Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Marchamalo salinas, Murcia – 7th August 2012

 Weather: Sky 7/8 cloud, wind F3-4 E, temp. 24ºC.  20:15 – 20:45.

Having not been to the Salinas over the last few days, and having an hour to spare, I called by late on to see if there was anything roosting in the areas visible.

The Salinas themselves still look pretty sorry for themselves, with a trickle of water entering into them, probably much less than evaporates on a daily basis, and still half the lagoons are just mud (particularly towards the urbanization Playa Paraiso) – no water at all.  There is only one area where birds are normally seen, sitting on to of a stone wall dividing two of the lagoons, but in the evening you are looking directly into the sun to see them, so I didn’t hold out any high hopes of anything out of the ordinary.

On this wall were the usual birds, a few Mediterranean Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, Sandwich, Common and Little Terns, and actually in one of the lagoons was a group of Slender-billed Gulls feeding, and on the muddy fringes, a couple of Kentish Plover.

Thinking this was the sum total of birds, I drove my car to an area where I can turn it round, and looking back towards the Salinas I saw a distant large ‘white’ flock get up from an area normally hidden from view when you’re close up to the salinas.  Jumping out of the car and getting my binoculars on it, I could see it was a flock of about 250 – 300 terns.  Something had obviously spooked them, as together with them was a separate group of about 40 Black Winged Stilts, and another smaller flock of 21 largish waders, dark and white with a medium-sized straight bill (remember I was looking into the sun, so couldn’t get any idea of colours).  I grabbed my camera and reeled off a few photos to help identification – it was only later that I realized that I had the focus in ‘manual’ mode (normally I have it in ‘auto’), and so all the photos were out of focus!  Luckily, they were calling, and I could identify them as Oystercatchers – definitely the largest group I’ve seen together locally, and the first I’ve seen this year.  And while I was watching them, a small flock of 9 Greater Flamingo flew over, circled a few times and then continued on their way.

 Out of focus record shot of the Oystercatcher (they are, honest!)
So considering I wasn’t expecting to see a lot, not bad for a half hour of birding!
Species seen/heard
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Oystercatcher  (Haematopus ostralegus)
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Swift (Apus apus)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

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