17th-27th June 2007


About a 20 minute drive from the town of Bratsigovo, there is a natural spring that acts as a magnet for birds all over the surrounding area since it is the only reliable source of open water in the area.

Hide erected beside the spring

In the two days we spent here, a total of 19 species came to drink and bathe...

male Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

male Ortolan Bunting displaying (Emberiza hortulana)


Ortolan Buntings were quite common visitors, and one pair were observed mating. The actual mating itself was extremely quick, and I missed it, but I did manage to record some of the display. It started with the male (above right) shuffling forward towards the female (just out of shot) with his wings upraised. This elicited the female to take up the bizarre posture seen below...

Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) courtship display (female is on the right)

The male then slowly approached the female and gently tugged the female's crown feathers while the female remained motionless except for slightly quivering wings. After a few seconds, they very rapid copulated. It was all over in a fraction of a second.

male Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) tugging female's crown feathers immediately prior to mating

Serendipity played a large part in getting the photo below. I had no idea there was a wasp perfectly placed in the upper left hand corner of the frame when I pressed the shutter and I couldn't believe my luck when I was going through my photos later that night after downloading them to my portable hard-drive!

adult Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) watching a hoverfly

juvenile Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

This Sombre Tit only paid a single very brief visit to the spring in the two days I spent there.

Sombre Tit (Poecile lugubris)

Turtle Doves were fairly regular, but wary, visitors...

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)

Common visitors included Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Starling...

adult male Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

female Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

female Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

male Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia)

Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)

immature European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

adult European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Since it is the only open water in the area, the spring is heavily used by livestock as well as the birds, and photo sessions were often interrupted by herds of horses, cattle, goats and sheep coming to drink. Thankfully, the shepherds all know Emil and, when there is a hide erected at the site, they only linger long enough to allow the animals to have a drink before moving their animals off again.


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