Sunday, 10 November 2013

Austria October rarity report

A new and interesting feature we hope will continue is the comparison between rare bird reports in Britain and those in different countries. Martin Suanjak is a young birder from Austria. Landlocked, mountainous and with far fewer birders than in the UK, his rarities report from October makes for great reading.  

Austria's October Rarities
So the first thing: Austria is not Australia! We don’t have kangaroos but mountains (not just mountains though!). People are not as into birds as you Brits are, however there is growing community of birders. My home country is not really a good ground for rarities, in my opinion; it has no connection to the sea and migrants seem to avoid the Alps.
This October however was not the worst for rare species:
-Due to the fact that probably not everyone knows every village in Austria, I will add directions in brackets (C for central, E for east etc.) to explain which area of Austria the bird was seen.-

The first Slavonian Grebes of the winter appeared with one very showy individual at Oslip (E). Also the first rare geese came in with three Red-breasted Geese reported from the Lake Neusiedl area (E) and another bird from the Waldviertel (N). One Common Scoter was at St. Johann (C).
A ringed (white darvic) Glossy Ibis was reported from Upper Austria (CN).
Three reports of skuas; two Arctics, one at the Lake Neusiedl area (E) and one near Vienna (NE) and one Long-tailed from the Rhine estuary (W).
No really rare gulls reported, just two Greater-Black Backs from the Lake Neusiedl area (E) and one near Vienna ( NE).
On the waders front it’s been a good month for the south eastern county of Styria. Normally we (I am from Styria) don’t get a lot of waders, but this month we struck gold twice! First was a Grey Phalarope at Waldschacher Teiche (SE) discovered by a non-birder. This was the first record since 2005 of this lovely wader species for Styria. Highlighting the difference between Austrian and British birding is the number of twitchers. This Grey Phal (staying for three days) was twitched by nine people (me included)!
Grey Phalarope,Waldschacher Teiche ©Andreas Tiefenbach
The second strike for Styria was the discovering of a late Pectoral Sandpiper at Gralla (SE). This was just second for Styria after bird at exactly the same spot in 1972! So this should be a big twitch for serious lister and actually eleven people twitched it the first day (me included), so kind of a big twitch (for Austria). The bird stayed there for 8 days and 20 people saw it in total (Imagine a second for Yorkshire, how many people would folk up to see it?)…
Pectoral Sandpiper, Gralla ©Michael Tiefenbach
Pectoral Sandpiper, Gralla ©Michael Tiefenbach
Another rare wader were 3 Bar-tailed Godwits which stayed the whole month in the Lake Neusiedl area. A very briefly seen Buff-breasted Sandpiper reported from Vienna would be 16th record for Austria and the first away from the main wader sites Rhine estuary and Lake Neusiedl if accepted. The only Oystercatcher was seen at the Rhine estuary (W). Another good wader record was a Collared Pratincole at Upper Austria (C), but no photos were obtained.

It has been also a good month for Raptors. Just three Long-legged Buzzard from the NE which is much less than the record influx year 2012. In summer/autumn 2012 there where 19 Long-legged Buzzards in the main area for this species (Waldviertel and Weinviertel), but the same time in 2013 had just 6 birds in the area.
Long-legged Buzzard ©Richard Katzinger
Long-legged Buzzard ©Richard Katzinger
Long-legged Buzzard ©Richard Katzinger
A hybrid Lesser x Greater Spotted Eagle (called Tunne) from Estonia was tracked flying over eastern Austria ( Another strange Lesser Spotted Eagle appeared, this one in the Lake Neusiedl area: a bird from Slovakia which had been kept in captivity for a year after falling out of the nest. New to freedom it wasn't very shy, didn't fly very high and landed in unusual places, like reedbeds. In the same area a calidus Peregrine was seen and photographed. The status of this ssp. is anything but clear, with a few individuals claimed every year, usually without photographic evidence.
calidus Peregrine, Lake Neusiedl area ©Leander Khil
calidus Peregrine, Lake Neusiedl area ©Leander Khil
calidus Peregrine, Lake Neusiedl area ©Leander Khil
A “normal” Lesser Spotted Eagle flew over Carinthia (S) and a Pallid Harrier was reported from Tyrol (W).

Everyone was hoping for a big Yellow-browed Warbler influx after the very promising numbers from the north. But our hopes were not really satisfied. There were in total four reports from various parts of the country, but just one with pictures (if all get accepted this would be records number 7 to 10). The only pictures were taken with a compact digicam, the bird was really that tame! Unfortunately none were twitchable.
Yellow-browed Warbler ©Marion Schindlauer
Another interesting Phyllosc record came from Carinthia, with a Siberian Chiffchaff (tristis), but once again, no pictures were obtained (this bird would have been the 6th record).
At the end of the month another long awaited guest appeared in from of a Two-barred Crossbill. The bird was a very brief encounter and just two pictures were taken. Any comments on this bird would be appreciated.
Two-barred Crossbill, ©Andreas Tiefenbach
A Lapland Bunting was heard calling at the Lake Neusiedl area.

I think that’s all worth reporting. As usual winter migrants arrived with good numbers: Bramblings, Hen Harriers, Merlins and Lesser Grey Shrikes. Also loads of Cranes were seen migrating through.

Thanks to Marion Schindlauer, Andreas Tiefenbach, Michael Tiefenbach, Richard Katzinger and Leander Khil for information and pictures.

-Martin Suanjak
Avid birder for a few years, Martin also goes ringing, twitching (mostly dipping) and enjoys photography. He lives near Graz, Austria. Martin has visited the Spurn Bird Observatory "It was really awesome! Go there if you get the chance!" Any information about birding Austria needed; don't hesitate to contact him!
(European map per Google maps)

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