Monday, February 11



Hi there to everyone who follows my blog.
 Just letting you all know that I've just return from Gambia with the Bargain Birding Bird Club.
 An 8 Day Action packed non stop Bird Tour.

Yellow billed Kite
 
 Photos and blog coming as soon as I get time.
  below the stats
 136 GB of memory used
7,015 photos taken
over 200 species seen 
looks like fun getting through it
 
A very small taste of Gambia
 
Klaas's Cuckoo
 
Bargain Birding Bird Club
 a short Review
 
Black shoulder Kite
 
Gambia
5th - 12th Feb 2019
 
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
  
Well where do I start
I have to admit I know Richard Hanman very well. (and he is one of my close birding friends and managing director of  BBC)  I have co-lead and also been part of the groups / assisted the visits to Spain, and Portugal, and International destination's.  Don't get me wrong its not for the faint hearted. It can be dawn till dusk birding but that is really up to you, if you fancy a chill out day with rest and relaxation by the hotel swimming pool its no problem,
  But what you DO get is BIRDS.
 And birds in abundance and not just a glimpse of distant tree top birds or the back end of a bird disappearing from view, Its up front and in your face, you really do get up close without disturbing them, see my photos.

Laughing Dove

 With a comprehensive list of local guides and spotters who are connected to each other they research the areas before your visit, you get see the most difficult birds on your list easily,
 without these connections it would be almost impossible to view these hard to see birds, 
I have no hesitation in recommending any of the Bargain Birding Bird Club Trips.
"it does, exactly what it says on the tin
BARGAIN BIRDING  
see link below
"http://www.bargainbirdingclub.com/

have a great day
cheers Bryan
 
 
 

Tuesday, January 29

Clot de Galvany


  
Just a very quick up date about the Clot de Galvany over the last few weeks there's been some major works carried out at both hides. Encroaching reed beds have been cleared and also the breeding Islands have now been exposed and cleaned up and some new resting post erected, it all looks good and probably the best that I've see it for quite a few years, shame it not groomed a bit more often, but that could be down to resources.


Of course there's been major disruption for many of the wintering wild fowl and resident birds, and things are only just starting to settle down again.


  All there usual suspect are there but there is one new arrive of a Pintail which is well worth a look.


I'll be keeping more of a eye on the Clot as it looks perfect for a rare / scarce bird to visit, and with spring just around the corner who knows what could turn up


About the Clot de Galvany
This wetland forms part of the series of ponds in the Elche area of Balsares and it is connected to the sand dunes and pine forests of Carabassí. It is a perfect example of the coastal marsh lands which urban development has put in danger. The Clot de Galvany was seriously damaged at the end of the 1970s, when it was subjected to works of drainage and land movement which altered its physiognomy. A property developer intended to drain a natural wetland to create… an artificial lake! Public pressure saved it from destruction and Elche City Council took charge of its recovery and protection, designating it as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


In the area of Clot de Galvany there is an interesting grassland formation, predominantly of albardine and sea lavender. Certain types of rushes provide a fringe to the thickets, which are typical of the salt marsh, and which occupy most of the land around the ponds


Surrounding the various bodies of water, the salt cedars give way to marsh vegetation, predominantly reeds, and aquatic vegetation, with a significant presence of sea grass and potamogeton.

Old cultivation terraces are still visible, where pasture land of grasses dotted with inula and marine bufalaga, together with carob and olive trees.


Around this wetland there is a series of seamounts and knolls largely populated with Aleppo pines, and with the presence of espinar alicantino, a local type of hawthorn and a true representative of native vegetation. Among the most distinctive species are some interesting examples of black hawthorn, lentiscus, ephedra and palmetto.
On these knolls, where two bunkers from the civil war still remain, aromatic thickets typical of the Elche seamounts are also present, with well known species such as Arabian lavender, thyme, rosemary and lavender. It is also possible to spot two types of the five wild orchids present in the Autonomous Valencian Region, a indication of the importance of this unique botanical wetland of Elche.

Have a great day

Cheers Bryan

Monday, January 21

Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse



Id not planed to get up and photograph this event but I was awake around 4 pm. I took a look out the window at the Moon thinking it was going to be cloudy and to my surprise it was clear as a bell.  So I decided to give it a go.  I quickly got the camera gear organised and my sturdy Gitzo tripod ready. And set about recording the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse.  The 1st part of getting the partial lunar eclipse images was easy, but at full eclipse it became much more difficult as I had to manual focus the lens which is not that simple as seams, as you have to allowing for the atmosphere and also my close vision is not that good. The full eclipse began at 0540
  







And so after an one an a half hours freezing, Id had enough, not really happy about the last image could do better maybe I'll try again tonight if its clear.


 As you can see it wasn't clear but nice and colourful sun set



Cheers Bryan.

Sunday, January 20

Brown Necked Raven Cabo de Palos.

We intended to go inland this morning, but with cool temperatures, some cloud and a possibility of rain it was likely not to be a good decision.  In the end the decision was easy as a Brown Necked Raven was reported at Cabo de Palos on the Rare Birds in Spain web site.


On Saturday 19th the three of us met at San Pedro Del Pinatar.  The Salinas have not contained much in previous visits.  Today was not exceptional with Turnstones on the beach, the usual Yellow Legged Gulls, but not a wader in sight from the main carpark.  Three Linnets perched on a fence and the odd Stonechats perched  up.  We quickly moved on and the lagoons showed very little.  We managed one lone Ruff, but in excellent condition.  Thirty nine Black Tailed Godwits were in the distance as well as a large raft of Black necked Grebe, Avocets were easily seen.

 
The bridge over the canal next to the small car park was where we viewed a close-by Spotted Redshank, with two Redshanks in the distance.


 A Little Egret showed well in it’s summer plumage.


 Chiffs were very active feeding, a Grey Wagtail flitted across the canal and a Kingfisher flashed down the channel.  Not much return from this expanse of water.


 We did not spend any more time here and travelled straight to Cabo de Palos. 

 


We walked into the area around the lighthouse and then our target bird flew over and around us, within a few minute of arriving.  We watched it fly over several times before it perched on the rim of a building within meters of the car park.  It stayed for many minutes.  We watched it, heard it calling and i was luck to get few more photographs.



  The call is ‘crow-like’ and not the distinctive cronk of the larger Raven.  This one is smaller with non of the obvious throat feathers and a thinner bill.  The brown plumage is fairly obvious. We were happy and this was johns second tick in five days.


  Out to sea, Gannets flew,  and three Iberian Shag were on the water.  Monk Parakeets were in the palms and lots of Collard Doves in lighthouse area also Common Kestrel.




 
The old Salinas adjacent to Cabo de Palos now contains water.  There was a mixture of Gulls, with most being Auduoin’s.


  It was pleasing to see about hundred Golden Plover, a few Black Winged Stilt, Greenshank,  Redshank,  Sardinian Warblers flew in and around the bushes. On the way out there were seven Spoonbills sifting through the water.  It is always good to end on a good sighting and they rounded off our day very nicely.

 
Yes, we did the mileage and it was worth it.  The African Raven adding to our day.  Three very good days out and Trev’s total for trip (updated)  was a respectable 110

On a dull Sunday morning and with rain forecast Trev and i had a quick run around the Salinas at Santa Pola  and to the mouth of the  Guardamar del Segura,  hoping to add a few more ticks for Trev bird list, and so at the Standing Stone Stone's lay by at the Salinas we added Grey Plover, Sandwich Tern, Dublin, and at the  Guardamar del Segura, Black headed Gull, Razorbill, Sanderling,  

 
Have a great day

Thank for visiting

Cheers Bryan






Friday, January 18

Another day Inland in Great Bustard Country



Thursday 17th was less favorable to us, compared with last Tuesday, and when we arrived in Corral Rubio the temperature was only 3 degrees with a cold wind.  We took a different approach to how we worked this area and making Higueruela our last stop of the day.  Our other main points of interest are the areas around Bonete, Corral Rubio and Petrola and this is how we progressed our journey.  We know this area well and we have had successful visits many times. We have seen Little Bustards here before and this species, together with Bramblings, were two of our possible targets.
Turning from A31 at Bonete we saw over one hundred birds perched on the cables between pylons on the approach to the local cemetery.  These were a number of Linnets, Rock Sparrows with some Starlings.


A little later we were able to watch, close by, several Lapwings and were able to appreciate fully this beautiful bird.  Areas of small bushes always yield something and there were Stonechats, Black Redstarts, the odd Southern Grey Strike, a Sardinian Warbler and a male Dartford Warbler.
Small birds apart, we were soon viewing nineteen Great Bustards at a reasonable distance.  It was easy to distinguish the larger male birds and the not so big females and Juveniles.  We always enjoy seeing them and as we traversed the caminos we had other great views too.  Later on we saw three strung out groups of 53 Great Bustards and our total for the day was 72.


In past years, wet areas with adequate lagoons, have provided us with waders and ducks.  We know from our recent visits that previously wet areas do not exist.  There has been a lack of rain for the last few winter and it is dry there  It is no good banging on about it as that is the way it is.
Lagunas de Petrola was almost devoid of wildlife as reported in previous blogs. 2 Shelduck and a few Yellow legged Gulls were all there is to report, Not one Greater Flamingo or any other Duck.
The signs are not good in this area for this spring migration, as it is a main stopping in off / refueling place for the migrating birds, they maybe in trouble this year?

 Higueruela was cold and grey and yielded Mistle Thrush and two Tree Creepers.  That's not a good return, but that is what we found.


We always prefer to finish on a positive note and what we saw was wonderful.  Those Great Bustards, are just that, great!  Raptor wise it was left to several Common Buzzards and over a dozen Marsh Harriers and Kestrels.


 On a grey and chilly afternoon we headed for home feeling still optimistic about future visits.  It's a massive area to drive through and around and there is always something good to see.
Cheers Bryan

Wednesday, January 16

Saladares De Guadalentin and Sierra Espuñsa

    An unexpected journey

I hadn't planned to go there, but as John had never seen Ring Ouzel in Spain and we fail to see the Thrush on our two visit in 2018 to Sierra Espuña, now with Trevor here on a birding visit it made no sense not to try again.

 The Birding Buddies (minus one) of Birding Costa Blanca were out early on Tuesday 15th and  meeting on the AP7 at Santamera before investigating for one more time the Saladares de Guadalentin.  For those that have never visited this expansive flat area of agriculture/horticulture and ‘resting’ areas of the uncultivated parts it is huge.  There were people working here, but the birds don’t seem to mind.  Solitary individuals were organizing the flow of water as fields were being irrigated.




It can be a frustrating place for any birder, but today our efforts paid us back as the eagle eyed searched and listened.  Spectacled Warblers are resident here and they popped up and disappeared on several occasions. 

 We took our time and on a sunny unkempt corner there was a lot of activity.  A few obvious Cattle Egrets fed, but our attention was drawn to the number of small birds flying around and returning to feed.  We were checking the field out and among House Sparrows were two Spanish Sparrows.  These birds were not easy to spot amongst all the activity, and a bit distant for the camera with a little heat diffraction, but all three of us got onto them. I managed a few record shots proved it.  It was a ‘tick’ for us in this location.
Goldfinches and Greenfinches in good colour showed well.  White Wagtails were everywhere and we saw the occasional Black Redstarts, Chiffs with Crested Larks and Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipits calling and flying around.  Calandra Larks were heard, but we know where to see them elsewhere.  Skylarks were evident, their calls were all round us and watch them feeding in the stony furrowed fields  

 We were pleased and it proves that it is not good to be negative about an area as any area can have a bad day.

By that time we had seen a pale morph Booted Eagle, a Common Buzzard and a distant Marsh Harrier.  Both species of Bustard have been seen before, but not today.  Then three Sandgrouse were seen to drop into a field and then flushed again and circled closely around us.  It the best close fly past of  Black Bellied Sandgrouse, I've ever had ! shame I didn't have the camera ready John called another two and watch them fly past, and drop into small field close to us. joining a few others on the ground  It was our great to see Black Bellied Sandgrouse calmly feeding, showing their iridescent plumage.

This morning we covered less area than we normally do and with such good sightings there was no hurry to move on.  However, we wanted to be up in Sierra Espuñas for our target bird.  This was john third attempt at seeing Ring Ouzels with the two previous efforts being too late or two early.  On the way up we usually see Golden Eagles and we did and then during the afternoon we had five different sightings with at least two different birds. 


We parked and headed up to the area of ruins that were used to store ice.  There is a water source there and once we were able to see the small enclosure there they were.
  A first for John and if anyone is going to see these birds this has to be the best way of doing it.  In the rose bushes I counted into double figures as they perched, flew away to return a little later.  The white fronts of the males showed well and so did the bronzy/browner plumage of the female and younger birds.

 On our arrival here John and Trevor  set the scopes up before I walked down to get some photos.  There was one Cirl Bunting, two Redwings, also a Song Thrush showing.
 Goldfinches and Great Tit, Mistle Thrush, Robin and a Blackbird also present .  The Ouzels were flying in and out of the pines and there calls were unmistakable.


This is a terrific place set up high in the mountains with ranges and peaks around us.  Today it was perfect.  We were in full sun and only a breeze.  We could feel the chill in the air, but this is January!  What a setting!  And we had three more brief views of Golden Eagles.


At Mirador del Collado Bermejo, on the way back down we stopped at the view point where there is a water source.  And to finish off our birding day we had close views of both female and male Crossbills and a Cole Tit and Crested Tit  obliged too.







What a great day it was and to add to it we saw groups of Mouflon during the ascent and on our way down.  Just half a dozen to start with and with over twenty in one group.  They are very ‘photographical’ and this species of wild sheep seems to attract attention with their horns and ‘chest beards’.  Originally only indigenous to Corsica and Sardinia, the Western European variety were introduced to other countries.  Of course, the reason for this would have been for hunting and a food source, but these animals today were not easily spooked although obviously wary.



Their sightings added something special to a great birding day out.

Ice Caves


 Thanks for taking time to visit my blog
have a great day
cheers Bryan Thomas