Monday, 12 March 2012

Saturday 10th March 2012

Murcia Birdrace (Maratón)
Weather: Sky clear, wind NE F1; temp. 8 - 17ºC.  08:00 – 22:30

Normally if I am here in Spain over the Christmas / New Year Period, on the 1st of January, I do a personal birdrace – seeing how many species I can see on the 1st of the year.  This year, I wasn’t around, but some of my Spanish birdwatching friends did, and they enjoyed it and put the details on a blog.  From this came the idea of a ‘Maratón’ with teams (of 3) and judges (1 with each team).  I was asked to be a judge for one of the four teams that eventually entered, hence the early start on Saturday morning (7-30 am in the IKEA carpark in Murcia) where my team met up.

Our first stop was the EDAR of Molina de Segura (Campotejar) which is just on the northwest side of the city of Murcia, and is a group of 5 reed-fringed sewage sedimentation lakes.  We wandered around here for a couple of hours (08:00 to 10:00), getting all the ducks and reed-type birds.  Of note were a group of 7 Ferrugineous Ducks, 3 Garganey (2 males and a female), more than 80 White-headed Ducks, 4 species of hirundines including my first Sand Martins of the year, 3 Purple Gallinules (Swamphens), 6 Red-crested Pochard (4 males and 2 females), and a male Merlin which shot over the lagoons scaring all the small birds.

From there we came down to the Mar Menor (my local) area, stopping en-route for breakfast and beer (most civilized!!).  We got to our next stop, the Marchamalo Salinas (La Manga) at 11:30 and stayed for just over half an hour.  Here we picked up such things as Avocet, Slender-billed Gull, Stone Curlew, Audouin’s Gull, Kentish & Ringed Plovers, Golden Plover, Little Stint, Redshank, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank, Black Winged Stilt and Monk Parakeet.

Our next stop was the ‘encañizadas’ at the end of La Manga (probably a mistake this, as there & back took 1 ½ hours and we only gained 5 species from it).  The species we gained were Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Curlew and Spoonbill.  Still, the Bartail was the first I’ve seen this year and they aren’t particularly common, so for me it was worth it.

Once back at Cabo de Palos, we did a short seawatch, picking up Gannet, Shag, Balearic Shearwater, and a bit of a surprise, a nice male Blue Rock Thrush.

From there we stopped for a lunch break, after which we went round to Cala Reona and picked up another male Blue Rock Thrush, plus the Black Wheatear we had gone there for.  Also a Red-legged Partridge.

Next stop was Calblanque, where we got Little Owl, Dartford Warbler and (eventually) Fan-tailed Warbler.  By now it was starting to get late, so we zoomed over to the sailing club at Los Urrutias on the Mar Menor where we picked up Common Snipe, went round to the EDAR El Algar where we picked up Green Woodpecker (a pair on top of a metal pylon!) and also saw another group of Red-crested Pochard (5 this time, 3 males & 2 females).
We arrived at the ‘desembocadura de la rambla de Albujon’ (area where the stream  ‘rambla de Albujon’ empties into the Mar Menor) at 18:55, but still had enough light to pick out a couple of Little Ringed Plovers on the beach area, a nice male White-spotted Bluethroat, Water Pipit, Jack Snipe and the Spotted Crake, and on our way back to the car, an immature Night Heron flew over us.

By now it was dark, but we still went to the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar to see if we could see anything from the reflected lights there, and we did manage to add Black-tailed Godwits to the list, but nothing else.  By now it was about 8pm and dark, so we hung around that area in the hope of picking up a Barn Owl (without success), and then toured around the interior of Murcia (Sucina/La Tercia/Garruchal area) in the vain hope of an Eagle Owl, but again without success, and arrived back at the IKEA carpark in Murcia at about 10pm.  A long day!

In the end our team total was 92 which I don’t think was bad considering we missed many of the raptors which we should have seen (Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard) and didn’t do any woodland so missed out on a lot of smaller passerines.  We came 2nd; however, we were a long way behind the winners who got 114 species.

As the day involved a lot of rushing around, there wasn’t much time for photos, but here’s a few that I managed to take.


A pair of the Ferruginous Ducks seen at Campotejar

Female Garganey seen at Campotejar


A common sight in the UK, but probably the last I’ll see this winter – a Starling


On the way to the seawatch site, we came across this male Blue Rock Thrush


Doing a short seawatch, a couple of Gannets glide by

And in the sea, both Cormorant

… and Shag

 Species seen
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus)
Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Purple Gallinule/Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Redshank (Tringa tetanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Rock Dove/Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Songthrush (Turdus philomelos)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura)
Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) (heard only)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Starling (Sternus vulgaris)
Spotless Starling (Sternus unicolor)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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