Saturday, September 21

Torrential Rains, Floods, and the Autumn Migration

Seven days ago the rains came and drowned this part of the world.  It's the most water seen in decades descended upon the land. A Gota Fria - a cold drop, came and reduced fields to lakes, moved soil and boulders, made roads in passable
and killed. Homes and businesses ruined and livelihoods removed by the storm.

The torrential downpours caused rivers to burst their banks, dragging cars and people away, flooding streets, forcing thousands from their homes, and destroying at least 300,000 hectares of prime agricultural land according to early estimates.

I am going to include a few photos of the devastating after-effects of the storm from last week.

One week afterwards we headed towards Almansa via A 31 not knowing what to expect or see or how far we could go. An early start with the sun not up we were in our way.

This is how it unfolded. Coral Rubio, Bonete and Petrola we have visited this area many times only to be disappointed over these last few years by the low levels of water and lack of birds, with previously seasonal wet areas being dry.  Not so this morning for the lagoons was in good health and many folds in the land were flooded. This is what we wanted to see.
The waders now had water a stop-off point during migration.  And this autumn and winter and next spring it's going to be amazing up here with more rain to come throughout the winter months it is only going to be topped up and get better and better, if your planning to visit Costa Blanca and go birding it might be the right time to visit as now their water. 

This is a Great Bustard country and, as always, they showed well. Just five to start with, then a group of eight followed a little later by thirteen and then two separate ones from the main bunch. We had splendid views of them walking, resting and flying. What a sight they gave us.  We love to see them fly. We never push them and give them distance and the respect these grand birds deserve.

 Great Bustard

The migration is still going on. Barn Swallows were evident and Bee-eaters were flying overhead.

On the water new arrives,  Gadwall, Shoveller, and numerous Mallard were seen. Lapwing and a couple of Ruff, a small number of Black-tailed Godwits,  Common Sandpiper, and Greenshank.  Black-necked Grebe.  There is a seasonal lake at chinchilla de Montearagon Albacete which held
lots of water but due to the viewing distance it was hard to ID anything but it held lots of waders,
Okay, not a big bird list with many species not seen and/or yet to arrive. We think, that this winter could be really good.

 Rock Sparrow
Smaller birds were Corn Bunting, Rock Sparrow, with occasional Goldfinches and then a large flock of Yellow Wagtails on passage. They helped to make it a nice afternoon with superb views.

 Yellow Wagtail

 We also had some good views of Northern Wheatears.

 Northern Wheatear

Common Kestrels with one Lesser male-identified, several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers made up the raptor count with not an eagle anywhere to be seen. A rapid flying Peregrine Falcon was an excellent sighting to complete our day.

Our plan for this morning was different from other days that we had travelled towards this area. The Embalse de Almansa received massive amounts of water due to the Gota Fria and the news item, that john viewed on TV reminded John of its existence and so we looked for the signposts on the route, John noticed the signs for the Patano de Almansa. It is a massive area lying to the south of the town and between A31 and CM412 (signed Montealegre)  We only ‘scratched the surface’ of it and we will return another time.  We like to find new areas.

One very interesting thing there was some paw footprint in the mud/tracks in the mud, See photos?

my image of paws

My image of paws

Linx paw footprint
from the internet

I've done some online research, and I admit I am no animal tracker but could these tracks be from a Linx.  It does look like it could match the footprint of the online photos I've looked at, it suggests that there very similar?  Could it be possible???

Linx paw footprint
This image from the internet

I have now sent the photos to my friends at
Doñana  National Park and waiting for their decision

Update it's now thought to be a Dog paw print as if it was a linx it would not show claws but some other experts  think it close
We live and learn.

 Big thank you to John Edwards
 for the use of some of his words, as I am full-on, after the recent storm and in catch up mode for now?

Have fun
Make some news
Cheers Bryan

Wednesday, September 11

Looks like I've not been birding

Hey it looks like I've not done any  birding lately. Its been due to family and friends visiting. I've not been able to get out as much as I would have liked, but I did managed to get out on a few occasions.

It's been full-on, these last few weeks, burning the candle at both ends, as they say, birding, working, and enjoying life
 So a quick summary of what's been going on during these last few weeks and the start of the autumn migration

On Friday, 16th August we decided to stay local to see what was happening with our summer residents and what had already arrived from elsewhere. As we set off just before dawn,  a Red-necked Nightjar flashed over the road, in front of us.
We saw the sun come up over Santa Pola when we stopped at the lagoons and Salinas. It was relatively quiet, but the terns were active with Little and Whiskered, and Common. A whole tranche of 200 Sandwich plus were viewed. A Little Bittern called, plenty of  Little Grebes were on the water. We looked for Purple Herons, but only Grey was seen. There was nothing out of the ordinary.

Flying overhead we saw Swifts, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows together with a few Sand Martins.

We moved on to The Salt Tower and the small area next to it. Flamingos were abundant. Mallards were in good numbers for the first time in a while. A few Common Sandpiper called and few a Redshank was viewed distantly. A lone Marsh Harrier flew in the distance.

Juv Pratincole

El Pinet was much better, Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets were numerous. Other waders were Kentish Plover, and the first returning  Greenshank, Redshank,  Juv Pratincoles were still in good numbers.

 Black-tailed Godwit


We then headed inland and at Pallet Farm Road we re located the European Rollers,  good to see but looked ‘tatty’ as they moulting.

European Rollers

As it was quiet we decided to try Sante Águada. It was bone dry even after the intense rain and checking out the sky through 360 degrees, the search, yielded hardly any birds in the air at all, I guess they moved before the rain storm.

 In a dead tree a Roller, one Turtle Dove and a Little Owl.

During the summer we have seen many Woodchat Shrikes and this species showed well today. They are a very neat bird!  The Iberian Southern Grey Shrikes were perched on the high wires.

The Bee-eaters made our day. We could clearly hear them as they assembled on electric cables, and what a colourful sight they made. I love that noise and it suggests that they will be going south shortly.


San Felipe and scrapes in front of the information centre had two-metre-high growth and other areas looked neglected. We ventured along the boardwalk more in hope than anything and were rewarded with excellent views of Moustached Warblers. Sadly, there was not much to see.

The summer season is about to change and there has been a drop from the high temperatures that we have been experiencing
Thank God

 Big migration of endless hirundines on the move earlier than the previous year
Maybe because of the torrential rain

Thursday 5th September

Bee-eaters on the moves I've heard them all-day high up and moving south in their hundreds

Ravens around the Santa Pola lighthouse, have successfully bred with at least 2 Juv birds which I've seen on most days


Another visit to an area that seems rooted in time. Deep ravines and gullies, steep-sided and even sheer, with high rocky crags poking up into the sky. Here the landscape is exceptionally different. It needs to be viewed to be believed.

We knew it was the end of summer and John and I certainly had the feeling we were between seasons. Nevertheless, we had a clear objective in mind. So, it was Montnegre again to see if the Trumpeter Finches were still hanging around. 

They were not where they had been previously been seen and although we spent time there, we heard and saw nothing?  Have they dispersed for the winter? Maybe even dropping into the bottom of the valleys or moving away to another location?  Never mind we will look again at some other time? But to be sure we will be keeping an eye on this area.

The list for this area has never been huge and there were some noticeable absentees. For example, the only Raptor in view was a Marsh Harrier flying high and no Griffin Vultures either.

Today's list is:
Thekla's Lark (And not a common sighting for us here)
Crested Lark
Blue Rock Thrush (at least two callings)
Black Wheatear (times three)
House Sparrows 
Rock Sparrows
Red-Legged Partridge
Spotted Flycatcher - a super view of
a very plain chest and a more defined head pattern individual could it be a Balearic/Iberian one?
Iberian Green Woodpecker - call only
Crag Martins loads filled the air
Bee-eaters flying over and distant

We moved on and checked both river areas with nothing to report except we did hear Chiff-Chaffs, Sardinian Warblers and a Cetti’s too.

Maigmó loomed in front of us and we travelled to the top. On way, the usual Crossbills called and flew and a Coal Tit called. It was all very quiet with only a few Magpies about and a Jay screeched.

Some rain had been forecast, but the sun was out and we stood at the top in 27 degrees, The sky was devoid of birds except for the Crag Martins.

We spoke of the absence of a response from any source regarding our reporting of the recently split of Spotted Flycatchers. We will pay more attention to this bird next spring.

These mountains will not beckon us until next spring and we definitely need to find more birds! Thankfully lower temperatures will bring in our overwintering birds. Therefore we will be going inland and once winter has arrived we'll be trekking up to see the Ring Ouzels on Sierra de Espuña.
Looking forward to making some birding news.
Have a great day