Wednesday, September 11

Looks like I've not been birding

Hey it looks like I've not done any  birding lately. Its been due to family and friends visiting. I've not been able to get out as much as I would have liked, but I did managed to get out on a few occasions.

It's been full-on, these last few weeks, burning the candle at both ends, as they say, birding, working, and enjoying life
 So a quick summary of what's been going on during these last few weeks and the start of the autumn migration

On Friday, 16th August we decided to stay local to see what was happening with our summer residents and what had already arrived from elsewhere. As we set off just before dawn,  a Red-necked Nightjar flashed over the road, in front of us.
We saw the sun come up over Santa Pola when we stopped at the lagoons and Salinas. It was relatively quiet, but the terns were active with Little and Whiskered, and Common. A whole tranche of 200 Sandwich plus were viewed. A Little Bittern called, plenty of  Little Grebes were on the water. We looked for Purple Herons, but only Grey was seen. There was nothing out of the ordinary.

Flying overhead we saw Swifts, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows together with a few Sand Martins.

We moved on to The Salt Tower and the small area next to it. Flamingos were abundant. Mallards were in good numbers for the first time in a while. A few Common Sandpiper called and few a Redshank was viewed distantly. A lone Marsh Harrier flew in the distance.

Juv Pratincole

El Pinet was much better, Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets were numerous. Other waders were Kentish Plover, and the first returning  Greenshank, Redshank,  Juv Pratincoles were still in good numbers.

 Black-tailed Godwit


We then headed inland and at Pallet Farm Road we re located the European Rollers,  good to see but looked ‘tatty’ as they moulting.

European Rollers

As it was quiet we decided to try Sante Águada. It was bone dry even after the intense rain and checking out the sky through 360 degrees, the search, yielded hardly any birds in the air at all, I guess they moved before the rain storm.

 In a dead tree a Roller, one Turtle Dove and a Little Owl.

During the summer we have seen many Woodchat Shrikes and this species showed well today. They are a very neat bird!  The Iberian Southern Grey Shrikes were perched on the high wires.

The Bee-eaters made our day. We could clearly hear them as they assembled on electric cables, and what a colourful sight they made. I love that noise and it suggests that they will be going south shortly.


San Felipe and scrapes in front of the information centre had two-metre-high growth and other areas looked neglected. We ventured along the boardwalk more in hope than anything and were rewarded with excellent views of Moustached Warblers. Sadly, there was not much to see.

The summer season is about to change and there has been a drop from the high temperatures that we have been experiencing
Thank God

 Big migration of endless hirundines on the move earlier than the previous year
Maybe because of the torrential rain

Thursday 5th September

Bee-eaters on the moves I've heard them all-day high up and moving south in their hundreds

Ravens around the Santa Pola lighthouse, have successfully bred with at least 2 Juv birds which I've seen on most days


Another visit to an area that seems rooted in time. Deep ravines and gullies, steep-sided and even sheer, with high rocky crags poking up into the sky. Here the landscape is exceptionally different. It needs to be viewed to be believed.

We knew it was the end of summer and John and I certainly had the feeling we were between seasons. Nevertheless, we had a clear objective in mind. So, it was Montnegre again to see if the Trumpeter Finches were still hanging around. 

They were not where they had been previously been seen and although we spent time there, we heard and saw nothing?  Have they dispersed for the winter? Maybe even dropping into the bottom of the valleys or moving away to another location?  Never mind we will look again at some other time? But to be sure we will be keeping an eye on this area.

The list for this area has never been huge and there were some noticeable absentees. For example, the only Raptor in view was a Marsh Harrier flying high and no Griffin Vultures either.

Today's list is:
Thekla's Lark (And not a common sighting for us here)
Crested Lark
Blue Rock Thrush (at least two callings)
Black Wheatear (times three)
House Sparrows 
Rock Sparrows
Red-Legged Partridge
Spotted Flycatcher - a super view of
a very plain chest and a more defined head pattern individual could it be a Balearic/Iberian one?
Iberian Green Woodpecker - call only
Crag Martins loads filled the air
Bee-eaters flying over and distant

We moved on and checked both river areas with nothing to report except we did hear Chiff-Chaffs, Sardinian Warblers and a Cetti’s too.

Maigmó loomed in front of us and we travelled to the top. On way, the usual Crossbills called and flew and a Coal Tit called. It was all very quiet with only a few Magpies about and a Jay screeched.

Some rain had been forecast, but the sun was out and we stood at the top in 27 degrees, The sky was devoid of birds except for the Crag Martins.

We spoke of the absence of a response from any source regarding our reporting of the recently split of Spotted Flycatchers. We will pay more attention to this bird next spring.

These mountains will not beckon us until next spring and we definitely need to find more birds! Thankfully lower temperatures will bring in our overwintering birds. Therefore we will be going inland and once winter has arrived we'll be trekking up to see the Ring Ouzels on Sierra de Espuña.
Looking forward to making some birding news.
Have a great day

Monday, August 12

Pallid Swift's gone,

I'm gutted my Pallid Swifts that's breed successfully under my roof tiles have now departed  "The Swift's " have been very faithful to the area around my house I've seen them every day for months and watch there aerobatics and seen their courtship, mating,  feeding and the comings and goings and watched the young birds take their first flight it's been great to watch it's a bit sad there on their way south  

Have a lovely day
Cheers Bryan 

Tick tock tick tock the clock is ticking

The Inglorious 12th

IT is time to dig out the tweeds, dust off the gun and make for the hills, the 12th is upon us.

Unless you are a member of the rich elite, it may have passed you by but one wildlife expert argues the start of the grouse shooting season on August 12 should be a concern for us all.

In his book Inglorious, Mark Avery claims the practice of driven grouse shooting hits us all in the pocket and is an ecological disaster, devastating wildlife and birds of prey.

Driven grouse shooting is where beaters flush birds towards the guns and they are slaughtered in their hundreds and thousands.

As Mark puts it: “A load of rich people stand waiting while a load of poor people, beaters, walk across the hills with flags and whistles and chase a load of helpless birds past the rich people who then shoot at the birds 

Driven grouse shooting was introduced under Queen Victoria at the Balmoral Estate.

A petition has been launched to ban the practice but David Cameron, who regularly holidays on the Isle of Jura as family of the landed gentry, is unlikely to be the premier to answer the call. But Mark, a former conservation director of the RSPB, said: “In time, driven grouse shooting is doomed because it is an unsustainable land use and carried out for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

Driven grouse shooting happens only in the UK, although the bird is hunted in countries such as Russia and Scandinavia. Many hunters consider there to be no sport in it as, unlike shooters taking their chances in the hills, the wildlife is easy target practice.

Mark said: “It is more to do with how much money you have and what kind of gun you can afford. You don’t have to know anything about the hills or the ecology of the bird. You just have to stand there.

“It is like an arcade game, except you dress up in tweed and get to stay with a duke or a lord. There is a lot of snob value. If grouse hunting was only “walked up” shooting, there would not be the demand for the volume of birds, so there would be no need for the level of persecution of wildlife.

In January, an estate worker who killed a rare bird of prey became the first gamekeeper in Britain to be jailed for a wildlife crime against raptors. George Mutch, 48, was filmed catching birds in two traps on Kildrummy Estate near Alford in Aberdeenshire in 2012.

Named and shamed
Goshawk Killer George Mutch, 

Covert cameras set up by the RSPB showed him killing a Goshawk by taking it out of a trap and hitting it with a stick. He was also filmed putting a Buzzard and another Goshawk into white sacks.

But the level of prosecutions bears no relation to the level of persecution.

Birds such as Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles are considered by estates to be pests as they eat grouse.

“What we do know is that over significant areas of Scotland’s uplands and, in particular, areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting, birds such as Hen Harriers and Peregrine rarely breed successfully, despite an abundance of suitable habitat and prey. Every year, birds of prey confirmed as being illegally killed are found on Scotland’s grouse moors.

A more accurate way to assess the impact is to compare bird numbers with what they should be.

The Hen Harrier population in Scotland should be around 1800 pairs but is actually 500.

Grouse shooting for a party of six, over three or four days, can fetch more than £35,000.

For that premium, shooters can demand in excess of 1000 birds a day and any wildlife which infringes on this numbers game, including birds of prey, is to be obliterated.

To get very high numbers of grouse, the heather has to be burned every few years, the moor drained and all predators killed – including foxes, crows, stoats and birds of prey.

Mark said: “Anything that eats a Red Grouse before a rich person can shoot it is seen as a problem.

Vast quantities of our taxes are being paid to upland landowners through farming schemes, grants and subsidies.

A study by Leeds University showed that intensive management of our uplands for driven grouse shooting is a source of peatland degradation and increased carbon emissions. It is also linked to pollution of watercourses, reduction in aquatic biodiversity and probably of increased flood risk.

Polluted water coming off grouse moors needs specialised treatment and that cost is passed to water companies and the consumer.

Mark said: “People who live in cities want to go to the countryside and see Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers and lots of wildlife. Instead, they see landscape burned to within an inch of its life and where a lot of natural wildlife is missing.

“We are all being robbed of our wildlife for centuries, for a so-called sport where people just shoot birds for fun. Driven grouse moors are places where your protected wildlife is killed and your climate damaged too.

“We shouldn’t tolerate this Victorian land use now we have 21st-century information.

The death toll peaked in 2010 with 46 kills, including 21 Buzzards, four Red Kites, two Golden Eagles and a White-tailed Eagle, which was a gift to Scotland from Norway.

The east of Scotland has the greatest shortage of birds of prey, in places like Deeside and Angus, and there are also shortages in the south, where there are the most grouse moors.

The birds are killed largely by gamekeepers through shooting, nest destruction, spring traps and poisoning.

The number of a recorded bird of prey crimes in Scotland decreased from 23 in 2013 to 19 in 2014 but the crime is largely hidden. Ian Thomson, head of investigations for RSPB Scotland, said: “We don’t know what proportion of actual incidents are discovered.

Hopefully,  time is almost up for this mindless killing for fun.
Tick tock tick tock the clock is ticking.

People can't just assume its OK to kill for entertainment

Tick tock tick tock
Tick Tock
Times up.

It's not acceptable in 2019 to killing for fun


Friday, August 9

No Tea Break. No 1st or Even 2 Breakfast

With signs of migration and fledged birds on the move, we thought it was time to have a look at Yecla 

We were set off before sunrise John Edwards, Ian Emmett, and myself.  About 20 minutes up the motorway the sun came up and what a sunrise it was incredible the whole sky was on fire, it was a beauty, now if I only had my camera with me, I've got to stop doing that and be more prepared.

Arriving at Yecla it was a pleasant temperature and nice to be away from the stifling 37  degrees heat of the coast, there been a population explosion of Rabbit at Yecla, I've never ever seen so many?  It going to be good for raptors in due course.

The first bird seen Juvenile Woodchat and throughout the course of the morning, we saw plenty of adults and juvenile.

 The same for Black-eared Wheatear with moulting male and females and just out the nest fledged birds. Northern Wheatears both male and female we're seen and one juvenile bird.

Newly fledged Black-eared Wheatear

  A trio of Black Wheatear put on a show for us.
In the distance was a Cronking Raven, a surprising absentee from to days visit was no Chough, Jackdaw or Calandra Lark which is always on the list for this area???

Thekla's lark

Thekla's lark,  Crested and Short-toed lark seen, a few little owls,  Rock Sparrow, Tree Sparrows, and a few Stone Curlew.
Stone Curlew

Moment of the birding day was at least 3 adult male Golden Orioles flying around a pine tree belt, Magic!

Perched on an electric pylon was a male Lesser Kestrel,  Sand Grouse were often heard but not seen. 

With the heat rising we headed to a known Golden Eagle site and after a few minutes two birds showed gliding along a ridge using the thermals, it would have been nice if they came a little closer but we always want more.  Plenty of bee-eaters which at now starting to gather together before making there move south.

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed we didn't stop for any tea or first or even second breakfast and the reason forgot the tea bags  "unbelievable" how are we going to manage I said  "NO TEA"   John searched again. NO TEA  John replied.   I said to John you've let me down, you've letting Ian down, and most of all you've let your self down, John was gutted "NO TEA"

And so we missed our tea breaks, its become famous an essential part if our birding day,  you won't believe how many good birds that were spotted during our tea breaks, and so I kept on moaning about our no tea break and no 1st or even 2nd breakfast

10. unbreakable rules of making a cup of tea
3. The milk goes in last, never first
4. Teabag must remain in for at least two minutes and no more than five
5. Don't squeeze the teabag
6. Take the teabag out before drinking it
7. Put the bag in the bin
8. If someone makes you a cup, don’t complain about it
9. If you're making a cup of tea, offer everyone a cup of tea
10. If you’ve made a cup, drink It

Nothing like a bit of banter

Enjoy your day 
Cheers Bryan 

Sunday, August 4

Crazy days Birding

John and I and visiting birder Ian who had also joined us for today's birding adventure.
  Today we got lucky.

Ian had a wish list of birds to see,  it was no tail order, but to be honest, Ian was more than happy just being out there birding, and taking in the spectacular mountains views.  And together we achieved 100 percent of his to see a list. 

So we had discussed a route which could yield best results and no surprise Trumpeters Finch was a must-see species. and another return visit to Montnegre 

And so within a few minutes of arriving Trumpeter Finch was on the list with great views of Juveniles, Females and Adult Male.

Trumpeter Finch

 A great start to the day and the sun was only just up.  Rock Sparrow a few Woodchat Shrike, Black Wheatear,  Grey Wagtail,  Crested Tit,  Spotted Fly,  Reed Warbler, quite a few Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Crag Martin, Swallows, and Crossbill on the track up through Montnegre and onto Tibi.


 Maigmo Mountain
Highlights we're
Jay, Short-toed Tree Creeper, Bonelli's Warbler, a single Alpine Swift, which flew past and didn't return.

Crested Tit

A quick cupper and sandwich and we were off back down the motorway to La Marina for Rollers, which showed well in several different locations.

European Rollers

 And also a few Gull-billed Tern, we birded Santa Pola Salinas and end up at the Clot de Galvany. All the usual suspects we're there.

Purple swamp Hen

 but a bit surprised to see a Sandwich Tern sat on one of the logs and on another log a whiskered Tern just outside the hide.

Sandwich Tern

I've not included every species seen but it was a substantial list of birds. we started birding at 7.15 and finished after 4 in the afternoon.

Whiskered Tern 

Ian added 3 lifers to his bird list.

Good days birding with John and Ian and with luck we'll out and at it again next week.

Have a good day.

Friday, July 26

Mediterranean Flycatcher

Today we aimed to find some Spotted Flycatcher along the pine belts of the Carabassi road.
After the recent splitting of these birds, john and I wanted to see if we could find a suitable candidate for Mediterranean Flycatcher and ID one in the field
See my blog 1st of July

We we're there as the sun came up, if the sunrise was anything to go by it was going to be a good day, sure enough, there were lots of Spotted Flycatchers in a different location around the beach area, but could we pick out a candidate who fitted the criteria for a Mediterranean Flycatcher

Mediterranean Flycatcher

It was difficult, to say the least, and to get one perched up long enough to get a clear view, and ID the bird, and at that time in the morning, they were very active.

After several false alarms, we finally got a Flycatcher that stayed long enough which had the right credentials, unfortunately, no camera, so we just watch for a few minutes and went through the ID of the bird.

Spotted Flycatcher

Satisfied we had a good candidate for Mediterranean Flycatcher we move on and decided to return later with the camera.

Mediterranean Flycatcher

A quick run around the Salinas of Santa Pola

Stand out moments we're 3 Night Heron, a canteen of Spoonbills, a single Whimbrel flypast, 50+ Mediterranean Gulls, and about the same number of Little Tern.

The Common Terns have fledged and nesting site at El Pinet is almost finished with only the odd bird coming and going.
The Collared Pratincoles seemed to of had a good breeding season with roughly 20+ juveniles on the far bank.
Around the back of La Marina were 6 Roller and a few Bee-eaters but not much else, we then returned to Carabassi pines and after much chasing about I think I eventually press the shutter button on the right Flycatcher see for your self?

Cheers Bryan