Bird, bug, butterfly and a wild variety of photos from Belarus, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland and Spain by Irish wildlife photographer Patrick J. O'Keeffe and invited guests

Thursday 13 August 2015

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba ) Hortobágy National Park - The Puszta, Hortobágy, Debrecen, Hajdú-Bihar megye, Hungary

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The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is widely distributed across the temperate and the tropical regions of the world. There are four subspecies generally recognised, A. a. egretta is commonly encountered in the Americas, A. a. alba occurs in western, central and southern Europe and has in recent times colonised new areas north of this range,  A. a. melanorhynchos is present in Africa and  A. a. modesta occurs in southern Asia and Australasia which some authorises recognise as a separate species - Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta). Text © www.rawbirds.com

HORSE AND CART Hortobágy National Park - The Puszta, Hortobágy, Debrecen, Hajdú-Bihar megye, Hungary

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  Hortobágy National Park was established in 1973 and is located in Hajdú-Bihar, a county in eastern Hungry. It is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is inscribed on their World Heritage List as an outstanding example for coexistence of Nature and Man. This 82,000 hectare reserve consists of alkaline pastures, grassland plains, meadows and wetlands. Traditional farming practices are carried out in harmony with nature. This, combined with careful management helps make this area one of the most important wildlife refuges in Europe. It is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora and over 340 species of bird have been record there.   Text © www.rawbirds.com

Saturday 8 August 2015

CREAM COLOURED COURSER (Cursorius cursor ) Pájara, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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World-wide, there are eight species of Courser and they occur in arid semi desert type habitat. Five are confined to Africa, Burchell’s Courser (Cursorius rufus), Heuglin’s Courser (Rhinoptilus cinctus), Temminck’s Courser (Cursorius temminckii), Two-banded Courser (Rhinoptilus africanus) and Violet-tipped Courser (Rhinoptilus chalcopterus). Two are mainly restricted to the Indian sub-continent, Indian Courser (Cursorius cormandelicus) and Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) which was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1986. The Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) has a scattered distribution across North Africa, the Middle East and  South West Asia. It is also resident on the Eastern Canary Islands where some authorities recognise Cursorius cursor bannermanii as an endemic subspecies. Text © www.rawbirds.com


Monday 3 August 2015

BARBARY GROUND SQUIRREL (Atlantoxerus getulus) Betancuria Marker Mirador, Municipio de Betancuria, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Barbary Ground Squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus) is native to the North West African countries of Algeria, Morocco and Western Sahara. Due to their isolation, less than twenty land mammals which include six species of bat are found on The Canary Islands.  Over 50 years ago Barbary Ground Squirrel was introduced onto Fuerteventura where it is quiet commonly encountered. Text © www.rawbirds.com

Thursday 30 July 2015

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax subspecies C. c. canariensis) Las Penitas Mirador, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Common Raven or Northern Raven (Corvus corax) has a widespread distribution across the Northern Hemisphere. A minimum of eight subspecies are recognised including Corvus corax canariensis  which is confined to the Canary Islands. It is smaller in body structure, has a smaller more decurved bill and shows an oily brown gloss to its plumage. Ravens are normally very wary but at this location, they are tame because titbits can be scavenged from the tourists which pull in at this mirador (viewing area). This area overlooks the lush valley and reservoir at Las Penitas, an important area for wildlife on Fuerteventura.Text © www.rawbirds.com

Sunday 26 July 2015

BARBARY PARTRIDGE (Alectoris barbara subspecies A. b. koenigi) Las Parcelas, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara) is a North African gamebird. It is also native to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. On the Iberian Peninsula there is a small colony at Gibraltar. The endemic subspecies Alectoris barbara koenigi occurs on the Canary Islands. On Fuerteventura, although uncommon, it is found throughout the island where at times it can be difficult to locate.
Text © www.rawbirds.com

Saturday 25 July 2015

CANARY ISLANDS CANDLE PLANT (Kleinia neriifolia) Barranco de Betancuria, Betancuria, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain


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There are nearly 1300 species of plant found on the Canary Islands but fewer than 800 of these occur on Fuerteventura Island. The Canary Islands Candle Plant (Kleinia neriifolia) is one of 43 plants that are endemic, 13 of which are confined to Fuerteventura. This perennial succulent is found in scrubby semi-arid type habitat and can grow up to 3 meters in height. Also known variously as Mountain Grass, Verode or Berode. Its Spanish name is Vero de Canarias. Text © www.rawbirds.com

Thursday 23 July 2015

FUERTEVENTURA STONECHAT or CANARY ISLAND STONECHAT (Saxicola dacotiae) male at La Oliva, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Fuerteventura Stonechat or Canary Island Stonechat (Saxicola dacotiae) is of the chat family Muscicapidae which is in the genus Saxicola.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

RUDDY SHELDUCK (Male) (Tadorna ferruginea) Los Molinos Reservoir, Las Parcelas, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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Central Asia is the main stronghold of the Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) where it is a summer resident which winters predominantly on the Indian sub-continent and in South East Asia. There are five other species of shelduck, none of which are found in the Americas. The Common Shelduck (Tadorna Tadorna) occurs in Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. Four species are resident in the Southern Hemisphere, Cape Shelduck (Tadorna carna) in southern Africa, Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) in south east and western Australia, Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) in the East Indies and northern Australia and Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna varigata) in New Zealand. A seventh species the Crested Shelduck (Tadorna cristata) was found mainly in northern Korea and was last reliably reported in 1964.There was a further report in 1971 but it is now probably extinct. Ruddy Shelduck has recently been discovered breeding in the Ethiopian Mountain. In the Eastern Mediterranean, the stronghold is Turkey. In the Western Mediterranean, there are two small populations in North West Africa, one in Tunisia and the other in western Morocco. Formally a vagrant to the Canary Islands, it first bred on Fuerteventura in 1994 where it has now become established. Text © www.rawbirds.com

Saturday 18 July 2015

SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE (Lanius meridionalis subspecies L. m. koenigi) La Oliva, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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Great Grey Shrike comprises nine subspecies. Nominate excubitor occurs in northern and central Europe whilst homeyeri (sometimes known as ‘Steppe Shrike’) breeds from south-east Europe through the Ural mountains into western Siberia. Further east, sibiricus (‘North Siberian Shrike’) breeds in central and eastern Siberia, with leucopterus, mollis, bianchii and funereus occupying restricted areas in Central and East Asia. Two subspecies – borealis and invictus (known collectively as ‘Northern Shrike’) – occur in North America. A further eleven grey shrike forms are currently treated as ‘Southern Grey Shrike’ Lanius meridionalis (Cramp et al. 1993).The taxonomy of the ‘Great Grey Shrikes’ is in a state of considerable flux. DNA evidence fails to support the current two species split, and at least six potential species have been identified though not formally proposed (Olsson 2010). In particular, a deep genetic divide is identified between a clade containing (amongst others) excubitor, homeyeri and leucopterus and one containing (amongst others) sibiricus, mollis, bianchii, funereus,borealis and invictus. This suggests a split between a new more tightly-defined ‘Great Grey Shrike’ encompassing the former three subspecies and ‘Northern Grey Shrike’ Lanius borealis encompassing the latter five. See full text reference at  http://www.bbrc.org.uk/species-information-riact/owls-to-shrikes

Monday 13 July 2015

YELLOW LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis subspecies L .m. atlantis) 2nd summer plumage at Corralejo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is of the family Laridae which is in the genus Larus. Up until recently it was considered as a race of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) but has now been given full species status. Post breeding populations disperse north and east. From July onward it occurs in good numbers in southern Britain but is an uncommon and scarce species in Ireland.

There are two subspecies recognised:
  • Larus michahellis michahellis - breeds in parts of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean Basin.  
  • Larus michahellis atlantis - known as Atlantic Gull, breeds on the Atlantic coasts of France, Iberia, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores where a dark headed form occurs.
 Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds
 
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) distribution map
 

  Year-round resident         Breeding        Non breeding-winter
 
Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

YELLOW LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis subspecies L .m. atlantis) 1st summer plumage at Corralejo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is of the family Laridae which is in the genus Larus. Up until recently it was considered as a race of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) but has now been given full species status. Post breeding populations disperse north and east. From July onward it occurs in good numbers in southern Britain but is an uncommon and scarce species in Ireland. The above record may be the same individual that was present at this location during August 2021.
 
There are two subspecies recognised:
  • Larus michahellis michahellis - breeds in parts of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean Basin.  
  • Larus michahellis atlantis - known as Atlantic Gull, breeds on the Atlantic coasts of France, Iberia, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores where a dark headed form occurs.
 Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds
 
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) distribution map
 

  Year round resident         Breeding        Non breeding-winter
 
Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday 3 July 2015

YELLOW LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis subspecies L .m. atlantis) adult at Corralejo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is of the family Laridae which is in the genus Larus. Up until recently it was considered as a race of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) but has now been given full species status. Post breeding populations disperse north and east. From July onward it occurs in good numbers in southern Britain but is an uncommon and scarce species in Ireland.
 
There are two subspecies recognised:
  • Larus michahellis michahellis - breeds in parts of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean Basin.  
  • Larus michahellis atlantis - known as Atlantic Gull, breeds on the Atlantic coasts of France, Iberia, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores where a dark headed form occurs.
 Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds
 
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) distribution map
 

  Year round resident         Breeding        Non breeding-winter
 
Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday 1 July 2015

COMMON BLUE BUTTERFLY [Male] (Polyommatus icarus) Barranco de Betancuria, Betancuria, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain


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The Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) is a small butterfly in the family Lycaenidae. It occurs throughout the temperate regions of Europe (including The Canary Islands) Asia and North Africa. In Europe, it is absent from Iceland, the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores. As its name implies it is one of the most widespread and commonly encountered blue butterflies in the Palaerarctic  region. In 2005, it was discovered breeding in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada and it has since increased its distribution there. In southern Europe, it is on the wing from late March to early November but it has a shorter  flight (May to September) season in the northern parts of its range.  
Text © www.rawbirds.com

Sunday 28 June 2015

YELLOW LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis subspecies L .m. atlantis) adult at El Cotillo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is of the family Laridae which is in the genus Larus. Up until recently it was considered as a race of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) but has now been given full species status. Post breeding populations disperse north and east. From July onward it occurs in good numbers in southern Britain but is an uncommon and scarce species in Ireland.
 
There are two subspecies recognised:
  • Larus michahellis michahellis - breeds in parts of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean Basin.  
  • Larus michahellis atlantis - known as Atlantic Gull, breeds on the Atlantic coasts of France, Iberia, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores where a dark headed form occurs.
 Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds
 
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) distribution map
 

  Year round resident         Breeding        Non breeding-winter
 
Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

EL COTILLO HARBOUR El Cotillo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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Situated in the north west of Fuerteventura Island is the small coastal town of El Cotillo. It has largely escaped the tourism fueled building boom which has taken place on the south and east coasts. At the mouth of the harbour is the islet of Roca de la Mar. During the Spring it is carpeted with the yellow flowering fleabane Pulicaria canariensis which is endemic to the Eastern Canary Islands. It has now been joined to the mainland with a high sea wall which forms the western side of the harbour. This is a good area for early morning or late evening seabird watching. Birds regularly seen from March to September include Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis). On the lava coastline to the north of the harbour, a number of passage migrant/wintering shorebirds, including Sanderling (Calidris alba), can usually be found. South of the harbour, a Martello type tower was built in the early 1700’s and is now a tourist attraction. Further south, there is an extensive coastal stony arid plain where most of the sought after land bird species on Fuerteventura can be found, including Cream Coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) and Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata). Text © www.rawbirds.com

Sunday 21 June 2015

SMALL WHITE BUTTERFLY (Pieris rapae) Tindaya, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae), also known as Small Cabbage White Butterfly, occurs very commonly through out Asia, Europe and North Africa. It is also found as an introduced species in Australia, New Zealand and North America. This very worn individual is nectering on European heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum).

Monday 15 June 2015

FUERTEVENTURA STONECHAT or CANARY ISLAND STONECHAT (Saxicola dacotiae) male at La Oliva, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Fuerteventura Stonechat or Canary Island Stonechat (Saxicola dacotiae) is of the chat family Muscicapidae which is in the genus Saxicola.

Thursday 11 June 2015

EURASIAN STONE CURLEW (Burhinus oedicnemus Subspecies B. o. insularum) La Olvia, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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World-wide, there are nine species of Stone Curlew (also known as Thick-knee or Dikkop). They are found in both tropical and temperate regions. On the Iberian Peninsula, the Eurasian Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) is sedentary but in the rest of Europe it is mainly a summer resident which winters in North Africa. The endemic subspecies Burhinus oedicnemus insularum occurs on the Canary Islands and its cryptic coloration help it blend in very well with the semi desert type habitat on Fuerteventura. 


Thursday 4 June 2015

SARDINIAN WARBLER [Male] (Sylvia melanocephala subspecies S. m. leucogastra) Barranco de Betancuria, Betancuria, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain


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The Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) is a small mainly insectivorous warbler of the family Sylviidae which is in the genus Sylvia. It is commonly encountered in southern and eastern Europe as well as in countries bordering the Mediterranean Basin. It is also resident on the Canary Islands. Some authorities recognise up to five subspecies. The female, typical of most sylvia warblers, has drabber plumage, it is grey headed with brownish upper parts and the under parts are washed buff. This species normally occurs in shrubby type habitat as well as in parks and gardens.
    Text © Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds.com

Up to five subspecies are generally recognised:
  • Sylvia melanocephala melanocephala - Iberia across the northern Mediterranean to western Turkey. Extends into the Maghreb from Iberia, and into Libya from Italy via Sicily. Migrates to the Sahel and oases in the Sahara in winter.
  • Sylvia melanocephala leucogastra  - Canary Islands, resident, probably some vagrancy between eastern islands and Maghreb.
  • Sylvia melanocephala momus - Near East. Resident, some local movements. 
  • Sylvia melanocephala norissae - Fayyum Warbler - probably only a local morph of momus  - Nile Delta region. Extinct since around 1940.
  • Sylvia melanocephala valverdei - Morocco south to the Tropic of Cancer, inland to the edge of the Sahara. Resident, but some seasonal movements.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sardinian_warbler

Saturday 16 May 2015

GREENISH BLACK TIP BUTTERFLY (Euchloe charlonia) La Oliva, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain


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The Greenish Black-tip butterfly (Euchloe charlonia) is found in North Africa, the Middle East and on the Canary Islands. A closely related species, the Spanish Black-tip (Euchloe bazae), first described in 1982, is scarce/vulnerable and is only present in two regions on mainland Spain. On the Eastern Canary Islands (Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and the Chinijo Archipelago) less than twenty species of butterfly occur. Because of the bare arid nature terrain  and frequently windy conditions on Fuerteventura Island, butterflies are usually encountered in sheltered valleys and lush gardens. Greenish Black-tip on the other hand tends to favour more open type habitat where photographing it is made all the more difficult by the ever present wind. It is on the wing from December to June. Text © www.rawbirds.com

Wednesday 13 May 2015

SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE (Lanius meridionalis subspecies L. m. koenigi) La Oliva, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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See below for detailed species information

Great Grey Shrike comprises nine subspecies. Nominate excubitor occurs in northern and central Europe whilst homeyeri (sometimes known as ‘Steppe Shrike’) breeds from south-east Europe through the Ural mountains into western Siberia. Further east, sibiricus (‘North Siberian Shrike’) breeds in central and eastern Siberia, with leucopterus, mollis, bianchii and funereus occupying restricted areas in Central and East Asia. Two subspecies – borealis and invictus (known collectively as ‘Northern Shrike’) – occur in North America. A further eleven grey shrike forms are currently treated as ‘Southern Grey Shrike’ Lanius meridionalis (Cramp et al. 1993).The taxonomy of the ‘Great Grey Shrikes’ is in a state of considerable flux. DNA evidence fails to support the current two species split, and at least six potential species have been identified though not formally proposed (Olsson 2010). In particular, a deep genetic divide is identified between a clade containing (amongst others) excubitor, homeyeri and leucopterus and one containing (amongst others) sibiricus, mollis, bianchii, funereus,borealis and invictus. This suggests a split between a new more tightly-defined ‘Great Grey Shrike’ encompassing the former three subspecies and ‘Northern Grey Shrike’ Lanius borealis encompassing the latter five. See full text reference at  http://www.bbrc.org.uk/species-information-riact/owls-to-shrikes

Monday 4 May 2015

COMMON LINNET [Male] (Linaria cannabina subspecies L. c. harterti) La Oliva, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain


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The Linnet (Linaria cannabina) or Common Linnet is of the family Fringillidae which is in the genus Linaria.
 It derives its name from its fondness for the seeds of the flax plant which is used to make linen. This small finch occurs in Europe as well as Western Asia but is absent from northern latitudes and has a limited distribution in North West Africa and the Middle East. 

There are seven subspecies :
  • Linaria c. autochthona - occurs in Scotland     
  • L. c. cannabina - occurs in the rest of Britain, Ireland also northern Europe, eastwards to central Siberia. It is a partial migrant, wintering in north Africa and southwest Asia
  • L. c. bella - occurs in Middle East, eastwards to Mongolia and northwestern China
  • L. c. mediterranea - occurs on the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Greece, northwest Africa and on the Mediterranean islands
  • L. c. guentheri - occurs on Madeira Island
  • L. c. meadewaldoi - occurs on the Western Canary Islands (El Hierro, La Gomera, La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria)
  • L. c. harterti - occurs on the Eastern Canary Islands (Lanzarote and Fuerteventura)
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_linnet