Tuesday, August 11

The Sky at Night






Montnegre at night
And so the NBBC had another go for Owls and Nightjars and also a bit of Astrophotography around the area of the lone tree.

A male Black-eared wheatear, perch up long enough for us to get on it.  The Trumpeter Finch site didn't produce a single bird, maybe they've moved on already?
Swallows, Craig Martin's, and Red Rump's we're hawking insects along the length of the track till dusk not a single Swift was seen compared to 3 weeks ago when the evening sky was full of them, 

Teatime and a Slab of fruit cake, "nice" deck chairs out,  cameras set up for the Night Sky,  listening and waiting for the darkness.

2 Common Pipistrelle Bat's entertained us as the light ebbed away, then the screech of a Little Owl a new bird for the Valley Montnegre, nothing mega I know but nice to confirm there up here.

The light level was almost there for night sky photography, I heard a faint Scops Owl, but John and Michelle missed it,  luckily the bird or another started calling at quite close range, another new bird for Montnegre. Red-necked Nightjar we're heard calling.

The Plough on the left and Cassiopeia on the right

It was now black enough for Night Sky Photography 
 but we had to be quick as a cloud bank was approaching and blocking the stars out.
As the clouds took control we call it a day, I mean night and packed up.


The plough

Heading back down the track hoping to see a Nightjar sat in the road, but not single bird along the full length of the tarmac road.

As we head back to the coast and at the Alicante end of the road the Sky's had cleared so we thought we'd quickly give the night sky one more go, I took a few shots and nothing just black, I said to Michelle I've got nothing no stars or sky?  Michele said change your ISO speed, which I'd done more photos of blackness Michelle said I've got nothing as well.
I said do a longer exposure?


I bet Sir Patrick Moor of the Sky at Night didn't have these problems.

Thanks to him for getting me interested as a young boy in the Heavens,  Star Gazing and the Planets.  And the Sky at Night.

Legend
And the Man
Sir Patrick Moore OBE

More photos of blackness and the same for Michelle.  A car drove past as a long exposure was happening, I thought at least I'll have headlight trails in the photo, but No! more of the blackness
Then it slowly dawned on me "I said"   I've only left the bloody lens cap on. Michelle started laughing at me and then realized she done the same thing
What a pair numpties.

We fell about laughing. John was shaking his head at us and mumbling number of expletives like amateurs! Call your self photographers! Etc.

3 Golden rules of night sky photography
      1 remove the lens cap
2 press the shutter
3 point the lens up

Enjoyable light hearted evening and night.  A few photos of the back of the lens cap some big belly laughs must cock it up some other time
Unbelievable 

2 New birds for the valley of Montnegre can't be bad

Have fun and enjoy
Cheers BT





Friday, July 31

Diablo's infreno





Phew, it's hot by the middle of the day.
Luckily John and I were out earlyish for a quick run around the Santa Pola Salinas, all the usual suspect's are around, as you'd expect for this time of year,  5 species of Tern,  Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull,  Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, a Purple Heron briefly rose above the reed beds before dropping out of sight.

An Osprey perched on a power pylon, Collared Pratincole sat in some dry out areas along the Salinas. 

El Pinnet
For some reason, El Pinnet was incredibly humid. On the water,  Black-tailed Godwits, some in summer plumage, plenty of noisy Avocets  and
Black-winged Stilts.

 Black-tailed Godwits

A European Roller flew over the car and perch up long enough for a few photos, interestingly the Roller was leg ringed with the K2. I was wondering where this bird was ringed and where it's travelled from.

European Roller

 Heading further in the land to Sante Aguada and searching for flooded fields, no luck there. It's very dry everywhere and the ground is baked hard.

An adult Black-crowned Night Heron sat in the top of a tree and showed off.

Black-crowned Night Heron

 There's the emergence of plain Tiger Butterfly, all nice and fresh-looking.
And that was about. Today's birding was only quick check around to see if things were on the move or have changed. The only new bird was the Osprey which we've not seen for several months around this area?

Only a few weeks and the Pallid Swifts will be thinking of moving on?
Have a great day
Cheers BT.









Saturday, July 25

Birding don't stop just because it's hot




El Clot Wetlands
Today 24th 

Not expecting to see anything new for El Clot today?  I was excited to see at close range two adult Kingfisher pretending to be Cruise Missile's zooming around chasing each other.  Kingfisher's are very territorial and will see off any potential rivals.  As far as I am aware they shouldn't normally be around at this time of year. It's the only time I've seen Kingfishers in the peak of the summer in all the years of birding the Clot, Normally a winter visitor or a breeding bird a bit further north and even further afield.

Kingfisher record shot


Kingfisher photo
From 2019
I'll put money on it they've breed at El Clot this season.  No reason not too as there's an abundant supply of small fish and Tadpoles
Possible new breeding bird for the Clot.

We had the most amazing views of a Juvenile Little Bitten which came out of nowhere and walked around the front of the new hide.  I couldn't focus on it as it was that close and under my minimum focusing distance of 4 meters for my Canon 600f4 lens. It was only 2 meters away,  I backed off and got one headshot off, amazing views! Michelle luckily had the right lens and full framed the pint size Heron.

Little Bitten
The usual suspects were at El Clot.  At least 5 Purple Heron. I've seen Purple Heron all most every time that I've visited the Clot this season. Is it possible to think that Purple Heron has breed there this year? Normally you don't see hardly any Purple Heron after the Spring migration till the early Autumn or when they're on the return journey south. I now want to see a juvenile bird.

I've said it before the clot has been transformed because of re-flooding and because that the Clot is going to turn up a major rarity before not too long, I just hope I get to see it?

I've seen a warden type guy there very early most mornings, with a professional scope and binoculars maybe he's part of the Marbled Duck Reintroduction Program? Maybe he knows something, I don't know, who knows?

The Clot was buzzing with lots of activity

 Squacco Heron
Purple Heron, Black crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret. All very easy to see.

Black crowned Night Heron


Black crowned Night Heron
Tern's
Whiskered Tern, + Juveniles,  Common Terns,

Juvenile Whiskered Tern

Ducks +
White-headed Duck+ 4 young,  Marbled Duck+young,  Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Shoverlers,  Mallard Duck. Great crested Grebe.

Juvenile Great crested Grebe

Others

A few Common Sandpiper showed, also Great reed Warbler, Reed Warblers, Zitting Cisticola, long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff,  big numbers of Black-headed Gull,  mixed in the odd Mediterranean Gull, and Squadron's of Glossy Ibis.

Common Sandpiper

I've not mentioned every bird seen or heard

With only a few hours birding I felt we done well and seen lots.
More questions than answers


For a different view of today's birding

See John Edwards excellent Blog link below

  John Edwards Blog


Have a great day
Cheers BT







Friday, July 24

The Nightshift




Night Hawking 
Montnegra 

 Normally we're looking to do early morning birding,  but not this evening on  22nd July we were out looking for Nightbirds, the kind with feathers, not lady's of the night.


We checked out the Trumpeter Finch site it wasn't too long before a Trumpet showed up,  5 different birds showed in total, most in well-worn plumage.

Male Trumpeter Finch

 I'm definitely dropping the elusive bit about these Finch's, as they are not elusive anymore.

Female Trumpeter Finch

  It was good at the Finch site with different birds popping in to keep us occupied, lots of common birds, doing the Dominic Cummings and goings.

I think now its a
Moulting male Black-eared Wheatear? Not an easy ID given the plumage

Juvenile Turtle Dove

The daylight ebbed away and darkness slowly drifted in.  Swifts we're still flying in the twilight and among them an Alpine Swift.  Bats started to appear the Nightshift had begun.

  The noisy Cicada insect stopped singing their bland repetitive one syllable song as the daylight faded.  Peace at last, an eerie quietness began thank God. Now at least we could hear?

Cicada

Saturn and Jupiter dominated the rising eastern night sky, and in the west, a waxing Crescent Moon was a illuminated.

 Jupiter and some of its Moons


Waxing Crescent Moon

Red-necked Nightjar started sounding off and distant whirring sound of European Nightjar We listened intently for any owl, but it wasn't to be tonight,  I'm pretty sure there are Owls here in the Valley.  Maybe we might have to persevere and explore a bit more?

Red-necked Nightjar

Returning down the road
Red-necked Nightjars and European Nightjar showed well,  resting on the road caught in the headlights of the car.

This is a fantastic dark area in the valley of Montnegra,  where millions of stars come out to play and light up the unbelievable night sky.


 And a great place for some as astrophotography

 astrophotography from Internet


Massive Thanks, John and Michelle

Have fun
Cheers Bryan





Saturday, July 18

A Shot in the dark




No Bins Bird Club
John and Michelle Edward and myself BT

Had an early start and were on the road to Montnegre well before dawn.  Some banter in the car about the footy and Covid 19 and face masks and Hancock's Half Hour of bull shit.  Talk turned to Birds and Birds missing from our year list, I said that I've not seen or heard any Nightjar so far this year? We also talked about a chance of a Short-toed Eagle today and Trumpeter Finch, and maybe even Black-eared Wheatear.  Little did we know what was to come?

As soon as we arrive we bumped into Nightjar's resting on the Tarmac road, also flying around us, we all definitely heard and seen Red-necked Nightjar and also managed this photo is of a European Nightjar? I only say its a European Nightjar because when it flew it had a dark leading edge to the wing.

European Nightjar?

Non-vocalising nightjars present a considerable problem
The identification of nightjars is arguably one of the most challenging dilemmas faced by birders, given the low light conditions

Red necked Nightjar from last year
thanks NBBC member Mark Etheridge.

As nocturnal visual hunters, nightjars have excellent eyesight and consequently, they are easily blinded with car headlights or are spot lamped and captured by hand or netted. This, together with their habit of resting on roads at night has become somewhat of an easy sport for some ( shooters)

Click the
 link below

Slaughter of Nightjars and Raptors

So I am not going to go into all the details of the ID of this Bird other than to say there are some good online guides which are very helpful in pointing out what to look for and  how to ID Nightjar.

At the Trumpet site we heard the contact calls of Trumpets Finch, we waited and waited for the best part of an hour, it was starting to get hot.
But No show? "time to move on" but not before first breakfast.

Some good birds were seen making our way along the bendy track.


After the Village of Montnegre, there was a good size colony of Bee-eaters
 luckily we managed some nice photos.

 Bee-eater

Juvenile Bee-eater

At the Lone Tree, we had decided to do a u-turn and go back the way we came and give the Trumpeters one more go. Second Breakfast was in order.

There was a Helicopter buzzing around,  I put my bins up to take a look at it, and I nearly choked on my cheese sandwich, as
an Alpine Swift came into view.

Unbelievable

Alpine Swift


Alpine Swift
I didn't believe it at first.  I even doubted myself?  Sandwich in my mouth I took a second look, I think there's Alpine Swift up there " I said"  munching the last bit of my swift cheese sandwich.  It wasn't easy to point the bird out with no reference point in the blue sky, but luckily we all got on the bird, not one but two birds. Later on some closer fly past's.

Happy Days. The 

Returning down the track to the Trumpeter site.  A single Trumpet flew in and perched up, at the very same moment a Short-toed Eagle appeared, very close maybe only 50 meter away and low in the air,  John called it, " where'd that come from I said" everybody out.

Short-toed Eagle


  Amazing views and so close, right over our heads, And with everybody out the car watching the Eagle.


Short-toed Eagle


 The Trumpet Finch flushed, but it did return later on.


What a great day
To be honest
We've never managed to be at Montnegre before dawn but it just goes to show you that's there's so much more to this
 amazingly beautiful Valley that you can imagine

After the sunsets, the Nightshift move's in
Now it's got me thinking?  I bet there's Eagle Owl and Barn Owl even a Scope Owl in the valley maybe it's time for some Night Hawking
Watch this space!

Go Birding make some news
Have fun 
Cheers 
NBBC

For a more complete review of our Morning's Birding
See JE excellent blog
Click link below


Wednesday, July 8

Yecla Corn Crazy


Tuesday the 7th

A nice early start. A great lunar moonset and sunrise set the scene   It was cool at 17 degrees.  A slab of cake and first breakfast was in order.

Tea didn't last long as we were off and chasing 2 Great-spotted Cuckoo, to be honest, most of the birds that we did seen was before 10 o'clock., and before the heat arrived

Lunar Moonset

Sunrise was good

It's about 8 months since John and I were last here, and what a difference those months have made to the Valley of Yecla.  Corn, Barley, Wheat and Oats, have been planted and harvested from almost ever patch of ground you that you can see.

The View

  Leaving stubble over a foot high. There are some big Brassicas fields planted up at the Caudete end

Descript

 which seems to going to seed, also there are also large area of Vines and Almonds Trees.

Great Spotted Cuckoo

 I wonder why the farmers decided to plant Grains this year?






These changes has for now changed the landscape and the ecosystem, Little Owls seem to be doing well, also Lesser Kestrel. lots of them in the air following a harvesting Tractor, we've seen this before.
Maybe  there's more small mammals and bugs in the fields for them to feed on?


 Lesser Kestrel


 Lesser Kestrel


 Little Owl

There are some noticeable absentee,  Some of the predicted birds just didn't show.  All Larks were difficult. Time for second breakfast.


Short-toed Lark.

In all the years of birding Yecla,  Black-eared Wheatears are a bread and butter bird, something you could bank on and getting good photos of
But not this time?  I've still not caught up with one this year.

All those large expanse of stone fields have now all gone and cover with a foot high Stubble.

Rabbits are everywhere and almost everytime you put your binoculars up there's a Wood Pidgeon in view, not surprising given the huge amount of grains planted.
It could turn out good for Sandgrouse and Bustards later in the autumn?

Maybe the hoards of Rabbits will bring some good
 Raptors Who knows?

Tree Sparrow

 Fields that were planted with Melons, Brassicas, Peppers, and other plants have disappeared.
 All the irrigation that supported these type of plants has now being stripped out of the fields.
And now there are huge mounds of black plastic irrigation piping and black plastic sheeting that has been dumped in several different locations in and around the Valley.

 I wonder where the plastic will end up?

 Black Plastic

 The Rock Sparrow site has been abandoned as it's one of the sites where the plastic has been dumped, could it be the disturbance that has made the Rock Sparrow moved off.
 Ony one Bee-eater seen in the days birding which is sad?

Woodchat strike

For a more in-depth review of today's birding

See John Edwards excellent Blog link below

John Edwards blog

Still a great morning birding and grateful just to be out there

Make some news
Have fun
Cheers
BT