White-tailed Eagles at Danube

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Our first event in the new year was the observation of White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) at Danube. The second Sunday in January we went to Hrušovská zdrž water reservoir under Bratislava. We placed our observation point at the peninsula at the dam near Čunovo, from where we had a perfect view on the whole upper part of the reservoir. We woke up into a nice sunny day. The weather forecast promised wind, but we did not need to worry about the fog at least.

On our way to the observation point, we stopped at the dam to check the space beneath it. It was worth it. One Eagle sat at a distant mud flat. We admired him for a while and than set off to prepare everything for our guests.

At the beginning, the weather was very nice, the wind was light, the sun was shining and the visibility was very good. We observed many species of waterfowl at the relatively calm water, some flocks even close to the bank. We were very pleased by the observation of a group of Velvet Scoters (Melanitta fusca). Besides these black northern ducks we saw also smaller flocks of Wigeons (Anas penelope) and also Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser and Smew (Mergus merganser, Mergus serrator, Mergellus albellus). Shortly after half past ten a beautiful adult White-tailed Eagle appeared above our heads. It shortly soared above the dam and than flew back in our direction. We could admire his snow-white tail and light-brown head in the midday sunshine.

At the end of our observation the wind got stronger and small waves started to form at the water surface. In such weather waterfowl usually move under the dam, so we decided to take a walk and have a look. We hesitated no longer when we heard that there are two White-tailed Eagles in that area. After our arrival we observed one adult White-tailed Eagle, sitting at nearly the same place as one did in the morning. The second one took off meanwhile and flew to the direction of the peninsula, where it was seen by the people, who remained at our observation point. It flew towards the upper part of the reservoir and than along the Danube till we lost him in our binoculars and spotting scopes.

List of observed bird species:

unidentified Goose (Anser sp.)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Smew (Mergus albellus / Mergellus albellus)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus / Microcarbo pygmeus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) – four observations, at least two birds (one adult, one immature)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus / Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus)
large Gull (Larus cachinnans/michahellis)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Read more on our White-tailed Eagle observation last year in our report: King of the Danube sky

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