Monday, 14 May 2012

Friday, 11th May 2012 - a day out in Albacete, cursing Coursers

Weather: Sky No cloud,  wind SW F1; temp.15 - 30ºC.  09:30 – 18:00.  With Mark Powell.

Having heard that over the last couple of days a pair of Cream Coloured Coursers have been seen in fields around the village of Alpera, near Almansa which is just over the Murcian border, Mark and I decided we’d try twitching them.  The only problem was that we didn’t have exact directions, but we hoped that we’d bump into other birders once there.  However, as happens frequently in Spain, once we got there not a birder was to be found, and although we spent 5 hours peering into ploughed fields, it was literally like looking for a needle in a haystack.

One of the few birds seen - Short Toed Lark

At mid-afternoon with the temperature  at 30º, we decided to retrieve something from the day and went further west to the lagoon at Pétrola (to be honest we also hoped we might find some birders there but again it was not to be).  The lake there was looking good with a fair number of breeding Greater Flamingos, and driving along the track on the eastern side of the lagoon, had good numbers of Black and Whiskered Terns all in breeding plumage.  Also in almost full breeding plumage were a couple of resplendent male Ruffs, various Little Stints and a single Grey Plover.  Other birds of interest were Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Collared Pratincoles, Common Sandpipers, Gull-billed Terns and a large number (I estimated at 200+) Red Crested Pochard.  Raptors were few and far between - we only had a couple of Common Buzzard and a single male Marsh Harrier.

Ruff - almost got its breeding plumage

 Group of three Black Terns

 And a Whiskered Tern

 And the two species together

 Another Black Tern

 And another Whiskered

Pair of Kentish Plover

 And a Common Sandpiper that was skulking around the edge of the pool
On the way back we called into a place where I have always seen Great Bustard, and it kept up it’s 100% record – we saw a group of 8 in the distance sheltering from the sun in the shadows of a couple of trees, and a closer male strutting around with its tail cocked-up.

Traveling back home again we tried to find out more information on the Coursers, but the information we got only added insult to injury – not only had the 2 Coursers been seen today, but a third had been located some 20k to the west of the originals together with a breeding plumage Dotterel!

Back in the region of Murcia and closer to home, I called in rapidly before the sun set at the Salinas at San Pedro in the hope I might see some more Black Terns there, but no, not a single one.  Plenty of Little and Gull-billed Terns though.

Species seen/heard
Great Bustard (Otis tarda)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Gadwall (Anas sterpera)
Red-Crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Redshank (Tringa tetanus)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida)
Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
Swift /Pallid Swift (Apus apus/palidus)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)

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