Saturday, 31 March 2012

Saturday 31st March 2012

Weather: Sky totally overcast, no wind, temp.15ºC. 10:00 – 13:00.

Today was meant to be the 3rd ringing day at Calblanque, but it had to be postponed until next Monday, so I thought I’d go down to the ringing area to see what we may have had.  On the way there from Los Belones via Las Jordanas, I had first 2, then two single birds fly over in front of me.  I thought they looked a bit like crows, and was surprised to see when I finally got the bins on the last one, that they were in fact Chough.  I have seen them once before in this area, but it must have been at least 5 years ago.
The ringing area itself was pretty quiet, just a lot of Greenfinches, Linnets and Serins and a single Chiff/Willow which was calling.  However, getting back into my car I scanned around and saw a large raptor a long way off which was gradually spiraling in my direction.  As it got nearer, I could see it was a sub-adult Golden Eagle (showing white flashes in the wings and white in the tail).  I managed to get a couple of record photos of it.  Another species I’ve not seen in theseparts for many a year.

 One of many finches in the area, a very red male Linnet

 Record shot of a surprise bird flying over, an immature Golden Eagle 

I then went over to the Rasall Salinas to check on Audouin’s Gulls, but there were only 12 there (surprisingly 2 with colour rings on, one of which continues to break the longevity record for this species, having been ringed in the Delta del Ebro (Tarragona) as a pullus on the 19th June 1988).  I walked the southern fence and came across quite a mix of waders, 2 Redshank, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Kentish Plover and a single Wood Sandpiper.  I also had a Stone Curlew fly over the lagoons and could hear several others in the distance (together with a Quail), and managed to take a photo of a lark that I’m still not convinced as to what it is (but think it's probably Thekla).

 Even when they're close they're not easy - a Thekla Lark (I think!)
Species seen
Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Rock Dove/Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia)
Swift/Pallid Swift (Apus apus/Apus pallidus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus collybita/trochilus)
House Martin (Delichon urbica)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Redshank (Tringa tetanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Quail (Coturnix coturnix)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristatus)
Crested/Thekla Lark (Galerida cristata/theklae)

Marchamalo salinas
Weather: Sky totally overcast,  wind SE F1 , temp.21ºC. 13:15 – 15:00.

Coming out of Calblanque, I arranged to meet a birdwatching friend, Mick Brewer, to have a look at the Salinas at Marchamalo.  On his way walking to meet me he had a male Pied Flycatcher on the fence alongside the Salinas.  As there was nothing new on the Salinas themselves, we decided to walk the fence and see if we could find anything else.  We did see a minimum of 10 Chiff/Willows (which were of both species, as we heard the song of both), and refound the Pied Flycatcher briefly, and lots of Corn Buntings singing (they seem to be everywhere these last few days).  Then, on the way back to my car, I saw a raptor soaring fairly high up.  I got my bins on it, and at first glance it seemed like a Common Buzzard.  But with a pale head, and red tail?  I thought it needed further investigation, and managed to get a few photos of it.
I checked the Dick Forsman book ‘Raptors of Europe and the Middle East’, but still couldn’t satisfy myself as to what it was (I was in the realms of Common Buzzard/Steppe Buzzard/Long-legged Buzzard).  In the end I sent the photos off to people who I knew would be able to identify it – and felt very red-faced when I got their reply, which was unanimous, an immature Marsh Harrier!   My only (weak) defense is that I don’t often see them soaring overhead – normally they’ve got the ‘V’ shaped wings and are quartering fields or reedbeds.  Just goes to show, doesn’t matter how long you’re in this game, there are always new things to learn!

One of at least haf a dozen Corn Buntings seen

 The 'mystery' raptor, in fact a Marsh Harrier

Species seen
Avocet (Recurvostra avosetta)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus collybita/trochilus)
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Swift/Pallid Swift (Apus apus/Apus pallidus)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

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