Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bulgaria: Buntings

For the trip we saw six species in the Emberizidae family.  The big miss was Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) which was a surprise since it seems that this bird should be common and well-distributed in many of the habitats we visited.  I saw the Reed Bunting well and often during my visit to England last June.  A key issue for the miss on this trip may be because birds nest much earlier in this southeast corner of Europe. With their nesting completed they may have already dispersed. 

Of the six species seen, three were seen only once.  The Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) is a beautiful bird with yellow throat, a blue-gray head and rufous-colored breast which Mladen located in a high, rocky meadow.  If you google Ortolan Bunting, as I did for the above link, you will also find links that give instructions on how to prepare this tiny songbird for eating.  Many will not want to be reminded, but I include my blog link reviewing Jonathon Franzen's excellent New Yorker essay titled Emptying the Skies.     

We saw Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) once on the rocky cliffs nicknamed "the flintstones" by Mladen and Yoav near Madzharovo. This was a relatively distant view through the spotting scope in so-so lighting.

The Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) was seen through the spotting scope on our final day of birding in the meadows of another out-of-season ski resort of the Hotel Sima in the Central Balkans.  

The Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) was seen only twice, but well each time.  The bird above was seen on our morning walk behind the Hotel Paradise in Madzharovo.  I happened upon it singing in the tree when I was actually angling for a better photo of a Turtle Dove. I called everyone else to see it and immediately abandoned my efforts with the Turtle Dove to focus on the Cirl Bunting.  The bird was quite cooperative, but, of course, the light is terrible.  Still, I think it's easy to see how attractive the Cirl Bunting is.     

Perhaps my best photo of the whole trip is of this beautiful, singing Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala).  We saw the Black-headed Bunting well and often.  Such a beautiful bird with its lemon-yellow breast and rufous patchs on the lesser coverts. 

Finally, a word about the Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) - the ubiquitous Corn Bunting.  This bird was seen and heard every day, whether in the mountains or in the lowlands, in grassy areas with scattered trees and bushes.  While traveling along in the van we heard it singing from its roadside perch through the open windows.  Whenever we stopped to look at other birds, the Corn Bunting was singing.  When eating lunch or having dinner, we heard the Corn Bunting sing.  


While I doubt I could ever forget the Corn Bunting or its song; just in case, I decided to record it.  In this 25 second video it gives two vocalizations.  Between the vocalizations you'll also hear the fluted whistle of the Golden Oriole.  At the end you'll hear another Corn Bunting. Of course, what else?

Още, за да се!

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