Friday, July 26

Mediterranean Flycatcher

Today we aimed to find some Spotted Flycatcher along the pine belts of the Carabassi road.
After the recent splitting of these birds, john and I wanted to see if we could find a suitable candidate for Mediterranean Flycatcher and ID one in the field
See my blog 1st of July

We we're there as the sun came up, if the sunrise was anything to go by it was going to be a good day, sure enough, there were lots of Spotted Flycatchers in a different location around the beach area, but could we pick out a candidate who fitted the criteria for a Mediterranean Flycatcher

Mediterranean Flycatcher

It was difficult, to say the least, and to get one perched up long enough to get a clear view, and ID the bird, and at that time in the morning, they were very active.

After several false alarms, we finally got a Flycatcher that stayed long enough which had the right credentials, unfortunately, no camera, so we just watch for a few minutes and went through the ID of the bird.

Spotted Flycatcher

Satisfied we had a good candidate for Mediterranean Flycatcher we move on and decided to return later with the camera.

Mediterranean Flycatcher

A quick run around the Salinas of Santa Pola

Stand out moments we're 3 Night Heron, a canteen of Spoonbills, a single Whimbrel flypast, 50+ Mediterranean Gulls, and about the same number of Little Tern.

The Common Terns have fledged and nesting site at El Pinet is almost finished with only the odd bird coming and going.
The Collared Pratincoles seemed to of had a good breeding season with roughly 20+ juveniles on the far bank.
Around the back of La Marina were 6 Roller and a few Bee-eaters but not much else, we then returned to Carabassi pines and after much chasing about I think I eventually press the shutter button on the right Flycatcher see for your self?

Cheers Bryan

Thursday, July 25

Two-tailed Pasha Butterfly

Hi there hope you're having a good day

Yesterday another revisit to the valley of Montnegre and the Mountains of Maigmo.  With 3 visiting tourists, we set off around 8.30.  All of the group were none birders, who just wanted to see a bit more of our local area and experience with luck some wildlife, some stunning views, and the fantastic rock formations,  in and around Montnegre and Maigmo Mountain areas.

I stuck to the normal routine which has produced the best results.   At the Trumpeter Finch site no sign of any birds, but to be fair we didn't give it any time, maybe 5 minutes, before moving on.  Woodchat  Shrike,  Black-eared Wheatear, Serin. Bee-eaters and many gathering of Swallows,  House Martin, and Red-rumped Swallows were in plenty of areas on the track up mountain.

A possible Mediterranean flycatcher showed, close to Montnegre a few photos to follows. At least 7 Griffon Vultures circled over the mountain face close to the town of Tibi.

And at the top of Maigmo
 Alpine Swifts, Pallid Swift, and a Bonelli's Warbler and a distant large Raptor but the star of today Tour was a Butterfly.  A Two-tailed Pasha or Foxy Emperor.

Two-tailed Pasha

A butterfly in the Nymphalidae, it's the only European species of the genus Charaxes
It was in amazing condition and feeding well on nectar

A lovely morning sightseeing with a sprinkling of great birds and a great butterfly.

Nice company, all wash down with a few groogs of beer in our local pub

Have Fun
Cheers Bryan

Saturday, July 20

Daylight Hours are Drawing In

You may not have noticed that the nights are now starting to draw in. We have already lost at least 10 minutes since the longest day 21st of June, things are slowly on the move.

 Autumn is on its way.  And will only be gathering pace as the clock is ticking.

 My Birding mates on the Isles of Scilly has already had several early autumn migrants like Jack Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Lesser yellow Leggs some weeks ago.

 There are now only a few weeks left before our Pallid Swifts and Purple Heron and Bee-eaters start to leave.

It's still very hot, but for some of the breeding birds, or failed breeders they have already made there mind up to make the move south.
So don't be surprised if you come across a returning migrant.

Have a great day
 Go Birding we may not always get to see everything we would like to 
But we might?  you just never know.
That's the beauty of our hobby.
The more your out there the more you see. 
So make some News.

Cheers Bryan 

Thursday, July 18

An unexpected jounney

  John Edwards and I thought we would try and explore some new ground around the base of Maigmo Mountain range 
We didn't really expect to be reporting anything of note which as it turns out was correct.

 First, we explored the Agost side.  
 Interesting habitat which was dotted with abandon villas and Casas with deep ravines, cultivated ground, and scrub landscape but it only produced a single Common buzzard and after 18 kilometres of following a track, only to end up back at Maigmo Mountain again was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. 

Where next John said let's see if the Alpine Swift is there, and so up the bendy track to the top of Maigmo Mountain, we went.  But no sign of Alpine Swift today,  but at the top and looking down over the territory below we realised that we should have driven through Agost to get to where we wanted to go. And an unintentional detour to Castalla and the terraced wheat and barley fields produce very little to show for the detour.

  Returning down the motorway to Agost and the CV 827 which eventually got us to where we wanted to go. And In the town centre of Agost.  The highlight of the day was a juvenile leucistic House Martin completely white and flying around with its blue and white brothers and sisters.

  And around the base of Maigmo and on the Agost dry side was a Common Kestrel and a few Bee-eaters but not much else despite a really good look around and going down several tracks which we follow to its end.

Common Kestrel

We did, however, find a route (road named Carretera Agost ) which took us from Agost to Petrer through the mountains which had mind-blowing views and scenery and at our late 2nd breakfast picnic stop Rincon de Bello there was around 100 + Chough.

Rincon de Bello
We zig-zagged back and forth through the mountains and eventually arrived Petrer. 
Which is famous for its no directions, and how not to exit the Town and drive around in circles.
 Please see
John Edwards excellent review of our travels and encounters.
Link Just below


Back at Gran Alacant and a quick look at the Clot de Galvany,
some nice views of White-headed Duck which has successfully reared 3 young at least.

White-headed Duck

Juv White-headed Duck

  Purple Swamphen, Great reed Warbler, Common Pochard,
And Red-crested Pochard

 Purple Swamphen

And much later that night the partial eclipse of the moon

Have fun
Cheers Bryan

Saturday, July 13

Fanfare of Trumpets and Swift Sandwich

Hi there hope you're having a good day. 
So our plan for yesterday was for us to revisit Maigmo  As it happens we missed our turn off on the motorway.  So we decided to carry on and revisit Montnegre and do a reverse route.  We arrived before the sun came over the Mountains, it was amazingly beautiful and still.  A proper moment.

As it turned out it was a good decision,   as we wanted to just confirm that our previous sighting at Montnegre wasn't a fluke.  We didn't spend so much time there about 45 minutes at the Trumpeters site.  And a fanfare of Trumpeter Finch greeted us,  blowing there trumpets loud and clear and substantially more than been seen previously, it was an event to not be forgotten.

Trumpeter Finch
A few more photos and we moved on, not before a  Juv Blue-rock Thrush put in an appearance. We didn't waste to much time driving up the track and at the end of the track right on top of one highest peak's was a  Mouflon and then on to Maigmo.

Maigmo Mountain
The plan was to get some better views and photos of Alpine Swift which as it turned out,the chances were few and far between.

although the Alpine Swift was present they were always a bit distant. We gave it an hour or so, and had a cup of tea and a swift cheese sandwich and that was it.

Alpine Swift

  Temperatures we're rising and with little shade, enough was enough. We got back in the car and on with the air con and headed on down the mountain

We stopped at the water troughs on the way down for Crossbill which didn't really happen,  as everything is very flighty and I only managed a few record shots, but there is lots of activity around these water troughs given a bit of time there it would surely yield a good bird.

Still 6 hours birding,  it was hot and now time to head for home. I haven't included a list of all the birds seen but all the usual suspects were there

it's great to be out there
thanks to J E

Tuesday, July 9

Photo of the Day Painted Lady

I am sure everybody would have noticed the abundance of Painted Lady around Spain  
but here are some interesting facts 

Butterfly Facts

A few hours before the butterfly emerges, the chrysalis turns a dark (almost black) colour.  A few minutes (5-60) before the butterfly emerges, the chrysalis turns clearer and you can see the wing through the chrysalis.

The new butterfly cannot eat or fly when it is born!
The new butterfly's wings are wet and folded when it emerges.  It hangs from its chrysalis to dry, harden, and stretch its wings and body. 

The new butterfly must assemble its proboscis before it eats.  When it is born the proboscis is separated into two tubes that must be connected in order to eat.

The butterfly "tongue" is a proboscis rolled up under its face.  The proboscis is hollow butterflies sip nectar as you would sip through a straw.

A new butterfly drops meconium out its abdomen shortly after it is born.  The meconium looks red (like your blood) and is made from leftover caterpillar parts that the butterfly doesn't use.  Butterfly blood is clear.
Butterflies breathe (obtain oxygen) through spiracles small holes in their bodies. 
 Painted Lady Butterflies use four legs.  They are part of a family of butterflies known as the brush foot butterflies (Nymphalidae) because their front two legs are so small they are useless.  You can see them stuck to the butterflies' thorax

.Painted Lady Butterflies enjoy eating oranges, watermelon, other fruits, and sugar water.

Painted Lady Butterflies live in every continent in the world except Australia and Antarctica.

Painted Lady Butterflies have many predators wasps, mantises, birds, and other animals may eat the butterflies, eggs, larvae, or pupae.

The adult Painted Lady Butterfly only lives for about two weeks!
cheers Bryan

Saturday, July 6

Maigmó Mountian

  After a slow start, things  started to warm up quite a bit in more ways than one

We the 3 Amigos John, Mark, and I were out and about before dawn and arrived a Maigmó before the sun was up, in fact, we were that early, we had to wait for the birds to get going.  So we had a cup of Tea, We worked the lower slopes with not much reward a pair of Wood Lark perched on an almond tree, which took flight and we're not seen again.   Several Crested Tits taunted us, and I wasn't able to take any usable photo's,  A Firecrest put in a showing and again I couldn't get a clear shot off.  There are a lot of Crossbills at Maigmo and coming to the water troughs, but they were very flighty and difficult to get on a bird that is perch in the open,  they are either in tops of the pines and/or dropping to the water troughs, and a quick slurp and then off fast.  I guess the Sparrow Hawk which was also their might of had something to do with that?  On the way up we came across our first of  3 Short-toed Eagles And at the top @ 1293 meters Balcón de Alicante there wasn't anything to get excited about a few Coal Tit and Crested Tits and many Chaffinch also an Iberian Red Squirrel. 

Iberian Red Squirrel.

 John Spotted a pair of Peregrine over in the valley. Enough was enough and headed for the other side and top of the other mountain of Maigmó.

It was hot but little did we know how hot it would get, and as we arrived at the top. I nearly had a fit as an Alpine Swift flew across the edge of the small car park.  "Everybody out  I called"   Alpine Swift.  we spent the next hour and a half or so in the baking  Hot Sun waiting for the frequent fly past's of these masters of the air


My guess is they are breeding close by probably in one of  the cliff faces

  A Distant Golden Eagle and the seconded Short-toed Eagle that was circling together.

It was such a treat to watch these acrobatics Swift's, now and again they were joined by Pallid Swift and I did point the lens and photograph the wrong bird and mistakenly photograph Pallid instead of Alpine Swift the result are below, they are the Lewis Hamilton of the formula 1

New birds and (ticks) for the other member's of there NBBC

On route down Mark heard a Bonelli's Warbler and there appears to be loads of this Warbler in different locations at the higher altitude's and so after more than 7 hours birding Maigmó it was time to have a cool beer not before we spotted a Rock Bunting in the water troughs on the way down.
 yet another great day
Big thanks
To John and Mark
For putting up with my banter!

 Pallid Swift

   Pallid Swift

Alpine Swift 
 Alpine Swift 

Alpine Swift 

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli's Warbler

3rd Short-toed Eagle

To days joke

A little bird was flying south for the Winter.
It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field.
While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.
As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was.
The dung was actually thawing him out!
He lay there all warm and happy and soon began to sing for joy.
A passing cat heard the birds singing and came to investigate.
Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Morals of the story:
1. Not everyone who sh*ts on you is your enemy.
2. Not everyone who gets you out of sh*t is your friend.
3. And when you're in deep sh*t, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

Hope you're having a good day

Have fun
Make some news
Cheers Bryan

Thursday, July 4

Common Nightjar

A return visit to the light house road Santa Pola to look for Red necked Nightjar and Common Nightjar.
Mark Etheridge and myself were in place and waiting when our first fly past happen at nine o'clock then the light wasn't to bad but all I got was a Red necked backside disappearing.
 Further sightings happened but all a bit to quick for me and seemingly from out of nowhere.  Common Nightjar's seemed to be the order of the night and for me there was a distinct difference and how they flew along with more glides and with a deep V in the wings and spending more time in and out of the gaps in the pines where as the R n nightjars did at least circle around us and just above the sky line giving us at least a chance of a photo.
I did however did get a shot off  of a Common Nightjar  which is probably one of the worst photos ever taken of a  Common Nightjar but it does show the ID feature's, the dark leading edge in the wing.

Common Nightjar

 Not an epic night but very enjoyable and full of banter and laughs.

Mark has now been elevated to Honorary President of the No Bins Bird Club as he forgot to bring his bins yet again, 
And one other funny event happen just after our first fly past Mark started groaning and moaning and uttering loudly offensive words in anger and annoyance, he was bent in half and holding his head.  I thought he was having a seizure or a fit of some kind. I asked you all right Mark??  another "groan and doh"  follow by more expletives, I've left my memory card at home.


Have a great
Cheers Bryan

Monday, July 1

Mediterranean Flycatcher

If you didn't already know Spotted Flycatcher has been split, and so

  I've kept an eye open for one to identify an overshooting Mediterranean Flycatcher (Muscicapa tyrrhenica), which has proven interesting.

It's been quite challenging at times but I found that in my eyes look to be a few really nice-looking candidates. The taxonomy is rather confusing as is the field identification but here I will summarise, to the best of my abilities, what I have read and learned so far. I am very much aware that there is a lot of work still being done on the taxon, with a large publication also in the pipeline. 
 However, this is intended to serve as a basic, straightforward guideline to picking out a Mediterranean Flycatcher in a vagrant context, and perhaps this will be of interest to those based on more northerly shores, who are on the lookout for this potential vagrant. 

 Mediterranean Flycatcher
This bird was down on the Carabassi Beach Road

Mediterranean Flycatcher was recently elevated to species status by the IOC (International Ornithological Committee,) after being split from Spotted Flycatcher, which is, of course, a familiar (if declining) species throughout much of Europe, including Britain and Ireland. It is also known as 'Tyrrhenian Flycatcher', and two subspecies are recognised:

 •Mt balearica, which is known to breed only on the Balearic Islands
•Mt tyrrhenica, which breeds primarily on Corsica & Sardinia

Here is a summary of features in my own words based on a series of papers, blogs and webpages I've found online, as well as my own recent observations of birds encountered in the field. As I am Birding Costa Blanca I focus only on balearica.

Mediterranean Flycatcher
This bird was down on the Carabassi Beach Road

•Crown streaking: The crown is often noticeably marked with prominent white streaks (ground colour), as opposed to the brownish/greyish streaks of Spotted Flycatcher 

•General paler/greyer appearance: Balearic birds appear quite cold and clean-looking. Spotted Flycatcher appears warmer/browner in general.

•Highly reduced/lack of streaking on breast: Typical Spotted Flycatchers tend to be heavily streaked, which contrasts to the clean white breast (sometimes with minimal, more blotchy streaks in the upper breast) of balearica

•Shorter primary projection: Primary projection is generally shorter than – or at most equal to – the length of the tertials. In striata, primary projection is longer than the tertial length.

•White underwing coverts: Clean white underwing coverts seem to be an important clinching This contrasts to the field and good photos incorrect lighting are absolutely vital. If the wing is backlit or the underwing coverts are at an angle whereby they are shaded, the resulting photo can be misleading and make them look darker than they actually are.

  Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

have fun
Cheers Bryan