Ordinary bird walk with an extraordinary bird

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Sunday we have visited Petržalka. Largest residential district of Bratislava is mostly comprised of blocks of flats. It was built in 70’s and 80’s in the area full of Danube river arms and floodplain forests. Canal of Chorvátske rameno is a remnant of such river arm. In the time of construction of this district several gravel pits were created. Now these artificial lakes are used as recreational zones and serve also as a refuge for birds. Our aim was to explore these natural areas that are very close to the houses or to busy and loud roads.

We walked along the Chorvátske rameno canal. We observed Great and Blue Tits (Parus major, Parus caeruleus). Robin (Erithacus rubecula) was calling from the bush on the opposite bank. In few minutes we reached gravel pit Veľký Draždiak. Few tens of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), Coots (Fulica atra) and Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) were swimming around. We mentioned that some Swans are ringed and well known here as a resident birds. We found a Coot with signs of leucism in its plumage. Just a while after our dicussion on migrating birds, that used to make stopover on this artificial lake we spotted cormorant-sized bird in the middle of the gravel pit. It was Black-throated Loon (Gavia arctica). For almost all of the participants it was for the first time in a life. We had several great views of this unusual bird. This was a good example that attractive birds can be found also in common places.

Then we moved towards the fragment of floodplain forest. We observed Middle Spotted and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius, Dendrocopos major). In addition we heard a call of Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis). Two Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) were jumping from branch to branch and climbing on the tree trunks. In a while we stopped again. Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) showed itself on a nearby tree. Malý Draždiak gravel pit was without birds, but we hoped that we will find something in a small wetland next to it. Little Grebes, Moorhens or Herons used to be spotted here. Instead of it we observed pair of Mute Swans, Coot and a beautiful Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) – another great urban bird. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) was calling from the reed that embraces this wetland. Despite its wild appearance the wetland lies not more than 50 metres from a frequented road.

Fortunately there was no rain during our walk. We had great sightings of Black-throated Loon and Kingfisher. We learned that even busy city district may hide beautiful natural quiet corners with amazing birds.

List of recorded bird species:

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Black-throated Loon (Gavia arctica)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus / Larus ridibundus)
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius / Picoides medius)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major / Picoides major)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Common Magpie (Pica pica)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus / Parus caeruleus)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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