Tuesday, December 18

All you need is a flooded field

On Monday 17th December with the temperature around 12 degrees. John and I decided to stay local and visit our usual places and our first stop was in the Salinas opposite the turning for Playa Lisa. The water level on the non-saline side was high and there was nothing of note on it. On the Salinas side were the usual collection of Gulls with two Lesser Black Backed amongst them.

At the Salt Tower a Spoonbill flew towards us, and around, before settling behind the nearest bank. In the far distance there were 35+_others with a group of four easily visible. A Redshank called and flew over. Flamingos had good numbers. The pools opposite the lay-by did contain water, but no birds. A winter plumage Black Headed Gull perched close by.

At the next pull-in we could easily see more Spoonbills. Little Egrets were numerous and we saw four Great Egrets and over the reeds two Marsh Harriers hunted. A pair of Stonechats were obvious. We carried on to El Pinet and it was disappointing. Against the far bank were a good number of Black Tailed Godwits. We quickly went to the beach in search of wintering seabirds, but all that we saw were Auduoin’s Gulls and Meadow Pipits searched and flew around in the dunes. An Iberian Green Woodpecker called from the pines.

Next we visited the mouth of the Rio Segura. Dartford Warblers called and flew. There were rafts of Gulls with both Black Headed and Mediterranean in very good numbers. Slender Bills were further up the river. Disappointing in some respects with no Kingfishers and nothing more except a lone Jay flew into the pines.

Apart from the flying Spoonbill which was a very good sighting our morning was not exceptional.

We now headed in the general direction of Santa Águeda and on the way we had a flying male Marsh Harrier and our first Booted Eagle of the day. There were plenty of small birds around and then we got lucky.


We came up to a flooded field that resembled a lagoon. 75 Glossy Ibis and 50 Cattle Egrets fed. That was a great sight and flying in and around were numerous White Wagtails and raucous Jackdaws called from the side. Glossy Ibis fed close to us and so did several Black Winged Stilts.

In the corner of the field small birds hopped about and flew in and out of cover. We had to be patient and it was not until our return on passing this field that we had outstanding views of three Water Pipits.

A female Black Redstart perched in front of the car. They are beautiful birds. We also added Chaffinches and Greenfinches to our sightings.
There is now water at Santa Águeda with the scrubby area having pools in it. We paid attention to it and there close by was a solitary Temminck’s Stint sharing the mud with a Blue Throat with others of it’s kind flying in an out of the bushes.

We will never be satisfied, but our opinion of 2018 was we've seen some tremendous birds and also some great company plenty laughs and banter, we've been fortunate to have seen lots of birds, and few photos to go, how lucky are we. A great hobby and out in the field enjoying ourselves. Today the sun shone from a clear sky and there was only a light wind and hopefully we will get many more of them in 2019.

cheers Bryan ThomasThomas
thanks so much for taking the time to look

Merry Christmas to all

Thursday, November 29

A Taste of Mexico

Been here on holiday at the Gran Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort

Mexico, just 3 days it been great so far. Birding as you'd expect magic.

just going to up one or two photos for now

Yucatan Jay

The Yucatan Jay is a black and blue Cyanocorax species native to deciduous forests of the Yucatan peninsula and nearby areas of Belize and Guatemala. The birds have three distinct plumages which include the blue and black of the adult, a first year plumage which appears like the adult with the exception of white tipped tail feathers, and a white and blue-grey juvenal plumage. While the plumage appears adult in the second year, the color of the eye ring and internal bill color can be used to age birds until the fourth year.

Yucatan jays are cooperative breeders, with younger birds helping the breeding pair to raise the chicks. The jay lays 4-6 pinkish-buff eggs in a poorly constructed platform nest close to canopy height near the forest edge. They are omnivores, adapting their diet to take advantage of seasonally available plant and animal material as it changes in abundance.

This species has a large range and a large, increasing population. It does not appear to be under threat from the rapid and intense development of the coastal Yucatan to the "Riviera Maya."

Have a great day

Cheers Bryan

Tuesday, November 27

Birding the Costa Blanca round up

 Birding the Costa Blanca round up

It been a tough few weeks birding with bad weather and prolonged heavy rain and to top it off  not so many birds and not many photographic opportunity's, don't get me wrong we've seen some very good birds. But the grey overcast light and distance to the birds hasn't helped.  
A  recent trip to Gabo de Gata was a bit of a wash out see my earlier post for that review.

My birding mate from Cornwall Bob Hibbett arrived and stayed with me for 6 days. Bob and I  go back  a long way to our Isles of Scilly days.Great to see him. Even though he told me that the had see about 7 Trumpeter Finch at Gabo de Gate around the lighthouse in the same place we had been looking a few days earlier. We dipped the Trumpets.

San Felipe and Palm farm road Santa Agueda, Santa Pola Salinas..
Nothing of any note just the usual  suspects

 Red nobbed Coot, Marbled Teal, Blue Throat, Widgeon, Water Pipit, over 25  Marsh  Harrier,  Booted Eagle, a few Great white Egret.  On the outer pools of San Felip, didn't have a single bird ?  It was completely void of birds? No sign of Great spotted Eagle.

2 trips to Yecla 1st trip produced 2 Golden Eagle, male Hen Harrier, Great Bustard lots of Calandra Lark and Thekla's Lark.  The second trip  to Yecla the hunters were out.  So wasn't a good time to be birding, but they did helped flush 100 plus Pin tailed Sandgrouse which gave a nice fly past and also 9 Great Bustards.

1000s of Calandra Larks in the stone fields and in the amongst the same flock were Rock Sparrows and Sky larks.

And surrounding area produced a Golden Eagle this was one of the bird's of the day and although it was little distant for photos, it was still a great bird to see, about 30+ Black bellied Sandgrouse got flush by a Buzzard and with prolonged views we all managed to get on them before they disappeared from view  1000s of Calandra Laks were present. Hardly any Waders anywhere, 
Was completely absent of birds even the heavy rains has not made an impact on the pools and lakes and many are still dried up. We persevered with our search and eventually found the Great Bustards maybe around 30+ birds the surprise of the day was 6 Geese sp which we didn't get enough to ID them as dropped over a hill.
Pego Marsh.
The weather forecast wasn't good for any where in Spain for the next few days but on the El Tiempo the online weather channel, it suggested that it would only be 0.8ml of rain at Pago? So that's where we headed. I'd forgotten just how far Pago was from Gran Alacant is, even using the toll motorway (€10.70 )  it took 2 hours + to get there. I'd not been there for a year or so as it was flooded and impassable on my last visit. This time with Bobs 4 wheel drive a Land Rover Discovery it shouldn't  present no problem's ?

There was some light misty rain as went through the mountains and then the heavens open as we approached Pago and it didn't stop all day. At times it was almost biblical ! I think we could of launched an Arch. Most of the tracks were underwater with deep pot holes. As we were already there we decided to carry on despite the lashing down of rain.

 To be honest there where lots of birds there, Osprey, Common Crane, 9 White Stork, hundreds of Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret's, really good numbers of Reed Bunting, Blue Throat, Water Pipit,  a few common Waders. My bird of the day was a fully winged Mute Swan which was happy feeding away in the torrential rain.

 At around 4 o'clock we had had enough and headed for home. I would definitely go back to Pago looks like it has potential to turn up something good.  Although I would wait a while for the water levels of drop. 
I've not included every species seen just the ones worthy of a mention.  Photos to follow in few weeks as I'm on holiday in Mexico  birding, relaxing, enjoying food and wine, blog to follow of my travels
Have fun
Cheers Bryan Thomas
 Bird Photographer

Tuesday, November 13

Birding Cuba

Just about to upload my latest part of my portfolio Birds of the Republic Cuba great place for Birds see my Travel link below.

Cuban Tody

Coming next birds of New Zealand is a major work in progress

And after that birds of Australia, Gambia, Israel, Morocco, The Western Pacific. And so more to come.

Monday, November 5

Robins for the pot

Italy: Robins for the pot

Police seize more than 1000 plucked birds (19.10.2018)

Mmmm yum yum 1000 Robins ready for the pot

The Italian forest police (Carabinieri) have unveiled a bird trapper in possession of over 1,000 (mostly) robins in Brescia, Northern Italy. CABS members initiated the case after finding and reporting a site with illegal nets. Police caught the trapper red-handed and a search warrant was subsequently conducted at the trappers’ home address, where the grisly discovery was made. These protected birds are coveted delicacies and were intended for sale in restaurants, where they are served behind closed doors to personally known guests. In Italy, the trapping and selling of songbirds has been banned for a long time now, with the black-market restaurants facing especially high penalties. But because the birds are not on any menu, restaurant owners are rarely caught. This conviction marks poacher no.30 of the current CABS Bird Protection Camp in Brescia

Fancy a plate of robins for your Christmas dinner a few roast potatoes a glass of wine or two a little jus. 

There's some very sick people around.

Please see links on the right side of this blog for
CABS Bird Protection web site.
There some lots of bad thing happening to Birds,
Please take time to look at this web site.

Friday, November 2

3 day recce to Gabo de Gata

A 3 day recce to Gabo de Gata with Trevor, John, and Michelle The weather forecast was not good for our planned trip, and with dip in temperatures and with a very strong gale force winds, driving cold rain, made birding difficult, just holding your binoculars "still" was a major feat, using a scope was almost impossible for most of the time. but undeterred we soldiered on. 

We birded from first light till the sun went down, I feel a little disappointed, even though Trevor's trip list ended up a health 121 only 71 for the Gabo de Gata trip.

Birds on list include Golden Eagle, Short toed Eagle, Black kite, lots of waders Great white Egret, male Hen Harrier, Spoonbills, but i did expect to get a few photographs and I didn't. I took only1 bird photo in 3 days not much reward for lots of effort, nothing really showed well and everything was distant and flighty in the gusty wind. 

We didn't expect to see any new species, and we had a good look around for the elusive Trumpeter Finch and Dupont Lark but no luck in finding them. Stunning scenery, sea scapes, desert and vista's. A place I'd go back to, but next time in the spring, you could, just do a two night stay over, this would be plenty of time to see all the birds.

Although we didn't get our target birds on this trip, we'll have to leave that for another time.

But with the Birding banter and buzz of a new Birding recce it was still a very enjoyable trip and well worth it, and despite no photos of any notable species.

Despite the bad weather, It was great fun and also frustrating, we had lots of good laughs, about how bad we were doing regarding the birds, the bad weather, and how the gods were against us. I did ask the question about what was our combined birding experience, it turned out staggering 140 year's of birding which is amazing. And on the last afternoon the sun came out and I managed a few scenic photographs.

A few grogs of ale at the end of the birding day was a fitting end to our recce at 

Gabo de Gata 
For a more detailed information on Gabo de Gata with

Site directions and GPS and so much more info
see link below

John and Trevor 
Happy days

Cheers Bryan

Sunday, October 28

Plastic Birds

Imagine that you are constantly eating, but slowly starving to death. Hundreds of species of marine mammals, fish, birds, and sea turtles face this risk every day when they mistake plastic debris for food. 

Plastic debris can be found in oceans around the world. Scientists have estimated that there are over five trillion pieces of plastic weighing more than a quarter of a million tons floating at sea globally. 

Most of this plastic debris comes from sources on land and ends up in oceans and bays due largely to poor waste management.
Plastic does not biodegrade, but at sea large pieces of plastic break down into increasingly smaller fragments that are easy for birds to consume. 

A nose for sulfur
in the early 1970s showed that tube-nosed seabirds use their powerful sense of smell, or olfaction, seabirds are attracted to dimethyl sulfide (DMS), a natural scented sulfur compound. DMS comes from marine algae.

However, in a study just published propose a new explanation: For many imperilled species, marine plastic debris also produces an odour that the birds associate with food and is very similar DMS

So much plastic trash is flowing into the oceans than 90 per cent of seabirds eat it now and virtually everyone will be consuming it by 2050 In a new study published this week, tracks for the first time how widespread plastics have become inside seabirds around the world.

Scientists have been tracking plastic ingestion by seabirds for decades. In 1960, plastic was found in the stomachs of fewer than five per cent, but by 1980, it had jumped to 80 per cent. 

The most disturbing finding is. 

“Global plastic production doubles every 11 years “So in the next 11 years, we’ll make as much plastic as we’ve made since plastic was invented. 

You can help: pay attention to how much plastic you throw away—grocery bags, Styrofoam cups, water bottles, packaging—and try to use less and recycle and dispose of plastic correctly

sometimes I get a feeling that it is all s bit too late

Friday, October 26

Guadalentin Valley and Sierra Espuña

Not much to report from the Guadalentin Valley.  Spectacled Warbler being about the best of it, Marsh Harrier, Tree Sparrow, Little ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, and few more commoner  Birds, but to be honest, it was just a quick run through the valley, on route to the top of Sierra Espuna. Birds seen on the way up Crossbill, Crested tit, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Firecrest, Mistle Thrush, Jay, Black Redstart also big influx of European Robin.

 The Ice, cave's area was a bit disappointing and flat, we were hoping for the return of the Ring Ouzels, but maybe it's just a bit early,  Chough, Raven, and 26 Griffon Vultures,  and that was about it.
Time to head for home on the way down the mountain a Short-toed Eagle, show well and a possible Golden Eagle circled high but we lost it in the clouds before we could positively ID it.
 Moment of the day was a herd Mouflon Goat's which showed well

A lovely day in the mountains with spectacular views
Cheers Bryan

My Spanish Bird list.

I've just counted up my Spanish bird list, its something I've been meaning to do for a while, my total for Spain is 283. I thought about how it compare to my Isles of Scilly list of 280 which took the best part of 30 years to achieve.  
Over the years Scilly has developed an enviable reputation as Europe's premier rarity locality, being a magnet for bird originating from all points of the compass.

Hugh Town St Mary's
To date, 450 species have been recorded (A staggering 447 in accordance with the IOC which was list adopted on the 1st January 2018 and considering the size of the Isles of Scilly it does really well,

 And it got me thinking what are my favourite photographers from Spain and the Isles of Scilly. And below is just a few.

Black-browed albatross
Isles of Scilly 

Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Isles of Scilly

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Isles of Scilly

Montagu's Harrier

Rock Thrush

Alpine Accentor

Have a great day

Tuesday, October 23

Bryan Thomas Bird photographer

Hi there hope you're all having a good day here's a link to my other Birding Blog just click  this link below
    Bryan Thomas Bird Photographer   

Photos and info from my Birding trip around the world. Still, work in progress and lots more destination to add.  Please take the time to look
Have fun 
Cheers Bryan

Monday, October 22

Duck Slaughter El Hondo

I found on this photo on the web its about the authorised shooting of Ducks at El Hondo
We all know it goes on as we hear the shots ringing out around
El Hondo, but on this scale???

            Ducks hunted in El Hondo last February      

               Below a Google translation

Last April the Association of Friends of the Wetlands of the South of Alicante (AHSA) went to the Territorial Management of Alicante of the Ministry of Environment requesting information on the number and species of aquatic birds authorized to be killed in the preserves of hunting of the Natural Park of the Hondo, during the season 2017-18, as well as the censuses in which they have been based for their elaboration. In addition to the number and result of the inspections carried out by the environmental agents, in the hunting grounds of this natural area, for the control of the runs in the 2017-18 season, in compliance with the provisions of the Master Plan for Use and Management (PRUG).

The Association of Friends of the Wetlands of the South of Alicante (AHSA) recently received a photograph sent by a collaborator of this group in which 6 people appeared posing before more than 250 dead ducks, after a day of hunting. The birds were duck spoons Anas clypeata and common porr Aythia ferina, both species classified as hunting by the current Hunting Law of the Valencian Community and the current Order of Veda. The person who provided the photograph stated that it had been made in a preserve of the El Hondo Natural Park, during the month of February, apparently the environment of the photograph is consistent with the house of one of the hunting grounds of greater surface of this natural park.

Proud to posing before more than 250 dead ducks, 

Given the doubts raised by the content of the aforementioned photograph, regarding the proper control that the Ministry of Environment should exercise on the hunting activity in this natural space, the environmental group has addressed the Territorial Directorate in Alicante of this administration autonomic for, through a writing, in which a copy of the photograph is attached, request a copy of the report by which the number and species of aquatic birds to be shot in the hunting grounds of the Natural Park of El Hondo, during the 2017-18 season, as well as the censuses on which they have been based for its elaboration. AHSA also asks the responsible for the Consellería in Alicante, be informed of the number and result of inspections, by environmental agents in the hunting grounds of waterfowl of this natural area, to control the runs in the season of hunting 2017-18, in compliance with the provisions of its Master Plan for Use and Management (PRUG) which establishes that "For an effective control of the runs, it should be foreseen the presence of enough nursery in the spot; establishing, also, the necessary mechanisms to carry out the control on the pieces shot down (...) "

Amigos de los Humedales remembers that, during this hunting season, a preserve of this natural area was already the object of an intervention by the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil (SEPRONA) for hunting during the night, completely outside the allowed hours , for which the hunters surprised in the preserve were denounced and the dead birds seized by the agents were seized.

AHSA is concerned about the significant impact that hunting has on waterfowl and the more than possible affectation to endangered species, such as the white-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala and the Marmaronetta angustirostris pardus and recalls that the legislation that regulates hunting has hardened in recent years, for wildlife. They give as an example that currently it is possible to shoot up to 2 hours after twilight, when before it was up to 1 hour after sunset or that the hunting period has been extended in waterbird preserves. Until the first years 2000 the season ended at the beginning of January, now it is possible to hunt until mid-February.

Finally, AHSA points out that despite the fact that hunting is authorized within the scope of the natural park, the Administration must exercise its control role as stated in the legislation itself.

       Whichever way you look at it's still sick
        I just don't get this mindless slaughter


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   http://m.komitee.de/en/homepage.   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, water levels are high and what waders that were there, were a long way off and too far away to ID correctly.  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