Return to Serbia – Part Two: Wetlands (and more owls).

The Tuesday morning was the only time I really felt the cold. We got out of the minibus on the main road near Novi Becej to watch hundreds of Common Cranes (and a few geese) heading off for the day, and we promptly froze in the bitter cold. It wasn’t long before we started to warm up though, and we spent the earlier part of the morning observing more roosting Long-eared Owls around a church in Bačko Gradište, (as well as a fine overhead Sparrowhawk) and then we moved off to the nearby wetlands. The highlight for me here was the sight of about half a dozen Penduline Tits arriving (with a a little sonic encouragement) at close quarters from the reeds. I’d failed to see Penduline Tits at Rainham Marshes a few years back, and then we saw a nest in Serbia last time – the patrons of which we heard but never saw – so it was a great new species for me to finally see. Along with Bearded Tits, Pendulines must be the stars of the smaller inhabitants of European reedbeds. We also got lots of Caspian Gulls (my first), and an unexpected Kittiwake out on the mud at one end of the lake – a real rarity for Serbia. Here we also had two distant White-tailed Eagles, a couple of Marsh Harriers, a fantastic Hen Harrier flypast, our only Kingfisher, several Spoonbills, a Kestrel, Great White Egret, and finished the morning walk with a close-up Common Buzzard circling just overhead. I also managed to get excited about something reddish, perched on a branch of a dead tree. I even saw it move up and down the perch. Only once David had got his scope on it, I realised that it was just a solitary dead leaf…


DSC06172Common Cranes

DSC06298Penduline Tit

DSC06339Hen Harrier

DSC06353Common Buzzard

After a brief snack lunch in a local bakery we moved on to Fantast Castle, where we were greeted by a dog carrying what appeared to be the severed leg of a deer. The castle and church grounds were eerily quiet, but we soon located yet another Long-eared Owl roost. As the sun started to drop the owls began to get more agitated, swooping from tree to tree. At the end of the path we waited for the resident Little Owl, but it decided not to make an appearance, although we did instead get nice views of one of Serbia common Black Redstarts. At one stage I thought I’d seen a Short-eared Owl fly form the top of a tree, but there was nobody else around to see it at the time, and then on our way towards the castle itself most of us thought we had one on top of another tree – it definitely seemed to have the silhouette of a Short-eared Owl – but Milan put us straight and pointed out that it was another Long-eared Owl with its tufts down. After a couple of glasses of mulled wine in the castle restaurant we went off for dinner in a windmill, which was very nice too.

DSC06394Long-eared Owl

DSC06397Sunset from Fantast Castle

About hootbot

Professional design agency photographer and amateur birder.
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