Friday, May 31

Mass poisoning incident

I came across this on Facebook
what a waste... 
 Egyptian Vulture
three men receive the highest jail time imposed in Spanish history for wildlife poisoning. These criminals are responsible for poisoning 138 birds of prey and 4 crows, including endangered species.
Spain's harshest wildlife poisoning conviction
A Pamplona court sentenced two years and eight months in prison to each criminal responsible for these atrocities. These include two presidents of hunting reserves and a gamekeeper guard. The jail time imposed is the longest ever in Spain for a wildlife poisoning crime. Because the sentence is longer than two years, they will have to enter jail, as they cannot get the conviction automatically suspended. In addition to jail time, they are banned from managing hunting reserves, hunting and acting as gamekeepers for five years and four months. They also have to pay €67,538.65 to Comunidad Foral de Navarra and take measures to recover the damage they caused. This punishment would not have been possible without the role of the Guarderío Forestal and the Policía Foral de Navarra for clarifying the facts and for obtaining the incriminating evidence. 
The mass poisoning incident
Black Kite
The events took place in 2012 at the hunting grounds of Tudela and Cintrúenigo (Navarra), where 138 raptors and 4 crows died from eating poisoned bait. Some of the birds of prey killed include, 108 Black Kites, a Marsh Harrier, two Griffon Vultures and an Egyptian Vulture. These are protected species that, in some cases, are listed as endangered. The court recognised that the poisoning was planned by the management of the companies managing four hunting reserves, two of them in Tudela (Montes del Cierzo and Monte Alto) as well as the Cintruénigo and Fitero reserves. 
Wildlife poisoning in Spain 
Research reports in Spain indicate that the illegal use of poisoned baits is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. These reports reveal that there have been 8,324 cases of poisoning, killing 18,503 animals. But Spanish NGOs estimate that wildlife poisoning in Spain is even worse and could reach 185,000 cases, since about 85 to 97 percent of the cases are not detected. Even though the use of poisoned baits is illegal in Spain and other European countries, it continues to be widely used to kill predators, endangering threatened birds and mammals. We hope that the harsh legal consequences of this sentence will reduce the number of people using bait poisoning as a way to control predators in Spain.
Vultures' biggest threat
Poison is the biggest threat to vultures worldwide – this was indeed the main conclusion of the Vulture Multi-species Action Plan, co-developed by us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation, and endorsed by the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS). A significant part of this global action plan for vultures focuses on the actions needed to fight this threat. 
In Europe the we are actively pursuing different lines of work to fight this threat, among which is the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project, funded by the MAVA Foundation, where we are working and funding local partners in five counties (Croatia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Greece) to try to eradicate this illegal and highly damaging practice.
hopefully these bird killer's will get a taste of there own medicine
if there's any justice
cheers Bryan

Saturday, May 25

Epic Days Birding

I had planned to write up the last weeks birding daily, but time just runs away from me.

Its been an unbelievable week with some fantastic sighting and great birding moments with a few photographic opportunities thrown in.

Morning  one:
A return visit to Benejuzar and the Segura river, some of the birds seen Melodious Warbler,  Night Herons, Nightingale's, Turtle Dove's, Woodchat Shrike,  Common Cuckoo, Booted Eagle.

Woodchat Shrike

 Melodious Warbler

Turtle Dove

 lots of smaller birds like Sean and Linnet. A  quick hop over to La Mata for Montague's Harrier which was very mobile, but showed well.

Morning Two Yecla :
For this visit  Mark Etheridge joined Trevor and me for the mornings birding our first stop was to get Mark a few photos at the Rock Sparrow site, which is very active with lots of displaying and comings and goings on.

Rock Sparrow

 several Black-eared Wheatears showed very well in different location's,  this was a WertherS' caramel moment.

Black-eared Wheatear

Short-toed, Thekla's,  Calandra, and Crested Lark all showed during the day. 

 Short-toed Lark

 Calandra Lark
 We decided to pay a visit to the Bee-eaters site, and while scanning around Trevor said,  I've got a raptor but all I could see was two very distant Buzzard and suddenly the raptor which Trevor had called, had appeared flying low close to the ground and being mobbed by the following buzzards.

 Spanish Imperial Eagle

  It was big, the flypast lasted about 45 seconds as the bird follow the bottom of the valley and then lost to view.  Trevor and Mark were looking at each other and scratching their heads trying to ID the large raptor. I never put my binoculars on the bird, I was busy trying to get some photos, which proved difficult as the autofocus wanted to focus on the background and not the bird.

 Spanish Imperial Eagle

  I'm glad I did, as with the photos and the guide books we were able to confirm it was a Spanish Imperial Eagle. Its the second time in as many weeks that an Imperial Eagle been seen around this area  The WertherS caramel moment was out again.

 Spanish Imperial Eagle
Later on we came across another big Eagle sat in a field,  I got a bit excited as it was fairly close, we all jumped out the car and watch it take flight, always ass on and going away, but our thought of another encounter with the Imperial Eagle were dashed as it  banked and showed it was a Short-toed Eagle. Another excuse for a WertherS moment.

Black-eared Wheatear

 We ended our day with a repeat performance of the Black-eared Wheatears, nice extended mornings birding with Trevor and Mark, and looking forward to our planned visit to Guadelentin valley.

Day Three Guadelentin valley:
Early start. The three Amigos set off and one hour and 20 minutes later we were birding, first bird seen Short-toed Lark, which shows well compared to the ones we had seen at Yecla,  on the road a Tractor towing a muck spreader appeared,   Trevor accelerated to get out the way,, unfortunately at the same time I spotted an amazingly close Black-bellied Sandgrouse sat on top of a sandbank,  an emergency stop  was enough to flush the bird,   if only that tractor hadn't shown up, and as it happens it went in the opposite direction. Sod's law.

Turtle Dove 
We caught up with a few European Rollers which posed for us.   A very showy Turtle Dove and Bee-eaters.

European Roller

 European Roller

 European Bee-eaters

There had been some light overnight rain and Trevor was not keen to leave the tarmac road as it meant getting the rented car a bit dirty, so we had a little bit of a flat period with not much happening except a flyover of a Montague Harrier. we had all most gone completely around, when I said to Mark, this is a good area for Spectacled Warbler so I asked if we should stop and listen sure enough we heard  the call of Spectacled Warbler we all got out the car  Trevor then pick a Short-toed Eagle on a distant  pylon, Mark was trying to photograph the Spectacled , I heard a scratchy call very close.  I peeped over the top of a  bush and there it was A Rufus Bush Chat, we then spent the next half an hour watching The Bush Chat but not just one but two bush chats and a third heard, a new bird for this area as I've not heard of it being reported there before.

Spectacled Warbler
With time running out  I said we should try another scrub area for Spectacled Warbler and within a few moments it popped up right in front of us.

Spectacled Warbler

 Running short of WertherS caramel we had to ration them to just one sweet each.
A nice finish to yet another great day we headed off home.

Day Four Montnegre and Maigmo
7 o'clock start, and wanting to be at the Alicante end to have the light behind us as we travel up the mountain track, Unfortunately, Mark couldn't make it for today's visit, big shame as he misses one of those mega days. Our target bird for today was the elusive Trumpeter Finch, we went almost to the same spot that I'd seen one a few years ago. A Rock Bunting kept us entertained and Black Wheatears perched up for us.

Rock Bunting
 Two birds flew around the rock face calling  I was sure they were Trumpeters, a little while later one Trumpeter Finch perched on the power wires above us but into the strong sunlight, it was great to see, but in a terrible light, we decide not to give up just yet.

Trumpeter Finch

 Trevor then had a great view of two more birds which dropped in front of him, but move off quickly and flew far away into the distance, in the meantime the Rock Bunting was showing off.

Then without warning Trevor call raptor, it was two Bonelli's Eagle showing really well and circling over the rock face, the best view I've ever had, the way things were going I would have to go buy another bag WertherS caramel moments, we spent around about 2+hours  at the rock face.

Bonelli's Eagle

Bonelli's Eagle

Bonelli's Eagle

We move another  300 meters to a flat area and 2 more Trumpeter Finch dropped in front of us, I managed to get a few record photos.

Trumpeter Finch

Trumpeter Finch

More than happy that we persevered and got a result we wanted. It's possible that we were seeing the same birds all the time but my guess they were all different birds?

 Further along the track after the village of Montnegre by the flat area and the lone tree  I called a raptor which was very low and only just circling above the ravine very odd behaviour, as it turns out it was a Golden Eagle which then gathers height and was lost in the blue sky.

 Golden Eagle

 Later Griffon Vultures circled and Peregrine Flacon flew across.
Crossing over to Maigmo mountain  Woodlark, Tree Creeper, and all the Tits were seen. Plus Iberian Green Woodpecker and Crossbill.


 Short-toed Tree Creeper

Short-toed Tree Creeper

And now we had now seen all the Eagles on the Spanish list within 4 days without leaving the Alicante area how good is that?
(Not including the Great Spotted Eagle)
which we both seen earlier this year.

Day Five and last morning
 After the last few days, this morning local birding was always going to be an anticlimax how wrong  I was?  first, we had a look for Rufous bush chats on the historical Carabassi site but no luck there on the route a couple of Audouin's gulls, and then on to the Santa Pola Salina's plenty of Yellow Wagtails and Collard Pratincole's and an El Pinet, just the summer resident breeding birds.

 European Roller
We went on to a European Roller site where we watch them performing it was truly a pleasure to watch them.

 European Roller

  On the road close to the Monastery we heard the raucous call of Great-spotted Cuckoo and to our amazement, there were 3. They chased each other and the Magpies around for about half an hour, at time's only a meter or so from us, what a brilliant show!

 Great Spotted Cuckoo

 Great Spotted Cuckoo

 Great Spotted Cuckoo

 Great Spotted Cuckoo

 Great Spotted Cuckoo
 I reluctantly we move on as we headed for San Felipe,  in one field over 150 Glossy Ibis, a Little Owl stood its ground while I took his portrait.

  At San Felipe a nesting Marble Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, and Whisker Tern, Purple Swamp Hen, Great Reed Warbler, adding to our list making a total for Trevor's trip a respectable 113 species and with only 4 waders on the list Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover and Collard Pratincole makes it even more impressive.

Whisker Tern
This last weeks birding with Trevor and Mark was brilliant, and up there with the best, like Extremadura and Pyrenees
Have a great day
Cheers Bryan

Thursday, May 9

Isles of Scilly

No Spanish birding this week as Ive returned to the Isles of Scilly for a Birthday Party, and a catch up with my birding friends and mates there. Arriving at the end of the 30th Annual World championships Gig weekend,  St Mary's was full of Gig rowing crew, members, and supporters, its a great event and a crazy time for the Islands with a 170 gigs  competing in the Championships title. if you've  never been there its one for your life list to do its amazing/


Not seen any rare migrant birds strong north westerly winds which bring nothing,  but nice to see the common birds around the Islands  some of which are below.

Razor Bill



Oyster Catcher

lots of these tiny Wrens sitting up everywhere and Dunnock's



good number of Gannet fishing between St Marys and St Agnes in the tidal currant.

Greater black Back Gull
great place if your a birder check it out
Cheers Bryan