WELCOME TO THE BLOG OF WINGSPAN BIRD TOURS



ALL NEWS, BIRD SIGHTINGS AND TOUR UPDATES WILL ALSO BE RECORDED ON MY WEB-SITE BLOG PAGES FOUND HERE


http://www.wingspanbirdtours.com/blog




FURTHER DETAILS OF FUTURE TRIPS CAN BE FOUND ON OUR MAIN WEBSITE:-



http://www.wingspanbirdtours.com/






FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT PARTICIPATED IN A WINGSPAN TOUR DURING 2016, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CUSTOM & YOUR COMPANY AND WE WISH YOU HEALTH AND HAPPINESS FOR 2017.

THE PROGRAMME FOR SPRING 2017 IS NOW ON MY

WEBSITE BUT HERE IS A PREVIEW



Jan 15th - 28th. - Sri Lanka. £1750

Feb 12th -27th - Costa Rica - full

Mar 20th - 30th Morocco - 10 nights. - £1190

April 5th - 12th - Andalucia migration tour. - £750 - 2 places

April 16th - 24th - Coto Donana & Extremadura - £950 - 2 places

April 29th - 6th May. - Lesvos - £875

May 8th - 15th - Portugal - full


May 13th - 21st Bulgaria - £850

May 23rd - 30th - Andalucia birds and butterflies - £750

May 31st - June 8th. - Extremadura and Sierra de Gredos - £950

June 12th - 20th - Pyrenees and Picos de Europa - £1050


FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED IN THESE PRICES



BOOK NOW TO SECURE YOUR PLACE SEND AN E-MAIL TO:

E-mail: bobbuckler49@hotmail.com





















Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater
join us for a fantastic tour of The Gambia this November

Saturday, May 28, 2011

EXTREMADURA & SIERRA DE GREDOS - 7-DAY TOUR - MAY 19TH - 26TH

A tremendous tour was enhanced by superb weather, the most picturesque scenery, some fantastic bird sightings and a lovely group of people.

This tour combines the completely contrasting habitats of the open plains of Extremadura with the pine forests and high peaks of the Gredos Mountains, giving you the opportunity to see a wide variety of bird species and a huge diversity of wildlife.

Birding highlights included: Over 100 vultures, of 3 species, in the sky at once over Monfrague national park, a family party of Penduline Tits feeding on reed-mace, Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers at their nest hole feeding young, all 5 eagle species with great views of Spanish Imperial, Bonelli’s and Golden Eagles, over 40 Rollers and daily views of Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Azure-winged Magpie & Black Stork.

We also recorded over 35 species of butterfly without actually looking for them, these included both Swallowtails, the strange looking Nettle-Tree Butterfly and several Fritillaries.

An early morning sortie onto the grass plains near Casares produced over 20 Montagu's Harriers, 25 Rollers, 10 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 2 Stone Curlews, several Great Bustards and hundreds of larks, buntings, wagtails and wheatears.

We had a magical stay in the Gredos Mountains where the Rock Thrush showed very well, the Ortolan Buntings allowed close approach and the magnificent Bluethroat performed superbly. The snow-capped mountain peaks provided a magnificent backdrop to the pine forests of the valleys. Clear springs and babbling brooks held Grey and White Wagtails and provided a haven for finches and flycatchers.

Our total bird count came to 151 species and included both Great and Little Bustard, Pin-tailed and Black bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Stone Curlew, Spectacled Warbler, Crested Tit, Pied Flycatcher & many more. We also saw some 'exotic' species such Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat & Monk Parakeet.





View - Montfrague National Park







The road up to the Plataforma de Gredos







Rio Magasca - near Trujillo, Extremadura







Ortolan Bunting - Sierra de Gredos







Eurasian Nuthatch - Monfrague Park







A very 'worn' Ilex hairstreak







Hoopoe & Black Eared Wheatear - Belen Plain, Extremadura







Part of the group resting by a babbling brook - Sierra de Gredos







View of Gredos Mountains







Near the top of the Gredos mountains - Bluethroat breeding grounds.







Blue Rock Thrush - Monfrague park







Black Stork with chicks - Monfrague Park









A FULL REPORT OF THE TRIP WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY ON THE WINGSPAN BIRDS TOURS WEBSITE AT: http://www.wingspanbirdtours.com/trip-reports.asp


THERE ARE SIX PLACES REMAINING ON THE 2012 - TOUR OF EXTREMADURA & SIERRA DE GREDOS: MAY 12TH - 19TH









- TO BOOK YOUR PLACE PLEASE CONTACT ME:









bobbuckler49@hotmail.com

















Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 7 - MAY 12TH

GAUCIN - ALGERCIRAS VIA JIMENA DE LA FRONTERA AND LOS BARRIOS - THEN TARIFA - LA JANDA - LOS PALMONES

A full day with a full van, we all set off for the coast hoping to see some migration passage. Our first stop was a few kilometers out of Gaucin near the village of San Pablo. We stopped along a courty track that overlooked some meadows and scrub. Not many birds we seen or singing but we found Common Buzzard, Sardinian Warblers, Stonechat, some very bright GReenfinches, Goldfinch and Corn Bunting.

At Jimena we parked just below the village and scanned the wide expense of fields found there. No migrants were in the air but we saw Griffon Vultures, Barn Swallows, Pallid and Common Swifts, Corn Buntings, Zitting Cisticola, Serin and a Nightingale called from the bushes.

We drove past Castellar where we saw lots of Bee-eaters, a colony of Lesser Kestrels and more swifts.

A diversion found us at the rubbish dump at Los Barrios where hundreds of Griffon Vultures, Black kites and Yellow-legged Gulls congregated to feed on the rubbish, we also saw Cattle Egret, Stonechat, Spotted Flycatcher and more Bee-eaters.

The wind had picked up and as it was still easterly we knew our chances of seeing migrant raptors was small. At Tarifa it was blowing a gale and we had to drive inland to find shelter. We ate our lunch by the side of a babbling brook in the Ojen valley where we enjoyed views of Woodchat Shrike, Griffon Vultures, Serin, Crested Lark and a Cetti's Warbler.

After lunch we drove round to La Janda, alas it was too windy to get out of the van,
very few birds were seen. However we all enjoyed good views of Collared Pratincole as a small flock fed on the wing and landed fairly close to us.

Defeated by wind we went back over the hills to Algerciras and visited the Torrejon Municiple Park. The gate was locked as usual but we used the 'birders' entrance, through the fence. A pair of Black-winged Stilts were breeding close to the fence and over the next hour we enjoyed good views of Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Great Cormorant.

Lastly we stopped at crestellina to view the Bonelli's Eagle nest, one chick was on show but there was no sign of the parents whilst we were there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 6 - MAY 12TH

GAUCIN - SEVILLA - MONTEJAQUE - GAUCIN

Today I drove to Sevilla to collect David and Wendy who are joining us for the last 3 days of the tour. Tony and Pat stayed at Gaucin for the day, they relaxed and recouperated in readiness for the final leg of the tour.

I left gaucin at 8:30am and arrived in centre of Sevilla at 10:30am and promptly mert David and Wendy at their hotel.

We had a leisurely drive back in lovely sunshine. We stopped at the limestone gorge at Montejaque where I showed my new guests a few new species. As they were from Austrailia everything they looked at was new. An easy job for me then, We saw Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrow, Red-billed Chough, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Griffon Vulture, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Goldfinch, Linnet,Blue Tit and Spotless Starlings.

We all met up at 7:30pm for a delicious tajine cooked by Dawn, yum, yum! Thats for Dawn as well as the food!!!

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 5 - MAY 11TH

COLMENAR - ENCINAS BORRACHES TRACK - SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES


I go poor Tony and Pat up very early today and took them to Colmenar before breakfast. They both said it was worth it after having great views of Golden Oriole.


Woodcock Orchid






After breakfast we ventured up towards Ronda and walked the 'drunken oaks' path, it was very windy but we had good views of Bonelli's Warbler, Thekla Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Linnet, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow and good but brief views of Spanish Imperial Eagle. It was very windy but dry, the wind died down on the return journey.


Silver-leaved Viper's Bugloss




Loose-leaved Orchid (Orchis saxiflora)

A view along the 'drunken oaks' track - a section of heathland just before the oak woods where Dartford and Spectacled Warblers breed.

The afternoon was spent at the nature reserve of Sierra de las Nieves, we didn't find many birds in the windy conditions but we did lots of flowers and few butterflies.





Pat and Tony at Sierra de las Nieves




Heliborine species

Wild Peony

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 4 - MAY 10TH

GAUCIN "SMUGGLER'S WALK" - SAN PUEBLO TRACK - PINAR DEL REY - PALMONES - SIERRA CRESTELLINA


We began the day at 8:30am as we left Gaucin heading for the coast along the Algerciras road. We didn't go far as we stopped at the entrance to the "Smuggler's Walk" just outside the village boundary. A nice walk in open woodland and heath produced a number of orchids and some great 'in-the-scope' views of Bonelli's Warbler and Common Cuckoo.






WOODCOCK ORCHID



WOODCOCK ORCHID

A brief stop was made along a track just east of San Pueblo, we were looking for the Rufous Bush Robin and the first bird we saw along the track was, in fact, a Rufous Bush Robin. What a find, the bird flew up in front of the van and perched on a fence giving us excellent views. We also found Corn Bunting, Short-toed and Booted Eagle, Melodious Warbler, Lesser Kestrel and lots of common finches.



Next we stopped at a railway bridge just south of Los Angeles where several pairs of Lesser Kestrels are breeding. The kestrels showed well and also we found Jackdaw, White Stork and Griffon Vulture too.



We took lunch in the pine woods at Pinar del Rey then we walked for an hour in the pines looking for woodland species. It was a bit windy and most of the birds kept their heads down but we did find Blackcap, Bonelli's Warbler, Jay, Great Spotted woodpecker and we had excellent sightings of a Nightingale in full song (se pictures below).








The afternoon was spent looking at the salt marsh at Palmones, it was very windy there too and many kite-surfers were out practicing. A few waders were on the mud and sand banks, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover and a few Sandwich Terns. After speaking to another birder we discovered that we had just missed a White-winged Tern! What a blow, we searched for the bird without success.



To make up for our disappointment we spent half an hour at Sierra Crestellina on the way home watching the Bonelli's Eagle nest. What a great time we had, first we found that 2 chicks were in the nest and then one of the parents turned up with a 'kill' and fed them, terrific stuff and as Pat commented " we had a serious Attenborough moment".







Monday, May 9, 2011

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 3 - MAY 9TH

GAUCIN - GUADIARO VALLEY - ESTACION CORTES - MONTEJAQUE - EMBALSE DE MONTEJAQUE - CERRO DE TABIZNA - CORK OAK WOODLAND WALK

Another glorious day, superb weather, fantastic scenery and wonderful birding. Tony, pat and I set off after breakfast and headed toward Cortes de la Frontera. We stopped at a track just before the river at Estacion De Cortes. As we emerged from the car we found Cirl Bunting, Serin and Great Tit. Our walk in the warm morning sunshine took us through oak woodland and open meadows where we found many species of flowers and birds. Long-tailed Tit, Common Cuckoo, Blackcap, Nightingale,Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Griffon Vulture and lots of finches were seen and heard.




At Estacion de Cortes we followed the river and had a lovely walk along the north bank. most of the usual river species were present, Nightingale, Blackcap and Cetti's Warbler in the bushes and Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Grey and White Wagtails were found on the river.

We also saw Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Rock Sparrows, Woodchat Shrikes (nest building), Stonechats, Sardinian Warblers and Corn Buntings.




At Montejaque we walked along a track that overlooked the Cerro de tabizna ( a huge limestone pinnacle) where was found Black Wheatear, Red-billed Chough and an Orphean Warbler. Just beneath the Cerro de Tabizna we stopped to overlook the gorge and the cave entrances. There we found Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, hawfinch, a few more Choughs and lots of Griffon Vultures.




Our last little walk was into the cork oak woodlands just north of the embalse de Montejaque. We enjoyed the walk but the birds were very quiet, however we did managed to find Mistle Thrush, Bonelli's Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow and Booted Eagle.

Other sightings of interest during the day included: Spanish ibex, Red Deer, Blue Emperor and Common darter dragonflies, Hummingbird Hawkmoth and many, many flowering plants.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 2 - MAY 8TH

RIO GENAL - RIO GUADIARO VALLEY - SAN ENRIQUE - SOTO GRANDE - CRESTELLINA

The weather changed for the better, a clear blue sky with little wind, perfect. Our visit to the Rio genal lasted a while longer than I had planned because Tony & Pat wanted to stay and admire the flowers and the wonderful scenery. many birds were singing but we only manged to track down afew of them. Golden Oriole called all the time we were present but we only got a breif glimpse of 2 of them. Cetti;s Warbler, Common Nightingale, Blackcap, chaffinch, serin and Sardinian Warbler were also singing well. Above us we got great views of Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel and swifts and swallows.


Along the Guadiaro Valley we stopped to admire Bee-eaters at close quarters, Corn Buntings, Greenfinches, White Stork, Serin and more Woodchat Shrikes.

We ate lunch at San Enrique where we found Tree Sparrow, Great spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Iberian Chiffchaff, Common Nightingale (in the scope), Blackcaps and a Kingfisher.



Soto Grande was quiet, lots of tourists but few birds. The usual Lesser Kestrels and Little Owls were there but the laguna was devoid of birds. We did get good views of Melodious Warbler and we heard several Reed Warblers.




The heat of the day drove us off and we finished with an early return to Gaucin.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

ANDALUCIA - 7 DAY TOUR - DAY 1 - MAY 7TH

MALAGA AIRPORT - DESEMBOCADURA DE GUADALHORCE - SIERRA CRESTELLINA - GAUCIN


I collected Tony and Pat from Malaga airport at lunchtime and we drove straight to a tapas bar in ST Julian for lunch. We then spent a couple of hours walking around the lovely reserve at the month of the Guadalhorce. The weather was lovely with whit fluffy clouds flaoting in an azure blue sky, however the wind picked up during the afternoon.



A view from one of the hides of a laguna on the Guadalhorce Reserve.

We started at the beach where the western arm of the river joins the sea, our first bird was a Rnged Plover quickly followed by a Little Egret


Avocet - one of six species of wader found on the laguna shown above.


The rest of the laungas gave us good views of Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Pochard, Gadwall and Common Coot.


Small passerines were keeping their heads down but we did find Zitting Cisticola, Spotted Flycatcher and Woodchat Shrike. many Monk Parakeets were flying around us as were Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins, we also saw a few Pallid Swfts and a Booted Eagle






Thursday, May 5, 2011

MORE PICTURES FROM LESVOS 2011 by TONY THUNDER

CLICK ON EACH PICTURE TO SEE A LARGER IMAGE



WOOD SANDPIPER




WOODCHAT SHRIKE




SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER






TEMMINCK'S STINT





MIDDLE SPOTTED WOODPECKER





OPHRYS LAXIFLORA





LONG EARED OWL




KRUPER'S NUTHATCH

THURSDAY MAY 5TH - SUMMER HAS ARRIVED

Yes its official we have sunshine and it is meant to last until November!!!

A visit to our apartment on the coast this morning produced some nice sightings:

Lots of Griffon Vultures on the also Crested larks, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting, Stonechat and nightingale (heard).

At the apartment hundreds of House Martins were busy going about their breeding season duties whilst the resident Blue Rock Thrush sang all morning. Plenty of Honey Buzzards drifted over and a House Sparrow came to our dining table for crumbs at lunchtime.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1st - back home in Wet Spain!

Yes its still raining in Spain.

We went for a walk this morning during a break in the rain - it would have been wonderful if the sun was shining. But it was dull and overcast, still i enjoyed some time with Dawn and the flowers were still a lovely colourful sight.

A Nightingale sang as we got out of the car at the beggining of the 'Smuggler's Walk'
we also heard Raven, Woodlark, Chaffinch, Robin and Sardinian Warbler singing during the walk.




A few butterflies were on the wing too, we saw Painted lady, Speckled Wood, Black-eyed Blue and Long-tailed Blue,




Black-eyed Blue



Long-tailed Blue


But it was the flowers that grabbed our attention, over 30 varieties of flowers were on show but the Orchids went top of the bill. It started to rain again at 12 noon so off went back to the house.


SOMBRE ORCHID

WOODCOCK ORCHID

YELLOW ORCHID

WOODCOCK ORCHID - A PINK VARIETY


I was hoping for a lovely afternoon on the couch watching the snooker final.....
oh no........Dawn had had other plans and it wasn't an afternoon of pash!

I spent 4 hours repairing a leaky pipe which was cemented into a wall...how lovely it is to be back home. ha!

Lesvos - 2011 - SUMMARY

165 SPECIES RECORDED


With the help of Tony, Andy, Pat, Mike and Dave the WINGSPAN tour of lesvos was a complete success.They all contributed and added species to the list which made the trip so much more enjoyable.





despite unfavourable flights and bad weather for 2 days we amassed a great var1ety of species on our list. A steady northerly/easterly wind domintaed the week and held up migration: very few Bee-eaters were seen by anyone on the island, the same goes for Roller, Red-backed Shirke and Lesser Grey Shrikes.


The group couldn't agree on a 'bird of the tour' but Long-eared Owl, Penduline Tit, Masked Shrike and Yellow Wagatil were mentioned with affection.


For me, yet again, it was whole ambiance of the island, the superb array of flowers, the fantastic scenery and of course the huge variety of birds that made tour unforgettable.


many instances and sighting come to mind as favourite moments: The finding of a pair of Kruper's Nuthatch making their nest, we could here them tapping but because they were working on the inside of a tree it took a while to locate them! The Penduline Tit's intricate nest hanging from the lower branches over a stream, the shear number of Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Collared Flycatchers, Reed and Sedge Warblers and the masses of Yelkouan Shearwaters sitting on the water in a misty bay, the water was like a mill pond. Watching a pair of Short-toed Treecreepers feeding their young, you could even see the gaping mouths of the chicks!

One particular day was outstanding, we saw 116 species which included six species of Buntings and included the Ploughed Field.

The Ploughed Field was best of all it was covered in birds, probably 300 in all of 15 species including Wryneck, Nightingale, Tawny Pipit, Whinchat, 2 Wheatears, Collared Pratincoles and 2 species of Terns. What a great experience to top the sightings list and make the holiday even more memorable.


In the next few days there will be a variety of photographs of the tour published and taken by Tony, Andy, Dave and myself.

A full account of the trip will be available on the WINGSPAN BIRD TOURS website shortly at


Here is a sample of what Tony can do:




Click on the picture to enlarge it.

IF YOU WANT TO JOIN WINGSPAN ON NEXT YEAR'S TOUR TO LESVOS PLEASE CONTACT ME EARLY. THE DATES ARE 26TH APRIL - MAY 3RD