I didn’t post too much during this extremely hot and sunny summer, as I’ve been busy with: enjoying the time. Most of all working ornithologically, photographically and frisbee-related (which peaked in the win of the national championship with my team fwd>> against my former home team Catchup Graz in the finals; just to bring in some of the much-neglected frisbee-news).
Who wants to spend his time in front of the screen when there’s the most pleasant of central European seasons out there? I probably didn’t really reduce screen-time but spent it in front of other screens.. you can follow some blog posts here (from the wildlife tours I guide at Nationalpark Neusiedler See – Seewinkel; in German and written for a wider audience ). Currently I’m also finishing a spring review of bird observations in Seewinkel, which will contain photos from the last months and thus should be closing or shrinking the gap of photo posts.
Although there would have been tons of sightings and photo series to show here, I take a most recent and delightful one as the occasion to reappear in the blogosphere.
A quick blast from the past: Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) used to be a regular breeding species in eastern Austria up to the second half of the 20th century. After a rapid decline and the extinction of the species across its range in Austria, from 1981 only a tiny population remained in the Seewinkel/Burgenland (Dvorak et al. 1993). Besides this, breeding of single pairs was still recorded in Steiermark in the early 1990s (Samwald & Samwald 1993, Sackl & Samwald 1997). The last pair of the remaining population in Seewinkel disappeared in 2002.
In the 20 years of 1991-2011, the Austrian Avifaunistic Committee has accepted 29 records, all from May and June (Steiermark: 10, Burgenland: 7, Niederösterreich: 5, Oberösterreich: 3, Vorarlberg: 3, Kärnten: 1) – excluding the few breeding records and observations from Seewinkel up to 2007 (birdlife-afk.at; Laber & Ranner 1997; Ranner et al. 1995; Ranner 2002; 2003; Ranner & Khil 2009; Ranner & Khil 2011).
In 2012, besides two records from May, the species bred in Austria again, for the first time after its 10-year temporary extincition in 2002. A pair reared six juveniles at Graurinderkoppel in Seewinkel, an 800 hectare enclosure grazed by about 400 Hungarian Grey Cattle (birdlife-afk.at).
The awaited return of the breeding pair or its offspring to Graurinderkoppel did not happen in 2013. Despite six single observations of Lesser Grey Shrikes in the Seewinkel area in May and June 2012, also in the 2012 territory, no breeding pair could be located.
When no one would have expected it anymore, the good news came out on August 8. A pair of Lesser Grey Shrikes had bred in the border area to Hungary (with the nest apparently being not in Austria by a few metres). I visited the family with its four fledged chicks and took some images.