Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bird Watching in Valencia.

On Wednesday 18th April, Dave and I spent a day bird watching in Valencia with a group of 7 birders.  The Valencian Coastal Wetlands are superb throughout the year, but are especially so in Spring when the breeding season is upon us.

There was a cool breeze as we set out along the coastal path towards the first lagoon, and this seemed to be keeping most of the smaller birds down in the reeds.  However, we soon had good views of White Headed Duck, Great Crested Grebe, and Red Crested Pochard.  We also enjoyed views of Great Reed Warbler and Fan Tailed Warbler.
A further stroll along the coast provided great views of a beautiful Collared Pratincole, it´s delicate facial markings showing clearly in the sunlight.

Collared Pratincole

Our next stopping point gave super views of Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and Curlew Sandpiper.  As we continued our walk we could hear the iconic song of a Corn Bunting and soon found it sitting in the top of a nearby tree.  As we progressed through the reed beds we could pick out the calls of Cetti´s Warbler, Savi´s Warbler and more Great Reed Warblers.  Our patience was eventually rewarded by views of all three.

Glossy Ibis
A Water Rail suddenly ran across the track in front of us and was then followed by a Wood Sandpiper.  We were then treated to another unexpected surprise as a White Stork flew overhead.
The return leg of our walk was in beautiful afternoon sunshine and provided views of Common Sandpiper, Crested Lark, Glossy Ibis, Shoveler and Gadwall.  As we scanned over the last lagoon of the day, there was yet another surprise in store – this time in the form of a lone Barnacle Goose!

No matter how many times I visit the Valencian Coastal Wetlands there´s always something new and unexpected.  We´d all had a great day out and had been fortunate enough to see some superb birds, including a number of lifetime firsts for many in the group.
The species list included…
Avocet, Barnacle Goose, Black Headed Gull, Black Winged Stilt, Booted Eagle, Cattle Egret, Chiffchaff, Collared Dove, Collared Pratincole, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Coot, Cormorant, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Curlew Sandpiper, Gadwall , Glossy Ibis, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Hoopoe, House Martin, House Sparrow, Kentish Plover, Kestrel, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Little Tern, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Pochard, Purple Heron, Red Crested Pochard, Redshank, SavĂ­s Warbler, Serin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Water Rail, Whiskered Tern, White Headed Duck, White Stork, Wood Pigeon, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Legged Gull, Yellow Wagtail

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beginners´Bird Watching Trip to Albufera de Valencia

Having provided a number of Guided Bird Watching Trips for local birders here in Valencia, Dave was asked by a group of ladies to arrange a beginners´trip so they could introduce some of their friends to this wonderful hobby.
Having provided a summary of our plans for the day, we drove to the Natural Park of Albufera de Valencia.  After a brief introduction on the use of binoculars and telescope we discussed the species that we were likely to see.  As the group largely comprised beginners, we opted not to maximise the species list but to simply enjoy good views and focus on key identification of the classic Albufera bird species.  The group quickly began to work well together, with some of the more experienced birders assisting the others.

The day got off to a super start as we were lucky enough to see a Night Heron flying alongside a reedbed.  We then spent a little time differentiating and enjoying superb views of Cattle Egret, Little Egret and Great White Egret.
Black Winged Stilt

As we walked through an area of reeds and lagoons we had good views of Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Black Winged Stilt and Gull Billed Tern.
After a very interesting presentation kindly given by one of the ever-helpful reserve managers, we walked back through the wetland from where we watched Marsh Harrier, Purple Gallinule and Greater Flamingo.

Flamingoes in flight

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sun then drove to one of the local fishing villages for coffee before setting off to drive across the south side of the Natural Park.
We ended the day with a visit to a relatively new reserve to see if anything was around.  It proved to be a lovely ending to the trip as we were fortunate to enjoy superb views of up to 6 Squacco Herons.

Squacco Heron
We´d enjoyed a great day out and hopefully had inspired some new birding recruits!
Species seen included….Grey Heron, Night Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Purple Gallinule, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black Winged Stilt, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Cetti´s Warbler, Fan Tailed Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Spotless Starling, Cormorant, Magpie, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Booted Eagle, Gull Billed Tern, Black Headed Gull

Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.

Guided Bird Watching in Valencia

On Easter Sunday Dave provided a guided bird watching trip to the Valencian Coastal Wetlands for a lovely couple from Essex, UK. Experienced travellers and naturalists they were spending the long weekend in the city of Valencia and chose to make a guided bird watching trip a part of their holiday plans.
Having collected them from their hotel in the city centre, we made our way to the coastal wetlands, parked the van and after a brief introductory discussion, made our way along the dunes.  We were soon enjoying good views Glossy Ibis, Marsh Harrier and Reed Warbler.
The first lagoon provided superb views of White Headed Duck, Red Crested Pochard and Flamingo.  As we walked along the dunes we also had good views of Yellow Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Corn Bunting and Fan Tailed Warbler.  Other local specialities included Audouin´s Gull, Whiskered Tern and Purple Heron.

Yellow Wagtail

Our next stopping point was a smaller coastal lagoon and that gave good, close views of Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and the beautifully marked Collared Pratincole.

Collared Pratincole

After a relaxed picnic lunch in the spring sunshine we continued our walk and were soon enjoying good views of a Squacco Heron.  A Booted Eagle put in a brief appearance as did a Hoopoe and Cetti´s Warbler.  Our final stopping point provided good views of Gadwall, Pintail and a Purple Gallinule. We arrived back at the van in beautiful Mediterranean evening sunlight having enjoyed a relaxed and fun day out. It´s always a pleasure to provide trips for such lovely people.

Our species list for the day included…
Swallow, Coot, Mallard, Glossy Ibis, Common Tern, Marsh Harrier, Reed Warbler, Red Crested Pochard, White Headed Duck, Whiskered Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Shoveler, Collared Pratincole, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Yellow Legged Gull, Purple Heron, Chiffchaff, Flamingo, Audouin´s Gull, Purple Gallinule, Little Egret, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Black Winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Redshank, House Sparrow, Black Headed Gull, Fan Tailed Warbler, Avocet, Magpie, House Martin, Grey Heron, Sardinian Warbler, Squacco Heron, Kestrel, Cetti´s Warbler, Wood Pigeon, Stonechat, Booted Eagle, Hoopoe, Song Thrush, Pintail, Gadwall, Spotless Starling, Little Ringed Plover.

Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bird Watching in Valencia

On Sunday 15th April Dave spent a very enjoyable day with a lady from Austria who was visiting the area and wanted a day of guided bird watching in Valencia.  Having met her at her accommodation in the city centre, we made the short journey to the Valencian Coastal Wetlands.  This area is superb at any time of year but is especially interesting in April as summer visitors are arriving and migrants are passing through.

We set off along the coast, scanning the reeds for warblers.  A stiff breeze seemed to be keeping the smaller birds down but we did enjoy spectacular views of Swallows and Swifts swooping and diving as they hoovered up a swarm of mosquitos.  The first lagoon provided excellent views of the very rare White Headed Duck together with Red Crested Pochard, Yellow Wagtail and Greater Flamingo.  We then heard the distinctive call of a Great Reed Warbler so began our search which within a few minutes revealed this bold and charismatic bird sitting up in the reeds.

White Headed Duck

We continued our walk along the coast where a few bushes were holding a small flock of passing Willow Warblers.  We heard the “reeling” call of a Savi´s Warbler and were once again fortunate enough to locate it, sitting in classic style in the reeds.  The next lagoon held a rather noisy flock of Common Terns, in amongst we found a few Little Terns and Kentish Plovers.  As we waited and watched, we also found a Wood Sandpiper, Redshank and Little Ringed Plover.
We then began our walk through more reed beds and then out into open fields from which we enjoyed good views of Whinchat, Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike and Marsh Harrier.  We ate our sandwiches as we looked over another lake, this time enjoying views of Avocet, Glossy Ibis, Curlew Sandpiper and good numbers of Little Grebe.


Our return route provided great views of Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting, Hoopoe, Great Crested Grebe and Black Winged Stilt.  We also saw a Squacco Heron albeit very briefly.
The day ended with a scan over the last lagoon on which we enjoyed beautiful views of more Red Crested Pochard, Flamingo, and Pintail.
We´d had a great day´s birding so enjoyed a coffee in the early evening sunshine before making the short drive back to Valencia.
The day´s species list included…
Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, White Headed Duck, Shoveler, Shelduck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Pintail, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern, Black Headed Gull, Yellow Legged Gull, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Savvi´s Warbler, Cetti´s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Fan Tailed Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Black Winged Stilt, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, House Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike, Kingfisher, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Hoopoe, Goldfinch

Written by David Warrington.

Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring in La Drova

Although we have been through a cold snap the summer visitors have begun to arrive and the Winter visitors departing ie Thrushes, Black Redstarts, Rock Bunting, Northern Starlings etc. With their departure we have seen the arrival of Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Bee Eater, Swift, House Martin, and Nightingale plus the song of Golden Oriole and the call of a lone Cuckoo plus good views of a single Redstart which stayed for  a day.

Nightingale in full song

Wryneck have been around for a couple of weeks and call regularly in the early morning. The Serin are now in full song as are the Blackcap and Goldfinch.

Our local ponds are full of carp and goldfish which makes a perfect larder for the local heron.

Grey Heron

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bird Watching Trip to Castilla de la Mancha

On Tuesday 3rd April, we arranged a guided bird watching trip to Castilla de la Mancha for a group of 7 people.  The weather forecast was for sunshine and showers and as we arrived at our first viewing point, atop a small hill overlooking the plains, there was a cool wind blowing.  Despite this we were treated to immediate views of what was the target bird for many of the group, the Great Bustard.

Great Bustard

Skylarks were singing in the fields and a Kestrel battled to hover in the wind. Having enjoyed the Great Bustards we set out across the plains to our next viewing point where we enjoyed superb views of Calandra Lark, Skylark and Crested Lark. We also found more Great Bustards roaming across the steppe.
After a welcome coffee break at a village bar, we stopped at our first lagoon where we had views of Black Winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Gadwall, Shelduck and Flamingoes.

Little Ringed Plover

The next lagoon held more Flamingoes, Red Crested Pochard, and one of the day´s highlights the White Headed Duck. As we watched the lagoon we were also enjoyed sudden views of a pair of Hen Harriers, Marsh Harrier and Buzzard.

White headed Duck

We then drove out across the steppe on rough tracks, from which we saw Corn Bunting, more Calandra Larks, over 30 Great Bustard and what was for some the highlight of the day, a Great Spotted Cuckoo.

It´s there somewhere!!

As late afternoon approached we stopped at the final lagoon of the day where we had great views of Avocet, Ruff, Redshank, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Gull-Billed Tern and more Flamingoes.

Great Spotted Cuckoo

The weather had been very kind to us, with maybe only 10 minutes of light drizzle. We´d seen some superb birds, including some lifetime firsts for many in the group. Having classified the Peacock that one of us spotted at a farm as “not recordable”! we´d seen 48 species. A great day, lovely people, and some beautiful bird life.

The species list comprised…
Great Bustard, Red Legged Partridge, Lapwing, Black Winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Ruff, Avocet, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Common Tern, Gull Billed Tern, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Mallard, Shelduck, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Coot, White Headed Duck, Calandra Lark, Skylark, Crested Lark, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Spotless Starling, Swallow, House Martin, Crow, Magpie, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Iberian Grey Shrike, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guided Bird Watching in Valencia

On Saturday 31st March, we provided a day of Guided Bird Watching to the Coastal Wetlands of Valencia. Our group of 6 people started the day with a coffee by the beach during which we discussed the target birds for the day.
The plan for the day was to complete a circular walk of 7km, stopping at various observation points and hides.  The weather was superb as we made our way to the first reedbed and lagoon.  There are days when things immediately get off to a good start and today was fortunately one such day!  Within minutes of our arrival we were watching 5 White Headed Ducks, right in front of us on open water.  They were joined by Flamingo, Red Crested Pochard, Shoveler, Common Pochard and Coots.  Common Terns were calling noisily overhead whilst the reedbeds held Reed Bunting, Moustached Warbler and Stonechat.

White-headed Duck

The next lagoon on our route held further delights in the form of Collared Pratincole, Black Winged Stilt, Purple Gallinule, Redshank, Greenshank, Garganey, Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plover.  The bushes and trees in the surrounding fields provided good views of Corn Bunting, Fan Tailed Warbler and Sub-Alpine Warbler.  By now, Marsh Harriers were making regular passes, usually causing chaos amongst the Whiskered Terns.

Black-winged Stilt

As we made our way through the wetlands, we were fortunate enough to enjoy superb views of a pair of Iberian Grey Shrike, Kestrel and a Whinchat.  The next lagoon held Avocet, Squacco Heron plus more Collared Pratincoles and Purple Gallinule.  Having enjoyed a picnic lunch and a lazy half hour in the Spring sunshine, we started back along our return route which passed through reedbeds and pasture.  Our efforts were rewarded with good views of a Little Owl, Booted Eagle, Purple Heron and Blackcap.
The final lagoon of the day gave views of a Coot feeding its young, plus good views of Gadwall. As we were about to depart, a flock of Glossy Ibis passed over.  The day had a final treat in store in the form of a Redstart that settled on the path in front of us.

Little Owl

We´d all had a superb day and enjoyed great views of some very special birds. Although I always put quality views high above numbers, we´d managed 65 species in the day, more importantly including a number of “life firsts” for most of the group.  Before getting back into the van for the journey home, we enjoyed another coffee and looked out across the Mediterranean, the gentle but fading evening light peacefully bringing a wonderful day to a close.

Booted Eagle

Species for the day comprised…
Black Headed Gull, Black Tern, Black Winged Stilt, Blackcap, Booted Eagle, Chiffchaff, Collared Dove, Collared Pratincole, Common Tern, Coot, Cormorant, Corn Bunting, Fan Tailed Warbler, Flamingo, Gadwall, Garganey, Glossy Ibis, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Hoopoe, House Martin, House Sparrow, Iberian Grey Shrike, Kentish Plover, Kestrel, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Grebe, Little Owl, Little Ringed Plover, Litttle Egret, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Moustached Warbler, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Purple Gallinule, Purple Heron, Red Crested Pochard, Redshank, Redstart, Reed Bunting, Robin, Serin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Song Thrush, Spotless Starling, Squacco Heron, Stonechat, Sub Alpine Warbler, Swallow, Swift, Whinchat, Whiskered Tern, White Headed Duck, Wood Pigeon, Yellow Legged Gull

Glossy Ibis

Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.