15.08.2015 Tankovo near the Black Sea cost of Bulgaria.

Following the Isabelline Wheatear in the season, day by day during 2 months.

Tankovo near the Black Sea cost of Bulgaria.

Wheatears are among the world's real long-distance migrants.They are on the Red List of Threatened Species in Western Europe. In The Netherlands less than 300 pairs of Northern Wheatears were registered in 2012. Isabelline Wheatears however are occasional visitors. This inspired me to follow a couple in Bulgaria during the season.

The birds returned end of April to the short-grass plains at Tankovo where I have noticed them the previous years. This place is located some 5 km from the Black Sea cost. A bordering area between natural steppe and semi-dessert where they are breading in the ground holes of Suslik, under stones and in caverns.

Upon arrival they started within 5 days with building the nest in the left Suslik ground hole.

 

The female arrived a couple of days later than the male and within 5 days I have noticed them starting to build a nest. 3 Weeks from that date they started feeding the chicks and 13 days thereafter I took photos of the first chick being fed outside the nest at the entrance of the hole.

First chick being fed outside the ground hole. (Find the eyes of 4 more chicks in the vegetation)

 

From that particular day it went pretty fast. Within 5 days from that moment I could make images of the first jump flight. The next day - of the first flight to a thistle a few meters from the nest and the day after - moving to rubbled concrete nearby.

My first jump - flight.

 

Later on you could not see them returning to their nest any longer. Three other chicks followed in 1-2 days. The last one however remained for 2-3 days longer in the nest. To my surprise the chicks left the territory pretty fast, giving me the impression to move already slowly to the South. Leaving the parents alone.

Joyful together at the rubbled concrete nearby the nest.

 

The female looked exhausted after the breading however recovered fast. Also the parents I did not notice any longer at the place in a week or so.

They did not stay at the breading grounds longer than 2 months. 5 offsprings and 2 alive parents seemed to me quite a contribution to the preservation of this specie. Thanks to variable grazing, no intensive agriculture in the neighbourhood and relative low predation.

During 2 months following the family I captured some 5000 images of which 50 photos have been selected for a 5 minutes clip, which you will find in the link below or under "My bird clips" in the header on the top of the page.

http://birdscaptured.com/video.php?id=3

Enjoy the documentary. NOT to forget to switch the settings in YouTube to HD 1080p !!!