a display with several unsuccesful hunts, but too far away for pictures.

#137 Icterine wrbler (Hippolais icterina)



#138 Marsh warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)



#139 Gadwall (Mareca strepea)



#140 Canada goose (Branta canadensis)



Sunday I posted a very poor picture of a Whitethroat. This should be better (at least I think it is a Whitethroat). As you can see from the picture it was not capable of singing :D



As I was walking along the lake I heard a strange calling. It did not sound like any bird I had heard before. Finally I looked down and noticed these two cuties only meters away. After a minute a very nervous parent popped up and I left in order for the family to reunite.

Stoat  (Mustela erminea)



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A fantastic Stoat sighting, wow!

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Great encounter with the Stoat family!

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great sighting of the stoats - they are cute - are they part of the weasel family and are they common in europe?


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@Kitsafari  The Stoat is a member of the Weasel family. It is sometimes called short-tailed weasel. In northern climates it turns white in the winter and in the old days the white fur was often used by members of various royal families.

The stoat is relatively common but rarely seen. Typically you only get to see its backend for a few seconds:D

This is the first time I have seen young ones.

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and of course, as my mother used to say @Kitsafari  and @mvecht  you can tell them apart because a weasel is weaselly  recognised and a stoat is stoatedly different!

lovely sighting though @mvecht

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great photos. Love the Stoats. Envious is an understatement.

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I have not had too much time for birding recently but last week I was in the US for a week on a business trip.

This gave me some short opportunities. I had brought my Nikon P600 bridge/superzoom camera which is very good for slow moving birds but not really suited for BIF`s.

The trip started in Boston and I had some opportunities walking to the restaurant in the evening.

16th of July Boston, USA

#141 Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocroax auritus)



#142 American Robin (Turdus migratorius)


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Next stop San Francisco.

I had a few hours in the late afternoon, which I spent in the Presidio area.

California presented me with a lot of ID challenges. I have done many trips to the US before but this was the first time I tried to ID every bird seen.

Lacking local knowledge and a good reference book means that I still have quite a few birds that I am trying to ID.

Anyhow some of them were quite easy.

18 July 2019

#143 California Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)



# 144 American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)



#145 Red-crowned amazon (Amazona viridigenalis)





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lovely additions.

Have you looked at the Merlin bird id app which is free. It has a lot of information on North American birds, and you can download bird packs for particular regions

There is an iOS and an android version 

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@TonyQ and @Tdgraves



Thank you so much for the advice.

I do have the Merlin app, however I still find gray areas for many birds where 100% ID can not be done with the app. Sometimes I struggle with birds in my backyard due to variations in plumage. For this trip I had no vocalizations from any of the birds, making ID even harder.

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@mvecht have you tried entering the photo into the app? It worked well for me alongside the Sibley book for my two us visits

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Some more positive ID`s from San Francisco

#146 American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)


#147 American Coot (Fulica americana)



#149 Black Phoebe (Sayorni nigricans)




#150 Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)



# 151 Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)



Already counted Black-crowned Night-heron adult and juvenile



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