La Safor Birders are a small group of Birdwatchers based in the mountain village of La Drova in the La Safor region of the Valencian Community. The key members have a long experience of birding both here in Spain, the UK and elsewhere. The purpose of the blog is to provide a forum for recording species seen throughout the year in La Drova whilst also acting as a base upon which to record specific birding trips throughout our local area.
I was recently fortunate enough to provide a day of guided birding for a couple from Germany. Although now living in western Germany, Rebecca was born in my home town of Sheffield so it was good to talk of adventures in the Peak District!
As part of their holiday in Spain, they had booked a day of guided birding with us, and we´d opted for a trip to Albufera. In September, it´s always really interesting as the autumn migration is underway and Albufera is an important stopping and feeding area.
We began the day at a special little reserve where we were treated to views of Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Purple Heron and Night Heron.
We also visited a ringing station where we watched the ringers at work, recording the data of a Reed Warbler and a Bluethroat.
The afternoon was spent in amongst some partially flooded rice paddies where we had great views of some super waders including Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Ruff.
Little Egrets and Glossy Ibis
As we were thinking of wrapping up for the day, a bright yellow flash caught our eye. Close examination revealed it to be an invasive species….a Black Headed Weaver! This African species is now present in small numbers in Spain and Portugal, and sadly represents a threat to some native species. There have been other recent sightings of Black Headed Weaver in Valencia, and although it really is a stunning bird, its presence is not always welcome. However, it did provide an interesting end to a great day´s birding!
Earlier this month I enjoyed a super day´s birding with a couple of clients from UK. Brian and Sally are keen nature lovers and experienced birders, and were spending a few days in Valencia. They had previously contacted us and we´d arranged a bird watching trip to Albufera de Valencia as part of their break.
After I´d collected them from their apartment in central Valencia, we made the short journey to Albufera where our first stop was in a protected reserve area. The reed beds, lagoons, canals and marshes of this reserve provide excellent habitat for an array of bird species throughout the year. Today was no exception, and we were fortunate enough to enjoy views of Purple Heron, Night Heron, Squacco Heron and Great Egret.
September is always a fascinating month, as some of the summer visitors are still present, whilst some winter visitors are just beginning to arrive. Furthermore, many species that are on passage stop at Albufera to feed and rest. One such species is the Osprey, and we were treated to views of this superb raptor.
The reeds held Fan-tailed Warbler, Reed Warbler and Chiffchaff whilst a scan across one of the lagoons revealed Whiskered Tern, Sandwich Tern and the ever popular Purple Swamphen.
After a presentation on the history and ecology of the Albufera Natural Park, and the habitat management of the reserve, we moved on to a shady spot beside a canal where we enjoyed our lunch. The nearby shrubs gave views of a Pied Flycatcher.
We spent the afternoon visiting some of the lesser known “hotspots” amongst the rice fields, which by now are just ready for harvesting. We enjoyed great views of many waders, including Dunlin, Little Stint, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Kentish Plover and Avocet. We also had fabulous views of Collared Pratincole, that we seemingly gathering in readiness for migration.
Little Ringed Plover
The day was brought to an end with a fantastic view of a pair of Booted Eagles soaring over the rice fields. These wonderful birds of prey breed in the mountains close to Valencia but often fly down to the coastal wetlands in search of prey.
It had been a great day of birding, with extremely good company and some classic Albufera species.