Ian’s Bird of the Week – Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanIan’s Bird of the Week – Northern Goshawk  by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 11/17/14

I got so absorbed in recounting my experiences in Catalonia, that I forgot to mention that I’ve been home in North Queensland for several weeks.

The piece about the effects of diclofenac prompted some interesting responses. It was pointed out that it causes kidney not liver failure in vultures, my apologies, and that a safe and effective substitute in both humans and livestock is the anti-inflammatory meloxicam. It’s sold here as Mobic, which I take sometimes when I wayward spinal disc misbehaves. I also received a link to this article by the Vulture Conservation Foundation which has managed to get the EU to do an investigation into the effects of diclofenac: http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/.

On the second day of our stay in raptor country in the Pyrenees with Birding in Spain we – my sister Gillian joined me for this one – were taken by Steve West to a hide at a Northern Goshawk feeding station before sunrise – goshawks are earlier risers than I am normally and are shy. Here the goshawks are fed regularly on chicken carcasses and fresh pigeon, the product of a culling programme by the local council. It was a misty, chilly, gloomy morning – sunrise was the time of day rather than an event – and the first bird to arrive, the adult female in photos 1 and 2, was barely visible. The second photo was taken at 1/3 of a second exposure at 1600 ISO and my tripod, inconvenient for travel, proved its worth yet again.

Adult females are more strongly barred and much larger than males (to protect succulent-looking nestlings). This one is partially spreading its wings and tail near the food in a posture that looks like a rudimentary ‘mantling’ display. This is usually used by hawks as a threat display to discourage other ones from interfering with their prey. In this case, I suspect it was signalling the presence of food to the juvenile goshawk, third photo, who appeared shortly afterwards. First year juvenile Northern Goshawks are brown with buff, almost cinnamon underparts and are streaked rather than barred. Similar juvenile plumages occur in other close relatives in the Accipiter genus such as the Brown Goshawk (A. fasciatus) and Collared Sparrowhawk (A. cirrocephalus), both common in Australia; see http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/brown_goshawk/source/brown_goshawk_32464.htm and http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/collared_sparrowhawk/source/collared_sparrowhawk_62859.htm for examples of their juvenile plumage. Note, incidentally the ‘beetle-brow’ characteristic also of the Brown Goshawk that gives the larger goshawks their fierce expression.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThe adult female moved aside and let the juvenile have the pigeon prey and the juvenile then adopted the possessive mantling display with spread wings and tail and fluffed-out feathers of the mantle, just below the neck.

Mother, I presume, tackled a piece of chicken carcass and carried it down onto the ground closer to the hide, but partially obscured by dried grass and other vegetation.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThe sixth photo shows the juvenile somewhat later with the remains of the pigeon. This was a very large bird too, as you can perhaps judge from its appearance, so I concluded that it was female too. ‘Huge’ is perhaps a better description, as the Northern Goshawk is easily the world’s largest of the nearly 50 or so species of Accipiter – (typical hawks comprising larger goshawks and smaller sparrowhawks, though ‘hawk’ is also used in North America to name other raptors such as those in the genus Buteo aka ‘Buzzard’ in British English). The female is up to 65cm/26in in length with a wingspan of up to 120cm/47in and a weight of up to 2.0kg/4.5lb, comparable in size with many Buzzards. All the Accipiter hawks tackle relatively large prey, mainly birds and some mammals. They hunt by surprise and pursuit and have rounded wings, long tails and fast reflexes for great manoeuvrability in forests. I suspect that Linnaeus used the specific moniker ‘gentilis’ in the sense of ‘noble’ rather than ‘gentle’. ‘Goshawk’ comes from the Old English ‘göshafoc’ meaning goose hawk, no mere chicken hawk.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThis was another species that had aroused my interest in my field guide as an Irish teenager, and hadn’t seen before this trip. It’s a very rare vagrant in Ireland and was then only an occasional breeder in Britain though widespread if uncommon elsewhere in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Since then it has become re-established in Britain with a breeding population of 300-400 pairs.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanBoth birds lightened their load, as many raptors do, before taking flight, as the juvenile is doing in the seventh photo. There’s a photo on the website of the female doing the same thing: http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/northern_goshawk/source/northern_goshawk_161882.htm. Even nobles have to perform basic functions: don’t stand behind or below a well-fed raptor :-).

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

“And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; (Leviticus 11:13-16 NKJV)

What a beautiful family of birds. Ian always has such great photos and adventures to share with us. Thanks, Ian.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Birds of the Bible – Peregrine Falcon and Goshawk

Ian’s Accipitridae Family

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

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Sunday Inspiration – Variety

The photos this week are from the Pin It (Pinterest) website. Thought sharing some of their great variety of bird photos would be enjoyable to watch. The ones selected do not even begin to show the photos they have in the various topics.

As mentioned in the latest article by Emma Foster, the Lord gives varying gifts, just as the Lord created the birds with such variety. May we use our varied talents to serve our Fantastic Lord and Creator.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8 NASB)

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“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV)

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“The Love Of God” – ©The Hyssongs

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Sunday Inspirations

Assurance: The Certainty of Salvation

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Fantastic Week-end

Purple Gallinule Reaching Circle B

Purple Gallinule Reaching Circle B

We greatly enjoyed this past week-end. Dr. James J. S. Johnson, from Institute For Creation Research, who writes for this blog, came to speak at our church. We had not met him personally and so this was a time of getting to know him.

Dan and I, Dr. Jim (my name for him) and Golden Eagle (Baron) went birdwatching on Saturday. We took him to our favorite birding spot here, Circle B Bar Reserve. We saw 31 species, several “life birds” for him and one “life bird” for me, an Orange-crowned Warbler.

The Birders at Circle B Bar Reserve

The Birders at Circle B Bar Reserve

After we left there, we went to Lake Morton. I wanted two things to happen, but it didn’t. Was hoping to let them feed the Wood Stork over there and see a Wood Duck. Not to be. We saw one Wood Stork, but he must have already been fed. We did get to feed some of our other friends there. All total, we saw at least 19 species there. Also, the Lord prepared a great day for us. (Rained good part of Sunday, but Saturday was beautiful.)

Feeding White Ibises at Lake Morton

Dr Jim Feeding White Ibises at Lake Morton

While describing our trip later, I misused the word “boring” which got mistaken. What I meant was that compared other visits to those two places, the number of species were less than normal. Birdwatching adventures are never “boring.” How can they when you are out enjoying the Lord’s great creation? Amazing! Fabulous! Superb! Those are better words.

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; (Job 12:7 NKJV)

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV)

As Dr. James told us in his presentations, the Lord uses so much variety, provision, and design in each of His created beings, humans included. If we just slow down, God’s hand can clearly be seen. (my paraphrase) Just with the birds, the wing structure, specialized beaks, programmed travels, interconnection between bird and plant, and on and on. Oh, Praise the Lord!

Anhinga Lake Morton by Dan

Anhinga Lake Morton by Dan

 

I am including the list of birds seen at both places. Also, a short video of a Snowy Egret using his foot to stir up something to eat. Wonder how that habit came about? Could it be that the Lord programmed that in it because of promising to provide for them?

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? (Luke 12:24 NKJV)

Also, Dr. Johnson’s talks showed slides with examples of these points. (From an excerpt)

Witnesses for God’s Truth – “This presentation reviews 5 different kinds of witnesses for God’s truth, each of which takes away excuses from anyone who pretends to have no witness of God and His glory:  (1) the physical creation, including our own physical bodies; (2) the uniqueness of humanity; (3) Scripture; (4) Christ’s incarnation; and (5) one more witness that we all are accountable for, and this one is quite scary!”

Lessons from the Zoo -  “Did you know that the animal kingdom, in all of its diversity, reveals God’s creative genius and glory in uncountable ways?  Why does God like and create variety in creation? How do the various animals living today, as well as other animals (like dinosaurs) which lived in earlier times, confirm the Bible’s account of creation – and refute Darwin’s evolutionary “natural selection” idea? This presentation provides a series of examples of big and little animals that display God’s handiwork in amazing ways. Mammals, reptiles, insects, spiders, fish, shellfish, jellyfish, and more!

Tricolored-Snowy-Great Egret-White Ibis at Circle B

Tricolored-Snowy-Great Egret-White Ibis at Circle B

Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk, US-FL
Nov 8, 2014 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Us, Dr J and Baron - 31 species

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Anhinga
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill  6
Black Vulture  50
Turkey Vulture  50
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Purple Gallinule
Common Gallinule
Stilt Sandpiper
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray Catbird
Orange-crowned Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle

Lake Morton, Polk, US-FL
Nov 8, 2014 10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Us, Dr J. and Baron - 18 species (+1 other taxa)

Mute Swan
Black Swan
Black-necked Swan
Muscovy Duck (Established Feral)
Mallard (Domestic type)
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Anhinga
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
White Ibis
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Laughing Gull
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Blue Jay
Palm Warbler
Boat-tailed Grackle

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Sunday Inspiration – Veteran’s Day

Bald Eagle flying by Dave's BirdingPix

Bald Eagle flying by Dave’s BirdingPix

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. (Deuteronomy 32:7 KJV)

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4 KJV)

Lord Bless all of you as we remember our the military this Veteran’s Day. Many have served and given their all, others are now serving or have served faithfully. We Honor you and Thank You for your service for our country. Other have served their country’s military also. We should remember them also and I am sure they have a similar day. Our’s just happens to be November 11.

The birds chosen this week have either a military item as part of their name or there has been an airplane named after that type of bird.

Happy Veteran Day! Lord Bless You.

 

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“Military Service Medley” – Faith Baptist Orchestra 7-3-11

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Sunday Inspiration

Military Aircraft of the United States with Bird or Bird-Like Names

Sharing The Gospel

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lammergeier (Missió Complerta!)

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Newsletter ~ 11/7/14

Now, at last, here is the one that I wanted to photograph above all else when in the Pyrenees: the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture.

As with other species that have featured in the bird of the week such as the Black Woodpecker and Cream-coloured Courser, my interest or perhaps obsession was stimulated by my Petersen et al. Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe in the early 1960s. Unlike the woodpecker and the coursers, the European vultures were represented not on the coloured plates but in monochrome drawings. If anything, that made them more mysterious and elusive though two of them came spectacularly to life in 1963 when I saw Griffon and Egyptian Vultures during a family holiday in the Pyrenees. The Lammergeier, the mythical bone-breaker seemed destined to remain just that, as I knew it was very rare in Europe, extinct in the Alps, and found only over the highest mountain ranges. Even the name seemed straight out of Wagner’s Ring Cycle along with the Valkyries.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

I had been warned by the reserve rangers that the Lammergeiers would appear, if at all, in the afternoon after the Griffons had had their fill and I also knew that they were shy, would initially cruise over the area without landing and could easily be put off by the movement of a large telephoto lens. So the suspense was great, and it was a thrill when the first immature bird landed some distance away just before midday. They kept on the fringes and it wasn’t until about 2:30pm they came close enough for decent photos. The bird in the second and third photo is an older immature bird – they take six or seven years to mature – and the feathers of the breast and legs are getting paler. It also has the red eye-ring of the adult.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

In flight, fourth photo, they look quite different to other vultures with their back-swept rather pointed wings and long paddle-shaped tail. The thick plumage on the crown and neck sets them apart from typical vultures too, and when perched they hold their bodies in a horizontal eagle-like stance, presumably to keep their tails off the ground.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Their shape plus the whitish head of the adult is quite distinctive so it was an exciting moment when I saw the first one soaring in the distance over the mountain range that overlooked the feeding station. Much later, they started checking out the feeding area without landing. I was too wary of alerting them by movement so I took the fourth photo of an adult in flight much later.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Eventually, just before 3pm, the first adult landed, though like the juveniles, the adults stayed on the fringes as well and it wasn’t until 4:30pm that they came closer pick over the remains of the food carcasses and the real photography began.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

The black bird on the left of the fifth photo is a Common Raven and it seems to be imitating the stance of the larger bird and saying ‘I’m a champion too’. It’s much closer to the camera which makes it look larger than it actually is. Thirteen seconds later the Lammergeier took flight right over the Raven’s head – it had to duck – as if to say ‘we’ll see who’s boss’, and the relative proportions are more obvious. The wing-span – to 280cm/110in – is similar to that of Griffon and Cinereous Vultures, but the tail makes it much longer – to 125cm/49in. Females are heavier than males, to 7kg/15lb, but both sexes are lighter than the other vultures.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

The Lammergeiers wait until the others have finished because their food of choice is bones and bone marrow. In fact these make up 85% of the diet making them unique among birds and probably also vertebrates. The one in the sixth photo has found the favourite morsel, the digits of a cloven-hoof herbivore such as sheep and goats. Smaller bones ones are swallowed whole, larger ones – up to 4kg in weight – are dropped onto regularly used rocky areas called ossuaries to smash the bones. The usual pattern of the birds here was to scout around for suitable food, carry it off and then return perhaps 20 minutes later. They’re called ‘quebrando huesos’ (breaking bones) in Spanish. They’ll also take live prey such as tortoises, which get the same treatment. Legend has it that the Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed around 456 BC by an eagle – clearly a Lammergeier – dropping a tortoise on his bald head, mistaking it for a rock.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Conservation efforts have seen the Pyrenean population grow from 75 pairs in 1993 to 125 pairs in 2008 and the species has been successfully re-introduced to the Alps. It also occurs in eastern Africa, South Africa and Central Asia. Estimates of the global population range from 2000 to 10,000 individuals. Until recently, it was not considered globally threatened until recent declines outside Europe and it is now classified as near threatened. The greatest concern is the veterinary use of the anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drug Diclosfenac. Highly toxic to vultures, causing liver failure, it has been solely responsible for the 99% decline in vulture populations in India, where it is now banned.

Horrifyingly, this drug has recently been approved for veterinary use in Spain and Italy. This insanity jeopardises the wonderful conservation efforts being carried out. BirdLife International has rallied to the cause, see http://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/vultures-africa-and-europe-could-face-extinction-within-our-lifetime-warn, and funds are being raised here https://www.justgiving.com/stop-vulture-poisoning-now/.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

I’m going to donate. If we think that because there are no vultures in Australia, it’s someone else’s problem, it’s not unfortunately quite so simple. There is recent evidence that Diclosfenac is toxic to Aquila eagles too. That includes the Wedge-tailed Eagle and this drug is approved for veterinary use here (e.g. ‘Voltaren’ for horses) and widely prescribed for human use. Studies have shown that it increases the risk of strokes in humans http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-09-14/study-links-voltaren-to-strokes/2260424. Photographing Lammergeiers is a personal missió complerta (Catalan for misión completa). A much more important mission accomplished will be the global banning of this completely unnecessary and dangerous drug – there are safe alternatives.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

“But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, (Deu 14:12 NKJV)
“And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; (Lev 11:14 KJV)

Wow! What great photos of the Bearded Vulture/a.k.a. Lammergeier. Ian uses the one name, but I.O.C. uses the Bearded names. What ever you call it, it is a neat looking bird, especially being a vulture.

This bird is one of the Birds of the Bible and we have written about them before, but Ian’s photos, will help visualize it it even more.

“The Lammergeier, the mythical bone-breaker” listed by Ian reminded me of this article: Birds of the Bible – Name Study ~ Ossifrage that uses the term “bone-breaker”

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Fantastic Close-up – Wow!

A friend just posted this to my Facebook and I have to share it. It is from Imgur.

I don’t even need six words. Only one will do.

Wow!!!

“Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
(Psalms 77:14 KJV)

Green-Crowned Brilliant photographed by Chris Morgan

 

Six Word Birds – The “V”

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) by Lee

White Pelicans on the Wing at Circle B Bar Reserve by Lee

Their Creator Gave Them The “V”

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Another Video at Birdwatching at Circle B Bar Reserve – 12/23/09

Birds of the Bible

Birds of the World

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Cinerous/Eurasian Vulture

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Cinereous/Eurasian Vulture ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 10-28-14

This is 2 of 3 in a series on Eurasian vultures photographed during my recent spell in a bird hide at a vulture feeding station in Boumort National Reserve in the Pyrenees in Catalonia not far southwest of Andorra. The first of the series was on the Griffon Vulture (see http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/griffon_vulture/index.htm where I’ve put a dozen photos), this one is on the second species in the feeding order, the Cinereous or Eurasian Black Vulture. Here, incidentally, is the view taken from the hide – with my phone! – shortly after the rangers had left and the first one hundred or so Griffons, and a few Common Ravens, were in the process of arriving.

From Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

From Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

Because of the wide-angled nature of phone cameras, the vultures appeared in real-life to be much closer, close enough for one bird to almost fill the frame of a full-size (35mm sensor) DSLR with a 500mm lens. The second photo shows the luxurious and well-appointed hide (I mentioned the toilet last week) with my camera and 500mm lens set up on my tripod and my binoculars and smaller 100-400mm lens at the ready. I was on my own for the whole day, so I could move freely between the three viewing openings. The one in the middle overlooked the feeding site (above), the one on the left was good for photographing landing vultures using the 100-400mm lens, while the one on the right overlooked a pond, used by the vultures on a hot day. It was cool and overcast when I was there and rained a bit, so the only vulture I saw at the pond was a Griffon having a drink.

Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

It’s impossible to travel lightly with good gear for wildlife photography – the tripod along required taking a larger suitcase than both I and airlines prefer – but on that day in the hide and on an earlier occasion when I was photographing Crab Plovers in Dubai, I was really glad to have to have brought the necessary stuff with me. Anyway, back to the Cinereous Vulture. In the days when birders weren’t inter-continental travellers, it was called the Black Vulture until it was realised that this risked confusion with the completely unrelated Black Vulture of Central and South America and the ‘Eurasian’ label was applied. Now BirdLIfe International call it the Cinereous Vulture, ‘cinereous’ meaning ‘ashy’, like the adult in the third photo, which certainly looks as it has been rummaging around in the remains of a camp fire.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanThis bird shows the typical vulture ruff, with the cowl-like adornment characteristic of this species. The specific name monachus means ‘hooded’ but the common name Hooded Vulture is already used for another somewhat similar, sub-Saharan species, Necrosyrtes monachus. Juvenile birds are much darker, dark chocolate really, like the slightly scruffy one in the fourth photo. Some field guides say that juvenile birds have pink facial skin – like this one – but I couldn’t find a clear correlation between age and skin colour: some adults had mainly blue, others more pink skin, which made me wonder whether it was influenced by gender. All the Cinereous Vultures here had metallic identifying rings/bands and some, particularly juveniles had coloured bands as well. This is because the species has recently been re-introduced to this area from central Spain, is now breeding and the population is being studied thoroughly.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanThe Cinereous Vultures took their time and started arrived at the feeding site about an hour after the Griffons. As you can guess from the relative amounts of plumage on the heads and necks of the two species, they have quite different feeding habits. Griffons clearly don’t mind getting up to their elbows in it, so to speak, but the Cinereous Vultures prefer to wait until the dirty work has been done and then pick up their favourite morsels. Their reluctance to get involved in the initial scrum has nothing to do with size or dominance, the Cinereous Vultures are as large or larger than the Griffons and are quite dominant. The bird in the fifth photo has a feeding juvenile Griffon it its sights and is advancing threateningly in a manner that was wonderful to watch, head down, wings spread and ruff and cowl feathers erect with a bouncing walk. The result was something like the witches from Macbeth combined with the loping gait of a kangaroo.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanIt might look funny to us, but it was very effective and the Griffons, unamused, backed off, like the frustrated-looking one in the sixth photo. Cinereous Vultures have strong bills and can tackle, tendons, muscles and, by the look of the one in this photo, skulls. Maybe cervelles are on the menu. (I once understood cervelles d’agneau on a Parisian menu to be something to do with lamb and was slightly taken aback when brains, rather than a chop, appeared in front of me.)

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanThe Cinereous Vultures were the least volatile of the three species and once having landed, hung around for hours. I didn’t get photos of any in flight, but I didn’t find them easy to separate from the Griffons in flight as they’re silhouettes are rather similar. The Griffons kept landing and talking off and were better targets and more numerous. In total, there may have been 10-20 Cinereous Vultures. Their reintroduction here is part of a more general EU conservation and anti-poisoning program that has seen the population in Spain recover from 290 pairs in 1984 to perhaps 2500 now and they have been reintroduced into southern France. The conservation news isn’t all good, though to say the least, and I’ll return to this topic in the third in this series.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanPart of the research effort at Boumort is the study of the movements of these vultures. Adults are thought to be mainly sedentary in Europe, though partially migratory in Asia, where it also occurs. Some banded Spanish birds have turned up in sub-Saharan Africa. Some birds have been fitted with GPS units, and you can see one, complete with solar cell on the back of the juvenile in the last photo.

I mentioned the unrelated Black Vulture of the Americas, one of the New World Vultures. These include the Turkey Vulture, familiar in North America, the Condors and a couple of other species places in a separate family, the Cathartidae http://www.birdway.com.au/cathartidae/index.htm. In fact Birdlife International put them in their own order, the Cathartiformes, indicating that they arose completely independently. The Old World Vultures, on the other hand, are close related to hawks, eagles, etc. and are placed in the same family Acciptridae in the order Acciptriformes. I must admit I was struck by the eagle-like facial appearance of these birds and it appears that the Old World Vultures have developed twice within the Acciptridae. Most belong to a group of typical Old World vultures that includes the Griffon and the Cinereous. Three, however, form a separate group placed taxonomically near the Serpent Eagles. One of these is the subject of the next edition. The vultures kept me waiting in suspense for crowning moment, and I’m trying to make you share the anticipation: I have something really special for the next bird of the week!

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, (Deuteronomy 14:12 ESV)

And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:11 ESV)

What a blind! When Ian go out photographing, he goes all the way. I always enjoy his adventures. Vultures are a favorite of mine, but the Lord created them and gave them a job to do. What would the world look like if they didn’t come down and clear up carcasses.

Again, these Vultures are members of the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family. I like that fifth photo with that pose of his. Especially with Halloween just around the corner.

See Ian’s 1st article from Boumort National Reserve

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Accipitridae Family – Birdway (Ian’s site)

Cathartidae Family - Birdway (Ian’s site)

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

Cathartidae – New World Vultures

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(Edited)

Sunday Inspiration – Broadbills

 

Green Broadbill by Dan at Zoo Miami

Green Broadbill by Dan at Zoo Miami

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (Psalms 18:19 ESV)

“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. (Psalms 31:7-8 ESV)

Broadbills are one of my favorite birds. To me, they are adorable. So far, we have only seen the Green Broadbill and the Long-tailed Broadbill. Both have been at zoos.

Notice their eyes. They always look so alert and expressive.

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“Jesus Loves Me” by Bonnie Standifer

This piece was written and played by Bonnie Standifer. Played at our Orchestra Concert in March of 2013 at Faith Baptist Church. You have never heard it played this way before. Bonnie is a very gifted arranger and pianist. (I’ve used her song before, but it is so fantastic.)

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Sunday Inspirations

Formed By Him – Broadbills

Eurylaimidae – Broadbills

Broadbill - Wikipedia

Gideon

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Griffon Vulture

Boumort National Reserve

Boumort National Reserve

The first photo shows part of Boumort National Reserve in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Catalonia about 40km southwest of Andorra. A reserve since 1991, It has an area of 13,000 hectares and is of special importance as one of the only places in Europe where all four European species of vultures breed. Three occur naturally, while the fourth, the Eurasian Black or Cinereous Vulture has been reintroduced, after becoming extinct in the Pyrenees in recent decades. I made arrangements to visit it through Steve West of Birding in Spain, including getting the necessary permit to photograph these birds, accommodation and transport.

As part of the conservation effort, the vultures are fed three times a week and I was taken to the feeding site by two rangers who had collected carcasses and meat off-cuts from farmers in the vicinity. The site is equipped with a spacious and comfortable hide, complete with toilet, and I was left there alone for the day after they had spread out the meat and carcasses in front of the hide. When we arrived there were already between one and two hundred vultures, almost all Griffons, soaring high above. I had been briefed beforehand that the first arrivals would be Griffons, with Eurasian Blacks arriving later in the morning when the crowds thinned, while the iconic Lammergeier could be expected, probably, in small numbers in the middle of the afternoon. The fourth species, the Egyptian Vulture is a summer visitor and had already departed for Africa.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

Sure enough, as soon as the rangers left, large numbers of Griffons glided in and squabbled noisily over the food. Griffons feed mainly on muscles and viscera and attacked the carcasses and pieces of meat with great gusto. The bird in the second photo showing its skill at balancing on a rock on one foot and waving the other is an adult, recognisable by its white ruff, horn-coloured bill and pale wing coverts. The one in the third photo is a juvenile, with grey bill, coffee-coloured ruff and darker wings. Juveniles generally had a covering of short plumage on the head and neck, while the adults often had relatively bare necks.

The breeding range of the Griffon Vulture extends from Portugal in the west to northeastern India and southwestern Kazakhstan in the east. Spain is its main stronghold in the west with about 8,000 pairs and the species is not considered under threat.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

These birds are huge and it was wonderful to observe them up close. The black bird in the fourth photo sneaking a mouthful from under the watchful eye of a Griffon is a Common Raven. This is the largest passerine in the world, with a length of up to 67cm/26in and wingspan of up to 130cm/51in, larger than a Common Buzzard, but completely dwarfed by the vulture. Griffons are up to 110cm/43in in length, with a wingspan of up to 280cm/110in and weighting up to 11kg/24lbs.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

In the air, they glide effortlessly and powerfully and the enormous wings make the body appear quite small by comparison. They come into land looking like parachutists under square canopies but with the ponderous, unwavering stability of a large aircraft like a B747 or an A380. Look how elegantly and precisely the toes are arranged with all the poise of an Olympic diver, fifth photo.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

It really was an extraordinary experience watching the spectacle of these amazing birds, even if their table manners left much to be desired. The large amount of food disappeared at a great rate and the crowds started to disperse, leaving the scene, one hoped, for the later, rarer and more picky species. To be continued…

Greetings
Ian


Lee’s Addition:

Another neat adventure for Ian. Not sure I would want to be left all day by myself. Then again, Ian, is quite an adventurous birdwatcher and photographer. Patience is something he definitely has.

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing your adventure. I have a feeling you will soon tell us about some of those other Vultures that came to feed.

“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

The Griffon Vulture is a Bird of the Bible as Vultures are mentioned. One version of the Bible lists a Griffon.

“Of birds these are they which you must not eat, and which are to be avoided by you: The eagle, and the griffon, and the osprey.” (Leviticus 11:13 DRB)

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Bible Birds – Swan Introduction

Bible Birds – Swan Introduction

Swan (Cygnus olor)II at Bok Tower By Dan'sPix

Swan (Cygnus olor)II at Bok Tower By Dan’sPix

“And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,” (Leviticus 11:18 KJV)

“The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,” (Deuteronomy 14:16 KJV)

Swans are mentioned in these two verses in the KJV Bible. Some other versions list it as another bird. For now, let us learn about the beautiful Swans that the Lord created.

Both of the Swan verses above are found in the “do not eat” list that the Lord gave to the “children of the LORD your God.” Who would want to eat such great looking birds?

Swans are in the Anatidae Family which includes Ducks, Geese and Swans. There are seven species which include these:

Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) ©AGrosset – Zoo Miami’s by Lee
Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) by Dan – Video by Nick – Article
Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) by Bob-Nan
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) by Dan
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by DavesBP
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) by DavesBP
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) by Ian

Some Interesting Facts:

  • The Trumpeter Swan has the most contour feathers of any bird. (25,216) That doesn’t count the downy feathers.
  • Swans can fly as fast as 60 miles per hour!
  • A male swan is called a cob, and a female swan is called a pen.
  • A baby swan is called a cygnet.
  • The largest species, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, and whooper swan, can reach length of over 1.5 m (60 inches) and weigh over 15 kg (33 pounds). Their wingspans can be almost 3 m (10 ft).

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Bible Birds – Swan

Birds of the Bible – Swan

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black Swan

Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans Family

Wordless Birds

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Sunday Inspiration – Vacation 2014

Peacock at Magnolia Plantation by Dan

Peacock at Magnolia Plantation by Dan

 

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night,  (Psalms 92:1-2 NKJV)

Even though our vacation didn’t go according to “our” schedule, the Lord gave us some great blessings. He, the Lord, had a way of placing the right people in our path to help us. Only He could orchestrate those encounters. May we never forget to give the Lord credit for his blessings to us.

We were able to still see Patriots Point and Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, Merritt Island NWR, Brevard Zoo and the Viera Wetlands and the nearby Click Ponds. The slide show has some photos from those places.

** Some how I forgot to finish this Sunday Inspiration. We took our vacation several months ago. The song Sean is playing, “It Is Well With My Soul” seems to be even more appropriate today. I have been dealing with a walking and now pain issue. I start two days a week of physical therapy next week for almost two months. As I told the therapist Friday, “even though I am dealing with all this, I am trying to maintain a good attitude.” How can I do that? Because, It Is Well With My Soul.” I know the forgiveness for my sins because of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for my sins and yours. Have you asked for His forgiveness? Please keep me in your prayers and Sean, also. He needs it more as he is dealing with Lymphoma.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17 KJV)

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“It Is Well With My Soul” by Sean Fielder

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More Sunday Inspirations

Gideon

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