Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Puerto Colón Tenerife

ATLANTIC ECO EXPERIENCE at www.atlanticecoexperience.com
Our interests are wildlife and all matters involving conservation. It was refreshing to meet you and hear you speak of your beloved ocean and the whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds that are in and around it. You and your lovely apprentice and Captain made us feel both welcome and safe. It was one of those things that we were unable to stay out when the wind picked up and we turned back for Puerto Colón. A decision that was correctly made for our comfort and safety. Our conversation with you afterwards made us realize what we could have seen and what we could have experienced. On this occasion it was not to be and if we return to Tenerife then we would book with you and your team again. Thank you and have a great Wildlife summer. John & Michelle Edwards 23/04/18

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Estepas de Yecla Again

Following on from our exploratory trip last Monday we decided to go to Estepas de Yecla, This is a favourite area for us and has produced some great specimens. Bryan had visited two days previously with success. However, no two days are ever the same, and today as the humidity hung over the valley the sky was laden with grey. We turned off A31 at Caudete and by 8am we were watching two Yellow Wagtails - they were striking in colour - feeding on a verge with Meadow Pipits. Not a bad way to start a day! However it was chilly, the temperature was only six degrees with a cold wind. We could hear Choughs and we had good sightings of them throughout the day. Ravens called and we saw a pair of them several times. Magpies were everywhere and our final sighting of them was twelve of them in a very raucous bunch. We expected to see Great Spotted Cuckoos around them and we only had one firm identification from earlier.

Three species of Wheatears were viewed with Black Eared showing very well. Larks too and eventually a Thekla was heard to call and later in the afternoon we had good views of two. Needless to say Crested were easily seen, as were Calandra, with also some Greater and Lesser Short Toed. We were blessed with a terrific view of two Little Owls perched on a pile of stones. They are such beautiful birds to see.

We explored other roads that we had not taken before and, for the first time, drove the upper road that goes past the Solar Site. We had thought that some of the scrubby area would yield warblers but this was not the case perhaps it being too cold in this late spring.

Our objective for the afternoon was to find Sandgrouse as Bryan had seen sixty previously. Eventually we heard them and a flock of twenty plus flew from our right and then within minutes at least an equal number flew from another field. These were Pin Tailed with not one Black Bellied to be seen or heard.

We also wanted to check out Lesser Kestrels and near the farm buildings we saw three Kestrels flying over and diving down into a stony, roughly cultivated field. We had good views of them and through the camera’s lens we were able to establish, that one at least, was a male Lesser.

We had decided to drive through from Caudete and when arriving at he Yecla end we then turned around. On the opposite side of the Yecla/Caudete road we had very good views of Woodchat Shrikes and we later saw them again toward Caudete. There is no doubt it is beneficial to go down the farm tracks and go past the fields either side and away from the main thoroughfare. We only had one Buzzard to show for our diligence and no repeat of a Golden Eagle from the previous Wednesday.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Agramón and More

On Monday 2nd April I made my usual journey to Gran Alicant to meet Bryan Thomas to research an area that we did not know, but had discussed. Over the years we have made frequent visits to Estepas de Yecla, Bonete et al, as well as more local areas to our homes. Instead of taking the A31 towards Albacete we travelled to Murcia and went north on A30. We were intent on checking out the area north of Cieza leaving the area south of it and north of Murcia for another day. The two rivers - Rio Segura and Rio Mundo and their valleys were our specific targets.

Taking the turn at 75km, south of Hellín, we travelled the area between Agramón and Las Minas, a village that straddles the border between Murcia and Castile La Mancha. Geologically, geographically and with the diverse habitats it was very interesting and not an area that we knew. There are both Almonds and Olive groves, vines, cultivated ground and other areas of scattered bushes and areas of tufted grass.

Within minutes of turning away from A31 we could hear the harsh calls of Great Spotted Cuckoos and we counted four flying around the Almond trees. Magpies were everywhere and we saw them many times throughout the day. We could hear Choughs and had two sightings of them. There is a large agriculture reservoir which hosted Barn Swallows and House Martins. On the water were Little Grebe and Mallard. In the sky other Hirundines were flying northwards and we had one good sighting of a Swift. This spot to be visited again and it can be easily viewed from the road. The smaller birds were easily seen from time to time and sightings of them are to be expected. It just takes time and patience. Soon we found our first water with Rio Mundo, which was flowing but not in great volume. Another good spot for when there are leaves on the trees and on a warmer day. We suspect warblers, orioles and bee-eaters too.

Las Minas certainly is different. The journey was on winding roads with mountains either side and almost a desert terrain. Tufts of grass proliferated. Dereliction was easily found and abandoned cave dwellings too. On the short journey towards Salmerón the Rio Segura runs and it had a decent flow. From the bridge we heard Nightingale, Cetti’s and one or other flew quickly. A Zitting Cisticola flew and a Robin darted across the river several times. Taking a drink was a male Linnet and a male House Sparrow. Another spot to be noted. The fields here seem to be prepared for rice growing as we could see access for water. Calasparra is not that far away and is supposedly famed for the quality of its rice. We just need to know when the fields are going to be prepared so that we could plan another visit.

We decided to visit the Embalse de Cenajo and although the scenery was good birds were absent. We moved quickly on towards Hellín and another target area just east of A31 and headed in the general direction of Jumilla before veering away and re-entering the A31 at 75km.

Larks were present, but not abundant and one did pose to be photographed and the jury still has to decide upon Crested or is it a Thekla?

Definitely Crested Lark.

Another posing bird was one of three Black Eared Wheatears and one perched sufficiently long enough for the camera man.

They all looked beautiful even in the hazy light. Woodchat Shrikes have not arrived and we saw only one Southern Grey.

Worryingly we only saw one rabbit. I know that they are bottom of the food chain, but have they been shot to oblivion? When traveling along CM3250 lying on the side of the road was a dog Fox, very dead, but it was a good specimen with a bushy tail. Somewhere there maybe a vixen struggling to feed cubs. It's tough out there.

This was a day to investigate and to discover areas that could have potential, but it was clear to both of us that many summer arrivals had yet to turn up and that Spring was late. It was almost a raptorless day except one female Marsh Harrier flew alongside the road. There was not one bloody Kestrel in sight! Another visit will happen and when the sun has warmed everything up and there will be a visit to explore both rivers further south as well.

All photographs copyright Bryan Thomas 2018

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Photographs from Laguna de Petrola et al

Male Garganey


Great Bustards

Photographs by Bryan Thomas Copyright 2018

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Lagunas de Petrola et al

On the Costa Blanca winter has been extended into March, but as always wildlife deals with the seasons. Taking that into account we decided to go inland and we anticipated that we could see some migratory species. Although optimistic we came away disappointed as we only saw one Barn Swallow and I had a brief glimpse of one Great Spotted Cuckoo and both were in our first hour.
This was on Friday 9th March. I collected Bryan from Gran Alicante and we were on our way before 8am with the intention of having a very good Great Bustard day. Traveling via A31 we turned off and headed towards Higüera. On route we quickly located at least a dozen Great Bustards. They were distant, but clearly visibly and when searching nearby we found one Little Bustard and there must have been more! The field that we looked at contained varying heights if vegetation which allowed concealment. We continued towards the village and amongst the pines and poplars we had reasonable success with Mistle Thrushes, Tree Creepers, an Iberian Green Woodpecker, Robin, Chaffinch and a Great Tit. Red Legged Partridges appeared continually. This is also an excellent site for summer birds too and on one summer day we saw 17 different species.
Larks were abundant. Calandra were calling and flying and eventually one stayed long enough to be viewed through the scope. Crested, Thekla and Skylarks were also evident.
The soil was darkened by recent rain and some caminos were muddy in places. We only turned back once.
We eventually arrived at Lagunas de Petrola and we were disappointed. Flamingos and Black Headed Gulls were easily seen, but not a wader, Pipit or Wagtail. We noted that the water level was low.
In the farmland near to Corral Rubio we had terrific sightings of two dozen Great Bustards who offered good views as they were on a ridge. They were relaxed with some sitting and others walking slowly. One male displayed showing the whiteness of his tail feathers.
When we were watching them a flock of pigeons flew around and then heading straight for us and only turning away at the last instance was a female Peregrine Falcon. What a great view we had and what a great sight to see one that close and in full flight. Heading into the village we found that water levels were again low and the causeway was dry and passable. Again there were no waders or ducks and this level of water at this time of the year does not bode well for later in the on. It would appear that they have had a very dry winter.
On the straight road out of Corral Rubio Bryan’s diligence found a male Garganey on a water that contained some Northern Shovelers and not much else. This one bird was a terrific find and considering where it has wintered, where its breeding grounds are and the number of its species. It is a great bird to locate and view.
Heading home past another small area of water we had our first waders, two Black Winged Stilts, a Kentish Plover and a Common Sandpiper. Not a great list!
I think we will not visit this area for the foreseeable future mainly because of the water levels. The lack of water birds was easily overshadowed by the terrific views of Bustards, a female Peregrine and a male Garganey.
It could be Estepas de Yecla next time and, as always, it is so good to be out and doing what we both enjoy.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Photographs El Hondo 27th February

All photographs copyright Bryan Thomas. For more of Bryan´s photos please see his blog https://birdingcostablanca.blogspot.com.es

Spotted Crake

Jack Snipe

Booted Eagle

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

All the birds in and around El Hondo

The whole list for 27th February
Booted Eagles
Marsh Harrier

Corvids & Doves
Collared Doves

Slender Billed
Yellow Legged
Black headed

Sandwich Tern

Northern Shoveler
Red Crested Pochard

Egrets and Herons
Great White



Owl - Little

Penduline Tit - heard

Rails & Crakes
Spotted Crake X 4

Skylarks- about 20 flocking in a field


Spotless Starlings

Swallows & Martins
Barn Swallow
Crag Martins
Sand Martins
House Martins


Waders etc
Black Winged Stilts
Black Tailed Godwits
Jack Snipe
Purple Gallinule
Stone Curlew - heard

Glossy Ibis

Cetti’s- many heard

White Wagtail