Saturday, October 20

Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

A departure from the normal blog, I wanted to bring to your attention this website and the work they do to protect birds here's a link to there website   And below is extract, but there are plenty more terrible stories of killings of birds please take time to look.

The last survivor of a flock of 18 White Storks on Malt is now presumed dead. The birds arrived two weeks ago together with 27 others, but soon after arriving poachers begin shooting at the flock, killing all adult birds which were leading the flock on their way south. Without the leadership of experienced adult birds, the remaining juveniles were disoriented and appear to have been taken out one by one. CABS are offering a €5000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and convictions of any of the Stork killers.

White Stork
 and how it should be.

I hate the mindless killing of birds, there is a mindset that its ok to do this, its got to stop?  CABS are a small organisation and if you want to make a difference and help stop this you can, by going to there home page and make a donation.

Cheers Bryan

Thursday, October 18

Leigh Ornithological Society

Ferruginous Duck

 Wednesday 17th I meet up with my old friend and legend, Tony Bishop and vice chairmen of the L O S for a mornings bird watching, this had now become an annual event for us over the last few years.
And so at 8 30. we headed straight for the Clot De Galvany for the Ferruginous Duck, it only took a minute or so to find the pair of ducks, all the other usual suspects were still present.

 We then crossed Santa Pola Salinas adding Great White Egret, Slender-billed Gull, Little Bitten, Sandwich Tern.  We decided to carry on past the salt tower and get on to San Felipe. We notice that the Costa Blanca Bird Club were at the lay-by with a large group of 30 plus members. On route adding Tree Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, and the first of this autumn Black Redstart.

 I was not feeling positive about as San Felipe, as there have been no birds of any note on this water for ages,  l know I keep going on about the water quality there. And today to my surprise it has been completely drained of all water for cutting of the reed bed, so you would think? because of all this lovely mud, it would be full of waders but no not one wader, there was a large group of about 400 Glossy Ibis, probing the mud, 100 Little Egrets, and around 6 Great White Egrets but that was it, even the outer pools had hardly a bird on it? "What's going on" 

 Glossy Ibis

 Great White Egret

 At the end of the boardwalk was a puddle with hundreds of Carp gasping for water, most of which were dead and the containers were there ready to scoop up the dead fish. I now understand that there is a reason they do this, its to remove the carp from the water.  The carp cause damage to ecosystems of lake and quality of the water and they also use this opportunity to strim back the reeds.

The pool at the visitor centre had the usual Red-knobbed Coot and an abundance of  Plain Tiger Butterflies.

  We left scratching our heads to where have all the birds have gone? On the way back we witness an event not see by either of us before.  A murmuration of 300 Glossy Ibis flying as one,  just like the starlings do,  we had to stop the car to watch this event "crazy"

We called in briefly at El Pinet but the same story there
 no birds on the water, but I phissed out a group of 10 Long-tailed Tits from the pines close by. 
After lunch, I went back to the Clot for some more photos of the Ferruginous Duck.

Also, there was a white spot Blue Throat and Reed Warbler.
Lovely to meet up again with Tony Bishop
enjoy the photos

 Enjoy your birding
Cheers Bryan

Tuesday, October 16

Ferruginous Duck on the Clot De Galvany

I'd seen on social media yesterday that there was a Ferruginous Duck on the Clot. I'd planned to go there today anyway, so I was keen to see if it was still around.  At first, there were just the normal birds there Coots, Little Grebe's, Mallards, Shovelers, White-headed Duck, Moor Hens,  Cetti's Warbler.
Ferruginous Duck
Little Grebe

 I notice that there were a few Teal and a few more Pochard, these are fresh in as they were not there a few days ago when I last visited the Clot. A Common Sandpiper flitted around looking for somewhere to land.

Common Sandpiper
There was a big black cloud hanging over the Clot with the odd rumble of thunder and threatening rain.
After about 30 minutes the Ferruginous Duck pop out of the reeds  I fired off a few photos but light levels were so low so I struggled to get any usable photos.

Male Ferruginous Duck

Now, with the odd spot of rain, I called it a day, if it brightens up I'll give it another go later.
And so the dark clouds disappeared and the sun came out, so at 4 o'clock I popped down the Clot.  I only live 10 minutes away.
Also at the hide was the finder of the Fudge Duck. Ace bird photographer Mark Etheridge. We were also joined by a visiting UK birder, so we were chatting generally about birds while waiting for the Fudge Duck to appear, sometime later the female showed well for a little while.

Female Ferruginous Duck

 before moved further away, in between times White-headed Duck, and Common Pochard came closer.

White-headed Duck

Common Pochard

 A Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper showed up.
Later on, the male Fudge Duck sneaked out again.

Male Ferruginous Duck

I managed a few more photos of the Fudge Duck which showed on and off and only briefly before heading further away.
We all stayed till the light failed. Really nice to meet up with Mark after not seeing him since the spring.
The weather forecast is very bad over the next few days,  so I'm hoping that these birds might stay a little longer, so I able to get the photos I'm happy with.
who knows?
Big thanks to Mark.

 Have a nice day
cheers Bryan

Monday, October 15

Santa Pola Salinas

Today Sunday the 14th  I showed 2 birders around our local patch.

Setting off from Gran Alacant around 8.30  the plan was mostly to bird from the car, as Jason had sliced open his big toe on a broken tile in the pool. 

First stop Santa Pola Salinas, we'd 'only just arrived when a large flock of Greater Flamingo gave an impressive flypast flashing the red in the wings, nice start to the morning, 10 Great White Egrets,  a canteen of about 50+ Spoonbills, lots of  Slender-billed Gulls and Great-crested Grebe, Turnstone, Redshank, Sandwich Tern, Shell Duck, Grey Herons, some very noisy Black-winged Stilts, and Avocets.

We moved on to El Pinet, but didn't stay long as it was mostly empty of birds with the exception of 50 Blk-tailed Godwits, on the far side. Around the tracks behind La Marina was quite, there was some Southern Grey Shrikes, European Stonechats, and Sardinian Warbles, an Iberian green Woodpecker flew across the car, but the presence of Hunters in several areas didn't help, we did see Red-legged Partridge fleeing area as the shots rang out. It was now time for first breakfast, I knew a spot where Tree Sparrow we're present so we spent some time watching them come and go.

San Felipe was busy and the car park half full, not a good sign " I thought" lots of kids on bikes, dog walkers, picnicking, well it is Sunday after all and it is a visitors centre.   And the star performer of the day turned out not to be a bird but a Butterfly.  Plain Tigers were everywhere a real treat it was like being in a butterfly house

 Plain Tiger

 Also there a Lang's Long-tailed Blue and a Speckled Crimson Moth.

Lang's Long-tailed Blue

Speckled Crimson Moth

 Red-knobbed Coot, Purple swamp Hen, showed well, a squadron 30 Glossy Ibis passed over, and it was time for 2nd breakfast. A pleasant morning out, and easy birding, it was now time head for home.
The clouds were beginning to gather and looked like we could get some rain  "we need it, " and about an hour after I got home the heavens opened.  I was watching the heavy rainstorm when 2 Black Wheatear came and perched on a ledge, on my neighbour's houses, to shelter from the downpour. I managed to grab a few images in the poor light before they moved off.

I haven't mentioned every bird seen just the one that showed well or of interest. 

Have fun
Bryan Thomas

Saturday, October 13


On Friday 12th October we made our second trip since the end of the summer, to Higueruela and it proved to be very good for the first part.  We turned right towards Higueruela, but we did not go directly towards the pig farm this time and took the second Camino on our left.  On turning, John spotted a flock of flying birds in the distance that showed white plumage.  They were so far away and they soon dropped from view; but could they have been Little Bustards?  

We are always prepared to work hard with the intention of searching out species.  But at the same time content ‘to take what comes’ and this morning was no different.  We both hoped to be able to find Little Bustards and maybe some early winter arrivals like  Brambling hiding with Chaffinches, or a Black Redstart. But It wasn't to be. But the search was on and the following paragraphs contain some of what we got up to.

We had seen Great Bustards around the general area previously and we made the decision to approach from a different direction.  It paid off.  We first encountered a group of up to seventeen as we drove down a track.  They seemed oblivious to the tractors towing bulky trailers to and from the pig farm and they only moved slowly away from us, as we watched from the car, and not bothered by our close proximity,  we had very good views of this sometimes difficult and flighty giant to get close too.  We followed the track heading towards the railway and on the other side of it, there was another group of Bustards - about the same in number.  We checked them out hoping to find a Little Bustard, but they were all of the bigger variety.

We were now at the station corner and to our surprise, there were around 20 Stone Curlews feeding in the field next to us.  On the sunny grassy bank, butterflies were active.

Along with our new route we encountered flocks of Goldfinches, Serin, and Linnets Rock Sparrow, Corn Bunting, and lots of Magpies.

This was in a very mixed habitat that included natural verges, vines, corn stubble and ‘resting’ ground. Tree Sparrows were in abundance too and this is the new location for them. Spotless Starlings were easily seen and one occasion, on a wire, about eighty of the European type.

 A Red leg Partridge stood its ground and refused to move we were only 3 meters from it and all I could do was some headshots.

The sound of Calandra Larks surrounded us and we had both excellent views of them flying and on the ground.  A Thekla's Lark perched long enough to be photographed, this was a very pale and cold looking and not what I would expect to see and is not the standard look for Thekla's Lark but I did see other birds in similar plumage.

We moved on towards Higueruela to discover that this usually good spot, under the pines, was devoid of species.

Lagunas de Petrola was again disappointing because the usually marshy areas were as dry as a bone and the main water provided little of note.  Two Marsh Harriers circled over.  On leaving, We spotted seven Yellow Wagtails by the farm buildings.  I was hoping that they would be Iberiae but the were all flava Yellow Wagtails.  I was glad to see them as  they lessened the disappointment of yet another crappy visit Petrola. 

Petrola has turn up some great birds, so to dismiss it, would be a mistake, so I guess we just keep looking till things change?

Heading towards Corral Rubio we saw nothing of interest and again many areas were dry as a bone.  It has rained, but much more rainfall is needed.  Now, in the early afternoon, we went to Montealegre del Castillo, where we knew we would find water.  On earlier visits, this was teeming with water birds, but today very little, White-headed Duck being the best of it. This may have been due to the day being a ‘Red Day’ and the hunters were all around.  On our next trip, we will make this water our first objective and also research the areas around it.

I have not mentioned every species that we saw, only ones that create more of an interest.  It is a vast area with big wide open vistas.  We find that it is good to be out there seeing the natural beauty of things and today with the sun and vegetation played host to several species of butterflies

Long-tailed Blue
Clouded Yellow

we did have a great days birding, but it could have ended so much better with just a bit more water to fill up the pool and lakes, some more Ducks, afew rare Waders, a couple of Golden Eagles, and Montague's Harrier thrown inn.
 It would of been perfect!

     its not to much to ask is it?    

Maybe that's for next time!
Have a nice day
Cheers Bryan

Sunday, October 7


What another terrific morning we had in Estapas de Yecla.  It is one of our ‘must-go-to-places’ and over the years we found some great birds in this valley. we thought we should go there again and so we did on Saturday 6th October.  

The temperatures have dropped and when we left Gran Alacant it was a mere 16 degrees and it went down to12 degrees in the valley.  We decided to have a coffee on route as the low cloud was so thick it would be impossible to see anything but by 8 am the mist was gradually lifting away and the sun was starting to peek through,  so we stayed to the east of the ridge having entered from Claudette.  We were soon bathed in sun and we were surrounded by birds and their songs.  Two hundred Wood Pigeons occupied a high wire and a big mixed flock of Goldfinches and Linnets flew from off the fields.  In one small bush, a dozen Goldfinch perched and we coined the term ‘ a charm in a bush’.  Towards the ridge and over the farm buildings Choughs called and flew, we heard them for most of the morning.  Other Corvids flew too with regular sightings of Jackdaws, Crows and Magpies, but no Ravens today.

It was great to see and still on the move a migration of Barn Swallows and they were visible all morning. Sad to see them go, but that is the way it is.  

 Northern Wheatears posed well and we must have seen over a dozen individual birds.  Several Stonechats called but remained elusive.  You don't always see what you are looking for!

The ubiquitous Crested Larks showed well and eventually, we found a Thekla's Lark.  A major surprise was a male Rock Bunting which showed well for a few moments before disappearing in the scrub, a new bird for this area and now on the bird list for Yecla. 

Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipits and Chiff Chaff were seen one chiff bashing a large caterpillar about. 

 Around us were fields of vetches with some being harvested.  Two Hoopoes showed well and on an earthen bank were Rock Sparrows.  We spent over and hour and a half at this Claudette end before moving along our normal route where the mist had begun to clear. Red Legged Partridges ran all over.

Heading towards the Yecla end of The Valley we heard Buzzards calling and at one time there were four of them circling on the thermals.

 however, before that I spotted a Golden Eagle in the distance and this obliged us by coming closer and we could clearly see the wing patches and the white rump. We counted at least six individual Little Owls as we passed through and in the ‘wine area’ we had excellent views of both Tree and House Sparrows where the comparison with the two species could be seen.  Both sorts of Starlings were around too with many White Wagtails feeding.

Moving on towards the ridge with pines a ‘falcon’ was spotted in a field, in the distance.  We knew what we thought it could be, but after 30 minutes and with closer views it had to be a female Lesser Kestrel. We had hoped for something else, but we were happy, that we had sorted the ID out.  A male Lesser also flew and I reassured myself that they still frequent this valley. Common kestrel also was seen close by.

Lesser Kestrel
We heard Sandgrouse but they stayed out of sight. The stubble in the fields is now a little higher making it difficult to see them. We noticed some butterflies, and in all, we think that we had four species. Lots of Bray White,  Common Blue, a few Clouded Yellow, Banded Greylings.
Also seen a few foxes

There were some absentees with Raven, Black Wheatears, and Calandra Larks being the more obvious ones.

What an excellent few hours and the most productive was the early ones as the sun came up and the mist cleared.  It is lovely to be out there


I've added a few photos from my trip out 2 weeks ago, that I failed to write up.
On route to Montnegre, we stopped by a bridge over the Rio Montnegre it a fast flowing stream with not much depth and so in the stream I paddled to photograph these Beautiful Demoiselle Dragonflies



Bryan Thomas