Weather: Sky mainly clear, wind F3 NE, temp. 28 - 31ºC. 12:55 - 16:45.
Another trip around the Mar Menor, again starting with the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar and working back (I know this sounds a bit repetative, but with the only movement locally being of waders and terns, it's the only place to look!).
A midday start at the Salinas, where thing were a little more animated than last Saturday. My main reason for returning so much here (apart from the fact that there is very little to be seen in other places), is that I’m looking out in particular for Red-necked Phalaropes which tend to be seen here at this time of year. There have already been reports over the last few days of birds in the Delta del Ebro (Tarragona, Cataluña) in the N.E. of Spain, and Doñana in the S.W., so I know they are in movement, even if I didn't have any luck today.
There were definitely a few more waders about, with my first sightings of returning Turnstones, a single Sanderling and Little Stint and an adult Ruff moulting out of its breeding plumage. Also, 3 Spotted Redshank, 6 Redshank and 3 Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and various small groups of Curlew Sandpipers (I estimated a total of 15). Also different was a single Whiskered Tern that flew over. The young Little Terns now seem all able to fly and are collecting at the base of the mud walls where the nest were although the adults are still feeding them. There seems to be quite a passage of Black-headed Gulls going through – I counted around 50, mainly adults but with a few juveniles with them. Also three adult Mediterranean Gulls, and a single Gull-billed Tern flew over, presumably returning to the breeding colony in the centre of the Salinas.
One of a few Curlew Sandpipers seen around the salinas
A Common Sandpiper amongst theBlack Winged Stilts
Another recent arrival, a Ruff
A local bred bird, a juvenile Kentish Plover
The flamingos now seem to be well spread out over the salinas, with very little opportunity for ring-reading (they're too deep in the water), although I did manage to read another Algerian ring.
Most of the Greater Flamingos were in water too deep to be able to read rings
Apart from those 'walking on water'
As I was not time restricted (only heat restricted!), I decided to take a walk partway down the ‘Mota’ – the pathway at the south end of the Salinas that divides the Salinas from the Mar Menor. This is where traditionally in the summer a large group of Black-necked Grebes accumulates to moult (I have seen more than 350 birds here on occasion). This time I counted only 32, but this number will build up as the summer progresses. Apart from these, things were very quiet birdwise, with a couple of Black Winged Stilts, 15 Sandwich Terns, 20+ Little Terns and a couple of Curlew Sandpipers.
Leaving here at around 15:30, my next stop was again the farm reservoirs close to the airport in San Javier. Here the only novelty was a group of 7 Little Ringed Plovers, and the number of Gull-billed Terns had reduced to around a dozen, but Black Terns were definitely more numerous with around 15. Also there on the fences were 9 Cattle and a couple of Little Egrets, 2 adult Night Herons and a couple of Grey Herons.
Black Terns having a rest in one of the farm reservoirs
Looks like an awkward place to perch for this Night Heron
Night Herons and Egrets lining up on the fence
And away they all go - note the difference in flight between the Cattle (short legs, stubby bills) and Little Egrets
One of the Night Herons decided to have a close look at me!
Another bird that likes to harrass photographers - Black Winged Stilt
My last stop of the day was the old sewage farm (EDAR) of El Algar. Although this is basically dry (and has been for some months now), there is a single small pool to the right of the gate that occasionally has some liquid pumped into it, and a pair of Black Winged Stilts have bred here. I saw the adult pair and the single juvenile, and also a single Little Ringed Plover. On nearby overhead power cables, a large concentration of around 60 Wodpigeons, plus another 60 mixed group of Turtle and Collared Doves (mainly Turtles). This seems to be a favorite gathering area for the dove family, possibly due to the number of Lemon orchards around, as I see these groupings every year. However, I have noticed that a large number of the Lemon trees have been grubbed out over the last couple of months, so maybe I won’t be seeing so many in the years that come.
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Black Necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Night Heron (Nyctiocorax nyctiocorax)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Swift (Apus apus)
Iberian Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)