Monday, October 22, 2012

Birding at the Valencian Coastal Wetlands

On 16th October Dave enjoyed a day of guided birding with a couple of clients from Canada. Ingo and Kiran were keen to see the classic species of the Valencian coastal wetlands. Having met them at their hotel in the city centre we made the short journey to the natural park of Albufera de Valencia.

Scanning the rice fields at Albufera de Valencia

The first bird of the day was a Sandwich Tern perched on a pole on the main Albufera Lake. We then headed for one of the reserves where we had superb views of Marsh Harrier, and interestingly noted flocks of European Starlings arriving for the winter. Wildfowl included Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Pintail and Shelduck.

The local Spotless Starlings are joined by thousands of European Starlings that spend the winter months in the Valencia region.

We enjoyed an all too brief view of a flock of Spoonbill passing overhead before returning to the van. Further exploration of Albufera gave views of Iberian Grey Shrike, Kingfisher, Black Winged Stilt, and Booted Eagle.

Audouin´s Gull
We then headed a little further north to visit another wetland site where we were fortunate enough to enjoy close views of three of the classic albeit rare species of the area – White Headed Duck, Purple Gallinule and Audouin´s Gull. We took a short walk along the coast and had views of Whinchat, Crested Lark and another Iberian Grey Shrike.

White Headed Duck
The day ended with a visit to a local lagoon where, with the sun already low in the sky we enjoyed the peace of a beautiful Mediterranean evening. We finished the trip with some stunning views of Marsh Harriers flying low over the reeds and shoreline of the lagoon. We´d had a great day and Ingo and Kiran had enjoyed some great views of some of the area´s key species.
The list for the day included :
Audouin´s Gull, Black Headed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Cormorant, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Iberian Grey Shrike, Gadwall, Mallard, Pintail, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, White Headed Duck, Little Grebe, Coot, Black Winged Stilt, Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, House Sparrow, European Starling, Spotless Starling, Blackcap, Crested Lark, Stonechat, Whinchat, Kingfisher, Swallow, Wood Pigeon

Monday, October 15, 2012

Guided Bird Watching on the Steppe of Castilla de la Mancha

On 11th October Dave had the pleasure of providing a guided bird watching trip for a couple from Ringwood, UK.  They were staying in Valencia and wanted a day´s birding as part of their holiday.  Both very experienced birders they had been visiting Spain for many years and had travelled throughout the world on other birding expeditions.
They had specifically requested a day out on the steppe to see the distinct bird life this unique habitat holds.  Unfortunately, conditions were not ideal as the water levels in the area´s lagoons were very low, and coupled with a strong wind, this meant that we had to work hard in order to find the birds.

Steppe of Castilla de la Mancha

Our first stopping point gave views of Skylark, Crested Lark and Wheatear.  There wasn´t much flying thanks to the stiff breeze so we headed off to spend some time beside a lake.  There we enjoyed views of Teal, Greater Flamingo and Marsh Harrier.  By now it was becoming clear that conditions were against us so we decided upon a strategy of driving across the high steppe and making periodic stops to scan the vast landscape.  After a quiet start, things suddenly improved and our efforts were rewarded with views of a flock of Little Bustard closely followed by a flock of Golden Plover.  As we stood out on the steppe, we saw many more Wheatear then a sizeable flock of Calandra Lark.

A visit to another of the region´s lagoons gave much better views of Greater Flamingo plus Spotted Redshank, Black Winged Stilt and Black-Necked Grebe.

Great Bustards
The day was drawing to a close so we headed back to one of the local villages for a coffee prior to the drive back to Valencia.  We were pleased with the day but had failed to see one of the region´s iconic species – the Great Bustard.  As we drove along the arrow-straight road, we finally found them in fields quite close-by.  First a small group of three males then as we scanned the surroundings we counted over fourteen of these impressive and majestic birds.  We stood by the road for a good fifteen minutes enjoying great views.
Our day was brought to a close with a view of an Iberian Grey Shrike.
Iberian Grey Shrike

Although conditions were poor and the day got off to a slow start, Graham and Sue had enjoyed the trip.  It had been a pleasure for me to spend the day with them.

Skylark, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Magpie, Crow, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Iberian Grey Shrike, Wheatear, Spotless Starling, Green Woodpecker, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Golden Plover, Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Coot, Black Necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Black Winged Stilt, Spotted Redshank

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

Guided Bird Watching in Valencia

On 10th October we provided a guided bird watching trip for a couple from Berkshire. Both keen nature lovers, David and Elizabeth were staying in Valencia as part of a trip around Spain. They had requested a tour of Albufera, as they wanted to see some of the classic wetland species of Valencia. As they were only here for a short while, we combined Albufera with another local wetland with the aim of improving our chances of spotting some of the target birds.

Albufera de Valencia
We began the day with a visit to one of the reserves within the natural park of Albufera de Valencia where we had great close-up views of Marsh Harrier and Purple Gallinule. Wildfowl included Mallard, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard and Shoveler.

Purple Gallinule
Later, we enjoyed good views of Greater Flamingo and Yellow Legged Gull before one of the highlights of the day – superbly clear views of a pale morph Booted Eagle which kindly circled above us for long enough for us to take in the beautiful tones of this stunning raptor.

Booted Eagle
We then headed a little further along the coast where we saw the very rare White Headed Duck, and had surprisingly long lasting views of a Water Rail. Passage birds included Swallow, Sub-Alpine Warbler, Whinchat and Wheatear.

We ended the day back at Albufera where we spent some time focusing on the key ID features of Great Egret, Cattle Egret and Little Egret. We had further views of Marsh Harrier before finishing the day with close views of Snipe and Kingfisher.

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