Tuesday 18 December 2012

Another Walk

Yesterday heralded a new 'home' patch tick as a Water Rail screeched deep from a stand of marsh that is developing in the low lying areas of the field across the railway from home.

I tried to have a poke round the sewage works but found little aside from a big flock of Chaffinch and a Grey Heron I spooked from somewhere. Goldcrests called but no Chiffchaff yet. A male Bullfinch was the first I had seen in a while.

Back to the usual trail down by the beck side and nothing much to shout about apart from failing to photograph the juvenile Grey Wagtail which was messing about by the water.

Monday 10 December 2012

Foot IT update

Just a quick update to say that I have added the Foot It blog to the sidebar. I have also posted my first post on their with a quick summary of what is within walking distance of my door. Like this:

I was wondering whether yesterdays Waxwings were still around the Nethergate level crossing as there are plenty of berries in the area but alas just this Goldcrest plus a dozen Fieldfare, a hundred or so Redwing and species number 59 of my foot it dry run - a spanking Kingfisher which was roosting in a Hawthorn until I unwittingly disturbed it.

Yesterday I went to Filey hoping to score King Eider whilst having a family walk. Sadly I failed but a distant Great Northern Diver was pretty decent fare. Only on getting home did I hear about the potential Black Scoter but to me it looks like a Common Scoter with an odd bill in the video.

The rest of the week I am on boats in the North Sea (away tonight and back on friday) so maybe no updates for a few days but then perhaps I will get some material for a decent catch up. A Little Auk photo would suffice. Or Bruunich's.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Counting the Costa - Species List

Here is the full species list of this trip to the Costa Blanca. Spanish ticks in italics and lifers in bold. Sorry this is a bit of a dull one but it covers the inevitability of when I lose my notebook as an aide memoir.

1) Great Crested Grebe
2) Black-necked Grebe
3) Little Grebe
4) Gannet
5) Cormorant
6) Little Bittern
7) Cattle Egret
8) Little Egret
9) Great White Egret
10) Grey Heron
11) Glossy Ibis
12) Flamingo
13) Shelduck
14) Mallard
15) Pintail
16) Shoveller
17) Teal
18) Pochard
19) Red-crested Pochard
20) Griffon Vulture
21) Osprey
22) Greater Spotted Eagle
23) Booted Eagle
24) Marsh Harrier
25) Hen Harrier
26) Buzzard
27) Sparrowhawk
28) Kestrel
29) Merlin
30) Peregrine
31) Red-legged Partridge
32) Water Rail
33) Purple Gallinule
34) Coot
35) Moorhen
36) Crane
37) Avocet
38) Black-winged Stilt
39) Stone Curlew
40) Ringed Plover
41) Grey Plover
42) Dunlin
43) Little Stint
44) Black-headed Gull
45) Slender-billed Gull
46) Yellow-legged Gull
47) Audouin's Gull
48) Sandwich Tern
49) Rock Dover
50) Woodpigeon
51) Collared Dove
52) Hoopoe
53) Kingfisher
54) Iberian Green Woodpecker
55) Thekla Lark
56) Crested Lark
57) Crag Martin
58) Swallow
59) House Martin
60) Meadow Pipit
61) White Wagtail
62) Dunnock
63) Robin
64) Black Redstart
65) Stonechat
66) Song Thrush
67) Mistle Thrush
68) Blackbird
69) Blackcap
70) Subalpine Warbler
71) Moustached Warbler
72) Cetti's Warbler
73) Chiffchaff
74) Goldcrest
75) Firecrest
76) Great Tit
77) Coal Tit
78) Long-tailed Tit
79) Penduline Tit
80) Short-toed Treecreeper
81) Iberian Grey Shrike
82) Magpie
83) Jackdaw
84) Starling
85) Spotless Starling
86) House Sparrow
87) Chaffinch
88) Linnet
89) Goldfinch
90) Siskin
91) Greenfinch
92) Serin
93) Crossbill
94) Reed Bunting

Worst Osprey photo ever

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Counting the Costa (Part 5)

These bitesize chunks keep coming...

So on the 7th I was allowed to go to El Hondo again, this time sans child and I was really excited but this was soon crushed by the pissing rain. Despite this I managed to see a few decent birds and bumped into Graham Critchell, a local guide again. 2 Hen Harriers hunted the margins of the reserve, one male and one female. A Great White Egret stalked the ditch around the pool and a group of Pochard were amongst their commoner Red-crested brethren. After a couple of hours of getting wet I retired to a hide where aside from ubiquitous Chiffchaffs a new Spanish tick did briefly grace me with its presence - a very soggy Water Rail. I tried to winkle out a Bluethroat or three but only succeeded in finding a group of Reed Buntings and a couple of vocal Kingfishers. As I left the reserve a flock of 13 Glossy Ibis sprung from the salicornia surrounded ditches. Not a bird I have seen particularly well in the area (exclusively flying birds...).

The next day the weather was cold and pants as it was in truth from the mid-point of the holiday. It felt like October in the UK. I took Izzy to the park in La Siesta and was amazed at the number of chats and thrushes present. A Blackbird and Black Redstart in every bush with single Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush. IT got really interesting when two thrushes went overhead sounding every inch like Redwing but I got nothing on them visually. Gah! A mega emerged from the bushes at that point - a Dunnock which is scarcer than Alpine Accentor in the province. The cold weather was obviously encouraging more northern birds south.

Back at the apartment I did a bit of vismigging as stuff was moving through and a small bunch of Crossbills were a nice surprise as were another Spanish Tick in the form of 2 flyover Siskins. These are scarce winter visitors to the province but I was aware they had been seen locally and as such I was prepped for them. The two Goldcrests came into view again and I managed the photo from earlier in the blog of one.

The afternoon consisted of another visit to a Park - this time at the east end of La Mata to get Izzy on the swings. Here there was an incredibly showy (or ill) Hoopoe which despite being in the middle of a dark bush gave excellent photo opportunities at high ISOs. A couple of Firecrests were in the plantation here but little else aside from the ever present Black Redstarts.

I eventually conned Izzy to go to the wader hide which held views of lots of Ringed Plover with attentdent Dunlin, Little Stint and Grey Plover. No sign of a Richard's Pipit in the 'normal' place but that is the usual story.

Our final day was supposed to be spent in the mountains at Maigmo but fog curtailed that with only a Coal Tit to show for our efforts. We then went for a walk at Clot where the above showy Purple Gallinule was hanging with the Moorhens and Mallards. And then we were done. 82 species for the trip which I thought was ok given the restrictions of a new born. I was delighted with the haul of difficult northern species. Full trip list in the next post.

PS I found a couple of Waxwings today whilst walking Isabelle to nursery. They would be proper mega in Spain

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Counting the Costa (Part 4)

A rather obliging female Serin
On the 5th we went en famille to El Clot de Galvany. My wife confessed that this pretty urban oasis of a reserve was her favourite part of Spain and to be honest I dont think it is too shabby. Birdwise it was a little quiet although Black Redstarts & Robins abounded. A Buzzard flew through with a squadron of Crag Martins attached to its derrier. On the pool were many Teal but none of the species which the reserve is rightly held in regard for. A handful of Stonechats and Iberian Grey Shrikes stood sentinel over the clumps of vegetation.

It all seemed a bit of a bust until something huge crossed the path ahead of us. I managed a distant shot of the disappearing tail of an Oscillated Lizard. It was like an iguana and lumberingly slow in the cooling breeze. 


Monday 3 December 2012

Counting the Costa (Part 3)

Apologies for the gap in my trip reports. I misplaced my notebook whilst I was away working in Cumbria and couldn't find it until now.

My birding compadre
Anyway - where were we? Ah, yes. It was the 3rd November and I had permission to go to El Hondo (but only if I took Isabelle with me). I knew and my wife knew that this was a HUGE drawback and so it proved as a 3 year old would she quickly got bored of a Spanish version of Minsmere and rebelled loudly and often during the 3 hours we were granted access for. Despite this I saw some cracking birds. Black-necked Grebes were in evidence upon the lagoons and a solo female Little Bittern sallying between stands of juncus. Ducks were also present in numbers including a few Pintail, not a bird I expected to see and a Spanish tick. A Merlin shooting over the reeds at head height was a super little thing and another 'northern' species new to my spanish list.

A rubbish photo of a Booted Eagle. Limited selection for today to choose from.
Noises emanated from the reeds and took the form of Cetti's & Moustached Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Penduline Tits and Reed Buntings. Swarms of Crag Martins filled the sky which was interspersed with Marsh Harriers and Booted Eagles by the dozen. Two larger raptors circled to the south, Spotted Eagles! These are a very rare wintering bird in Spain but Hondo is the prime location so it was no surprise to see these giant denizens of the marshlands albeit at some distance. Other large birds crossed the sky in a line, too distant to hear but super none the less, 14 Cranes. In front of the hide a Kingfisher performed admirably.

Sadly my daughters attention seeking cut the trip short and made for less than ideal viewing but still a privilege to visit such a wonderful place.   

Saturday 1 December 2012

Like a Mill Pond

That would be the Mill Pond which I found some patch Wigeon on yesterday. It was also very close to the new  best goose/snipe area that was down near Wansford. In terms of new birds for the walking only patch, a Treecreeper was a real bonus in the middle of a tit flock in the middle of the village. A Pied Wagtail on the church was only a surprise in that it was the 47th species to hit the list. In fact the first interesting thing was this Cormorant flying over the mere.

Surprisingly it appears to be a carbo which I assume to be much the scarcer of  the two (sub)species round here. That said it is only on appraisal of the photos I really have any idea. Before I reached the mere I watched the Goosander disappear into the distance as it flew WSW and over my Waxwing hunting head. Before I reached the mere a flock of 17! Corms floated over. I assume with the floods they are looking for somewhere relatively easy to fish and the mere being clear water and the head of a trout stream fits the bill. This number was to pail compared with the flock of 61 that was wheeling over the trout farm in Wansford later in the day. The mere held relatively little aside from a couple of returning Tufted Duck and 2 Little Grebes on the back edge.

Goosander the day before
I soon found the Treecreeper as I was traversing the sheep field but still no Kingfisher. Amongst another tit flock was a Goldcrest. Not a terribly common bird in the locale. To dwell on this would be to demean the hundreds and hundreds of Redwing that flanked the beck. The numbers were incredible.

Soon a Little Egret was flushed from the beck as I was searching for an unseen Tawny Owl being mobbed by the local Blackbirds.

I finished up with 8.5km under the belt and added Lapwing, Grey Partridge, Pheasant and Skylark which whilst unexpected were nice but the Grey Partridges especially were smart. No sign of any Bullfinches or Reed Buntings but I am already on 56 on my patch foot list. Not a bad dry run at all. The mill pond down by Wansford was certainly the most interesting that I saw.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

Record, share and compare with BUBO Listing at www.bubo.org