Monday, May 28, 2007

Cetti's Sonagram

I'm busy compiling the Ayrshire Bird Report 2006 which explains why this blog has been a bit quiet recently, and for a few weeks to come. There seems to be a new craze developing amongst bird bloggers (Doc Martin & Menzie) of uploading sonagrams of bird vocalistaions. So, for a bit of fun, I looked through my small sound collection at the (wet) weekend and began to play around with Syrinx software ( The sonagram below shows a burst of song from a Cetti's Warbler I recorded at Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de L'Empordà, in Catalunya, northeast Spain. I captured this using a Mindisc recorder, and a basic microphone in June 2000.

First Field Guide

When I was last home, I found my first field guide (in the attic) given to me by my parents at Christmas 1983. The Easy Way to Bird Recognition by John Kilbracken featured only 184 of the most common species of the British Isles, but was fine for a young beginner. The cool thing about it was the idea behind it was unique in the bird book market at that time. A simple systematic key was used, guiding you through a sequence of questions designed to eliminate unlikely candidates while narrowing the field in the search to identify your mystery bird. Juvenile and immature plumages were not featured, making it somewhat limited but I do remember it was a lot of fun.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Just returned from an excellent week birding in Morocco. This was my first proper trip to the region exploring all sorts of raw and beautifully barren habitats from the High Atlas mountains to steppe, rocky plateaus, wadis, oases, palm groves and the stony and sandy deserts of the north western pre-Saharan region.

Highlights of the trip were the crazy displays of Hoopoe Larks on the Tagdilt plateau and the desert lake at Merzouga alive with waterbirds. Birds of note included Ruddy Shelduck, Lanner Falcon, Barbary Falcon, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Levaillant's Green Woodpecker, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Temminck's Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Common Bulbul, Moussier's Redstart, Desert Wheatear, Western Mourning Wheatear, White-crowned Wheatear, Red-rumped Wheatear, African Desert Warbler, Scrub Warbler, Fulvous Babbler, Brown-necked Raven, Desert Sparrow, Crimson-winged Finch & House Bunting.

Other fantastic wildlife included dozens of Plain Tiger butterflies (Danaus chrysippus), large Spiny-tailed Lizards (Uromastyx acanthinurus), Desert Fox (Fennecus zerda) and hundreds of Vagrant Emperor dragonflies (Hemianax ephippiger). Looking forward to returning again next year to explore the coastal wetlands, Mamora and Argan forests. I’ll post a full trip report soon for Morocco and the Costa de la Luz soon on the main website.