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The Russian Black Sea
13-22 April 2012

Black Sea map
Map showing the work area

The job was an inshore survey of two lines crossing the Black Sea from near Samsun in Turkey over to Russia. We stayed in a hotel onshore in the Russian holiday town of Arkipo Osipovka (Архи́по-О́сиповка) - a couple of hours drive from Krashnodar. We worked days on a small survey vessel, travelling to and from this vessel in a Rib.

Roza vetrov

More links to other pages covering birding the Black Sea:
Offshore Birding in the Black Sea
Black Sea and Mediterranean,
March 2010
Turkish Black Sea, May 2012

Spring was just starting as we arrived - most of the trees turned green during our stay in the area. Bird migration was obviously well underway.

One of the commonest birds on the sea was Black-necked Grebe - with flocks of more than 20 seen at times. They were often quite vocal and were obviously getting prepared for the breeding season. Other grebe species seen were Great-crested Grebe (common) and a single Red-necked Grebe.

Black-necked Grebes, Russian Black Sea
Black-necked Grebe were very common

Gargany were the most numerous duck identified - some large flocks passed during the first few days of the job. Other duck species included Mallard and Teal. A party of eight Mute Swans rested on the sea briefly one day.

Part of a flock of Gargany
Large flocks of Gargany were seen during the first few days of the job
This picture shows just a small part of a flock of Gargany - obviously migrating

Little Egrets flying along the Russian coastline
A flock of Little Egrets flying along the coast - with the cliffs as a spectacular backdrop, April 2012

Arctic Skua chasing Mediterranean Gull
Arctic Skua chasing Meditteranean Gull, Black Sea, April 2012
Click on picture for more Arctic Skua  images

For some reason I had not expected seabirds such as Black-throated Diver or Arctic Skua. The former was quite common with several seen on some days. Arctic Skua showed just twice - and I think this is the first time I have seen them pursuing Mediterranean Gulls.

Black-throated Diver taking off beside a Red-necked Grebe
Black-throated Diver taking off beside a Red-necked Grebe, April 2012

Gull-billed Terns were seen in some numbers on a few occasions but only a single Caspian Tern was seen.

Flock of Gull-billed Terns, Russian Black Sea
Flock of Gull-billed Terns, Russian Black Sea, April 2012

Herons and egrets were a common sight, both overhead and on the shore. By far the most numerous was Little Egret with large flocks passing regularly. The next most numerous was Night Heron - singles or small flocks were seen pretty much daily. Purple Herons, Grey Heron and Squacco Heron were less common.

Migrating Little Egrets, Russian Black Sea
Part of a flock of migrating Little Egrets, April 2012
Click on picture for more images of Little Egret

Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gulls were common - living up to their much better suited Norwegian name "svartehavsmåke" which means Black Sea Gull

Migrating Night Herons
Flock of migrating Night Herons

There were plenty of gulls to be seen but disappointingly no Pallas's Gull. Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull and Meditteranean Gull were all common and Slender-billed Gulls were seen on several occasions.

Slender-billed Gull
Slender-billed Gull, April 2012

Flocks of Yekouan Shearwaters were quite regular - passing in tight flocks close to shore as often as not. This contrasted starkly with the Turkish side of the Black Sea a couple of weeks later.

Yelkouan Shearwaters
Flock of Yelkouan Shearwaters flying past

Onshore there were also plenty of birds - just no time to see them. Common Redstart were singing from many of the gardens.
In the evening Scop's Owl were very noticable along with Tawny Owl. Kingfishers were seen a few times both on the river and hovering over the sea along the shoreline.

On our second to last day a Glossy Ibis flew in and landed on a playing field close to the hotel - small flocks were seen flying over on a couple of occasions.

Squacco Heron , Arkhipo Osipovka, Black Sea
One of a small group of Squacco Herons, April 2012

Glossy Ibis, Arkhipo Osipovka
Glossy Ibis feeding on a playing field in Arkhipo Osipovka, April 2012

Dolphins were a common sight
Dolphins were very common in the area, April 2012

Porpoises were very numerous
Porpoises were very numerous, April 2012
Unfortunately there were four dead on the short stretch of shoreline I walked along

Black Sea coast
A view along the Black Sea coastline

AA list of species seen is given below:
* = 1-9
** = 10-99
***= 100+

English Name Norsk navn Scientific name Numbers Comments
Mute Swan Knoppsvane Cygnus olor * A flock of 8 resting on the sea 17.04
Mallard Stokkand Anas platyrhynchos *  
Garganey Knekkand Anas querquedula *** Some large flocks seen 13 & 14.04
Black-throated Diver Storlom Gavia arctica * Several seen most days
Great Crested Grebe Toppdykker Podiceps cristatus ** Common
Red-necked Grebe Gråstrupedykker Podiceps grisegena * A single bird on 19.04
Black-necked Grebe Svarthalsdykker Podiceps nigricollis *** Very common along the coast
Yelkouan Shearwater Middelhavslire Puffinus yelkouan ***  
Great Cormorant Storskarv Phalacrocorax carbo * Single on 19.04
Squacco Heron Topphegre Ardeola ralloides *  
Black-crowned Night Heron Natthegre Nycticorax nycticorax ** Regular
Little Egret Silkehegre Egretta garzetta *** Large flocks flying along the coast regular
Grey Heron Gråhegre Ardea cinerea *  
Purple Heron Purpurhegre Ardea purpurea *  
Glossy Ibis Bronseibis Plegadis falcinellus *  
Western Marsh Harrier Sivhauk Circus aeruginosus * Seen on the drive from Krashnodar to Arkhipo
Common Buzzard Musvåk Buteo buteo * A pair seen on site
Eurasian Coot Sothøne Fulica atra * Seen in Gelendzik harbour
Black-winged Stilt Stylteløper Himantopus himantopus * A single seen 14.04
Common Sandpiper Strandsnipe Actitis hypoleucos * 4 on 20.04
Arctic Skua Tyvjo Stercorarius parasiticus * Singles seen on a few occasions
Mediterranean Gull Svartehavsmåke Larus melanocephalus ** Common
Black-headed Gull Hettemåke Larus ridibundus ** Small numbers regular. 100's in Gelendzik harbour
Slender-billed Gull Smalnebbmåke Larus ** Common
Gull-billed Tern Sandterne Gelochelidon nilotica ** Some large flocks seen
Caspian Tern Rovterne Hydroprogne caspia * Single on 20.04
Eurasian Scops Owl Dverghornugle Otus scops * Common!
Tawny Owl Kattugle Strix aluco *  
Common Swift Tårnseiler Apus apus *  
Common Kingfisher Isfugl Alcedo atthis * Singles regular
Eurasian Hoopoe Hærfugl Upupa epops * Small numbers on site
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dvergspett Dendrocopos minor *  
Barn Swallow Låvesvale Hirundo rustica **  
Common House Martin Taksvale Delichon urbicum *  
Tree Pipit Trepiplerke Anthus trivialis * Heard overhead on 14.04
White Wagtail Linerle Motacilla alba *  
Common Redstart Rødstjert Phoenicurus phoenicurus * Common garden bird
Common Blackbird Svarttrost Turdus merula *  
Eurasian Blackcap Munk Sylvia atricapilla *  
Common Chiffchaff Gransanger Phylloscopus collybita *  
Great Tit Kjøttmeis Parus major *  
Eurasian Jay Nøtteskrike Garrulus glandarius * Common garden bird in Arkhipo
Rook Kornkråke Corvus frugilegus *  
Hooded Crow Kråke Corvus cornix *  
Northern Raven Ravn Corvus corax *  
Common Chaffinch Bokfink Fringilla coelebs **  
European Goldfinch Stillits Carduelis carduelis **  

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