Dinosaur of the week: Yellowhammer

This male Emberiza citrinella was singing in Austria. The species is in decline there; and it’s on the red list in Ireland and the UK. Reason: farming practices.


Dinosaur of the week: Red-backed Shrike

This is a male Lanius collurio perching on a maple tree in Austria. The bird winters in Africa and breeds in Europe. Its overall population size looks healthy. In Britain, however, it is all but extinct (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/r/redbackedshrike/).

Swansong to a floodplain

Yeah, I’m feeling a wee bit sentimental. We’ve left our home of three years in Bratislava, said good-bye to many a good friend (who we hope to meet again in the future), and also said bye to our favourite twitching places along the river Morava / March. And because spring had already mightily started to spring, we had some lovely sightings in the floodplain near Devinska Nova Ves like a yawning stork, circling white-tailed eagle or a hare:

We also went to the WWF nature reserve -just over the border in Austria- in Marchegg, to see more storks and other birds:

I was particularly happy to have seen the breeding herons again. On top of that, I had never knowingly seen gadwalls before, so that was a rather welcome sight too.

Of course, there was some non-avian activity. The frogs and toads were mating, and snakes were around to hunt the mating amphibians.

Yep, it’s sad to leave such places, but there’s also the fact that we take some¬†wonderful memories with us. Plus, there’s the chance to explore something new.

Little Great Zoo

Back in October, we went to visit one of the top-ten zoos in Austria. It’s called Game park Ernstbrunn, and it’s easily reached by car from Vienna, Bratislava or Breclav (http://www.wildpark-ernstbrunn.at/de/).

Why is it great? Lots and lots of space for the animals. They live in areas which really closely resemble their natural habitat. And you won’t find any exotic (from a European angle) stuff there. Enjoy what woods and mountains in mid-Europe used to offer to the wanderer …

However, there’s even more. It’s very family friendly, so if you rather don’t want to share your deer-experience with a horde of toddlers, don’t go at a weekend. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash.

And then, there are the wolves. The park is home to the Wolf Science Centre (http://www.wolfscience.at/en/), and it’s actually possible to have a very close encounter with those fascinating creatures. Details about times & prices are on their website. This is one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to.