Friday, December 30, 2011

A Christmas Trip to the Valencian Coastal Wetlands.

Following a cool frosty night, the morning dawned bright and by the time we´d arrived at the café bar by the beach, the sky was a watery blue, blending almost seamlessly with the Mediterranean horizon.

Today´s guided trip by was provided for an English lady new to birding and was bought for her as a Christmas gift by her husband. During our coffee break by the sea we discussed the day´s target birds and I provided an outline of the habitat of the Valencian Wetlands and the birds that spend the winter months here.

Our first stop by a small lagoon and reedbeds gave good views of Chiffchaffs busily feeding amongst the reeds, plus the day´s first sighting of one of the target birds –Purple Gallinule. This stocky bird with its stunning purple sheen and comically huge feet has done extremely well over the past couple of years and has established breeding grounds throughout the Mediterranean coastal wetlands.

As we walked along the coast we were treated to views of a Dartford Warbler, soon to be followed by another stunning little bird, the Bluethroat. The next lake held Teal and Shoveler, both in good numbers, most of which appeared to be sleeping until startled into activity by the passing of a Marsh Harrier. Further sightings of 3 more Purple Gallinules were enjoyed too.

As we made our way back through the coastal scrub to the next lagoon, we watched numerous pairs of Stonechat, a passing flock of Greenfinch, a Meadow Pipit, Hoopoe and a Kestrel which allowed us to pass very close-by, seemingly at ease with our presence. A pair of Booted Eagles passed high overhead, another superb bird that appears to be doing well in this area.

A lunch break in a hide overlooking a much larger lake gave further views of Teal plus Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Sardinian Warbler and yet more Purple Gallinule. Although not seen, we heard the call of Cetti´s Warbler. A flock of Yellow Legged Gull rested on the water whilst a Little Grebe busily dived for food. Another highlight of the day was enjoyed as we were able to enjoy great views of a Hen Harrier hunting over the reedbeds.

The afternoon sun continued to shine, making the next section of walking through fields and lakeside tracks extremely pleasant. Robins were active in good numbers, Stonechats were in constant attendance, Spotless Starlings passed overhead and the surrounding meadows held good numbers of Lapwing. We enjoyed further views of the pair of Booted Eagles seen earlier. Another special moment was in store when an Iberian Grey Shrike perched just 15 metres from us, giving excellent views of this very smart bird.

As the day drew to a close and we made our way back to the beach, the wind suddenly picked up bringing in dozens of Cormorants and Gulls. As we enjoyed this influx we were treated to another beautiful spectacle as a flock of 20+ Greater Flamingoes flew by, the low afternoon sun illuminating their striking pink plumage.

A fitting end to a very pleasant day. We´d managed to see 33 species in just a few hours. I´d had a great time and very much enjoyed the company of my guest who appeared to be becoming hooked after her first days birding!
David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide -

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sea watch and Valencia rice fields

Dave and I decided on a morning out to check out Cullera Light House, a rocky outcrop, and see what birds could be seen out at sea. On arrival at the car-park we came across a Black Redstart numerous Chiff Chaff, Stonechat and a Robin. On the beach was a lone Audoins Gull and a Yellow- legged Gull. We set up our scopes and before long had good views of numerous groups of Balearic Shearwater. We estimated 200 plus in 2 hours. Other species included Sanderling, Common Tern and Cormorant. Also among the rocks and undergrowth were 2 Cettis Warblers showing well.

Dave Warrington Valenciabirding

On the way home we came across some flooded rice fields and decided to stop and scan the area. Hundreds of Grey Herons were in residence along with 3 Great White Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets. Other birds seen were Shoveler, Grey Wagtail, Teal, Marsh Harriers, Meadow Pipit and Booted Eagle.

Great White Egret

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Pre-Christmas Trip up onto the Steppe.

One of Dave's important roles as a birding guide is to constantly visit our favoured sites as many times as possible throughout the year. This is essential in order to maintain and develop knowledge of an area and it´s changing characteristics and bird life throughout the seasons. That way, we ensure that our clients are taken to the sites that are “at their best” whenever their visit may take place. That today´s trip meant that we avoided having to go Christmas shopping only seemed to reinforce its value!
Our destination was the vast upland Steppe of Castilla de la Mancha, some 90 minutes’ drive due west from our home base of La Drova.  To make the most of the day we left home at 7am on a dark and windy morning. Having driven through a beautiful day-break we left the main road and headed out across the steppe.

Great Bustard

The morning provided a good omen from the outset as we immediately spotted a group of 23 Great Bustards strutting across the fields just 200 metres from the road. Having parked the van, we left the warm cab to be greeted by a bitterly cold wind that made it feel close to freezing point…welcome to Castilla de la Mancha – it´s not always warm in Spain! Despite this we enjoyed superb views of these majestic birds for over 10 minutes before they took flight across the plains.
Our next stop was a favourite lagoon. This time prepared for the wind, we strategically parked the van so we could use it as a shelter as we set up the scopes! The usual busy flocks of Rock Sparrow were flitting around as were Goldfinch. A lone Fieldfare made a brief appearance, followed closely by a female Black Redstart.
Crested Larks and Lapwings were around in good numbers too. On the shore of the lagoon a Little Ringed Plover scurried around. Scoping across the water revealed Shoveler, Shelduck and Teal. As we stood there, proving that awful instant soup can taste heavenly when out in the freezing cold, a Buzzard passed over and landed in the edge of a nearby field. Then another highlight – a pair of Hen Harriers appeared over the hill and flew characteristically low over the fields, giving superb views. After a while we retreated to the van and headed on to our next lagoon where we watched Teal, Little Grebe, Pochard, and yet more Shelduck and Shoveler. A pair of Yellow Legged Gulls flew by before settling on the water. A flock of Spotless Starlings landed on one of the barns and Skylarks were also around in good numbers.

Cattle Egret

After a welcome coffee break in a village bar we set off across the steppe once more where we made various stops to scan around. We were indeed rewarded by the day´s second view of a flock of Great Bustard, probably the same birds as earlier but nonetheless great to see. Skylarks and Crested Larks were plentiful as were Kestrels. A Little Egret was feeding by the shore of a small pond and was soon joined by a Cattle Egret. A raptor passed over but was too far away to give a positive ID although Booted Eagle was the likelihood.
The third and final lagoon, beside which we sat in the hide gave great views of Kentish Plover, Ruff, Flamingo, Wood Sandpiper and an over-wintering Black Winged Stilt. Scoping across the water gave views of huge numbers of Shelduck, Shoveler and Teal. A Marsh Harrier passed by extremely close over the reeds.
Satisfied with a superb day out we headed back across the plains, making a few more brief stops during which we had super views of Stonechat, Green Woodpecker and Iberian Grey Shrike. As we all know, sometimes you have to brave the weather and put in a little effort, but when you do, the rewards are often fantastic! With some superb views and a species list of 37, today had been such a day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sanderling census of La Safor

Sanderling in Winter Plummage

On Sunday 27th November we took part in the Sanderling Census of La Safor which was organised by the “Associació Ornitológica De La Safor”.
The stretch of Mediterranean coastline to be studied was that between Playa de Tavernes in the north to Playa de Oliva in the south.  We grouped into 4 teams, each having a designated section of beach. Our particular area was from Marenys (just south of the port of Gandia) to Diamus.  We commenced at 0830hrs under very cloudy skies, although thankfully no wind. Sea conditions were choppy although certainly not severe.
Much to subsequent amusement of our fellow birders, our stretch of beach turned up absolutely no Sanderlings whatsoever!  However, the day´s count for the whole area was 323.  Although we managed to find no Sanderlings, we did spot 16 other species.
The day commenced with Grey Heron and Little Egret, both of which were fishing in the mouth of the river Serpis. As we made our way down the beach we saw 16 Pied Wagtails, 4 Cormorants, a pair of Black Redstarts, 2 Common Terns, 6 Yellow Legged Gulls, 1 Black Headed Gull, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 4 Kentish Plovers and 3 Sandwich Terns. The small river mouth at Diamus revealed a pair of Moorhen, a Robin, a Hoopoe and a first winter Grey Wagtail.

Audouin´s Gulls
Audouin´s Gulls on the beaches of La Safor

However, the highlight of the day was a group of 18 Audouin´s Gulls on the beach at Diamus.  Once finished, five of us met for a brief scan over Gandia marsh where we saw 2 Marsh Harriers and enjoyed great views of a Booted Eagle.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

El Hondo

Not within our usual birding area, El Hondo is a wetland reserve of major international importance, not least for it´s population of White Headed Duck and Marbled Duck.  Although not a regular venue for us, El Hondo always provides something of interest.

El Hondo Nature Reserve

We were fortunate to enjoy some beautiful autumn sunshine as we set off across the reserve.  Within just five minutes we were delighted to see 3 Cranes passing overhead, shortly followed by a lone Booted Eagle.  As we made our way through the reedbeds, we watched as a Marsh Harrier hunted by the shore of the lake.  We stopped and set up the scope, to be rewarded with views of Serin, Stonechat, Moustached Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Fan Tailed Warblers and a Bluethroat.  A Great Grey Shrike provided a few minutes entertainment before we were distracted by 3 passing White Storks.
The first lake held Coot, Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall, Little Grebe and a Purple Gallinule.  The larger second lake gave views of Flamingoes in good numbers, Grey Heron, Little Egrets and a Crested Lark by the shore.
We were almost out of time so wandered back to the car park as the sun was beginning to set.  A flock of 14 Glossy Ibis flew overhead providing a great ending to a super day.
Although our plans allowed for only a few hours, we managed to see 33 species…Pied Wagtail, Crane, Magpie, Chifchaff, Marsh Harrier, Fan Tailed Warbler, Black Headed Gull, Booted Eagle, Great Grey Shrike, Little Egret, Moustached Warbler, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Mallard, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Coot, Pochard, White Stork, Purple Gallinule, Serin, Cormorant, Spotted Redshank, Grey Heron, Crested Lark, Kingfisher, Kestrel, Flamingo, Sardinian Warbler, Moorhen, Jackdaw, Glossy Ibis, Spotless Starling.

Dave Warrington birdwatching guide

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Afternoon at Albufera de Valencia

As we had business to attend to in Valencia today, the opportunity to spend a couple of hours looking what was around Albufera couldn´t be missed.

Autumn Sunshine at Albufera de Valencia
We started at the main hide, where we were greeted by a group of school children on a day trip! Although not the quiet environment that we expected, it has to be remembered that this is where the future of conservation lies. We soon attracted a small group of kids who were curious to see what the telescope was and soon had a small queue forming to watch the Flamingoes that were resting at the far side of the lagoon. A few others were fascinated to see the beautifully coloured Teal through binoculars which at first glance to them, appeared to be just “boring brown ducks”!

A very tame Black Redstart!
Once their teacher called time and moved them on and out of the hide, we settled down to see what else was around. As mentioned, Teal were present in good numbers. A group of 6 Black Winged Stilt did a good job of trying to conceal a lone Avocet amongst them. We spend a little time waiting and watching and were rewarded with, amongst other things Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Sardinian Warbler, Little Egret, Greenshank and a Black Redstart that almost came into the hide to have a look at us!
Further scoping across the lake revealed Red Crested Pochard in huge numbers, Cormorant, Pochard, and up to 6 Marsh Harriers. Crag Martins passed over as did a flock of Spotless Starlings. It also seemed that most of the Iberian population of White Wagtails were at Albufera, plus many more Cattle Egrets than we usually see there!

A Great White Egret beside a Little Egret 

A little further up the lake we saw Yellow Legged Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull and Sandwich Tern. We then headed back towards home and finished the day with good views of Great White Egret, Lapwing, Sparrowhawk, Shoveler and what must have been our best ever close-up views of Marsh Harrier.

We enjoyed stunning views of Marsh Harriers at Albufera
A great afternoon spent in a classic Valencian Wetland, and a species list of 38…

Avocet, Black Headed Gull, Black Redstart, Black Winged Stilt, Cattle Egret, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Crag Martin, Flamingo, Goldfinch, Great White Egret, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Robin, Sandwich Tern, Sardinian Warbler, Shoveler, Sparrowhawk, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Teal, White Wagtail, Yellow Legged Gull.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bird Watching at Santa Pola & La Mata

Although a little further South than our usual haunts, as we had an appointment in Alicante in the morning, we decided to make the most of the day by taking a slight detour and spend the afternoon bird watching at Santa Pola and La Mata.
The forecast for heavy rain thankfully proved to be pessimistic. Although we expected to be watching from the van, we were fortunate enough to be greeted with patchy cloud and sunny spells.
Santa Pola offers great bird watching and is situated less than 10 minutes drive from Alicante airport
We scanned the lagoons at Santa Pola first, where we enjoyed views of hundreds of Greater Flamingoes and Yellow Legged Gulls. Scoping across the water revealed Sandwich Tern, Shelduck and Avocet, all in good numbers. A few Little Ringed Plovers scurried along the shallow banks whilst a Marsh Harrier passed low over the reedbeds. As we explored the reedbeds a little more, we had good views of Black Redstart, Zitting Cisticola and a male Cirl Bunting. As we made our way back to the van a pair of Turnstones ran out of the vegitation on the shoreline. A final scan gave us views of a passing Great White Egret.
After a brief lunch we headed a little further south for some bird watching at La Mata. As we walked through the vineyards and down to the hide, we watched dozens of Skylarks, a handful of Crested Lark and at least 8 Black Redstarts. The lake was quiet although as is always the case, a little patience was rewarded eventually. From the hide we watched Kentish Plover and Sanderling on the shoreline. A short walk through the fields gave views of Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and Greenfinch.
Scoping across the shoreline rewarded us with views of Kentish Plover and Sanderling
We then headed back to the car park and began packing away the gear. We were about to get into the van when a wagtail flew over from the meadow and landed in the car park. At first glance it appeared to be a White Wagtail, but we soon noticed some yellow on its head. We quickly grabbed the binoculars and were able to watch what we firmly believe to be a Citrine Wagtail. We were unable to get the camera and photograph it so clearly cannot officially claim it, but having researched further we´re very confident that´s what it was. Further searching was in vain but what an end to the day!
Written by David Warrington, professional Bird Watching Guide.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

 This morning, we spent a couple of hours wandering around one of our local patches which consists mainly of rice fields. When in flood the Valencian rice fields attract a variety of birds, including passing migrants, which make it an ideal area for bird watching in Spain.  The day got off to a good start – as soon as we got out of the car, a pair of pale form Booted Eagles passed over. They were relatively low so we enjoyed great views. They spent a while quartering the hillsides looking for prey before they drifted off into the distance, although we saw them a further three times during the morning.

Booted Eagle in Spain

There were still surprisingly high numbers of Swallows feeding on the insects over the water. As I scanned the Valencian rice fields I also picked up good numbers of Black Headed Gull, dozens of Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and a lone Squacco Heron. Although they are “officially” a summer visitor, we do see a few that over-winter by the coast.

Rice fields of valencia
The reedbeds held good numbers of Fan Tailed Warblers plus a few pairs of Stonechats and a Whinchat. Careful observation of the water´s edge revealed a pair of Bluethroat, a Water Pipit and Grey Wagtail. A pair of Buzzards passed over plus we were fortunate to have great views of at least four Marsh Harriers through the morning. Super views of a perching Kingfisher finished the morning on a high.
A couple of hours well spent in the Valencian rice fields and another great day for bird watching in Spain!  In fact, the full list comprised…Booted Eagle, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Swallow, Marsh Harrier, Black Headed Gull, Cattle Egret, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Moorhen, Kingfisher, Crow, Fan Tailed Warbler, Water Pipit, House Sparrow.
Dave Warrington – Valencia Birding

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This year, October is proving to be a summer month! Each day has peaked at around 30 degrees so far. With that in mind, I ventured into one of my favourite mountain valleys in the province of Alicante to spend a couple of hours in the shade and to see what was around.
The summer theme continued as the first bird that I saw upon leaving the car was a male Whinchat perched in a nearby bush. There were still quite a few Swallows passing by too.
As I made my way into the gorge, I enjoyed close views of Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Coal Tits.
As I sat in the shade, the silence of the gorge was wonderful – only interrupted by the occasional call of a Wren.

I decided to take the easy way out and to sit and wait for the birds to come to me! Within 10 minutes I was fortunate to watch closely as up to 7 Black Wheatears worked their way down the cliffs, the flash of white tail feathers betraying their presence.

I also spotted a Short Toed Treecreeper methodically working up the trunk of an old pine tree. A few Golfinches passed by as did a Grey Wagtail.
I then made my way further up into the gorge. The effort was rewarded by great views of hundreds of Crag Martins and a pair of Ravens high on the cliffs.

Griffon Vultures
My target bird then came into view, followed by another, and another until I could count up to 17 Griffon Vultures. The sheer size of them dwarfed anything else in sight, and to sit there in the shade of the cliffs watching such magnificent birds majestically soaring through the crystal clear blue skies was magical.
Unfortunately, time was pressing on and other engagements meant that I had to leave the peace of this beautiful spot…but for sure I´ll return. What a great way to pass a couple of hours.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

 Having enjoyed the Valencian Coastal Wetlands Trip, Christine & Nick were keen to spend another day´s birding. Their preferred option was the Steppe & Lagoon Trip as Great Bustard and Little Bustard were targets for their Life List.
We arrived on the plains of Castilla de la Mancha in glorious sunshine despite a cooling early morning breeze. Having enjoyed a breakfast of coffee and toast in a local café we explored an area of reed bed and marsh adjoining some cereal fields.  Our first bird of the morning was a Corn Bunting, which was followed by an Iberian Grey Shrike and then a Whinchat. Having spent a while scanning the fields, we saw Crested Lark in good numbers plus a steady stream of passing Swallows.

We then set off across the plains in search of the target birds of the day. Kestrels were plentiful as were Wheatear. Patience was eventually rewarded with close-up views of a female Little Bustard. However, despite our optimism, we failed to find the Great Bustards.
Lunch time was approaching so we decided to picnic by a favourite lagoon. During a leisurely lunch we were able to enjoy great views of Flamingo, Wood Sandpiper, Black Necked Grebe, Shelduck, Avocet and one of my personal favourites, White Headed Duck. A little later, a Snipe dropped in as did Ringed Plover, Black Redstart and Black Winged Stilt. We also had good views of a Marsh Harrier.

After lunch, a gentle walk across the high plains gave good views of Buzzard, Mistle Thrush, Lapwing and more Crested Larks. Not wishing to give up on the Great Bustard, we returned to the Steppe for further searching. Our efforts were rewarded by close views of Red Legged Partridge, more Wheatear and a flock of 12-15 Dotterel. Having apparently failed yet again to find the Great Bustards we conceded that we´d had a great day and that it was time to head for home.
Having driven for 10 minutes back towards the motorway, something caught my eye in the roadside fields. What a superb ending to a great day – right beside us was a group of 14 Great Bustards, calmly feeding amongst the stubble. We parked safely off the road and got ourselves into an inconspicuous position to enjoy them without disturbing them. We remained there for a further 20 minutes, watching these huge birds as they proudly roamed around the field before they took flight and moved off across the plains. What a great way to end the day.

The list for the day totaled 32 species and comprised…
Crow, House Sparrow, Swallow, Magpie, Kestrel, Crested Lark, Whinchat, Corn Bunting, Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Redstart, Wood Sandpiper, Goldfinch, Wheatear, Little Bustard, Buzzard, Lapwing, Greater Flamingo, Black Necked Grebe, Shelduck, Dotterel, Great Bustard, Mallard, Coot, White Headed Duck, Shoveler, Ringed Plover, Black Winged Stilt, Snipe, Avocet, Marsh Harrier, Mistle Thrush, Red Legged Partridge.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

 Together with Nick & Christine from Barnsley, South Yorkshire we spent a full day walking around the coastal wetlands of Valencia.  Despite being into October, the weather was still hot and dry so we were all interested to see what was still lingering and what new visitors had arrived.
The day proved to be very interesting.  Our first sightings of note included a Reed Warbler and Marsh Harrier.  As we sat overlooking one of my favourite lagoons, our patience was rewarded with excellent views of White Headed Duck, Purple Gallinule, Fan Tailed Warbler and Little Ringed Plover.
We walked across the reedbeds and enjoyed Whinchat, Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Redstart and Bluethroat.  Our picnic lunch by another body of water was complimented by super views of the usually elusive Water Rail.  A Glossy Ibis flew over as did a Lapwing plus hundreds of Barn Swallows, in amongst which were a few Red Rumped Swallows.

As we continued the walk across the reserve, we had great views of Iberian Grey Shrike, and watched as the movements of Swifts, Sand Martins and Swallows continued.  We were fortunate enough to pick out a handful of Pallid Swifts in amongs them too.
The final stop at another lake provided a great ending to the day with super views of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Shelduck, Sandpiper, Greater Flamingo and Kingfisher.
The list for the day totalled 50 species.  We were all pretty tired and hot but had enjoyed a great day´s birding.  The complete list for the day comprised…
Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Herring Gull, Marsh Harrier, White Headed Duck, Black Winged Stilt, Little Egret, Shoveler, Black Headed Gull, Purple Gallinule, Fan Tailed Warbler, Grey Heron, Water Rail, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Whinchat, House Sparrow, Wheatear, Flamingo, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Redstart, magpie, Wood Pigeon, Glossy Ibis, Kestrel, Bluethroat, Stock Dove, Swift Swallow, Iberian Grey Shrike, Red Rumped Swallow, Palid Swift, Goldfinch, Hoopoe, Cattle Egret, Spotless Starling, Mallard, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sand Martin, Reed Warbler, Dunlin, Shelduck, Snipe, Pied Wagtail, Sandpiper, Collared Dove.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

 Albufera de Valencia is considered to be one of the premier wetlands in the whole of Europe and boasts a huge species list.  A lot of excellent conservation work is being done by some truly dedicated groups and each year the entire site improves.  However, for the visiting birder, it can be difficult to make the most of a visit without some local knowledge.  With that in mind, today´s visit was organised for a local birder who simply wanted to make the most of his time and to get to know the area a little more.
Our day started at the visitor centre where a new hide is under construction to compliment the existing one.  We were fortunate to be able to enjoy superbly close views of Avocets and Little Stints.  Up to 5 Marsh Harriers at a time were quartering the reed beds, whilst a handful of Greater Flamingoes snoozed in the morning sun.  Other highlights included Curlew Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover.
Having happily spent a couple of hours there, we decided to move on.  We visited a few local hot-spots before having coffee in a local bar.  Once refreshed, we spent the afternoon exploring the maze of paths and tracks that criss-cross the Albufera Natural Park, stopping off at a few favourite spots along the way.
During the afternoon we enjoyed superb views of Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, the 3 Egrets (Little, Cattle & Great White), Black Winged Stilt and Kingfisher.  We also had good views of an early Snipe and a rather late Collared Pratincole.
The highlight of the day occurred towards the end of the afternoon when 3 Pale Form Booted Eagles circled over us for over half an hour.  Drama unfolded as we noticed that one of the eagles seemed to be coming down in search of prey.  As we watched, it suddenly dived into an area of long grass beside an irrigation canal, and immediately reappeared with a juvenile moorhen grasped in its talons! Unfortunate for the poor moorhen but what a spectacular finale to a great day´s birding.

The species list for the day totalled 42….
Avocet, Black Headed Gull, Black Winged Stilt, Blackbird, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Cattle Egret, Collared Dove, Collared Pratincole, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Curlew Sandpiper, Fan Tailed Warbler, Flamingo, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Hoopoe, House Sparrow, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Purple Gallinule, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Sandwich Tern, Snipe, Spotless Starling, Squacco Heron, Swallow, Whiskered Tern.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The summer continued into September with cloudless blue skies and another beautifully warm day.  Even before we left the vehicle, we enjoyed magnificent views of over 20 White Storks passing through.  We set off to explore the wetlands, stopping off at the favourite points along the way.
The warm sunny day only added to the relaxed pace of the day but our efforts were truly rewarded with a species list of 42.  September can be a little strange as the summer visitors have started to disappear and many winter visitors have not yet arrived.  However, the trip proved to be superb, providing some of the best views of Spoonbill that we´d ever had.  The Greater Flamingoes, still in stunning breeding plumage were as ever spectacular.
Other highlights of the day included a Glossy Ibis, Avocets, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Marsh Harrier, Purple Gallinule, Marbled Duck and a Curlew Sandpiper.  At one point our patience was rewarded with one of those extra special birding moments when we had a Marbled Duck and a Purple Gallinule in the same bino view!
Other favourites of the day included hundreds of passing Bee Eaters, an Iberian Grey Shrike, Whinchat and Kingfisher.
Total list for the day was…
Avocet, Bee Eater, Black Winged Stilt, Coot, Common Sandpiper, Cormorant, Curlew Sandpiper, Fan Tailed Warbler, Glossy Ibis, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Great Egret, Green Sandpiper, House Sparrow, Hoopoe, Iberian Grey Shrike, Kestrel, Kentish Plover, Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Moorhen, Mallard, Magpie, Marbled Duck, Marsh Harrier, Pochard, Purple Gallinule, Pied Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Squacco Heron, Shoveler, Spoonbill, Swallow, Spotted Flycatcher, Stonechat, Spotless Starling, Whinchat, Wood Pigeon, White Stork.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Albacete in August

 We were very fortunate to select of of the coolest days of the month to visit several sites around Albacete. The day started with a somewhat bizarre sighting of a Little Owl sitting in the middle of a field in broad daylight.Despite August not been the best month for watching waders, we managed to find good numbers of Black Winged Stilt plus Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plovers and a Greenshank.
Our patience and searching rewarded us eventually with good views of Great Bustard out on the plains. Kestrels were out hunting in good numbers, and other raptor highlights included Booted Eagle and Buzzard.
Greater Flamingoes were present at a number of sites, as were large flocks of Bee Eaters.
Other sightings included Woodchat Shrike, Lapwing, Black Necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Red Legged Partridge and Crested Lark.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Death Valley

It was with a little trepidation that Dave and I decided to check out an area about 1 hours drive from La Drova that is home to a Griffon Vulture re-introduction project. Luckily the heat was bearable with a light breeze. Before we entered the valley we stopped for a coffee at one of the local bars and were witness to the antics of at least 6 Red Squirrels.

Red Squirrel

 As we entered the valley the site that we witnessed made us rename the valley (hence 'Death Valley') with at least 30 Griffon Vultures soaring above us.

Griffon Vulture
It wasn't long before we started to add more ticks to our trip list with Rock Pipit, Serin, Red-rumped Swallow and Whinchat. As we climbed higher into the valley we came across large numbers of Black Redstart and a few Blue Rock Thrush plus several Raven. Sardinian Warbler were another bird that seem to thrive in the area. Barn Swallow, Crag Martin and House Martin were numerous as were the Goldfinch. 

Dave found a single Linnet and we both spotted an Orphean Warbler (another good find for the day) Definitely a good mornings birdwatching and a return trip will be planned for the future.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Delta del Ebro - 1st July 2011

Another day exploring the East coast birding sites. This time, we spent a very hot day on the south side of the Ebro Delta. Despite the heat, there was plenty of bird activity, and within a couple of hours we managed a tick list of some 29 species.
The Greater Flamingoes were as ever spectacular in full breeding plumage. Other highlights of the day included Night Heron, Great Egret, Purple Gallinule, Little Bittern and Squacco Herons in huge numbers.

Coastal Wetlands of Castellon - 30th June 2011

This was largely an experimental trip as late June / July is never the best time for birding, but our efforts were rewarded by some good birds, for some of which we enjoyed excellent views. The weather was of course hot and humid, but before we retreated to a bar for a cold beer, we´d totted up a list of 26 species.
Highlights included Bee Eater, Audouin´s Gull, Ringed Plover, Collared Pratincole and superb views of a male Montagu´s Harrier.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Northern Valencian Wetlands

Sunday 8th May dawned bright with clear blue skies...something of a rarity in itself following the recent succession of wet weekends! We spent the day exploring various wetland sites along the coastline of Northern Valencia.

Most if not all summer visitors were well established. The tick list for the day totalled 47 species, a very satisfying achievement. Not only were we pleased with the variety of birds seen, but we were paticularly fortunate to enjoy superb views of almost every one.
Highlights included Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Gallinule, Spoonbill and White Headed Duck.
The entire list for the day comprised :
Avocet, Black Winged Stilt, Blackbird, Collared Pratincole, Coot, Cormorant, Corn Bunting, Dunlin, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, Goldfinch, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Yellow Legged Gull, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Hoopoe, Kestrel, House Sparrow, House Martin, Little Bittern, Little Ringed Plover, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Pied Flycatcher, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Purple Gallinule, Redshank, Shoveler, Spoonbill, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Common Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Turtle Dove, Great Reed Warbler, Fan Tailed Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, White Headed Duck.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wryneck's Galore

April saw the arrival of many summer visitors to La Drova including large numbers of Wryneck, some seen if you have the patience.
Nightingales can be heard right through the valley. A male and female Pied Flycatcher have been spotted again this year but cannot determine if they breed here (no sign of Spotted Flycatcher yet). A single Redstart was seen on 1st April and the first Woodchat Shrike on 10th April ). Red-Rumped Swallows have been seen collecting nest material which means they must be breeding in La Drova (good news).
Bee-eaters past overhead at high altitude on 15th April.
Golden Oriole have now arrived (first heard calling today 21st April in front of our Villa) with any luck they will be breeding again this year.
Our resident Tawny Owls are calling though the night only interrupted by the sound of  the Nightingale.
Still waiting for the song of the first Melodious Warbler.
Our species count for La Drova now stands at 54 for this year and 74 in total.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beniarres & Valle de Gallinera - April 6th 2011

Ian & Dave spent a half day around the Beniarres and Valle de Gallinera area. Beniarres provided the first Swifts of the year plus good views of Cirl Bunting, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat and at least 4 Blue Rock Thrush. Valle de Gallinera rewarded our efforts with Nightingale, and the highlight of the day - Golden Eagle. The list for the trip totalled 25, comprising... Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Magpie, Blackbird, Stonechat, Little Egret, Cirl Bunting, Goldfinch, Grey Heron, Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch, Blue Rock Thrush, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Serin, Great Tit, Nightingale, Golden Eagle, Chough, Kestrel.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Albufera de Valencia, March 26th 2011

We spent a few hours touring around various sites within the Albufera natural park. Although maybe a little early for some of the usual summer visitors, we managed to see a total of 19 species, including a few of particular interest. Superb and sustained views of a male Bluethroat was perhaps the most pleasant. List included : Black Winged Stilt, Bluethroat, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Garganey, Black Headed Gull, Yellow Legged Gull, Audouin´s Gull, Grey Heron, Hoopoe, House Sparrow, House Martin, Marsh Harrier, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Spotless Starling, Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper

Monday, March 7, 2011

In Search Of The Great Bustard

On March 7th Dave and I headed for Castilla La Mancha in search of, lifers for the both of us,The Great Bustard but hoping also to add a number of birds to our year lists. On our way to the Steppes and lagoons of Albacete we saw many Magpie and Carrion crow plus Red-legged partridge and at the first lagoon Shelduck Black headed Gull, Mistle Thrush, Lapwing and Hoopoe. At the second lagoon we found Greater Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Coot, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Avacet, Spotted Starling, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Little ringed Plover.
Our next stop was the cereal fields amongst the Wind Farms producing at least 22 Great Bustards which we watched for a while before they all took flight. The background image for the Blog is a photo of the Bustards in flight.
Heading back to Valencia we stopped at 2 more lagoons and found Water Pipit, Snipe, Swallow, Rock Sparrow, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Shoveler, Common Teal and a Buzzard plus on one lagoon hundreds of Lesser Flamingo.