Saturday, 8 September 2012

Thursday, 6th September, Cabo de Palos, Marchamalo Salinas, north and west Mar Menor

As during the night there had been a spattering of rain, I decided to have a look at the lighthouse garden at Cabo de Palos first thing, to see if anything had dropped in.  However the garden looked very dry, and the only birds of note were a Southern Grey Shrike (presumably the same one seen on Saturday) and two Red-rumped Swallows.

I have a theory that we are only going to get any birds there when there has been a good period of rain storms, and there is laying water (in the form of puddles), as at present there seems to be very little insect life and no water for the birds.

The Southern Grey Shrike at the lighthouse garden

On my way back home, as usual I called into the Marchamalo Salinas.  Here there definitely were more birds about, with a total of 50 Greater Flamingos (with 2 juveniles – the first I have seen this year), and a winter plumage Spotted Redshank being the star birds.  Three of the flamingos wore colour rings which I was able to read.
On the downside for here, I noted that no water was being pumped into the Salinas.

 A view across the salinas

In the afternoon, I took a tour around the west side of the Mar Menor, ending up at the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar.  I started at 14:40 hrs. at the old sewage farm (EDAR) at El Algar, but drew a total blank – not a single bird.  Maybe it was due to the time of day, but it’s the first time I’ve been here and seen nothing at all!

Next I called in to the farm reservoirs at San Javier.  Here thank goodness, there were birds, the best being 9 Black Terns and 3 Turtle Doves, with a supporting cast of Black Winged Stilts, Cattle Egret, Little Ringed Plovers and Southern Grey Shrike.

The Black Terns, still being seen in the farm reservoirs

From here I moved on to the new sewage farm (EDAR) of San Javier, which is opposite the airport.  However because it IS new and not a lot has established itself, all I saw were 12 Little Grebes, 4 Moorhen and 15 Yellow-legged Gulls.

I carried on to the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar, arriving just after 3:30pm.  What a relief it was to be able to set up the scope/camera and not have people flushing all the birds away before you can get onto them.  Helped by the time of day, you could see that the summer was over for most people.   Birds of note here were the juveniles.  There were very few (c240) Greater Flamingos, but the first juveniles put in an appearance.  And the same with Curlew Sandpiper – of the 5 I saw, 2 were juveniles, and with Sanderling – 12 seen, only 2 with vestiges of adult plumage.  Also there had obviously been an arrival of Spotted Redshanks, as I saw 7, all in winter plumage (and possibly juveniles as well).  Of the summer visitors, there was no sign of Sand Martin, and I only saw 4 Little Terns.

Only the third juvenile Greater Flamingo I've seen locally so far this year

As it was relatively quiet (of people I mean), I decided to walk down the ‘Mota’, which is a walkway that divides the Salinas from the Mar Menor.  Normally used by thousands of people walking/running/cycling up and down it, this was also quiet.  And as there were juvenile waders about, I thought it was worth the 3 km. walk each way to see if any Knot had arrived as this is a favorite area of theirs when the juveniles first come in.  Well, I was unlucky with the Knot as there weren’t any, but I counted the moulting flock of Black Necked Grebes that gather here each late summer (515 in total), and did see some strange antics of a Whimbrel, which were very comical to watch.
 Part of the flock of Black Necked Grebes....

...and the full flock - what's the collective noun for Black Necked Grebes - I suggest a 'smudge'

 There were a fair number of Sanderlings, mainly juveniles...

 ... but with the occasional adult...

 ...and with them, Turnstones...

 ... and a couple of juvenile Little Stints, one pictured here

There were winter plumaged Turnstones too
 This Black Winged Stilt wandered in quite close...

... and wandered back out again
About 2 km. down the Mota (which is like a sea-wall with a 3 metre wide sandy top, the Mar Menor on one side, the Salinas pools on the other), I noticed a Whimbrel a way off on a small sandy area in the Salinas.  As they are normally very difficult to photograph, I thought that when I got to the area, I’d see if I could get close enough to get some photos without disturbing and flushing it.  Well, I needn’t have bothered worrying about flushing it – it flew up onto the top of the Mota to where people walk, and started dodging in and out of the high weeds that were at the side of the path, and every so often it would disappear into the weeds and then come out with something in its bill – and on a couple of occasions it dropped what it had caught while trying to swallow it, and the prey (presumably a grasshopper) would hop around on the ground with the Whimbrel after it.  It let me get reasonably close and I got some photos – not brilliant ones as the sun was in the wrong position, but I also managed to video it.  It wasn’t too bothered by people walking past – it’d just fly to the bottom of the 'Mota' and return when they'd gone by, or fly around in a loop coming back onto the ‘Mota’.  Eventually it WAS flushed by a cyclist, and flew over to the other side of the Salinas.

 The antics of this Whimbrel had me in stitches

A short video of the Whimbrel feeding (quality not brilliant - it was quite windy)

Occasionally it got off the path to join all the other waders

 On the way back, Slender/billed Gulls were gathering together

Bird species seen
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Black Necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrines)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sanvicensis)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Rock Dove / Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Southern Grey Shrike  (Lanius meridionalis)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melsanocephala)
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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