Saturday, 28 April 2012

Crossbills, Stocks Reservoir 28th April 2012

Excellent, close views, of a pair of Crossbill near the new hide at Stocks res' this afternoon.
In addition, two singing Redstart, 3 Little-ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and
Mediterranean Gull. Around two-hundred Hirundines were feeding over the water.

Common Crossbill

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Calderdale, 22nd April 2102

Lot's of activity on the uplands of Calderdale this afternoon. With Golden Plover, Ring Ouzel,
Short-eared Owl and many vocal Curlew and Lapwing seen. It's great to be out at this time
of year.

Singing Ring Ouzel (rear view)

Short-eared Owl


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Southern Spain; Raptors and migration April 2012

A great eight days spent camping just west of Tarifa on the southern coast of
Spain. The weather was very variable, with the hottest day reaching 30c and
the coolest only 14c. It was difficult keeping warm some nights in my sleeping
bag! I visited lots of sites in the area, with a focus mainly on seeing the
Raptor migration that the Straits are famous for. Over the duration of the trip
i had some wonderful close-up views of Raptors and  managed to see three
lifers; Northern Bald Ibis, Marbled Teal and a surprise that came in the shape
of a Cream-coloured Courser!

On the down-side i found it difficult to locate some of the sites and wasted
valuable time in doing so. On the 8th April i met up with local birder Jeff Saez
and we spent a full day birding the mountains in search of my target bird of the
trip, Bonelli's Eagle. We saw two over the course of the day and later in the
week i located another near the town of Ronda.

Booted Eagles were very common

this bird was hunting close to the campsite

Griffon Vulture

Jeff, scanning the mountain ridges

Pallid Swift

This Short-toed Eagle gave superb, close up views as it soared to gain height
just 30-40 metres in front of us. We saw around 400 birds of prey in the
mountains that day, along with a host of many interesting birds including;
Melodious and Sardinian Warblers, Cirl Bunting, Firecrest, Alpine and Pallid
Swifts and Woodchat Shrike.

Later in the day we stopped at Castellar de la Frontera and were treated to
some close-up views of Lesser Kestrel that breed within the castle walls.

view from the castle, with the 'Rock' in the distance

Lesser Kestrels

Throughout the rest of the week i travelled up and down the coast, calling in at
various sites. One of the best areas was the Bonanza salt pans, about 1.5 hours 
from Tarifa. It was teeming with migrant Waders and is a 'must see' place for anyone 
visiting the area.
Playa de Los Lances was very close to the campsite and i made multiple visits, 
seeing Waders, Terns and Gulls. It was a good place to see the Raptor migration, 
as the birds tended to be quite low as they came in off the sea. And with the light
reflecting off the sand, made it good for photography too.

dark Booted Eagle

pale Booted Eagle

This superb, melanistic Monty flew in one evening, what a treat!

Audouin's Gulls

La Janda was only a fifteen minute drive away and was another place that was 
good for photography. It was a farmland site with lots of Corn Buntings, Finches
and water birds in the dykes. Purple Gallinule was easy to see here and the views
of Corn Bunting from the car were superb!

Corn Buntings


Cattle Egrets

Calandra Larks could be seen high over the fields, song-flighting and i saw a flock 
of 100 'Yellow' Wagtails, almost all Iberian, with an odd flavissama, on one visit!

Calandra Lark

Hunting Montagu's Harrier

La Janda


Iberian Wagtail

Bee eater

Waders featured strongly at Bonanza saltpans and excellent close views using
the car as a hide were obtained. Around the area were Red and Black Kites,
Booted Eagles, Flamingos, Hoopoe, Warblers, Short-toed Lark and several  Ducks on
the nearby lagoon, including a single Marbled Teal.

Mixed Duck flock

Kentish Plover

Slender-billed Gull


Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin

Black-winged Stilt


Short-toed Lark

Curlew Sandpiper

Little Stint

Crested Lark

Night Heron

Collared Pratincole


I spent two mornings at Punta del Carnero to watch the migration as quite a strong
westerly wind was blowing, pushing birds east of Tarifa. Whilst there, i saw the
following: c400 Black Kite, 20 Montagu's Harrier, 5 Egyptian Vulture, 35 Booted
Eagle, 40 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Buzzard, 4 Sparrowhawk, 6 Kestrel, 20 Griffon
Vulture, Peregrine, and 2 Marsh Harrier. Other birds moving included; 2 Black Stork,
Bee-eater, Swifts and hirundines.

Home for the duration!

Woodchat Shrike


Cirl Bunting

Cabo de Trafalgar. 

Western Bonelli's Warbler



I was told of a Cream-coloured Courser that had been found close to where i was
staying near Tarifa and after missing it initially, returned in the evening and saw it
well. Five birders in total where there that evening, with six the next day. The bird
showed down to c15yards.

Courser twitch

At the end of my stay i met up with Jeff again and we birded some sites close to his 
home. We spent 30 minutes at a refuse tip, watching Kites and Gulls and on the way
managed a Tawny Pipit, nice one Jeff! Then it was time to say my goodbyes and
drive back to Malaga for the flight home.

White Stork

Black Kites

Black Kite

Tawny Pipit

Yellow-legged Gulls

A few more images from earlier in the trip.

Spotless Starling

Little Owl

Rock Bunting

Collared Pratincole