Thursday, 21 January 2010

Wildlife: Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock

Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock is another truly stunning bird. One of those species that even non-birders will look at! It inhabits secluded spots, always by rocky areas, in rain-forests in northern South America. There are two species of Cock-of-the-Rock: the Andean and the Guianan. The Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock (shown here) is found in the Guianas and adjacent parts of Venezuela, Brazil and Columbia. Almost all guided bird tours to these countries include visits to places with this fantastic bird. Indeed, it is often a highlight of such tours. Take your camera!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Destinations: Vis - Croatia

The island of Vis lies in the Adriatic about 36 km off the Croatian mainland. Ferries to the island run from the city of Split and the island of Hvar to the port of Vis. In summer tourist boats usually land on Vis at the small harbour of Komiza. Vis is just 90km2 and can thus be easily worked by bike or on foot, via its few, but quite good roads and more rugged tracks. In summer there are several good birds here such as Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Tawny Pipit. Woodchat Shrike, Pallid and Common Swifts and various scrub warblers. The main attraction, however, is probably the colonies of Eleonora's Falcons that breed on the sea-cliffs. These elegant falcons are fairly easy to find from July to September. The sea around Vis should be scanned for Bottle-nosed Dolphins and sometimes other species.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Wildlife: Blesbok

The Blesbok Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi is a fine looking antelope that lives on open grasslands in parts of southern Africa. Good places to see it include the Mountain Zebra, Willem Pretorius, Karoo and Golden Gate Reserves in South Africa. Males (rams) in particular are fine beasts with a deep brown-chestnut coloured coat and a smart white facial blaze.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Destinations: Sumava National Park - Czech Republic

The Sumava NP lies in South Bohemia up against the German and Austrian borders. Prague is about 130km to the north-east by road. Sumava is an upland region of forests and peatbogs and is where the River Vltava rises (the same river that flows through Prague). Sumava is a good place to take a walking holiday with wildlife in mind and can be explored using the many marked trails which are shown on good local maps. Birds include Black and Hazel Grouse, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nutcracker and a range of owls and woodpeckers. There are Red and Roe Deer and Lynx is the main predator, though this cat is very difficult to find.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Wildlife: European Roller

The European Roller Coracia garrulus is a beautiful bird that breeds in Europe and winters in sub-Sahara Africa. The bulk of the European population resides in the south (Iberia) and south-east (Balkans), mainly in lowlands where it inhabits tree-dotted grasslands. It nests in tree holes but is unable to excavate them itself so relies upon natural cavities or woodpecker holes. It also readily takes to nest-boxes.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Guide Books: Wildlife of the North Atlantic

The full title of this guide book in the Bradt Wildlife series is Wildlife of the North Atlantic - A Cruising Guide. It covers the British Isles, Faroes, Norway, Iceland, Southern Greenland and Newfoundland. Written by Tony Soper it is, unusally for a Bradt guide, illustrated by artwork (by Dan Powell) rather than photographs. The book covers the Invertebrates, Fish, Turtles, Birds, Seals and Whales that might be seen on cruises in the region. It is a fascinating book that is both practical, informative and beautiful. ISBN-13 978 1 84162 258 3.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Wildlife: Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus is a truly stunning bird. It inhabits rainforests and coastal woodlands in parts of Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and some other south Pacific islands. They are fairly small parrots, around 25–30 cm in size with a wingspan of about 17 cm. Once one is in the right place, they are quite easy birds to observe and even photograph as they will frequent campsites and gardens. In Australia good places to see them include the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, where thousands often gather to feed and roost. Unlike many parrots, over most of its range the Rainbow Lorikeet is not endangered.