07 October, 2013

View from the Hide

Allcomers at an Avian R&R

Passerines, woodpeckers, warblers, jays…it was a truly a motley crowd that turned up at this watering hole for their routine rest and refueling on a  warm Mediterranean morning. The frenetic avian activity was captured on film by nature and wildlife photographer and GOT member Pedro Rubio Garcia in the woods near the Catalan rural town of  St. Agnés de Malanyanes, using a Canon XF300.

The visitors that featured in Pedro’s video are, in order of appearance:  1-Wren, 2-European Green Woodpecker, 3-Hawfinch, 4-European Nuthatch, 5-female Great Spotted Woodpecker, 6- juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, 7- male Great Spotted Woodpecker, 8-Blackcap, 9-Eurasian Jay, 10-Golden Oriole, and 11-male Blackcap.

o Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes, Chochín Común, Cargolet, Zaunkönige, Troglodyte mignon  EuropeanGreen Woodpecker,  Picus viridis,  Pito Real, Picot verd, Grünspecht, Pic vert    
o    Hawfinch, Coccothraustes coccothraustes, Picogordo, Durbec, Kernbeisser, Gros-bec
o   European Nuthatch, Sitta europaea, Trepador Azul, Pica-soques blau, Kleiber, Sittelle torchepot Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major, Pico Picapinos, Picot garser gros, Buntspecht, pic épeiche
o   Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, Curruca Capirotada, Tallarol de casquet, Bergeronnette grise,Fauvette à tête noire
o    Eurasian Jay, Garrulus glandarius, Arrendajo, Gaig, Eichelhäher, Geai des chênes
o    Golden Oriole, Oriolus oriolus, Oropéndola, Oriol, Pirol,  Loriot

17 August, 2013

      An Out Of The Blue Encounter

Meeting fellow trekkers along the Grande Randonnée of the Catalan high mountains is already a rare event. But for weekend mountaineers Miriam Burballa and Paco Garcia nothing could have been more out of the ordinary than a face-to-face encounter with an imperious bird of prey high up the Matagalls, one of the highest mountains of the Montseny Massif, in Catalonia.   (41°48′31.66″N 2°22′57.86″E).
A leather strap attached to its leg and a transmitter fixed to its tail made it obvious that the raptor was a hunting bird of prey that’s lost its master. GOT ornithologists said it looked very much like a Saker Falcon, a prized falconry bird in the same league as the Peregrine Falcon and the hunting hawks.
Feathers remained quite unruffled as the raptor, perched on a rock on the ground, allowed the intrepid mountaineers to approach almost within arm’s reach. But conscious of the risks, neither got any closer.
Recounted Miriam: "We spotted it at the peak (1,697m) at around noon. Half an hour later or so when going down the GR 5 trail, we saw it again, and took the photos. A leather strap hung from its left leg, and it carried some kind of tracking device on its back.”
GOT’s Lluis Gascon says: "This is a trained hunting bird and is accustomed to human presence. It must have wandered far beyond its range of radio transmission and is lost. It would eventually be found by forest rangers and taken to an animal care centre.”
 Falconry is a hunting technique that involves breeding and training a raptor to capture prey in flight. In Catalonia, a licence is required and may be used only with captive species bred under strict regulatory control. All birds of prey are protected species.
According to Wikipedia the falconer's traditional choice of bird is the Northern Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon. “In contemporary falconry in both North America and the UK they remain popular, although the Harris Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk are likely more widely used. The Northern Goshawk and the Golden Eagle are more commonly used in Eastern Europe than elsewhere. In the Middle East, the Saker Falcon is the most traditional species flown against the Houbara Bustard, Sandgrouse, Stone-curlew, Hares, and other birds. Peregrines and other captively bred imported falcons are also commonplace."

        Saker falcon, Falco cherrug, Halcón sacre,  Falcó sagrat, Sakerfalke, Faucon sacre.               

  -Abul Fazil