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.