Sunday, August 26

4 flaps and a Glide

I overslept this morning, well sort of. I was waiting for the alarm to go off   "which never did" when I heard the doorbell ring, it was 6.15 I jumped out of bed, pulling on my shorts, and looking for the keys while searching for the light switch. Opening the door.  "Morning John"  I realised,  I'd put my short on back to front.  Not good start to our birding day.


Arriving at the Caudete to Yecla track almost the first bird seen was a Common Buzzard, 4 flaps and a glide, and over the course of the day, we would see quite a few of these birds.


  Also there, lots of Jackdaw and Magpies, the first of many Woodchat Shrikes.


We did not get far when thousands of returning European Starlings entertained us with there aerobatic murmuration,  an amazing sight, most of which were already in their spotty winter plumage.  And definitely, a Werther's Original moment,  "Shame"  as in my hurry to leave this morning I left this golden caramel moment on the table.  To be honest, my photos don't do justice to the synchronised acrobatics event we just witnessed.


We had already decided our target bird for the day was going to be Sandgrouse and so we needed to be at the Yecla end of the track.  On route, we came across a huge Olive Tree plantation, as far as the eye could see acres and hectares of Olive trees. There are massive changes going on in this area with lots of investment and plantations springing up everywhere.  I just hope they spare a thought for the wildlife and leave some open places where they can live.  And do they really have to plant on every square millimetre on land? Or is it just plain greed. In the past, I've seen field upon field of abandoned crops left to rot.



It wasn't long before we connected with Sandgrouse, we had just pulled up and stepped out the car when 3 Black-bellied Sandgrouse flushed, this is normal behaviour for this species, we watch them until they disappeared from view, quite different to Pin-tailed Sandgrouse which would normally stick. Nice views of an Iberian Woodpecker perched on a post.  Along the track a group to Pin-tailed Sandgrouse land in the field in front of us.  A lot of Sandgrouse calling from every direction now. And in the stubble field, we managed some great scope views as the Sandgrouse moving through the stubble.   I grabbed a few photos of birds in flight.



From out of nowhere two flocks of Calandra Larks flushed 200 in each group, and a Fox appeared crossing the field maybe it was him who flush the Calandra Larks?



  Still plenty of Greater Short-toed Larks, up to 10 hoopoes and a similar number of Woodchat Shrikes also  2 little owls,


 we were treated to some spectacular flypast of Pallid Swifts and Swallows doing there low level runs across the fields. And yet another 4 flaps and a glide, Lots of Choughs.


 A Booted Eagle drifted over to finish our morning.
 Not so many photographs today? let's see what next week brings
Cheers Bryan





Sunday, August 19

More Departures then Arrivals

Energized by some recent report I thought we might see a few more returning migrants?

John and I left Gran Alacant @ 6.15.  A crazy time to go birding it not even light I know.   But undaunted we set off.  More chance of seeing Jupiter and its Moons? "  I thought to my self at this time of day"  but if you want to see birds you gotta start early.  The temperature  was a cool 23 degrees,
 and threatening a little rain, all set for a bumper birding day?

And today's target anything with feathers.
Soon on the Motorway to Bonete, a quick coffee at the other end, and ready to go.  Taking a track off to the left to the smelly Stinky Pig Farm.  This stop was a good decision.  Juv Woodchat Shrike, loads of Corn Buntings,  Northern Wheatear, Tree Sparrow, Common Buzzard, Chiff Chaff,  Serin, "not a bad start"

On to the Estacion.  John has now officially renamed it Bustard Corner, as it always performs and today was no exception at least 20+ Great Bustards, Male Marsh Harrier, 5 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Common kestrel,  more Buzzards, Southern Grey Shrike, Bee-eaters on the power wires.


  After a cup of tea, we took to the main road to Higueruela, checking the stubble fields on either side of the road which looked promising but nothing.


 'El Pastor greeted us and looked a bit puzzled, waved and then went on his way with his herd of Sheep and Sheepdog.





A quick stop at some pines got us a Golden Oriel, Black Wheatear,  Mistle Thrush, and Treecreeper.  Gone are the Bonnell's Warblers.

On route to Petrola.  A raptor came into view over the road, a quick look at it, I said "Stop its a Red Kite"  Emergency stop jumped out the car grabbed a few photos as it drifted away into the light, it wasn't till I check the images I realised it was a Black Kite,


 A 2nd Woodchat Shrike on the wires.
I always like to check out the Lakes and Plains of Petrola.  You can't dismiss this area as it can hold some great birds, but not today, Petrola lake was stinking.  The water looked oily thick, blacken cracked dry margins.  A perfect reflection on its surface of the far side, it looks idyllic.
 But No!



Hardly any birds except for about 60 Greater Flamingos and few distant Marsh Harriers, and 3 Black-winged Stilts,  Fan-tailed Warblers calling.   The Stink was so bad it made me feel unwell, with lots of nuisance flies.

 I couldn't wait to leave, as I sat back into the car to leave, 2 Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew over calling (bonus birds)
probably best to void this place till some heavy rain arrives and freshens it up a bit.
 Gone are all the Gull-billed Terns and the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, Great reed warblers and Yellow Wagtails. I didn't see any other waders of any kind, and also no Swifts anywhere today.
 Interestingly there was not one  Juv Greater Flamingo seen, even though they have bred very successfully in there hundreds this year at Petrola.

Through Corral Rubio, and onto the Montealegre Road we bumping into a few more Bee-eaters and a very nice perched Short-toed Eagle.



Carrying on to the  Laguna del Saladar this place got found by a sat nav error. I am glad it did because there are good numbers of birds there and the water is in a healthy condition.



 There's a large concentration of waterfowl, good number of Greater Flamingos, more than 30+ White-headed Duck, 12+ Lapwing,  lots of Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, lots of Mallard, Water Rail x 2,  a few, Kentish Plover, Black-headed Gulls, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, lots of Coot and Moor Hen. A few Bee-eaters taking dragonflies over the water.

I am hoping  Laguna del Saladar come next spring migration will have Garganey and Ferruginous Ducks taking advantage of it.
 all looks perfect for them.

Nice end to the day,😊 

Sunday, August 12

First Autumn Migrants Return

 It's only just mid-August, but there's is the smallest sign of a migration beginning, Big departures and Arrivals. And so this morning  John and I set off at first light. The weather was overcast with a few spots of light rain and a fresh breeze which was very refreshing from the incredibly hot weather we've had. I've noticed less Pallid Swifts recently, and gatherings of Bee-eaters, lots of calling from family groups high up in the sky. I think they could be already on the move back south?


Our first stop today, to check Santa Pola Salinas, lots of noisy Terns. Little Tern very active, Common Tern,  Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Sender billed Gulls were present and Audouin's Gulls in good numbers.


 The odd Lesser Black-backed Gull on the raise embankments.
And at the standing stones lay by  Great-crested Grebe and Red-crested Pochard in some good numbers.

At El Pinet, it was all quite, compared to only just a few weeks ago when it was absolutely buzzing with activity, All the young Terns have now fledged and are very mobile, so the breeding sites are mostly abandoned and quite.  But still around 100+ mostly Juvenile Collard Pratincoles there, Black-winged Stilts and Avocets also present.


Around the back of La Marina probably 3 Rollers with one being very aerobatic, a few large groups of Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret but notably no bee-eaters, Juvenile Southern Grey Shrike popped up frequently as well as a pair of Common Kestrel
A large mixed flock of Back headed Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls, and Yellow-legged Gulls, moving from field to field.
Moving on to Palm Farm Road not much there but a few Pallid Swift high up all heading in one direction "south" Red-rumped Swallows and house Martin quartered the freshly cut Alfalfa crop. We also saw some Plain Tiger Butterfly.


We flushed 3 Green Sandpiper from the usual water channel these are the first of the returning waders to be seen so far today. At San Felipe, yet another big flock of Glossy Ibis. A Common Sandpiper called and Little ringed plover peeped away. I also glimpsed a Squacco Heron disappearing from view. There were a few Purple swamp Hens picking their way through the reeds, and there was no sign of any Marbled Duck or Great reed Warbler but Red-knobbed Coots present and not much else.


Regarding the Marbled Duck at San Felipe visitors Centre, they are asking for any sighting of the colour-ringed birds to be reported back to them at the visitor's centre with the date and location see photo below.


Time to call it a day as it was getting hot! on route back across the Santa Pola Salinas, I saw a single Godwit,
Nice to get out and about with nothing too major to report,  I can't help thinking about what's already on its way here?  Now that the Autumn is just around the corner.

Fingers crossed  I'll get to see it, grab a few photographs, and hopefully, it will be a mega rarity.

Date Palm
Massive thanks to
J Edwards.