Part II: Hungary: Puszta
Part III: Romania: Transsylvania and the Carpates
IV: Slovakia: the Higher Tatras
Ensiksi anteeksipyynto suomalaisille, etta kirjoitan englanniksi, koska en jaksa kahta kertaa tata kirjoittaa. Suomalainen nimisto on sentaan mukana.
We just returned from an unforgettable 3-week journey through the former East Europe. The ornithological highlights of the trip were the Hungarian Puszta, Transsylvania and the Southern Carpates in Romania and the Higher Tatra in Slovakia. The route was as follows:
9.6. Helsinki - Prague
10.6. Prague - Budapest
12.6. Budapest - Eger (through Hungary)
13.6. Eger - Debrecen (through Hungary)
14.6. Debrecen - Oradea - Brasov (through Transsylvania)
15.6. Brasov - Bucharest - Brasov (through Romania)
16.6. Brasov - Sinaia (Southern Carpathians, Transsylvanian Alps)
17.6. Sinaia (S. Carps, Tr. Alps)
18.6. Sinaia - Brasov - Cluj Napoca - Episcopia Bihor - Debrecen
20.6. Debrecen - Miskolc - Kosice - Poprad - Starÿ Mlokovec
21.6. Mlokovec - Tatra - Mlokovec - Poprad
22.6. Warsaw - Kaunas (through Poland)
23.6. Kaunas (through Lithuania)
24.6. Riga (through Latvia)
25.6. Riga - Jurmala - Riga
26.6. Riga - Tartu (through Estonia)
27.6. Tartu - Tallinn - Helsinki (through Estonia & Finnish Bay)
Participants: Katja Viberg, Johanna Viljanen & the author. Total sum of bird species: 130 (excluding all the uncertain cases as well as birds in captivity).
The trip list:
scientific name Finnish name English name Podiceps cristatus silkkiuikku great crested grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis pikku-uikku little grebe Phalacrocorax carbo merimetso great cormorant Egretta garzetta silkkihaikara little egret Casmerodius albus jalohaikara great egret Ardea cinerea harmaahaikara grey heron Ciconia ciconia kattohaikara white stork Ciconia nigra mustahaikara black stork Cygnus olor kyhmyjoutsen mute swan Anser sp. harmaahanhi unidentified goose Anas crecca tavi Eurasian teal Anas platyrhynchos sinisorsa mallard Aythya fuligula tukkasotka tufted duck Somateria mollissima haahka common eider Melanitta fusca pilkkasiipi surf scoter Glaucionetta clangula telkka goldeneye Mergus merganser isokoskelo goosander Milvus migrans haarahaukka black kite Pernis apivorus mehilaishaukka western honey buzzard Aquila chrysaetos maakotka golden eagle Hieraaetus pennatus pikkukotka booted eagle Buteo buteo hiirihaukka common buzzard Buteo vulpinus idanhiirihaukka steppe buzzard Accipiter nisus varpushaukka northern sparrowhawk Circus pygargus niittysuohaukka Montagu's harrier Falco tinnunculus tuulihaukka common kestrel Falco vespertinus punajalkahaukka redfooted falcon Falco subbuteo nuolihaukka northern hobby Phasianus colchinus fasaani common pheasant Perdix perdix peltopyy grey partridge Gallinula chloropus liejukana common moorhen Fulica atra nokikana black coot Recurvirostra avosetta avosetti pied avocette Scolopax rusticola lehtokurppa Eurasian woodcock Numenius arquata isokuovi western curlew Actitis hypoleucos rantasipi common sandpiper Vanellus vanellus toyhtohyyppa northern lapwing Larus marinus merilokki great blackbacked gull Larus fuscus selkalokki lesser blackbacked gull Larus argentatus harmaalokki herring gull Larus cachinnans keltajalkalokki yellowlegged gull Larus canus kalalokki mew gull Larus ridibundus naurulokki blackheaded gull Sterna hirundo kalatiira common tern Thalasseus sandvicensis riuttatiira Sandwich tern Columba palumbus sepelkyyhky wood pigeon Columba livia domestica pulu feral pigeon Columba oenas uuttukyyhky stock pigeon Streptopelia decaocto turkinkyyhky collared dove Streptopelia turtur turturikyyhky turtle dove Cuculus canorus kaki Eurasian cuckoo Caprimulgus europaeus kehraaja European nightjar Apus apus tervapaasky common swift Merops apiaster mehilaissyoja European bee-eater Upupa epops harjalintu hoopoe Dryocopus martius palokarki great black woodpecker Dendrocopos major major kapytikka great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major pinetorum balkaninkapytikka (Balkan race) Dendrocopos medius tammitikka middle spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos minor pikkutikka little spotted woodpecker Alauda arvensis kiuru common skylark Galerida cristata toyhtokiuru crested lark Eremophila alpestris balkanica balkanintunturikiuru Balkan horned lark Riparia riparia tormapaasky sand martin Hirundo rustica haarapaasky barn swallow Delichon urbica raystaspaasky house martin Anthus trivialis metsakirvinen tree pipit Anthus pratensis niittykirvinen meadow pipit Anthus spinoletta vuorikirvinen rock pipit Motacilla alba vastarakki white wagtail Motacilla cinerea virtavastarakki grey wagtail Lanius collurio pikkulepinkainen redbacked shrike Lanius minor mustaotsalepinkainen lesser grey shrike Troglodytes troglodytes peukaloinen winter wren Prunella collaris alppirautiainen Alpine accentor Prunella modularis rautiainen dunnock Turdus torquatus sepelrastas ringed ousel Turdus merula mustarastas blackbird Turdus pilaris raksa fieldfare Turdus philomelos laulurastas song thrush Turdus iliacus punakylkirastas redwing Monticola ? sp. vuorisponde mountain thingie Oenanthe oenanthe kivitasku northern wheatear Saxicola rubetra pensastasku whinchat Saxicola torquata maura idantasku eastern stonechat Phoenicurus phoenicurus leppalintu common redstart Phoenicurus ochruros mustaleppalintu black redstart Erithacus rubecula punarinta Eurasian robin Luscinia luscinia satakieli thrush nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos etelansatakieli nightingale Ficedula hypoleuca kirjosieppo pied flycatcher Locustella fluviatilis viitasirkkalintu river grasshopper warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus ruokokerttunen sedge warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus rytikerttunen reed warbler Sylvia borin lehtokerttu garden warbler Sylvia atricapilla mustapaakerttu blackcap Sylvia curruca hernekerttu lesser whitethroat Sylvia communis pensaskerttu common whitethroat Phylloscopus sibilatrix sirittaja wood warbler Phylloscopus collybita tiltaltti chiffchaff Phylloscopus trochilus pajulintu willow warbler Regulus regulus hippiainen goldcrest Parus major talitiainen great tit Parus caeruleus sinitiainen blue tit Parus ater kuusitiainen coal tit Sitta europaea caesia European nuthatch Certhia familiaris northern treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla shorttoed treecreeper Passer domesticus varpunen house sparrow Passer montanus pikkuvarpunen tree sparrow Serinus serinus keltahemppo(nen) European serin Spinus spinus vihervarpunen spruce siskin Carduelis carduelis tikli Eurasian goldfinch Chloris chloris viherpeippo western greenfinch Acanthis flammea urpiainen redpoll Linaria cannabina hemppo linnet Pyrrhula pyrrhula punatulkku northern bullfinch Fringilla coelebs peippo chaffinch Miliaria calandra harmaasirkku corn bunting Emberiza citrinella keltasirkku yellowhammer Emberiza hortulana peltosirkku ortolan bunting Emberiza schoeniclus pajusirkku reed bunting Sturnus vulgaris kottarainen starling Sturnus roseus ruusukottarainen rosy pastor Oriolus oriolus kuhankeittaja golden oriole Garrulus glandarius narhi European jay Pica pica harakka magpie Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax alppivaris redbilled chough Corvus monedula naakka jackdaw Corvus frugilegus mustavaris rook Corvus corone cornix varis hooded crow Corvus corax korppi the Raven
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After spending four days in Prague and Budapest, not so much concentrating in nature we passed large sanctuary areas on our way from Budapest to Eger and from Eger to Debrecen. Especially the national park around the great wetlands of river Tisza (the famous National Park of Hortoba'gy) seemed to be a real bird paradise. We saw lots of herons and Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), as well as our first Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).
Also many other species which we couldn't observe, such as Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) and Pallas' Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) are breeding there. Also the only two Avocettes (Recurvirostra avosetta) I saw, were a new species for me (incredible but true). In the migrating periods the area is fully occupied by Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna) and Avocettes. The two gull species living there were Yellowlegged (Larus cachinnans) and Blackheaded (L. ridibundus). We expected to see Black and Whitewinged Terns (Chlidonias nigra et leucoptera) but didn't see a single specimen.
On the Puszta (pronounce as 'poosta') we got as new species the Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) and Redfooted Falcon (Falco vespertinus). Once Johanna saw a bird resembling a Pratincole (Glareola sp.) but we lost it as soon. Both the species of shrikes, Redbacked (L. collurio) and Lesser Grey, were common and abundant, Redbacked being about ten times as common as the Lesser Grey. Also Eastern Stonechats (Saxicola t. maura) were very common. We saw one Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) flying majestically over the open puszta. However, we didn't see any bustards, which were on the top of our aim list. There's a huge difference between western and eastern fields when speaking about storks. The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is in the east as common as buzzards in the west - don't even calculate how common the buzzards are. Black Storks we only saw four specimens; two single in Hungary, one couple in Slovakia. The most common birds of the puszta seemed to be House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Hooded Crow (Corvus c. cornix), Rook (C. frugilegus), Jackdaw (C. monedula), White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Eastern Stonechat, Wood and Feral Pigeons (Columba palumbus et l. domestica), Ringed Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) and surprisingly the Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). In the villages and towns very common besides the basic sparrows and pigeons and doves were Black Redstart, Serin (Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus), Greenfinch (Chloris chloris), Blackbird and Song Thrush (Turdus merula et philomelos), Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and Crested Lark (Galerida cristata).
On the puszta there are in places deciduous forest (boeck) planted in strictly regular rows. Surprisingly, I found there Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), a magnificent view to a male bird flying and stopping to sit in an open boeck tree. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit the original forests left in Hungary, but as one of us studied half a year biology in the University of Debrecen, she can heartily recommend Byg National Park - the name means boeck.
Other nice puszta records were Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus) and Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra). I saw my first European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) as the fourth bee-eater species for me, in NE Hungary. It remained the only one we saw during our trip.
In Eger in the night a Rock Marten (don't read 'Martin' cause this is a mammal) surprised us on a terace with its beautiful glittering eyes. More night observation we got when returning from Romania. We got some nasty little problems on the border - of course - and so we had to walk about 11 kilometres from the border to Debrecen in the night before someone pitied us for the rest 7 kilometres. However, it was nice to walk through the puszta in the night, listening the Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus) which were quite abundant. The owls, however, were missing or at least quiet. We also heard Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis), and millions of noisy frogs. Fortunately there, as always, was a party in Debrecen.
In Hungary we had enjoyed the favours of the gods of weather - the temperature was near 40 degrees Celsius. When we arrived in Transsylvania, it changed into raining. So we got a splendid opportunity to experience the extreme pleasures of Bucharest - to be not too ironical, we ate among others in a place called Pizzeria 'Turist' where the only pizza of the many was Pizza 'Turist'. Anyway, the best restaurant's name have to be one in Albania: "Pizzeri Oriental Deutschland II", absolutely without a in pizzeria and with the colours of the German flag in a wrong order in their logo. Fortunately the weather changed again and the sun started to shine - so we decided to continue our postponed plan to climb up to the Carpates, never so happy of getting out to the divine breathteaking magnificent beautiful nature of Romania. In a train a local citizen told us about his home village called Sinaia, situated in the neighbourhood of the highest mountains of Romania in the Southern Carpates. Sinaia is very easily available by train from Brasso or from Bucharest and the town itself is a very pleasant and beautiful Transsylvanian village with old villas and castles, among them some of the "original" Dracula's castles, having avoided quite well the raping architecture of the certain system in the near past. I can recommend good villas to stay.
In the valley there are very nice old beech forests and among the dominating beech trees there are also rowans, maples, aldens, oaks, birches and many other trees which my limited skills of English prevent from translating. In the park of Sinaia there's a natural history museum where the plants are quite well presented - the birds not so well, because they had Kestrel (FALCO TINNUNCULUS) with a sign "FALCO SUBBUTEO" and Redbacked Shrike (LANIUS COLLURIO) had been recognized as Senator Shrike (LANIUS SENATOR). About our favorite, the Wallcreeper (TICHODROMA MURARIA), the guide, however, knew lots of.
The dominating bird species of the deciduous forest zone were Chaffinch (FRINGILLA COELEBS), Blackcap (SYLVIA ATRICAPILLA), Blackbird (TURDUS MERULA), Song Thrush (T. PHILOMELOS), Winter Wren (TROGLODYTES TROGLODYTES), Robin (ERITHACUS RUBECULA), Wood Warbler (PHYLLOSCOPUS SIBILATRIX), Chiffchaff (PH. COLLYBITA), Great Tit (PARUS MAJOR) and Coal Tit (PARUS ATER).
In the deciduous forests we also recorded Honey Buzzard (PERNIS APIVORUS), Nightingale (LUSCINIA MEGARHYNCHOS), Redstart (PHOENICURUS PHOENICURUS), Shorttoed Treecreeper (CERTHIA BRACHYDACTYLA) and Jay (GARRULUS GLANDARIUS).
More in the vicinity of habitation there were lots of Black Redstarts (PHOENICURUS OCHRUROS), Serins (SERINUS SERINUS), Lesser Whitethroats (SYLVIA CURRUCA), White Wagtails (MOTACILLA ALBA) and Grey Wagtails (MOTACILLA CINEREA) - the latter more common - Goldfinches (CARDUELIS CARDUELIS) and Greenfinches (CHLORIS CHLORIS), and besides, of course, the basic sparrows, swallows and doves.
The dominating woodpecker in the beech forests as well as in the towns and villages was the Balkanian race PINETORUM of Great Spotted Woodpecker (DENDROCOPOS MAJOR PINETORUM). Only once in Sinaia we believed to hear voice of Little Spotted (DENDROCOPOS MINOR), but we didn't see it and therefore didn't get it in Romania. However, at the railway station area of Brasso, there was a Middle Spotted Woodpecker (DENDROCOPOS MEDIUS) who besides all strongly seemed to be married with a pinetorum Great Spotted. We didn't recognize any specimen of Syrian Woodpecker (D. SYRIACUS), but we did recognize many Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the central parks of the towns of both Romania and Hungary. So it seems that concerning Eastern Europe we must correct information given by the Book of the Books, the best bird book ever published, the Jonsson's blessed guide, which we worshipped many times during our trip. I saw one green woodpecker (PICUS SP.) from a bus window but couldn't say which one it was.
Above the deciduous zone the dominating trees of the conifer zone were spruces and the other tree, Laerche in German, you know, the one which has no needles in winter. There were also a few pines and lots of deciduous trees up to the forest limit. Most of the bird species were same as in the lower zone, but there were also Great Black Woodpecker (DRYOCOPUS MARTIUS), Swift (APUS APUS), Tree Pipit (ANTHUS TRIVIALIS) - which probably was the commonest bird in that zone - Garden Warbler (SYLVIA BORIN), Bullfinch (PYRRHULA PYRRHULA) and at the tree limits Linnet (LINARIA [Acanthis] CANNABINA). Also there were lots of Ravens (CORVUS CORAX), who had real colonies in big rock pines and rocks.
The real highlight we experienced along a little road in the conifer zone -- two REDBILLED CHOUGHS (PYRRHOCORAX PYRRHOCORAX) far from the range shown in the Jonsson's book!!! We have two witnesses and we also speculated all the possible alternatives. We saw two glossy black corvids who were on the roadside, probably getting stones into their stomachs, rising then into flight in front of us and flying down from some kind of rock slope. They had bright red curved bills. They were size of Jackdaw (CORVUS MONEDULA), maybe even bigger, broader wings. There are no such bird in the Palearctic area except Redbilled Chough. I suggested they could possible have been Rooks (C. FRUGILEGUS) or Ravens who had put their bills into a red paint and then flied there the 10 km from the nearest human habitation. But two individuals - seems quite unprobable? I even speculated with Great Black Woodpeckers but no, we both saw them clearly enough to be sure they were Choughs. Could we suppose the species is resident, though few-numerous, on the Southern Carpates? Or does someone want to tell they were probable escapees...? If someone else has seen the species there, pls tell me!
Up on the mountains Fortuna was with us again. Above 2000 m the most abundant bird species were Rock Pipit (ANTHUS SPINOLETTA) and Wheatear (OENANTHE OENANTHE). There were also lots of Ravens (CORVUS CORAX), having fun with stones and other stuff, and martins and swifts, unexpectably also lots of Black Redstarts (PHOENICURUS OCHRUROS). Then we saw a bird we have always wanted to see in Finland: Horned Lark (EREMOPHILA ALPESTRIS), race BALKANICA! The atmosphere was really high! Another pleasant sight was Ringed Ousel (TURDUS TORQUATUS), race ALPESTRIS, I think. The Ousel was also resident near a slalom station's bar and very uncautious. For me both were new species, although they occur in Finland. We spent time searching Wallcreepers (TICHODROMA MURARIA) but didn't find any. However, we saw two Booted Eagles (HIERAAETUS PENNATUS) - for me first time in Europe - and Kestrels (FALCO TINNUNCULUS) nesting in over 2000 metres.
Other nice records from Romania, mostly from Transsylvania: Little Egrets (EGRETTA GARZETTA), Black Kite (MILVUS MIGRANS) - this time they weren't Booted Eagles - very beautiful red Steppe Buzzard (BUTEO VULPINUS) - could have even been a Longlegged Buzzard (B. RUFINUS), but in our opinion it was suitably small to be a Steppe one - Common Sandpiper (ACTITIS HYPOLEUCOS) in a mountain river, huge sums of Cuckoos (CUCULUS CANORUS) flying around on the open landscapes, Hoopoe (UPUPA EPOPS), mentioned Middle Spotted Woodpecker (DENDROCOPOS MEDIUS), Lesser Grey Shrikes (LANIUS MINOR) - even more numerous than in Hungary - and at last the best! Rosy Pastor (STURNUS ROSEUS), also outside the range shown by Jonsson's. First I saw one single bird, when I couldn't accept it outside the range, because of course it COULD have been a partly albinistic Starling (STURNUS VULGARIS). Then I saw a flock of four individuals in a place north from Bucharest (don't remember the name, but if someone is interested, I have it in my notes) - I didn't suspect any more.
Oh, I almost forgot: we also saw nesting Fieldfares (TURDUS PILARIS) a lot too south from the marked range.
That was all about Romania this time.
PODICEPS CRISTATUS Silkkiuikku GREAT CRESTED GREBE ARDEA CINEREA Harmaahaikara GREY HERON CICONIA CICONIA Kattohaikara WHITE STORK CICONIA NIGRA Mustahaikara BLACK STORK ANAS PLATYRHYNCHOS Sinisorsa MALLARD AQUILA CHRYSAËTOS Maakotka GOLDEN EAGLE BUTEO BUTEO Hiirihaukka COMMON BUZZARD FALCO TINNUNCULUS Tuulihaukka KESTREL VANELLUS VANELLUS Töyhtöhyyppä LAPWING COLUMBA PALUMBUS Sepelkyyhky WOOD PIGEON COLUMBA LIVIA DOMESTICA Pulu FERAL PIGEON STREPTOPELIA DECAOCTO Turkinkyyhky COLLARED DOVE STREPTOPELIA TURTUR Turturikyyhky TURTLE DOVE CUCULUS CANORUS Käki CUCKOO APUS APUS Tervapääsky SWIFT DENDROCOPOS MAJOR Käpytikka GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER DENDROCOPOS MINOR Pikkutikka LITTLE SPOTTED WOODPECKER ALAUDA ARVENSIS Kiuru SKYLARK GALERIDA CRISTATA Töyhtökiuru CRESTED LARK HIRUNDO RUSTICA Haarapääsky BARN SWALLOW DELICHON URBICA Räystäspääsky HOUSE MARTIN ANTHUS TRIVIALIS Metsäkirvinen TREE PIPIT ANTHUS SPINOLETTA Vuorikirvinen ROCK PIPIT MOTACILLA ALBA Västäräkki WHITE WAGTAIL MOTACILLA CINEREA Virtavästäräkki GREY WAGTAIL LANIUS COLLURIO Pikkulepinkäinen REDBACKED SHRIKE TROGLODYTES TROGLODYTES Peukaloinen WINTER WREN PRUNELLA COLLARIS Alppirautiainen ALPINE ACCENTOR TURDUS TORQUATUS Sepelrastas RING OUSEL TURDUS MERULA Mustarastas BLACKBIRD TURDUS PILARIS Räkättirastas FIELDFARE TURDUS PHILOMELOS Laulurastas SINGING THRUSH OËNANTHE OËNANTHE Kivitasku WHEATEAR SAXICOLA RUBETRA Pensastasku WHINCHAT SAXICOLA TORQUATA Mustapäätasku STONECHAT PHOENICURUS PHOENICURUS Leppälintu REDSTART PHOENICURUS OCHRUROS Mustaleppälintu BLACK REDSTART ERITHACUS RUBECULA Punarinta ROBIN SYLVIA ATRICAPILLA Mustapääkerttu BLACKCAP SYLVIA CURRUCA Hernekerttu LESSER WHITETHROAT PHYLLOSCOPUS SIBILATRIX Sirittäjä WOOD WARBLER PHYLLOSCOPUS TROCHILUS Pajulintu WILLOW WARBLER PHYLLOSCOPUS COLLYBITA Tiltaltti CHIFFCHAFF REGULUS REGULUS Hippiäinen GOLDCREST PARUS MAJOR Talitiainen GREAT TIT PARUS ATER Kuusitiainen COAL TIT CERTHIA FAMILIARIS Puukiipijä NORTHERN TREECREEPER PASSER DOMESTICUS Varpunen HOUSE SPARROW PASSER MONTANUS Pikkuvarpunen TREE SPARROW SERINUS SERINUS Keltahemppo(nen) SERIN SPINUS SPINUS Vihervarpunen SPRUCE SISKIN CARDUELIS CARDUELIS Tikli GOLDFINCH CHLORIS CHLORIS Viherpeippo GREENFINCH ACANTHIS FLAMMEA 'Tatran'urpiainen 'TATRA' REDPOLL LINARIA CANNABINA Hemppo LINNET FRINGILLA COELEBS Peippo CHAFFINCH STURNUS VULGARIS Kottarainen STARLING GARRULUS GLANDARIUS Närhi JAY PICA PICA Harakka MAGPIE CORVUS MONEDULA Naakka JACKDAW CORVUS FRUGILEGUS Mustavaris ROOK CORVUS CORONE CORNIX Varis HOODED CROW CORVUS CORAX Korppi THE RAVEN
From Poprad, where we saw a couple of BLACK STORKS (Ciconia nigra. It has been re-appearing lately, after a bad trend), we went to Stary Mlokovec. On the route we saw e.g. lots of Turtle Doves (STREPTOPELIA TURTUR), Crested Larks (GALERIDA CRISTATA), both Whinchat and Stonechat (SAXICOLA RUBETRA & TORQUATA) and all the basic species - see earlier parts. Also in Mlokovec there were all the normal species, fewer Serins (SERINUS SERINUS) and such southern species. In Mlokovec we stayed in student hotel Partizan, where the Madam was very impressed of the coincidence I was born in the same date which is the Slovak national day.
So I only concentrate to the Higher Tatras.
The conifer forest zone was coverred by spruce forest almost identical with the main forest type in S and C Finland. However, there were also larchs, but not as forests. The commonest bird species in the forest zone were Chaffinch (FRINGILLA COELEBS), Robin (ERITHACUS RUBECULA) and Wood Warbler (PHYLLOSCOPUS SIBILATRIX), the last being surprising for us, because in Finland the species is a typical deciduous forest species. Other very abundant birds were Winter Wren (TROGLODYTES TROGLODYTES), the Tits (PARUS MAJOR & P. ATER), Goldcrest (REGULUS REGULUS), the Thrushes (TURDUS MERULA, T. PHILOMELOS and T. PILARIS), Blackcap (SYLVIA ATRICAPILLA) and Lesser Whitethroat (S. CURRUCA), Chiffchaff (PHYLLOSCOPUS COLLYBITA), Tree Pipit (ANTHUS TRIVIALIS), Spruce Siskin (SPINUS/CARDUELIS SPINUS) and Jay (GARRULUS GLANDARIUS). We also observed there Northern Treecreeper (CERTHIA FAMILIARIS) and Great and Little Spotted Woodpecker (DENDROCOPOS MAJOR & D. MINOR). From the mountain we saw a Golden Eagle (AQUILA CHRYSAETOS) above the forest. The greatest surprise of the forest zone was a Ring Ousel (TURDUS TORQUATUS), my third, a lot down from the forest limit, sitting openly in a spruce.
Above the forest zone there was a bush zone coverred mainly by birch. There we found our East-European journey's first Willow Warbler (PHYLLOSCOPUS TROCHILUS), which made us homesick, because it's the commonest bird of Finland. There were also the above mentioned forest species, e.g. Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.
Above that zone there was a large mountain pine zone (bush-type pine species). Unexpectedly, the commonest birds of this zone were Blackcap and Chiffchaff. There were also single Spruce Siskins, Black Redstarts (PH. OCHRUROS) and in the little mountain brooks (rivulets) numerously Grey Wagtails (MOTACILLA CINEREA). One of the most numerous species was a dark brown finch bird with pale stripes on the wings and rosy rump. We identified the bird as Redpolls (ACANTHIS FLAMMEA) only after descending from the mountain, because they were so much darker and "different" from the Nordic Redpolls. They seemed also darker than cabaret Redpolls. In this zone we also saw one possible Rock Bunting (EMBERIZA CIA), but didn't see it again and so it stayed unrecognized. We also saw possible "subthrushes" but the birds were not very openly available. I recommend climbing to the Tatras in May to see more birds.
In over 2000 metres the bird species in the order of number/abundance were: Rock Pipit (ANTHUS SPINOLETTA), Redpoll, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Swift, Wheatear (OENANTHE OENANTHE), Raven (CORVUS CORAX), Alpine Accentor (PRUNELLA COLLARIS), Black Redstart, Kestrel (FALCO TINNUNCULUS) and Blackcap (!). The only very openly visible birds were Rock Pipits and Ravens. We didn't see any Wallcreepers (TICHODROMA MURARIA) there and so it stays on the top of our aims.
After Slovakia our time was over and therefore we had only one day time in Poland and also we had to pass the Baltic countries much too quickly. Maybe the most interesting records from these countries were this time a Lesser Grey Shrike (LANIUS MINOR) in Northern Poland and a Sandwich Tern (THALASSEUS SANDVICENSIS) off Tallinn coast in Estonia. And of course the Pinkfooted Goose (ANSER ERYTHROPUS) in Riga... unfortunately it was hanging from the ceiling of a pub.
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