Friday, 10 August 2012

A look around the Mar Menor – Wednesday 8th August 2012

Marchamalo Salinas.  08:15 – 08:30.
Weather: Sky 7/8 cloud, wind NE F2, 24ºC.

Prior to going to work, I had a quick look at the Salinas again, mainly to see if I could relocate the Oystercatchers seen last night.  I had no luck with these, and the Salinas were pretty quiet, with just 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls, the 2 juvenile Shelduck that seem to be hanging around, 3 adult Black-headed Gulls, 2 Little, 6 Common and 12 Sandwich Terns, 3 Kentish Plover, 7 Audouins Gulls (all adults) and around 150 Yellow-legged Gulls.

Lo Poyo (between Los Nietos and Los Urrutias on the Mar Menor).  16:20 – 16:50.
Weather: Sky 1/8 cloud, wind NE F2-3, 28ºC

I had arranged to meet up with some birders this afternoon at the Salinas of San Pedro del Pinatar, and en route there, I stopped off briefly at Lo Poyo.  This is an area with a few small sandbars in the Mar Menor where occasionally waders, terns and gulls roost if there is not too much disturbance, and at this time of day there doesn’t tend to be too many people around.

There was a fair roost of birds, mainly terns, the most unusual being a roosting group of 26 Gull-billed Terns.  Apart from these there were around 30 Common Terns, 40 Little Terns and 20 Sandwich Terns.  Amongst the waders were 2 Greenshanks, 14 Ringed Plovers, 18 Kentish Plovers and at least 9 Common Sandpipers in a flock together.  Unusually there wasn’t much in the way of gulls, just a single adult breeding plumage Mediterranean Gull.  Other birds seen were a single Little Egret, and there was a continual stream of Common Swifts, a few Alpine Swifts and many Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows through.

Part of the group of Common Sandpipers - seems strange to see them at a beach

Salinas de San Pedro del Pinatar.  17:20 – 20:00. With José Manuel Escarabajal, Paul Sparkes, Jose Navarro Leandro, Conrado Requena, Juan and Santiago.
Weather: Sky 2-3/8 cloud, wind NE F3-4, 28ºC

I met up with the group I was going to be birdwatching with. Our principal aim was to look for the Red-necked Phalarope (which we eventually found) and to generally have a look at the lagoons for whatever may be around.  The lagoons seemed pretty quiet, but with effort we managed to pick out a few good birds, such as male and female Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, the aforementioned Red-necked Phalarope, 2 Dunlin, 4 Ruff, 8 Little Stint, 8 Turnstone, 8 Common Sandpiper, 14 Curlew Sandpiper, 12 Kentish Plover, 3 Redshank, a single Greenshank, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 adult Sanderling and around 800 distant Greater Flamingos.  The Sand Martins were down to just 2 birds – presumably the rest have either gone elsewhere to moult or are on their way back to Africa.

 One of the Black Terns seen flying overhead

 The Red-necked Phalarope, still hanging around

Farm reservoirs, airport road San Javier.  20:20 – 21:00. With José Manuel Escarabajal, Paul Sparkes, Jose Navarro Leandro, Conrado Requena, Juan and Santiago.
Weather: Sky 3/8 cloud, wind NE F3, 26ºC

The other reason for gathering us all together was to show people where the farm reservoirs are where I have recently been seeing the Black Terns and herons, so we all gathered here for a while.  The Black Tern numbers were definitely down, with just 6 being seen plus the adult Whiskered Tern that has been around lately.  There were also 3 Gull-billed Terns that flew over.
Waders were represented by 6 Black Winged Stilts (plus one adult recently squashed on the road), 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a single Green Sandpiper.
The other stars for this location are the herons, but having got here quite late, we only saw a single Cattle Egret and single Little Egret.  We also had a Grey Heron come over presumably to roost.  We did however see a good number of Night Herons (7 in total, 4 adults, 1 sub-adult and 2 juveniles) and 3 Squacco Herons (1 adult and 2 juveniles).

 One of the Squacco Herons seen in one of the reservoirs

Not quite sure whats going on here - adult and juvenile Sqacco Heron, but notice the size difference!

I thought that we were going to call it a day at that, but a couple of people (José Navarro and Conri) were going to continue birding, so I decided to continue with them.
On the way out from the reservoirs, next to the motorway I had a Red-necked Nightjar fly over the car – it seems that they are quite active at the moment as I’ve heard of various sightings of these over the past week or so, presumably young on the wing.

I followed José and Coni to a site where Long-eared Owls had been found nesting earlier in the year.  We hoped that there might still be some around, but we had no luck with these. 

We then went over to the ‘Marina de Carmolí’ area near Los Urrutias, and here we DID have some luck as we flushed another Red-necked Nightjar.  We only saw it for a second or so, but sometime later when we went past the same spot, it was there again, and this time we had much better views although just as short, seeing the white flashes on the wings as it flew up.  We decided to call it a night at that, as it was by now around 11pm.

Species seen/heard during the day
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Black Necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Night Heron (Nicticorax nicticorax)
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
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 (Chlidonius hybrida)
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Swift (Apus apus)
Alpine Swift (Apus melba)
Iberian Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

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