Monday, 14 May 2012

Saturday, 12th May 2012 - a splash of colour

Saladares del Guadalentín, Alhama de Murcia
Weather: Sky No cloud, no wind; temp.16 - 30ºC.  08:05 – 13:45..

Today I was back on familiar territory, the Guadalentín river valley.  I always like to come over here at the beginning of May for the spectacle of the Rollers displaying, and I was not to be disappointed.  To start with I only saw two pairs, but by the end of the day I reckon I’d seen five.  I’ve included some photos of these spectacular birds, but to be honest, photos just don’t do them justice – you DO have to actually see them.  I spent a few hours watching them chasing off Jackdaws and Rock Doves and anything else that came into their airspace, and doing that vertical climb and then descent of theirs, showing off to their partners.  Add to this tens of Bee-eaters, and you can imagine it was quite a colourful morning.

 Always a superb bird to see, Roller

Together with a couple of Bee-eaters

Parts of a display sequence

Going Up

And back down

A little bit of horizontal

Another down

 and overhead

And a different bird at rest

One of quite a few Bee-eaters

 I did actually have a drive around the rest of the saladares, and saw the usual larks (Calandra, Crested, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed – the Calandras being relatively quiet, mainly just sitting on the tops of the low bushes.  Maybe because now they’ve got mates and nests, they don’t want to advertise themselves too much).

Record shot of a Lesser Short-toed Lark
Also of note were a total of 3 Great Spotted Cuckoos, (a pair and a single), 3 Spectacled Warblers and quite a few Tree Sparrows.  Raptors were represented by singles of Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle and Common Buzzard, plus about 5 Kestrels including a juvenile food-begging from an H.T. Pylon.
 One of a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos

Tree Sparrows seemed to be particularly visible

Common Buzzard seen soaring in the company of a Booted Eagle
 The shrike family, represented by Woodchats

 and Southern Greys
In some of the farm reservoirs, apart from Black Winged Stilts and Little Grebes, I saw my first fluffy baby moorhen of the year swimming behind its parent.

Probably the most unusual bird I saw though, was a female Peacock wandering around the banks of the river Guadalentín itself!
Somewhat unusual, this Peahen
 Mar Menor (rambla de Albujon, club Nautico Los Urrutias)
Weather: Sky No cloud, no wind; temp. 26ºC.  14:30 – 14:45.

On the way home I called in at the ‘desembocadura de la rambla de Albujon’ in the corner of the Mar Menor, and out on the actual Mar Menor quite surprisingly were a group of 30 Great Crested Grebes.  My last call was at the ‘club nautico’ (sailing club) in Los Urrutias where four Little Egrets were still accompanied by the Great White Egret.
This Great White Egret seems quite at home at the port at Los Urrutias
Species seen/heard

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Great White Egret (Egretta alba)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Peacock (Pavo cristatus)
Rock Dove/Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia)
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)
Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
Roller (Coracias garrulous)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Swift/Pallid Swift (Apus apus/pallidus)
Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calandrella rufescens)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)
Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Stonechat Saxicola torquatus)
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)


  1. Really stunning Richard, the shot of roller and bee-eaters!, and very curious the photo of peahen. Gretting and see you birding.

  2. Felicidades por tu blog y por las fantásticas fotos que lo ilustran.


    Quique Carballal