Thursday, 26 May 2011

Na Na 19 – 26th May 2011

So we’ve been back in the UK for a couple of weeks now and reconciled the list etc, but not actually been birding over that period.  Though the Park close to my work has thrown up breeding Garden Warbler and Blackcap!

More importantly right now last weekend was taken up by a trip up north.  The picture says it all.

East Anglia Year Count: 137
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 206. Month bird count: 95
Photo:  Sir Matt – 19!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Spanish Birding – Round-up – 20th May 2011

So as you may have gleaned we had a very productive week in Spain. To summaries the domestics:
  1. We flew by a budget airline to Sevilla (picking our way through the minefield of ticket pricing, baggage allowance, baggage size, on line check in, baggage drop off etc etc).
  2. We stayed in the town of Aznalcazar, just to the west of Sevilla and north of Donana, in the Hotel Lince, reasonably priced and very friendly. 
  3. Hired a car from the airport booked through “do-you-spain” which turned out to be Hertz.
  4. But best of all; we booked a day with Peter who operates “Donana Bird Tours” (  Peter went out of his way to tailor the day to our needs, finding me two lifers, giving a valued insight into the area’s diversity of habitats and answering all those questions that had been on my mind after eight years of birding in Spain but had only books to refer to. 

Our schedule took us for a day down to the Jose Antonio Valverde (JAV) visitor’s centre, a day with Peter going out and across the river Guadalquivir right across to Paraje Natural Brazo del Este area, then a rest day in Sevilla before driving up to Monfague via Belen, then a couple more day in Donana, stretching pass Huelva on the coast to the Isla de Saltes. 

For reference we found the late John Butler's book A Bird Watching Guide to Donana, invaluable, plus several Mapa Provincial maps available from Stamfords of London.  Thank you again Peter! 

123 species in total and for the record I’ll list them: 

Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret
Squacco Heron
Cattle Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White Stork
Glossy Ibis
Eurasian Spoonbill
Greater Flamingo
Greylag Goose
Muscovy Duck
Northern Shoveler
Red-crested Pochard
Common Pochard
Black-shouldered Kite
Red Kite
Black Kite
Egyptian Vulture
Eurasian Griffon
Short-toed Eagle
Western Marsh-Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Common Buzzard
Golden Eagle
Booted Eagle
Lesser Kestrel
Common Kestrel
Red-legged Partridge
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
Red-knobbed Coot
Eurasian Coot
Great Bustard
Black-winged Stilt
Pied Avocet
Collared Pratincole
Grey Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Eurasian Curlew
Common Greenshank
Common Redshank
Wood Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Temminck's Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Black-headed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Sandwich Tern
Whiskered Tern
Rock Pigeon
Common Wood-Pigeon
Eurasian Turtle-Dove
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Common Cuckoo
Little Owl
Common Swift
Common Kingfisher
European Bee-eater
European Roller
Eurasian Wryneck
Calandra Lark
Greater Short-toed Lark
Crested Lark
Thekla Lark
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Common House-Martin
Iberian Yellow Wagtail
Eurasian Blackbird
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti's Warbler
Eurasian Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Melodious Warbler
Greater Whitethroat
Western Orphean Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Common Nightingale
European Stonechat
Black-eared Wheatear
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Eurasian Penduline-Tit
Southern Grey Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Azure-winged Magpie
Eurasian Magpie
Eurasian Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Common Raven
Spotless Starling
Cirl Bunting
Corn Bunting
European Goldfinch
Eurasian Linnet
European Serin
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Golden Bishop
Common Waxbill
East Anglia Year Count: 133 (April)

Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153 (April)
Photos:  Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus); Great Egret (Ardea alba); Adalucian Meadow

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Spanish Birding – Black Kite – 19th May 2011

For the whole trip we could come up with a list of five or so birds that we saw daily and in most environments, Greenfinch, White Stork, Swallow, Bee-eater & Black Kite!

Black Kites patrol everywhere in Donana and quickly became part of the skyline,  just occasionally you find one at rest on a pylon or in tree and these occasions make for the best photographic opportunities.

East Anglia Year Count: 133 (April)
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153 (April)
Photo:  Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Spanish Birding – Collared Pratincole – 17th May 2011

Just over twenty or so miles along the coast is the Spanish city of Huelva, a thriving port and in amongst the labyrinth of roads around the industrial water front you can breakout on a long narrow causeway (used by fishermen).  It’s in the direction of Punta Umbria, but turn down across the Isla de Saltes to get there.

A first you pass though some marshland which was great for waders: Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel & Godwit, to name a few.  Further on there is water each side of you and towards the lighthouse at the very end we found three Collared Pratincole, all of which allowed us to get stunningly close, which suggested to me that they had just arrived from wintering and were quite exhausted.  Anyway after seeing a large flock of these birds over Donana, it was great to see them at close quarters.

East Anglia Year Count: 133 (April)
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153 (April)
Photo:  Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Spanish Birding – Great Spotted Cuckoo – 15th May 2011

Mid trip we took a day away from Aldalucia and drove north up into Extremadura primarily to see Bustards.  We found several just outside the village of Belen (near Trujillo) but were not able to get with in any distance to take meaningful photos.

One bird we also found on the day was the Great Spotted Cuckoo, two pairs to be precise, one elusive in some scrub bushes and another in full view on the road side fence. A great photographic opportunity, as we were able to use the car as a hide.

East Anglia Year Count: 133 (April)
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153 (April)
Photo:  Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Spanish Birding – Bee-eater – 13th May 2011

I’ve never failed to see Bee-eater on any of my “in season” trips to Spain, however the number and spread in Donana on this visit was exceptional.
As well as views along tree lanes or  electricity lines, we saw them in towns and around our hotel, skimming small lagoons and all over the open marsh land.  Their high number gave a lot more photographic opportunities at the right points of view on lower fences rather than the higher telegraph wires.

East Anglia Year Count: 133 (April)
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153 (April)
Photo:  European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Summer Visitor update – Swift – 7th May 2011

First Swift this morning, seen over my home town.  Great to hear the screech again.  Later in the week I saw some in Harlow.  Also Garden Warbler in Harlow Park, actually heard up to 4 singing.

Dates so far for visitors:  Chiffchaff 14th March, Wheatear 25th March, Blackcap 3rd April. Swallow 7th April, Whitethroat 19th April. Cuckoo 22nd April. 

East Anglia Year Count: 135
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 87.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Spanish Birding – Night Heron – 10th May 2011

I’ve only ever seen these birds in mixed heron flocks moving through in the autumn, so when we found six or seven on the rivers edge as we drove down to the Jose Antonio Valverde (JAV) visitor’s centre in Donana it was a real find for me.

Once at the centre there were several more roosted in trees, some being 1st summer’s largely brown birds.  Later on our visit other birds cropped up on odd stretches of water and river banks in Donana and else where in Andalucia.

East Anglia Year Count: 133
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153
Photo:  Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Spanish Birding – White Stork – 9th May 2011

We spent the last week of April birding in Spain, based just outside Seville, we travelled extensively in Andalucia progressing across into Extremadura.

One of the birds that was endemic in all our travels was the White Stork.  Biirds nested extensively on anything with any height (pylons, buildings and trees) and could frequently be seen gather nesting material and feeding the meadows and fields.

East Anglia Year Count: 133
Life bird count: 403. Year bird count: 203. Month bird count: 153
Photo:  White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Summer Visitor update – Various – 5th May 2011

Apologies for not blogging, but we’ve been on a birding trip to Spain, covering Donana and some of Extremadura, more to follow.

Just before we left we were in Norfolk and taking note of all the summer visitors arrivals.  So just in case you are in any doubt hers are a few pointers to get some unique and scarce East Anglian birds.

Weeting Heath (NWT) – The Stone Curlews are there and we had distant, brief views of two birds on the 22nd April.

Lakenheath Fen (RSPB)Golden Orioles, please check with the reserve but these guys must be there or on their way.  The site is also very good for Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo and we had a male Garganey there on 22nd April.

Fingeringhoe (EWT) – Great for Nightingale, not been there this year but will do shortly.

Well I’m going to be sorting through my Spanish photographs and will blog a few of the species we saw very shortly.

East Anglia Year Count: 133
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 133. Month bird count: 82.