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Red-throated Bee-eater

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SOMERSET LEVELS-WEEKEND BREAK 27TH - 31ST JAN 2012

SOMERSET BIRDING BREAK JAN 2012 – DAY 1

SHAPWICK HEATH, NOAH’S LAKE AND HAM WALL NATURE RESERVE

The Group assembled at our guest house around 12 noon, we had travelled from several directions to converge in the heart of the ‘Levels’ at WestHay.

A 'string' of Starlings arriving at their roost site at Ham Wall Nature Reserve - it is then that the murmuration starts in earnest.


After quickly moving into our rooms and unpacking our scopes, binoculars and winter clothing we set off for our first destination – Shapwick Heath which also included Meare Heath, Noah’s Lake and Ham Wall.

From the car park we found a number of species feeding on bird-feeders in nearby gardens. We found Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tit in good numbers, they were joined by Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
We were joined on our walk to Noah’s Lake by a rainstorm followed by hail stones, so not much birding was possible. However at the hide which overlooks Noah’s Lake we listed several species of wildfowl. Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and Common Pochard, they were joined by Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Grey Heron and a flock of feral Grelag Geese.
More passerines were added as we made our way to Ham Wall to watch the starling roost. A single Fieldfare, a small flock of Redwings, Treecreeper, Siskin and Goldfinch were all seen.

The sky cleared and the sun shone right up until the point when the starlings began to gather for the roost, it all looked very promising, then it clouded over and the rain came down, and because of this the starling moved their roost site and they failed to display in such numbers as previously recorded. We moved from our position and gained much better views of them coming down into the reed-bed in their hundreds of thousands. It was quite a spectacle in the end but not a classic display. Our final few birds of the day included Pied Wagtails, Marsh Harrier and good numbers of Lapwings.



We hoped for better luck tomorrow!`

SOMERSET BIRDING BREAK JAN 2012 – DAY 2

Ham Wall, Cattcott Low, Westhay Moor, Greylake, Aller Moor and a return to Ham Wall.


We made a full day of it by setting out in the dark before breakfast to watch the starlings leave their roost. It was, again, a fantastic sight, it was like an explosion of tiny black tennis balls as 500,000 starlings flew up in unison in every direction, the sky was literally full of them.
Other birds of note seen during our visit were several of the ducks already recorded plus Great White Egret.

Sleeping Wigeon - outside the hide at Cattcott Low Nature Reserve

After a sumptuous breakfast we set off to visit Cattcott Low Nature Reserve. The water was full of ducks and there was a lot of them. Mainly Wigeon and Pintail but also Mallard, Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall. Not much else was seen at Cattcott.
The rest of the morning was spent at West Hay Nature Reserve where we added Goldeneye, Goosander, and Redpoll. Lunch was taken in the pub at Ham Wall by most of the group but myself and Angela went to have a second look for the Yellow-browed Warbler along the old railway line. We didn’t see the warbler but we added Common Chiffchaff and Goldcrest to our list and just before we left we saw a Merlin flash through the tree tops.

The group along the central 'drain' at Shapwick heath - photo taken just after a rain shower

Next we made a visit to the new RSPB Reserve at Greylake. We had superb views of Common Snipe as several were feeding a few meters from the hide. We also saw a pair of Peregrines and hundreds of ducks and Lapwings.
Our penultimate venue was the flood meadows adjacent to the River Parret near Othery. There we saw 39 Common Cranes, they are part of the re-introduction scheme set up by the RSPB. In nearby fields we saw huge flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares with more Lapwings.


One of my favourite garden Birtds - the Dunnock - it has a beautiful song


Finally we visited the Ham Wall reserve to have a second look at the Starling Roost. It was fantastic, the light was good, there was no wind and the birds performed admirably. Whist watching the starlings a flock of Canada Geese flew over. Up to 50 Pied Wagtails did the same and a Common Buzzard appeared to chase after the flocks of starlings, without success, a great ending to the day’s birding.


SOMERSET BIRDING BREAK JAN 2012 – DAY 3

CHEDDAR RESERVOIR, CHEW VALLEY LAKE & BLACK ROCK NATURE TRAIL

Our third day was spent looking at waterfowl and gulls on two well known bodies of Somerset Water. The first, Cheddar Reservoir, is always a favourite of mine. We set off from our Guest House at 8:30am and headed straight for Cheddar which is a 20 minute drive.

The sky was overcast and the visibility quite bad with a mist shrouding the Mendips, but the air was absolutely still. The Cheddar Reservoir was as still as a mill pond and was covered in thousands of birds. Most were Common Coot, but we also found Common Pochard, a single male Red-crested Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and Goldeneye. Both Great Crested and Little Grebes were present along with Common Gull, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Common Buzzard, Redwing, Song Thrush and several corvids including Raven.

We then drove through Cheddar Gorge and over the Mendips into Chew Valley where we spent most of the day visiting various sites along the vast shoreline of this huge man-made Reservoir. Herriot’s Bridge, Heron’s Green, the Dam area and Woodford Lodge we some of the places we stopped.
Although many birds were present we added only a few new species to our trip list. Ruddy Duck (only 3 seen), Common Shelduck, Red-breasted Merganser (a very good species for an inland body of water), Raven and the Goldcrest was new for most of the group. We searched for the Ring-billed Gull and the Spotted Sandpiper, both rare visitors from the USA, but we couldn’t find either.

Lastly we stopped at Black Rock Nature Trail near the top of Cheddar Gorge, but after an hour we only saw Jackdaw and Wood Pigeon, very disappointing. We intended to drive back to Ham Wall to watch the starling roost but it got darker and it began to rain so we returned to the Guest House an hour earlier than planned.

SOMERSET BIRDING BREAK JAN 2012 – DAY 4

HAM WALL - EARLY am- COOMBE WOOD NATURE RESERVE

This was our last day and it started with dull overcast weather, it was raining but it had turned to sleet and then snow by mid-morning. Despite the bad weather most of the group got up for the pre-breakfast jaunt to the starling roost. The birds performed well considering the conditions but there seemed to be far fewer birds than of late. We also saw a Great White Egret and whilst looking for Bullfinches a female Hen Harrier flew over us.

A typical scene on the 'levels'. Large tracts of land have been decimated by Peat Extraction activities, but with some management the aftermath can be very rewarding for wildlife.


After a real hearty breakfast we set off for the Coombe Woods Nature reserve which is found on the Polden Hills just west of the Levels. The snow increased as we climbed the hills and it was very cold. We found literally hundreds of Blue and Great Tits feeding in the leaf litter, it was a fantastic sight. After about an hour we also caught up with a flock of Chaffinches which held about 10 Bramblings, this was one of our target species. We also saw Coal Tit, Robin, Song Thrush and we heard a Tawny Owl calling, our last bird of the trip was a tiny Goldcrest seen up in the canopy of the pine trees.

Well that was the end of the tour, we returned to our Guest House and drank warm tea and coffee before we all went our different ways home. It was a great long-weekend break, the Starlings were of course the main attraction but other species spring to mind: such as Common Cranes, Water Rail, Hen Harrier, Red-Breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and huge numbers of Pintails.

Friday, January 20, 2012

JAN 20TH 2012 - LA JANDA & TARIFA

What a fantastic day, superb weather, some great bird sightings with several outstanding species on the list. Yes it certainly was 'quality not quantity' today.

I was joined by Paul from the village, we set off at 7:30am, it was cold with a clear sky.

We arrived at la Janda just after 9am in bright sunshine and no wind. As soon as we began the descent along the track onto the lower plateau we began listing several species. Along the first part of this track we saw Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, Zitting Cisticola, Lapwing, White Stork, Grey Heron, Common Buzzard and White Wagtail.




VIEWS OF THE 'RAISED' CENTRAL TRACK - WITH RICE PADDIES ON THE LEFT


Not a bad start, our next stop was on the raised central track, we parked at the beginning near a sliuce gate. An extended scan of the neighbouring fields, paddocks and rice paddies, this produced some great sightings. A Purple Swamphen was feeding in the central canal, several Marsh Harriers quartered the fields and were joined by at least four Hen Harriers (all females)! We saw distant Common Cranes, Cattle & Little Egrets, Linnets, Goldfinches, Red-legged Partridges, Common Pheasant, Skylark and Calandra Lark.

We moved along the central track stopping several times to scan the sky and the fields. We added Cetti's Warbler, Green Sandpiper, Chiffchaff and then it started to get really good. A distant Peregrine was een mobbing a Black-winged Kite and was then joined by two Marsh harriers, it was quite a show!

Next we had incredible close views of a hunting Short-eared Owl, it passed within 10 meters of us.

SHORT-EARED OWL AS SEEN THROUGH THE HEAT HAZE

A little later we stopped to watch some Common Snipe that were feeding on a ploughed rice field, this was a very good move because we found not one, but two, Bluethroats. Both were males and one was in incredible plummage.In the same area we saw more Common Snipe, Ringed and our first Little-ringed Plover of the year, Water Pipit and White Wagtails. A second Black-winged Kite alighted on a nearby pylon.


THE SECOND BLUETHROAT - A VERY WELL MARKED MALE - WE WATCHED IT FOR 20 MINUTES




PURPLE SWAMPHEN - ONE OF ABOUT 10 SEEN IN LA JANDA




By now it was getting quite warm, a heat haze had formed and so had thermals above the fields, this meant one thing - raptors. Over the next hour we found some great species. We had good views of at least 3 Spanish Imperial Eagles, a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle and to our great surprise an adult Golden Eagle!! Wow, follow that!!!

Further watching produce a very high Short-toed Eagle (this bird should be in Africa at this time of year).WealsosawRedKite and lots more Marsh Harriers, other birds seen during the afternoon included alovely male Penduline Tit, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler and Greenfinch.

On the way home we stopped at Los Lances beach at Tarifa, a little breeze had added a late afternoon chill to the air but we still enjoyed some terrific birds. Caspian Terns (4), Sandwich Tern (25), Audouin's Gull (15) were joined by Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gull, Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover and Ringed Plover.

KENTISH PLOVER - FEMALE IT WAS CHASED OFF BY AN AGRESSIVE, AND BIGGER, RINGED PLOVER



LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (LEFT) STANDING NEXT TO ITS BIGGER COUSIN THE YELLOW-LEGGED GULL




A VIEW FROM THE HIDE AT LOS LANCES BEACH - GULLS, TERNS AND WADERS JUST VISIBLE

More pipits, larks and buntings were found which included another two Water Pipits. This concluded our best birding day of the year, here is the list:

1. Great Cormorant
2. Grey Heron
3. White Stork
4. Mallard
5. Cattle Egret
6. Little Egret
7. Griffon Vulture
8. Bonelli's Eagle
9. Spanish Imperial Eagle (121)
10. Golden Eagle (122)
11. Marsh Harrier
12. Hen Harrier (123)
13. Common Kestrel
14. Sparrowhawk
15. Black-winged Kite (124)
16. Peregrine Falcon
17. Short-toed Eagle (125)
18. Common Buzzard
19. Red Kite (126)
20. Red-legged Partridge (127)
21. Common Pheasant (128)
22. Purple Swamphen
23. Common Coot
24. Moorhen
25. Green Sandpiper
26. Common Snipe
27. Ringed Plover
28. Little-ringed Plover (129)
29. Kentish Plover
30. Grey Plover
31. Lapwing
32. Dunlin
33. Sanderling
34. Audouin's Gull
35. Yellow-legged Gull
36. Lesser Black-backed Gull
37. Black Headed Gull
38. Caspian Tern (130)
39. Sandwich Tern
40. Barn Swallow (131)
41. Crag Martin
42. Meadow Pipit
43. Water pipit
44. Crested lark
45. Skylark
46. Calandra Lark
47. White Wagtail
48. Bluethroat (132)
49. Robin
50. Blackbird
51. Mistle Thrush
52. Collared Dove
53. Feral Pigeon
54. Wood Pigeon
55. Common Crane
56. Chaffinch
57. Greenfinch
58. Goldfinch
59. Linnet
60. Common Starling
61. Spotless Starling
62. House Sparrow
63. Spanish Sparrow
64. Black Redstart
65. Zitting Cisticola
66. Jackdaw
67. Raven
68. Corn Bunting
70. Penduline Tit (133)
71. Chiffchaff
72. Blackcap

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

JAN 16TH & 17TH BIRDING TRIPS

We have had a mixture of weather over the last fews days. It has been cold, cloudy at times and from Sunday 15th until this morning, Weds 17th it has rained!!!

Despite the rain I made a quick visit to Los Lances beach at tarifa whilst I was out shopping at the DIY shops along the coast. I got wet walking from the car to the hide. The tide was high so the pools just in front of the hide were flooded and not many birds were present. However, I logged my first Audouin's Gull of the year.

Birds seen at Los Lances:

Grey Plover
Crested Lark,
Meadow Pipit,
Stonechat,
White Wagtail,
Zitting Cisticola,
L B B Gull,
Sandwich Tern,
Blk Headed Gull,
Audouin's Gull (117th for the year),
Corn Bunting

Today; Wednesday 17th

John and Penny Hale joined me for a visit to Llanos de Libarwhich is a hidden valley found behind Montejaque.



We set off in the dark at 8am and arrived at 8:45
in bright sunshine. The surrounding mountains had a covering of snow and the valley stretched for miles in front of us. We drove a kilometer and parked up where we expected to find one of our target species; Ring Ouzel.



After an hour of searching in very cold conditions we found a solitary bird, a male of the a Alpestris race.

The whole valley is stunning with a great variety of habitats and a place I will returning to for many times.






Despite the lack of Ring Ouzels and our other target species: Alpine Accentor we had a great time watching many other species which included:

Rock Bunting (at least 10 seen - 4 together)
Blue Rock Thrush, (4)
Black Wheatear (4),
Dartford Warbler (1 - 118th species for the year)
Ring Ouzel (1 - 119th species for the year)
Rock Sparrow ( 120th species for the year -a flock of over 100 was a superb find)
Bonelli's Eagle (1)
Griffon Vulture (20-30 soem were perched on the ground close to the track)
Southern Grey Shrike (2),
Thekla Lark (several small flocks)
Linnet (10+)
Stonechat (many)
Goldfinch (large flocks)
Chaffinch (small flocks)
Rock Dove (6)
Blackbird
Spotless Starling (6)
Blue Tit
Mistle Thrush (2)
Crag Martin (seen on the way home)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

JAN 9TH & 10TH 2012 - BIRDING NEWS

Last evening (Monday 9th Jan.) Dawn and I visited Penny and John Hale who live just outside Casares.

Whilst on their terrace we had great views of 2 Eagles Owl. The male flew over our heads calling whilst the female flew up from a nearby ridge. Later the male was seen hovering on the wind just above the ridge as though it were a Buzzard or a Short-toed Eagle, a spectacular sight as he held his legs and talons fully extended.

TUESDAY 10TH JAN -- LAGUNA DULCE, LAGUNA FUENTE DE PIEDRAS - ENCINAS DE BORRACHES TRACK NEAR RONDA.

I went out today with Paul from Gaucin to the lagunas north of Ronda. The weather was cold and overcast to start with, but it did warm up, although there was a cold wind all day.

RED-CRESTED POCHARD

We set off in the dark at 7:30am and arrived at laguna Dulce around 8:45am where we drove around the back of the laguna to view the open fields. A disappointing start really, there were no Little Bustards, Lapwings or Golden Plover. However we did see Calandra and Skylarks, Corn Buntings, Linnets and Goldfinches. A nice surprise was a flock of over 400 Common Cranes and we saw over 100 White Wagtails in a single flock. A couple of Marsh Harriers drifted over and we could see hundreds of Shoveler on the laguna.
FOX


From the hide we enjoyed views of a great find, Ferruginous Duck (3), there was also White headed Duck (30+), Red-crested Pochard (18), Common Pochard (4), Pintail (2), Teal (2), Tufted Duck (9), Gadwall, Mallard, Little and Black Necked Grebes (20+). Greater Flamingos, Coots, Moorhens and 3 species of gull made up the rest of the birds on the water. We did see a Green Sandpiper on the bank along with Black-winged Stilts. Not bad eh!!

We drove the short distance round to Laguna Fuente de Piedras where we saw hundreds more flamingos and cranes. From the Catarrans mirador we found a Hoopoe!! and we saw several more Marsh Harriers.

On the small lagunas near the visitor's centre at Piedras we added a lot more species to our day list. Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Water Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Common Snipe, Wigeon, Common Shelduck, Zitting Cisticola, Southern Grey Shrike and two nice surprises: Spanish Sparrow and Reed Bunting. Paul pulled out a superb Lesser Flamingo as we walked back to the car park.

REED BUNTING

On the return trip we stopped at the raptor watch point near Teba Gorge but we only saw Rock Dove, Crag Martin and Griffon Vulture there.

We also made a quick stop at a known Bonelli's Eagle site, two birds were present and both showed well for a couple of minutes.

GREEN SANDPIPER

Just south of Ronda we stopped at our usual walk, the Encinas de Borraches. This open valley full of rocky scree looked quite desolate, windy and cold, but it wasn't that bad on further inspection. In fact the birding was quite good. We found a small flcok of Woodlark (5), then a couple of Thekla Larks, followed by Rock Bunting, Little Owl, Goldfinch, Serin, Linnet and Corn Buntings.
We searched the heath for Dartford Warblers and found Greenfinch and Chaffinch, we scanned the high peaks for wheatears but only found Blue Rock Thrush. A Southern Grey Shrike finished off the tally.

Our last stop was at a gorge a couple of kilometers further south, we glimpsed a Black Wheatear from the car then found 4 more after we had stopped. We also saw Black Redstart but not the Rock Sparrow we were expecting.

THE LESSER FLAMINGO IS THE SMALL RED ONE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PHOTO

all in all a great day out, we saw 70 species!!

I have listed today's birds with last nights owl, those species numbered in brackets refer to my year list tally:

1. (86). Eagle Owl
2. Litte Grebe
3. (87). Black necked Grebe
4. Cattle Egret
5. Greater Flamingo
6. (88).Lesser Flamingo
7. (89).Common Shelduck
8. (90).Wigeon
9. (91).Gadwall
10.(92).Teal
11. Mallard
12. (93).Pintail
13. (94).Red-crested Pochard
14. (95).Common Pochard
15. (96).Ferruginous Duck
16. (97),Tufted Duck
17. (98). White-headed Duck
18. Griffon Vulture
19. Marsh Harrier
20. Common Buzzard
21. Common Moorhen
22. Eurasian Coot
23. (99).Common Crane
24. Black-winged Stilt
25. (100).Avocet
26. (101).Lapwing
27. Common Snipe
28. (102).Black-tailed Godwit
29. (103). Green Sandpiper
30. (104).Common Sandpiper
31. Black-headed Gull
32. Yellow-legged Gull
33. Lesser Black-backed Gull
34. (105).Rock Dove
35. Little Owl
36. (106).Hoopoe
37. (107).Calandra Lark
38. Crested Lark
39. (108).Thekla Lark
40. Woodlark
41. (109).Skylark
42. Crag martin
43. Meadow Pipit
44. Water Pipit
45. Grey Wagtail
46. White Wagtail
47. Black Redstart
48. Stonechat
49. (110).Black Wheatear
50. Blue Rock Thrush
51. (111). Zitting Cisticola
52. Great Tit
53. Southern Grey Shrike
54. (112).Jackdaw
55. Raven
56. (113).Common Starling
57. Spotless Starling
58. House Sparrow
59. (114).Spanish Sparrow
60. Common Chaffinch
61. Serin
62. Greenfinch
63. Goldfinch
64. Linnet
65. (115).Rock Bunting
66. (116).Reed Bunting
67. Corn Bunting
68. Common Kestrel
69. Sardinian Warbler
70. Blue Tit

Sunday, January 8, 2012

JAN 7TH - SIETE PILAS WALK

Dawn and I took a walk with Paul and Janyce, our friends from the village. Another clear blue sky greeted us as we drove out of the village down the route to Cortes de la Frontera. We soon arrived at our turning to Siete Pilas, a small 'hamlet' hidden deep in the valley countryside. The walk took us uphill to the limestone ridge that divides the Guadiaro Valley from the Genal Valley.

It wasn't a birding trip but both Paul and I had our binoculars with us. We saw many common birds and a few Griffon Vultures. I added a couple species to my year list:

83. Southern Grey Shrike
84. Woodlark

From the high ridge the views were amazing and well worth the walk up.

Later in the afternoon, whilst dozing on my top terrace a Raven passsed over calling and I'm certain that an Eagle Owl called twice!! I have heard them in the daytime before.


85. Raven

Friday, January 6, 2012

JAN 6TH - DAY TOUR

SAN PABLO TRACK - SAN ENRIQUE WOODS - LAGUNA TORREGUADIARO - PALMONES SALT MARSH

A great day with all day sunshine, a little breezy but very warm, top temperature 21 C.

Today I took out John and Mary, our American firends who live just outside the village, Fred, who owns a large house in the village, a Villa fan, and who is here for a few weeks holiday, and Dawn, my precious.
Left to right, Fred, myself, Mary and John

We set off at 8am and quickly drove down the mountainside to San Pablo where we took the San Martin road and turned onto my favourite track. We quickly logged several finches, Corn Bunting, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Stonechat, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Kestrel, Black Redstart, Meadow Pipit, Spotless Starling and Sardinian Warbler.


After a quick coffee-stop we set off for San Enrique and along the way we stopped to admire a couple of Little Owls. We arrived at San Enrique Woods which were quiet and the river had had recent ground-work changes made to its banks which completely changed the ecology of the area to the detriment of the wildlife. We only found Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the usual Tree Sparrows.

The laguna at Torreguadiaro proved to be very productive and we spent a good hour enjoying a nice selection of water birds. Grey Heron, Little Egret, cattle Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe all took second place behind Purple Swamphen, Crag Martin,Little Bittern (3) and Squacco Heron (2). We also found Little Owl on the tower ruins.Out at sea we watched several Northern Gannets diving for fish and as we walked across the sand dunes we put up two Crested Larks.

The laguna Camelias at Torreguadiaro where we saw Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Purple Swamphen

At Palmones we made two diverse birding stints. The first, on arrival, was a walk along the promenade in the town. There we found Curlew, Whimbrel, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, a single Ruff, White Stork, Cormorant, Sandwhich Tern, Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.Obersavations were made difficult because we were looking into strong sunlight.

A nice lunch was enjoyed by all before we drove to the west side of the saltmarsh where we watched the marshes from the raised hide. It was a good move because the sun was now behind us and we commanded a great panoramic view of the whole area. We added Black-winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Common Snipe and Spoonbill. Soon the goodies started to be found. First a Short-eared Owl was found sitting on the ground, then an Osprey, up to four Marsh Harriers, including a superb male and lastly a Peregrine was seen sitting on a concrete block. The Falcon flew up high and proceeded to dive-bomb a Common Buzzard which would turn over with its talons spread open to thwart the Peregrine's attacks, a great aerial display of flying agility and fantastic bird watching.

Viewing from the raised hide at the Palmones salt marsh

We left the marshes at 5pm and drove back to Gaucin via Casares and the Sierra Crestellina where we stopped to look for larks in fading sunlight. A big surprise was the discovery of two Bonelli's Eagles, drifting over and around their nest-site, what a great bird to finish off the day with. But just as we were ready to go we found a Sparrowhawk and a Spanish Ibex, both looking superb in the golden light of the setting sun.

The Soto Grande Lighthouse from the Torreguadiaro beach

Our tally for the day was just under 70 species, we all enjoyed a superb day in glorious weather and we took home some treasured memories. Bird of the day for was the Short-eared Owl but others voted for Little Bittern and Purple Swamphen.

new birds for year list:

56. Greenfinch
57. Little Owl
58. Purple Swamphen
59. Little Bittern
60. Squacco Heron
61. Little Grebe
62. Shoveler
63. Northern Gannet
64. Bonelli's Eagle
65. Common Moorhen
66. Common Coot
67. Bl;ack-winged Stilt
68. Eurasian Curlew
69. Ruff
70. Common Snipe
71. Sandwich Tern
72. Common Kingfisher
73. Grey Wagtail
74. Tree Sparrow
75. Serin
76. Short-eared Owl
77. Spoonbill
78. Peregrine Falcon
79. Great Spotted Woodpecker
80. Crested Lark
81. Water Pipit
82. Stonechat

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

JAN 4TH 2012 - Gibraltar-Palmones-Gaucin, camino Gibraltar

We got up early and drove to Gibraltar to do our monthly 'Brits-abroad' shopping, it was all over by 10am, great! We then drove round to Los Barrios for more shopping, (not so great) but we made the inevitable stop at the Palmones Salt Marsh, which was superb.

Later in the afternoon we took a stroll along the Camino de Gibraltar where we saw lots of birds, many Blackcaps, Song Thrushes and Starling were singing! Can't blame them the weather is just fantastic.

A VIEW OF EL HACHO FROM THE GIB TRACK

Birds seen on the journey to Gib included these new ones for our year list:

27. White Stork- many on their nests already.
28. Cattle Egret
29. Collared Dove

At Palmones the tide was rising so not much mud was exposed in the river mouth and many waders were roosting on the sandspit. New Year listers were:

30. Osprey
31. Marsh Harrier
32. Common Sandpiper
33. Greenshank
34. Redshank
35. Whimbrel
36. Bar-tailed Godwit
37. Ringed Plover
38. Grey Plover
39. Kentish Plover
40. Sanderling
41. Dunlin
42. Curlew Sandpiper
43. Great Cormorant
44. Yellow-legged Gull
45. Lesser Black-backed gull
46. Black-headed Gull
47. Grey Heron
48. Little Egret

Birds seen on the return journey to Gaucin from palmones:

49. Common Kestrel
50. Common Buzzard


THE SAME TRACK BUT ON THE WAY BACK UP


During our walk in the afternoon we found both Brimstone and Large Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing and added several new birds to the growing yearly tally:

51. Meadow Pipit
52. Corn Bunting
53. White Wagtail
54. Linnet
55. Cirl Bunting



I heard a Green Woodpecker drumming as well as a Great Spotted, Dawn said 'oh yes, I saw the Green Woodpecker just now"! The word "Supressor" comes to mind - I can't put Green Woody on the list until I have seen it! Dawn did remind me that it was she that found the Crested Tit and Firecrest yesterday- maybe I'll forgive her, humbug!

A view of the village the way back - uphill!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

JAN 2ND & 3RD 2012 GAUCIN - PUNTA UMBRIA WALK

We have taken the same walk for the last two afternoons in contrasting weather. Yesterday afternoon was very windy, overcast with a clearing cloud-cover later in the day. Very few species of birds were seen.

A view of the south side of Umbria.


We added:

15. Griffon Vulture

to our year list.


Today was totally different, clear blue sky, no wind and plenty of birds to watch and a lovely warm temperature.

Cork Oak along the circular track around Punta Umbria


New species for the year list:

16. Common Chiffchaff
17. Crested Tit
18. Mistle Thrush
19. Great Tit
20. Wren
21. Eurasian Nuthatch
22. Hawfinch
23. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
24. Wood Pigeon
25. Crag Martin
26. Firecrest

There were several Large Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing, often seen settled on small rocks.
We also saw Iberian Wall Lizards and a snake (probably an Adder)but it was too quick for me to ID it.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

JAN 1ST 2012 - A BEAUTIFUL START TO THE YEAR

After a late start (we didn't get up until 10am) we took a walk down to the Camino Gibraltar. It was a beautiful morning, clear blue sky and a light breeze.

It was so clear that Gibraltar was easily visible.



We saw Black Redstart (1), Blue Rock thrush (2) and House Sparrow (3) from our upper terrace before we set off for the walk.



Over the next hour we strolled into the Genal Valley and saw Robin (4), Jay (5), Chaffinch (6), Goldfinch (7), Spotless Starling (8), Sardinian Warbler (9), lots of Blackcaps (10), Blackbird (11), Song Thrush (12), Blue Tit (13) and a nice surprise.......a House Martin (14).


Not a raptor in sight despite perfect conditions, however we did see plenty of Bermuda Buttercups and sveral other flowers.


ALL TODAY'S PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY DAWN.



It was just lovely to be out in the warm sunshine again.