Saturday, November 16

No bins bird club reunion

Happy to say the NBBC has been reunited, John, Mark, and myself

Male Black Redstart
And so this morning we followed our normal route around our local area setting out before 8 o'clock and picking up Mark Etheridge on the way.

 Water pipit

 To cut to the quick it was a really quite a good days birding morning. some good number of birds. lots of banter and quite a few laughs about the Rugby, Brexit, Johnson calling Jeremy Corbyn a biblical onanism ( w##ker)
 And some serious chat about climate change and plastic,  its something we can't keep ignoring,  I think it means massive changes for us all.

Little owl
Nothing mega to report bird-wise. Mostly what you would expect to see now the winter birds have arrived.

Kingfisher
 we've been trying hard to find a rarity for our area, nothing as yet, but we're going to keep on trying, see the link below of species seen and review of yesterday's birding.
On JE great blog and good source of info

Booted Eagle

Female Black Redstart

Have a good day
cheers BT


Thursday, October 17

Trevor's birding Week

Trevor Birding Visit
Day 1
A quick run around the Santa Pola Salinas and the surrounding area provided a good mornings birding, highlights of the day we're


   Spotted Redshank
Mediterranean Gulls
35 Spoonbill
Great White Egret
Several Marsh Harriers
Booted Eagles
Black Stork
2 Kingfishers
And the first returning Black Redstarts
I've not listed all the birds seen but all the usual suspects were around





Yellow Wagtails


Day 2

An early start and on the road to Bonete before dawn, and full of expectations, it was quickly dashed as we were challenged by a farmer who wanted to know what the hell we were doing?
  He blocked our way ahead in his substantial truck..  After an explanation, we were allowed to go on! He looked a bit puzzled, and must have thought we were crazy, "bird watching"   Not to be deterred,  we headed for the little Bustard area, only for yet another farmer who follow us down the long track in his large tractor to tell us that its private property,  and despite us using the same track many times over the last 10 years?  We were asked to leave?  Maybe he was having a bad day?  So we left, but not before we ID a Merlin sat on a stone. Then thing went from bad to worse  it was cold, grey, and very breezy and not
much activity
So our list for today was, poor compared to recent visits
today's highlight is miles below what should have been

 Great Bustard 25 + more
Lots of Marsh Harrier
Thekla's Lark
Willow Warbler
Jay
800+ Calandra lark
Black Redstart
Corn Bunting
All the Common Ducks
Yellow Wagtail
Northern Wheatears
Raven
Lapwings

and that was the best of it despite 8 hours of birding + the travel time.  I did not press the shutter button on anything.

Not expecting much for tomorrow

Day 3

Montnegre and Maigmo Mountain

The main reason for going to Montnegre was to see if we could relocate any of the Trumpeter finches that were in the area during this spring and summer,
Unfortunately, we didn't see any which makes me think that they are now a summer visitor to Montnegre.  It was not all dome and gloom as we found a new species for this Valley in the village of Montnegre, we came across 20 + waxbills these cute tiny finches show well for a few moments and then quickly relocated to another reed bed.



This photo from the internet with permission to use

 Other birds were seen
Blue Rock Thrush
Griffon Vulture
Rock Sparrow
 Chough
Sardinian Warbler
Dartford Warbler
Large groups of House Martin
A possible Golden Eagle but just too far away to be 100 per cent sure


And at
 Maigmo
It was disappointing and very quiet bird-wise, but not for cars and people and at the top,  Balcony of Alicante  26 cars one wedding ceremony with music we only stayed a moment before heading back, we did manage to get a few species of interest
Short-toed Treecreeper
Crested Tit
Long-tailed Tit
 Coal Tit
Jay
Buzzard
Heard only Firecrest
Robin
Crossbills

Tomorrow Rugby
Come on wales
Looking forward to our next battle

Our last day's Birding


This morning we thought that we would give it another go and try to relocate the Black Storks.
With heavy sky and threatening rain, it was almost black.
We set off across the Salinas.  It was more or less the same birds as the other day
Spotted Redshank
Spoonbill
Osprey
Slender bill Gulls
Audouin's Gull

Wood Sandpiper

We took a detour to the Segura river mouth but it was a waste of time and then head inland to Palm farm Road and then on to San Felipe, on the route we came across one field that still held water from the floods a few weeks ago.  We passed this field a few days ago and it only had Greater Flamingo and Glossy Ibis,  but today it was buzzing.

Highlights
 Over 100+ Snipe
Good numbers of Ruff
 Wood Sandpipers
Great White Egrets
Dublin
Little Stint
Booted Eagle
several Blue Throat
Ringed Plover
Wood Sandpipers

Little-ringed Plover

Green Sandpiper
Glossy Ibis
Several Kingfishers
Reed warblers
Cetti's Warbler
Fan-tailed Warbler


With heavy rain forecast tomorrow and Trevor needing to get the things done before his return to the UK
We call it a day.




It not been at its best for birding and we've had to work hard with many hours in the field, but we did get some rewards for our efforts and Trevor's seen bird list ended in a healthy 103 Species, I included heads as well so mine was 115


Thank for taking the time to visit my blog

Have fun


Update


Well, the Rugby World Cup has finished and Wales got knocked out by the eventual winners which I thought would happen.  I did feel a bit sad that the England players, wouldn't wear their silver medals, having put on a good performance and played great, but its a bitter pill to swallow losing.  I managed to upset a few of my English Rugby palls by posting this video which I receive with slightly different subtitles when they poked fun at Wales when we lost to SA by only 3 points in the last 4 minutes.  And so I did update to the video with some different subs titles. which managed to upset them.  There not happy. But I thought it was very funny sorry about that

Cheers BT


























Saturday, October 12

Great Bustards, Little Bustards and Golden Eagles


If we we're into celebrating with bubbles then I could say that this was ‘a Champagne Birding Day, but as we only had WertherS

 so they had to do!
We changed our intended route to accommodate a friend who lives in Norway and who would like to see Bustards. John and I were fortunate that we reversed our journey and it paid off, what a terrific day it turns out to be.


Higueruela is a great location to go to and
 by the time we had arrived at 'station corner’ we had watched a dozen Great Bustards and easily viewed one male and two females Little Bustards and also a group of nine females of the same. I still don't have any good photos of this species on the ground that I am happy with due to heat shimmer, it throws the autofocus off.  Pleased that we had located these birds once more and were confident to see them again, now we have nailed the area down.

 
Little Bustard

Photo from my collection

I spotted a low flying Merlin in the distance. Both species of Sandgrouse were heard first then with a flypast of 30 Black-bellied Sandgrouse and a smaller group of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse also  Calandra larks in good numbers and a few Sky Lark.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

We travelled on through the small town of Higueruela and across the plains to where an expanse of water is located near a major railway line. We parked on the bridge to view waterfowl and both a male and female Marsh Harrier were flying. However, we were soon distracted by the raucous voices of about thirty Red-Billed Choughs. They continued being noisy and we soon discovered why. Two Golden Eagles were flying above them. We had clear views as shutter whirred into action.

1st winter/Juvenile Golden Eagle

  They flew around and soon disappeared over the ridge. Then our attention focused on a bird on that same ridge. The two birds flying were a Subadult and a 1st winter/Juvenile. Sitting on the ridge was another 1st Winter/Juvenile that sat and sat and we watched. fantastic views through the telescope but still a little distant for the camera.

1st winter/Juvenile Golden Eagle

 Then it flew around and right over our heads. John has seen a perched one closer before, but these were stunning views of this magnificent species. Three such birds in the binoculars or scope or insight at one time. Simply wonderful.


In the same location, we had Common Buzzards too and then a Red Kite appeared. This has become one of our favourite spots and we have been lucky here before with a Black Kite on one occasion. And on another day, after discussion, it was confirmed that we saw a Spanish Imperial Eagle, does it get better than that!

Patterns in the soil
We carried on to Lagunas de Petrola to find that this major water was devoid of birds and we reasoned that there has to be a problem with the water. This opinion is supported by an area of ‘run-off’ next to the farm buildings that held the following:

Common Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Two Dunlin
Two Little Stint
Lapwing
Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
White Wagtails.

That's a good return for a ‘large puddle’ and suggests that the water there is not tainted.
Water levels are still good and outside Corral Rubio were some waders that included a Common Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover together with one Yellow Wagtail and several Meadow Pipits. We had hoped for more sightings of Bustards but they were not visible in some of their usual fields.


We returned home via Montealegre and the freshwater lagoon on route only contained Common Coot. We had high expectations for this water and perhaps the hunters have moved the birds on?
Obviously, we saw many small birds and we enjoyed them too.

Northern Wheatear

 It was a special day and our guest who had many firsts.

have a great day
Cheers Bryan



Saturday, October 5

Just Another Common Day


On Friday 4th October we decided to visit Estepas de Yecla. Two weeks ago we went to the areas north of Almansa and found an abundance of water in the lagoons and in the run-off areas.
 
We got to wondering about Yecla but on arrival, we found it dry. We had a really good day with lots of Activity throughout the day. Which kept me energised, after last nights late night Charity Gig which got me home around 1.30. and up at 6 o'clock left me feeling a bit jaded throughout the day.

Just after 8 am with the sun starting to appear, a chilly breeze and the temperature was a mere 10 degrees. Coats on! It ended a barmy 34. degrees crazy!

We were not to be disappointed. Choughs were heard as we entered this valley and we saw numerous Mistle Thrush, a sign that winter is approaching. Swallows fed over the fields and Rock Sparrows were seen in their usual place near the farm buildings at the Claudette end.
 
 Rock Sparrows

Many crops have been harvested and there were fields with natural vegetation. A good omen for seed eaters which there were plenty to be seen.
There are lots of vineyards here and close-by In a natural area of pines with open patches of grass and low bushes we had a great find. Perched in full sun was a male Common Redstart in company with Spotted Flycatchers.
 
Common Redstart 
 
 They sat up for me enabling me to take a few photographs. I was busy with the camera and John was had some great close views. Although common in its name they are not easily seen and not at all common, and they pass through quickly on migration Indeed it was a new bird for Johns Spanish list and he was delighted with excellent views.
 
Spotted Flycatchers
 

  Also good to see them in company with Spotted Flycatchers which was special. In another location, we located another Common Redstart and also more Spotted Flycatchers.
 
Common Redstart 
2nd Bird
 
It just goes to show the birds are out there and with effort can be found. Not one of these Spotted flycatcher resembles anything like the Mediterranean flycatcher? seen in the summer.
 
Spotted flycatcher  

Early in the morning, we spotted what could have been a Sparrow Hawk which is not that common. Common Kestral flew but not one Lesser was seen. We have regularly viewed Golden Eagles near the ridge overlooking Yecla and we later saw one in the distance and our search for them yielded a clear view of a circling Red Kite. Several Common Buzzards circled and called and again we good views.
It was a busy day and we left just after 2 pm which was much more than we anticipated It was time well spent viewing and photographing some good birds, It is apparent that birds are still passing through with the Flycatchers, Swallows and one Swift seen.
 
Northern Wheatears
 
Northern Wheatears were in double figures and 50 + Calandra Larks and a few Thekla's Lark clearly seen.
 
 Thekla's Lark
I have not listed all the birds seen and some were clearly absent. Worth the miles and time spent. I wonder what the onset of winter will bring?

Have a great day

cheers Bryan


 
 

Tuesday, October 1

Mosquito plague Gran Alacant



Rain-ravaged Spain is facing a horror mosquito invasion as billions and billions of the bloodthirsty bugs emerge from the floodwaters covering the Costas.
The muddy lagoons are the perfect breeding ground hyper-aggressive mozzies and experts say their eggs could start hatching this weekend.


Asian tiger mosquitoes are very aggressive when they are in a feeding frenzy

 Eight people died when the torrential rain and lightning storms sparked the worst floods in 140 years across the south-east of the country.
Now hard-hit locals and ex-pats, still counting the cost of the devastating storms, face another "biblical" plague.
More than one billion biting bugs - including highly-aggressive tiger mosquitoes  could hatch in the floods,


On the Costa Calida, emergency crews are working round-the-clock to prevent mosquito larvae hatching in water-logged fields.

The regional councils of Alicante and Elche are fumigating swatches of countryside to stop a repeat of August's plague which saw hospitals inundated with bite victims.

It mad here almost housebound even in the day time, the shelves are empty of knockdown sprays and bite relief creams. There are warning from the environmental health of Spain of Dengi Fever and the Zika Virus there had been 3 recorded victims in Alicante of a virus from Africa in August.
If you visiting Costa Blanca bring the bite relief creams and repellents and cover up as much as possible

Good luck
Cheers Bryan





Saturday, September 21

Torrential Rains, Floods, and the Autumn Migration


Seven days ago the rains came and drowned this part of the world.  It's the most water seen in decades descended upon the land. A Gota Fria - a cold drop, came and reduced fields to lakes, moved soil and boulders, made roads in passable
and killed. Homes and businesses ruined and livelihoods removed by the storm.


The torrential downpours caused rivers to burst their banks, dragging cars and people away, flooding streets, forcing thousands from their homes, and destroying at least 300,000 hectares of prime agricultural land according to early estimates.


I am going to include a few photos of the devastating after-effects of the storm from last week.



One week afterwards we headed towards Almansa via A 31 not knowing what to expect or see or how far we could go. An early start with the sun not up we were in our way.

This is how it unfolded. Coral Rubio, Bonete and Petrola we have visited this area many times only to be disappointed over these last few years by the low levels of water and lack of birds, with previously seasonal wet areas being dry.  Not so this morning for the lagoons was in good health and many folds in the land were flooded. This is what we wanted to see.
The waders now had water a stop-off point during migration.  And this autumn and winter and next spring it's going to be amazing up here with more rain to come throughout the winter months it is only going to be topped up and get better and better, if your planning to visit Costa Blanca and go birding it might be the right time to visit as now their water. 

This is a Great Bustard country and, as always, they showed well. Just five to start with, then a group of eight followed a little later by thirteen and then two separate ones from the main bunch. We had splendid views of them walking, resting and flying. What a sight they gave us.  We love to see them fly. We never push them and give them distance and the respect these grand birds deserve.

 Great Bustard

The migration is still going on. Barn Swallows were evident and Bee-eaters were flying overhead.

On the water new arrives,  Gadwall, Shoveller, and numerous Mallard were seen. Lapwing and a couple of Ruff, a small number of Black-tailed Godwits,  Common Sandpiper, and Greenshank.  Black-necked Grebe.  There is a seasonal lake at chinchilla de Montearagon Albacete which held
lots of water but due to the viewing distance it was hard to ID anything but it held lots of waders,
Okay, not a big bird list with many species not seen and/or yet to arrive. We think, that this winter could be really good.

 Rock Sparrow
Smaller birds were Corn Bunting, Rock Sparrow, with occasional Goldfinches and then a large flock of Yellow Wagtails on passage. They helped to make it a nice afternoon with superb views.

 Yellow Wagtail

 We also had some good views of Northern Wheatears.

 Northern Wheatear

Common Kestrels with one Lesser male-identified, several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers made up the raptor count with not an eagle anywhere to be seen. A rapid flying Peregrine Falcon was an excellent sighting to complete our day.

Our plan for this morning was different from other days that we had travelled towards this area. The Embalse de Almansa received massive amounts of water due to the Gota Fria and the news item, that john viewed on TV reminded John of its existence and so we looked for the signposts on the route, John noticed the signs for the Patano de Almansa. It is a massive area lying to the south of the town and between A31 and CM412 (signed Montealegre)  We only ‘scratched the surface’ of it and we will return another time.  We like to find new areas.

One very interesting thing there was some paw footprint in the mud/tracks in the mud, See photos?


my image of paws

My image of paws


Linx paw footprint
from the internet


I've done some online research, and I admit I am no animal tracker but could these tracks be from a Linx.  It does look like it could match the footprint of the online photos I've looked at, it suggests that there very similar?  Could it be possible???


Linx paw footprint
This image from the internet

I have now sent the photos to my friends at
Doñana  National Park and waiting for their decision


Update it's now thought to be a Dog paw print as if it was a linx it would not show claws but some other experts  think it close
We live and learn.

 Big thank you to John Edwards
 for the use of some of his words, as I am full-on, after the recent storm and in catch up mode for now?






Have fun
Make some news
Cheers Bryan