Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

May 14, 2022

Last photos left in camera

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 8:31 am

Random Photos

Here are some of the last photos left in my camera. The first is from Gombori Pass, where I stopped to find some raptors but found a Red-backed Shrike instead. I have been hanging out to get a decent shot of the European Bee-eater. There have been heaps in the back yard this week, so I finally got my wish.

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

“The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family, Meropidae. It breeds in southern Europe and in parts of north Africa and western Asia. It is strongly migratory, wintering in tropical Africa. This species occurs as a spring overshoot north of its range, with occasional breeding in northwest Europe.” (wiki)

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Georgia bird list

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

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May 4, 2022

Dedoplis Tskaro Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 4:54 pm

Eagle Gorge

So this time I went to the right place which was Dedoplis Tskaro if I wanted to go to Eagle Gorge Trail. I got there and ended up going half way along the Road to Vashlovani Nature Reserve. After twenty kilometers the road turned from beautiful bitumen to ugly potholed dirt so I turned back. But I got some interesting photos along the road. So, another mistake turns to gold.

Rosy Starling
Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)

Rosy Starling murmurration
Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)

A massive murmurration of Rosy Starlings. They flew around the fields, alighted on some plants, flew up and then hopped onto a tree.

Ortolan Bunting
Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)

Ortolan Bunting  - immature
Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)

I think this is an immature Ortolan Bunting but not sure.

Eurasian Kestrel
Common/Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Eurasian Kestrel
Common/Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Merlin
Not a Merlin (Falco columbarius)

In the afternoon, I went to the Eagle Gorge Trail and went back in the morning. It was very quiet. I saw an Egyptian Vulture from a long way off, but the photos are no good. I have great photos from India anyway. Edit: Nick reckons its a female Common Kestrel. I have nfi. doh!

Blue Rock-Thrush
Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius)

Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia) ???

Notes from a reader “The final image does not convince me that I am seeing a Bank Swallow – there is usually much more white coming up the side of the head and face, as well as a bill is that is not upturned as we see in the image. The wings of the bird in the image are also incredibly narrow, and Bank Swallows have rather broad wings. Lastly, the tail on a bank swallow is rounded somewhat, even when folded, while this shows distinct sharp points. These characteristics lead me to think that this is an Apus spp. swift. I don’t know the subtleties of Georgian swifts well enough for a species ID, but I hope that this points you in a productive direction.”

East Georgia bird list

Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)
Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)
Common/Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)
Grey Wagtail(Motacilla cinerea)

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May 2, 2022

Below Eagle Gorge

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 1:09 pm

Kogoto River

The next morning I am still near the Kogoto River. I went for a walk up the hill and found some new birds. And some I have no idea what they are. All in all it was a productive area.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

“The northern wheatear or wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It is the most widespread member of the wheatear genus Oenanthe in Europe and North and Central Asia.The northern wheatear is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in open stony country in Europe and east across the Palearctic with footholds in northeastern Canada and Greenland as well as in northwestern Canada and Alaska. It nests in rock crevices and rabbit burrows. All birds spend most of their winter in Africa.” (wiki)

Eastern Orphean Warbler   or Menetries's Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca curruca)

He has got a bit of wool stuck around his head. Thanks Nikolas Haass for id help.

Mystery bird. I have no idea
Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

Black-headed Bunting
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)

Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

Crested Lark
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

Strutting his stuff, Saturday Night Fever!

Crested Lark
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

And then he jumped on top of the other one!

red poppy
Red poppy

thorns
Huge thorns

East Georgia bird list

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Lesser whitethroat
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
European Goldfinch
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Barn Swallow

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Below the Castle

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 7:36 am

Kogoto River

I went to the wrong village! I was driving around looking for the castle and it was on top of the hill. But it was a very fruitful day with lots of nice birds, so sometimes a mistake is a good thing. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. They are often very helpful and fortuitous.

Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

“The woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. It can be identified by its red-brown crown and nape. It is mainly insectivorous and favours open wooded areas with scattered trees such as orchards, particularly when there is bare or sandy ground. The woodchat shrike breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winters in tropical Africa.” (wiki).

Black-headed Bunting
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)

 Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

“This nondescript lowland farmland bird is the largest of the buntings and is most usually seen perched on a wire or post. It is a stout, dumpy bird brown which flies off with a fluttering flight and with its legs characteristically ‘dangling’… ” (rspb.org.uk)

Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Check out the monster claws on this. I thought it was a skylark at first.

frog
frog

frog
frog

East Georgia bird list

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)
Eurasian Hoopoe
White Wagtail
Eurasian Magpie
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

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May 1, 2022

Telavi to Gurnaaji

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 10:17 am

Eastern Georgia Birding

Some random photos from the last couple of days. Maybe a few ticks but it is all over the place. Mainly going to Telavi and then eastwards towards Azerbaijan. Totally random, dude. My identifications are just as random. Like attracts like, I guess. But everntually I did ok, with a European Honey Buzzard, Corn Bunting, Song Thrush, European Bee-eater, and a Common Cuckoo. Better than expected for such a haphazard attempt at birding.

Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Seen near some old church just east of Telavi.

European Honey Buzzard
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Edit: I got this totally wrong, doh! (At first I thought it might be Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) or an Imperial Eagle, but my best uneducated guess is European Honey Buzzard(wrong).) Seen just below Gombori Pass.

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater

I think this is the first one I have seen. Not sure.

common cuckoo
common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Song Thrush
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

In the park at Gurnaaji. Or maybe a Mistle Thrush. ???

European Greenfinch
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)

common swift
common swift (Apus apus)

Seen in the sky above Telavi town.

Eastern Georgia bird list

European Bee-eater
common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
corn bunting (Emberiza calandra)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
song thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Common Blackbird
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Chaffinch
grey heron
Ehrenbergs Redstart
Common Sandpiper
common swift (Apus apus)

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April 27, 2022

Towards Telavi

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 4:26 pm

Ujarma Fortress – Paldo

I am in the K’vemo K’art’li region of Georgia. It is mountainous and dry. I am heading East from T’bilisi. I stopped at the Ujarma Fortress in the morning after breakfast. I did not expect anything and was pleasantly surprised with a few nice birds. Later I went down to the Iori River and discovered a Rock Bunting near Paldo.

Ehrenbergs Redstart - male
Common Redstart (Ehrenbergs)(Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus) – male

Ehrenbergs Redstart - female
Common Redstart (Ehrenbergs)(Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus) – female

Rock Bunting
Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)

“Large, distinctive bunting. Males have a boldly black-striped gray head and breast, chestnut underparts, and streaked upperparts. Females and juveniles similar to males, just more subdued. Breeds on rocky slopes just above the treeline, preferring bushy areas with scattered trees. Feeds on seeds and invertebrates. Unobtrusive, although not particularly shy. Clear, high-pitched song draws attention to its presence.” (ebird)

Common Raven
Common Raven (Corvus corax)

This is the lookout for the babies below in the nest.

Common Raven  chicks
Common Raven (Corvus corax) chicks

Screaming for their dinner.

Common Raven
Common Raven (Corvus corax)

Possibly some kind of dragon
Lizard

Maybe some kind of dragon. ? Rock Agama ? Caucasian agama (Laudakia caucasia or Agama caucasica) ?? Chai Thiam Lau says Caucasian agama (Paralaudakia caucasia). Thank you..

maybe a skink
Lizard

Possibly a skink. ??

Georgia bird list

Common Redstart (Ehrenbergs)(Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus)
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)
Great Tit (Parus major )
Eurasian Jay
Eurasian Magpie
Common Blackbird
European Goldfinch

Research: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305956243_Rock_Agamas_of_Eurasia

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April 24, 2022

Batumi Coastal Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 2:43 pm

Batumi Botanical Gardens

I went on a bit of an expedition after a few days of luxury in a guest house in Kobuleti. I first went to the Batumi Botanic Garden, then ventured into Batumi but fled, horrified at the mad traffic. Then went up the hills on the road to Akhaltsikhe. I found a nice camp by the river and spent a couple of days there relaxing by the fire. Then came back to Kobuleti where I ran into this gorgeous bird.

Short-toed Treecreeper
Eurasian treecreeper or common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)

I saw this one at the beach down the road at Kobuleti. I was doing my exercises and it flew into the pine tree right next to my camp. Edit: “Johan Schmidt said: Looks like a “normal” Tree creeper (C. familiaris) based on relatively clean white underside and a typical 90 degrees corner among the white dots on the wingband”

Short-toed Treecreeper
Eurasian Treecreeper or common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)

European robin
European robin (Erithacus rubecula)

“The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), known simply as the robin or robin redbreast in Great Britain, is a small insectivorous passerine bird that belongs to the chat subfamily of the Old World flycatcher family. About 12.5–14.0 cm (4.9–5.5 in) in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upper-parts and a whitish belly. It is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa; it is sedentary in most of its range except the far north.” (wiki)

Note: lol, not a tick. Seen Before near Barcelona and in Turrkey. doh!

the photographer
Me, the photographer

Batumi bird list

Eurasian Treecreeper or common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
European robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Chaffinch
Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus)
Long-tailed Tit
Common Sandpiper

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April 21, 2022

Kintrishi River Estuary

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 11:59 am

Bobokvati Beach

This morning I got up late and headed off to the Kintrishi River Estuary. There was no point going too early because all the birds here sleep in until ten o’clock. It looked a bit bare at first but things soon hotted up and I photographed quite a few birds.

Caspian  Gull
Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

First winter I think.

Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

White-winged Tern
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

Western Yellow Wagtail
Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg)

“Motacilla flava feldegg (Michahelles, 1830) – Black-headed Wagtail.
Like thunbergi but black cap in males, females like a dull thunbergi male above, very washed-out dirty yellowish below, throat white.
Breeding: Balkans east to the Caspian Sea, south to Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan; also Levant. Winter: central Africa from Nigeria to Uganda and south Sudan.” (wiki)

Greater Sand-Plover
Greater Sand-Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii )

Littl...e Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Eurasian Marsh-Harrier
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Georgia bird list

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Hooded Crow
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Greater Sand-Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii )
Common Sandpiper
Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg)
White Wagtail
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

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April 19, 2022

The Freezing Black Sea

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 2:17 pm

Kobuleti National Park

I had a swim in the Black Sea. It was absolutely freezing. I could not stay in for more than a minute or two. Wim Hof would have called me a wimp! Later on I saw a duck out in the water diving for some food I guess. I have not identified it yet but I am hoping it is a new one. This morning I went out to the Kobuleti National Park. There was nothing around at all. One single solitary Grey Heron and a couple of raptors. I am hoping the raptor photos turn out ok as I have not processed them yet. I am on the case.

Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

“The red-necked grebe (Podiceps grisegena) is a migratory aquatic bird found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes. Grebes prefer shallow bodies of fresh water such as lakes, marshes or fish-ponds as breeding sites.

The red-necked grebe is a nondescript dusky-grey bird in winter. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive red neck plumage, black cap and contrasting pale grey face from which its name was derived. It also has an elaborate courtship display and a variety of loud mating calls. Once paired, it builds a nest from water plants on top of floating vegetation in a shallow lake or bog.” (wiki)

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) – female

“The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a bird of prey. The genus name Circus is derived from Ancient Greek kirkos ‘circle’, referring to a bird of prey named for its circling flight. The specific cyaneus is Latin, meaning “dark-blue”.” (wiki)

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Eurasian Marsh Harrier - female
Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) – female

Seen before in Kannur, India.

Eurasian Marsh Harrier  - female
Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) – female

Lesser Spotted Eagle
Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina)

Caspian Gull
Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

I think this one is first winter, but not sure at all.

frog or toad
Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

Thanks to Chai Thiam Lau for help with identification. Legend!

Georgia bird list

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina)
Little Egret
Black Kite
Hooded Crow
Eurasian Blackbird

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April 11, 2022

The Road to Hell

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Steve Happ @ 9:23 am

Lake Jandari – K’vemo K’art’li

What a nightmare drive to Lake Jandari. The roads are shocking. Full of potholes. But I spent the night there and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. I was a little bit cold but not too bad. I survived.

Spanish sparrow
Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

Not a tick like I thought. Seen before in Azemmour, Morocco.

Spanish sparrow
Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

A big mob in the reeds took off just as the sun came up.

Spanish sparrow
Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Armenian Gull
Armenian Gull(Larus armenicus)

Eurasian Hoopoe
Eurasian Hoopoe

Pygmy Cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow

Georgia bird list

Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Pygmy Cormorant
Common Starling
Eurasian Hoopoe
Common Chiffchaff
Armenian Gull(Larus armenicus)
Common Sandpiper
Eurasian Coot
European Goldfinch

Seen but not photographed – Crested Lark or Eurasian Lark.

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