Saturday, 23 September 2017

Photographs From Our Recent Trips

On 10th September at San Felipe Neri we searched for and found a Temminick´s Stint. Sadly it was not there when we returned the following Thursday.

This Kingfisher was photographed at El Pinet where it was perched for a considerable time. Brian would have like a shot of the bird in flight but it stayed where it was.

On 16th September we visited San Pedro Del Pinatar we had good views of both Curlew Sandpiper and Sanderling.

We travelled south and at the Salinas, near La Manga we saw two Caspian Terns. A first for me and Bryan´s second in Spain.

All photographs Copyright Bryan Thomas 2017

Stop Corporate Grouse Shooting Days

Stop Corporate Grouse Shooting Days

In light of the government's rejection of an e-petition last October calling for the banning of grouse shooting which was signed by 123,077 people, we have been prompted to adopt a new approach.
We are now calling upon UK companies to treat grouse shooting as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issue. We know that grouse shooting estates offer tailor made ‘corporate days’ for businesses to shoot grouse on the UK’s moorlands, and given the environmental and animal welfare implications of this pursuit we want businesses to make a stand against it.
As part of this research we are circulating a small – five question – questionnaire to 189 UK companies. So far we've had positive responses.

Turn your back on Grouse is part of the campaign to safe the Hen Harrier. The Raptor Persecution Site provides regular details of
Stone of the persecutin that is taking place. The management of the moors and the evidence of the slaughter that takes place not not only there, but the seemingly random shooting of wildlife seems to be a regular activity for some. However there are people in the world who do care.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

San Pedro and Salinas La Manga

Following on from yesterday’s hours of birding we looked for information of recent sightings and decided that we would stay on or near the coast.

We arrived at the Salinas of San Pedro del Pinatar at 8.30 ready to check out everything that we could find. On the beach there were two small groups of Sanderlings and there was a good number of Turnstones on the line of seaweed. Small birds were scarce with only three Crested Larks, a Serin, and one Southern Grey Shrike on show. A Northern Wheatear also flew. Yellow Legged Gulls were numerous with only one Audouin’s and a small number of Slender Bills. There was not one Tern to be seen.

We paid attention to all waders hoping to see a Dowitcher and the Broad Billed Sandpiper that have been reported. We spoke with a Spanish birder who had been on site on Monday and he had no sightings either.

The following we did see:
Little Stint
Little Ringed Plovers
Curlew Sandpipers

There were some noticeable absentees, but a Peregrine Falcon (believed female) flew over from the direction of the hotel toward Lo Pagan. (Collins Bird Guide notes the difference of Iberian birds to U.K. ones). I don’t list the usual, always seen species.

We moved further south (via the motorway) to the La Manga Salinas and leaving MU 312 at junction 13 where we were very lucky for amongst about 150 Y.L. Gulls Bryan spotted two Caspian Terns. They were distant, but we obtained good views through the scope and with a closer look through the camera lens. They are large and beautiful Terns and a first sighting for me and only a second Spanish sighting for Bryan. The heat haze and distance enabled us to have a good record shot of the sightings. Not a ‘pin-sharp’ photo though to satisfy the operator! In the same location were ten Stone Curlews. In an adjacent lagoon we were able to see through the camera lens a group of 10 Kentish Plovers.

This area is not in use, but seems to contain a notable collection of species and is worth further attention. That is more likely to be the case after rain.

As we parked near the end dry lagoon a Common Kestrel flew and a female Common Redstart was seen.

After that we had a very quick look at Caiblanque Regional Park and we decided with the heat of the day and the number of tourists there it was best left for another time.

There is considerable mileage involved in taking this trip and it could be worth while visiting Cabo de Palos as well.

I always try and give locations to where we have seen the species we have viewed. I think it is of no use to anyone to just provide a list and I do realize that some knowledge is required to travel to the sites that we have visited. I will also confirm that what we say we have seen, we have actually seen and some have been viewed through a camera lens. I also put the blog entry on as soon as possible so that individuals can take immediate note of the contents.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Quieter Skies

Starting from Gran Alicant again we stopped off at our usual places. We watched Whiskered Terns at the lagoon opposite Las Brisas. At the pulling off spot past the Salt Tower we viewed forty Spoonbill and about thirty Great Crested Grebes. Flamingos were scattered across the water and one Marsh Harrier landed on an island and then flew north.
El Pinet gave us excellent views of a perched male Kingfisher that was photographed by Bryan.
In the water and close by was a Greenshank and one Redshank. There was no sighting of Pratincoles or Curlew Sandpipers and it was quieter than last Saturday. The skies were almost empty with only a few Barn Swallows flying by, two Red Rumped Swallows were also seen and a solitary Swift was seen.
We moved on to San Felipe Neri with the intention of checking out the waders there.
Ringed Plovers
Little Ringed Plover.
Kentish Plover
Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers
Black Tailed Godwits
Little Stint - no sighting of Temminck’s Stint this time
Glossy Ibis - about the same number as last time.
Marbled Ducks - ten
Red Knobbed Coots - un-tagged and swimming free.
Grey Heron
Cattle Egrets in good numbers.

Bee-eaters are still here, but not in previous numbers.

Raptors were very disappointing with one Marsh Harrier and two Common Kestrels seen all morning.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

More on the Migration

Having read some of the birding reports I knew that the migration had gathered impetus. So we met again at Gran Alicant, but this time the two became four with Tony from Leigh and Jeanette from North Holland. Clot de Galvany was our first stop and here two White Headed Ducks sat in the middle of the water. Two Common Sandpipers were active and we heard Little Bittern calling, then one showed on the edge of reeds and eventually we saw two fly. A Reed Warbler was in the reeds next to the hide.

We moved on to our usual stops along the N 332 and apart from the usual we were rewarded with a clear view of a juvenile Purple Heron flying over. There was a mass of Gulls on the Salinas and a good number Great Crested Grebes.
At El Pinet there was much more to see. Little Terns were active and a Sandwich Tern flew in the distance. A young Collared Pratincole was on an island. A Kentish and several Little Ringed Plovers were feeding with Dunlin, Little Stints, Black Tailed Godwits, Redshank, two Curlew Sandpipers and the occasional Avocet and Flamingo.

Heading towards San Felipe Neri we were on the look out for Rollers and Bee-eaters. We managed one lone Roller, probably a juvenile, that was perched in a tree. The Bee-eaters put on an exceptional display for us. On the electric cables they were perched in their hundreds. They flew and hawked all around. Some came over the top of us and perched alongside. They are beautiful birds and now they are on their way south. We heard them again at San Felipe and that could be the last that we see or hear of them until early summer.

Apart for an occasional Marsh Harrier any raptors were not easy to find. We had perched Common Kestrels and only one Common Buzzard. However at the far right lagoon at Hondo and as we were watching the waders, a Short-toed Eagle splashed down, stood in the shallow water, and then flew directly over us as we watched from the hide. That was close and all the underside plumage was seen.

Time was now limited and so we made a quick appraisal of the waders. Temmink’s Stint was observed along with a Wood Sandpiper. Dunlin and Little Ringed Plovers were also there. We will return and with adequate time we will see what we can locate. In a group there were seventy Glossy Ibis with twenty to thirty more elsewhere in the water. Our two visitors were keen to see both Marbled Ducks and Red-knobbed Coots. These we found and with no collars on the latter.

The scrapes around the visitor center are overgrown and there are no margins for the waders. That was disappointing and although we took the boardwalk both ways we saw nothing of note except for another juvenile Purple Heron in flight and one flying Squacco Heron and both rounded the day off nicely,

Small birds were in short supply, but Zitting Cisticolas showed frequently.

However the skies were busy with Barn Swallows (mainly), Red-rumps as well and with some House Martins and Common and Pallid Swifts. They were all heading south of course. We also especially wanted to see an Alpine Swift, but maybe next time.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Migration Birding

Summer is still with us on the Costas, but it is cooling down a bit. So it was another early start to ensure we made the most of the morning and before the temperatures rose too much.

We had discussed where to go and what would produce the most. The area around Higüera got the nod as a very small area has provided us with some good sightings and it was the same again.

Here we saw fifteen different species and included in this were three Crossbills calling and feeding in the top of the trees. Only brief sightings as they soon disappeared, but a new species for us here. Golden Orioles were noisy and we saw both perched and flying birds, but never close enough for the camera. In a corn field we saw a flock of around 20 Rock Sparrows and to add to our viewing we had a brief glimpse of a Bonelli's and a Willow Warbler in the same tree.

Before that, by the railway line, and in the same location as last time we had views of Stone Curlews and ten Great Bustards. That set us up for the day. We took our time in around Higüera and we were rewarded with more great species. Taking the camino we headed away from the village to where we knew there was an area of water adjacent to the mainline to Madrid. On way a flock of twenty or so Short Toes Larks flew in front of us.

Butterflies are always good to see and we did watch a Silver-washed Fritillary and a Scarce Swallowtail flew through. There were the occasional Small Whites too, but butterflies generally were scarce.

Having made the assumption that we could see migrating birds we looked at everything. In a ploughed field we saw two possibilities that could have been Lesser Kestrels, but both had to be Hobbies and this was later confirmed when we had clear views of a male Hobby 'hawking' over the water. It was good to watch. When we were observing it we saw a perched Raptor in the distance. It flew for us and landed in a field and showing enough wing markings to identify it as Short-Toed Eagle. Hirundines flew south but only in small numbers. There were numerous water fowl that did include Gadwall and also two species of Grebe - Black Necked and Little.

Having taken this amount of time we decided to take a quick look at Lagunas de Petrola for any sightings of returning waders. Apart from two juvenile Common Sandpipers that was it. We went straight to Estepas de Yecla. This really is an early morning locale, but we were hopeful. Larks were in short supply, but we did have good views of both Black Eared and Black Wheatears. We had earlier seen several Northern ones.

If the sightings of Hobbies had not been enough we still had two Golden Eagles to watch. These were spiraling in the distant and were hard to identify. They came closer and eventually both Raven and Buzzard were discarded as Bryan got enough on them to satisfy him that were looking at two flying Golden Eagles. Next time we travel this way it will be this location first and we will not attempt both this area and the other larger one on the same day.

What a day with clear sightings.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Day After The Carnage

For the day after the carnage in the name of sport I wrote the following.


the guns are quiet now
a few corpses remain
in "every-mans-land"

over the top we will
have to go again
into yesterday's
resumed hell

and so it begins again;
they're coming!
the cries grow louder
from the beating army

powerless we are;
we have to flee,
fly higher and higher
to beat the guns

it's an outrage
it's murderous
it's carnage