Monday, 9 April 2012

Sunday 8th April 2012 (Easter sunday)

Cabo de Palos lighthouse garden
Weather: Sky no cloud,  wind NW F1-2, temp. 14ºC.  09:00 – 13:00.

I normally don’t go to the lighthouse garden on a Sunday as there’s too many people about (and even more so on a holiday Sunday), but having heard the night before that the bird ringers from ANSE had caught and ringed a Laughing Dove on Isla Grosa (which you can see from the lighthouse), I thought I’d have a quick look, confirm that there was nothing new, and come away and try somewhere else.  I knew there’d be nothing there as the sky was totally clear and there was a slight north-westerly breeze – hardly the ideal conditions for birds to come in.
How wrong can you be!
I noticed something was afoot when I saw a couple of Northern Wheatears and Redstarts on the fence as I went into the gardens.  And as I walked round the track at the base of the lighthouse, there seemed to be birds in every bush.  I knew it was going to take a bit longer than the normal hour to cover the whole area.  And when I got to the rocky area at the end of the track, I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere else!  Scanning round 180º from just one spot over the near rocks, I counted 25 wheatears, the majority being Northerns, but with some Black-eared mixed in.  Out to sea I had 2 Hoopoes flying in, and the bushes were alive with Chiff/Willows and Subalpine Warblers, and a couple of Woodchat Shrikes.  And by the time I walked back to where I started, I’d seen 5 Hoopoes & 4 Woodchats, loads of Redstarts and Subalpine and Chiff/Willow Warblers.
I then walked around the rocky area to the east of the lighthouse garden perimeter where there were more Wheatears and Redstarts, and in one of the bushes, something I hadn’t seen so far this morning, a very bright (male) Spectacled Warbler – closely followed by another!
By now I’d spent 2 ½ hours in the area, and still had the other two parts of my normal walk to do (the ‘Post-office garden’ and the ‘Sirio gardens’).  There was more of the same in both these places although not in such numbers – this may be because of disturbance as there were by now a lot of people about.

 The bushes seemed to be alive with small passerines - one of many Subalpine Warblers seen

 One of five Hoopoes seen during the morning

 Woodchat Shrikes also stood out, surveying the scene

 Along the perimeter fence, Common Redstarts could be seen and heard

 Northern Wheatears were also noticeable virtually everywhere

Female Subalpine Warbler - a species normally hard to photograph as they have a habit of diving into bushes as soon as the camera is set up!

 The Black-eared Wheatears were particularly showy too

Very few Black Redstarts were on show - the majority having passed through by now

 Whereas Common Wneatears were just that - common

 Another bird not easy to photograph - Spectacled Warbler

 And together with a nice male Subalpine Warbler

 Common Redstarts were hopping all around the rocky area east of the lighthouse

As were more Subalpine Warblers

Being a glutton for punishment I decided to go back inside the perimeter of the lighthouse garden and do another walk through there.  The Wheatears and Redstarts appeared to be still arriving as there seemed to be more than before, and some of the earlier one would have moved off by now.  I added to the list of species seen with Bonelli’s Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Nightingale (I’d actually heard a short snatch of Nightingale song on my first circuit of the lighthouse garden), and 2 Common Terns in the bay from Cabo de Palos to La Manga.  I stayed trying to take photos and generally ambled around until my stomach got the better of me and I decided it was time for lunch.

 A Common Whitethroat, obviously having a 'bad hair day'

 Bushes at the edge of the rocks - Woodchats not wanting to miss anything

 Back around the base of the lighthouse, Northern Wheatears just kept coming in

 This Hoopoe didn't know where to stop

A Bonelli's Warbler that I didn't realise I'd seen untill I downloaded my photos!

 A superb morning’s birding with probably the biggest migration fall I’ve seen in Spain.

Species (and numbers) seen
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) - 2
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) – c 80
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii) - 12
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) - 2
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - 2
Rock Dove/Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia) - 5
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) - 6
Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) - 2
Hoopoe (Upupa epops) - 4
Swift/Pallid Swift (Apus apus/pallida) – c 30
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) - 2
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba) - 2
‘flava’ Wagtail (Motacilla flava) - 3
Swallow (Hirundo rustica) - 25
Blackbird (Turdus merula) - 12
Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) - 1
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) – c50
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) - 5
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - 2
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) – c 150
Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) – c 40
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) - 2
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) - 15
Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans) – c 70
Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata) - 2
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) - 2
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) – combined total collybita/trochilus c 90
Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) – 1 (identified at home from photos)
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) - 5
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor) - 12
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - 10
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) - 18
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - 1
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) - 6
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) - 2
Serin (Serinus serinus) - 4

Marchamalo Salinas, La Manga
Weather: Sky no cloud,  wind SW F3, temp. 18ºC.  13:15 – 13:50.

On the way back from the lighthouse garden, I called in at the Salinas at Marchamalo, basically to see if the fall at the lighthouse was reflected here.  I took a quick walk round the wooded area, but there was no sign of a fall, so after a quick look in the Salinas themselves, I left.

 Adult Slender-billed Gulls having a shouting match

Adult male Kentish Plover, probably here to stay and nest

Species seen
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
Swift/Pallid Swift (Apus apus/pallidus)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus collybita/trochilus)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Serin (Serinus serinus)

Rambla de Albujon
Weather: Sky 2/8 cloud,  wind SW F4, temp. 18ºC.  16:00 – 18:00.

In the afternoon I thought I’d sit in the rambla with the camera for a couple of hours (away from all the people) to snap anything that might be about, but didn’t see anything new.  On the way home from here I did have a couple of Collared Pratincoles while driving towards Los Urrutias, these being the first I’ve seen this year.

 Water Pipit - now in its breeding plumage

This Spotted Crake's now been around for almost 2 months
Species seen
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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