Thursday, 13th September 2012 - Marchamalo salinas & Encañizadas (La Manga)
In the afternoon I had a quick look from the roadside at the Marchamalo salinas. Although in the afternoon the light is bad, I did manage to count a large group of adult Audouin's Gulls in one of the dry lagoons, 63 in total. Apart from that, Greater Flamingo numbers had increased to 30; there was a single female or immature Shoveler in the first pool together with a Grey Plover and 3 Redshank, but otherwise things were pretty quiet.
I decided to continue down to the end of the 'La Manga strip' to the area directly opposite the salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar (the 'Encañizadas'). I had not been down here since before the summer (I never go in the summer because of the traffic), and I wanted to see if there were any Knot about - this being the only place in Murcia where they are seen with any regularity.
I arrived there about 5pm and spent an hour there. I had no luck with the Knot, although there WAS a fair sized group of waders over on the San Pedro side, once again due to the heat haze and position of the sun I couldn't i.d. them, just see them when they got up and flew around.
Interesting birds seen there (mainly passerines) were 2 Northern Wheatears, Red-rumped Swallows, a single Stone Curlew hiding in a creek, a Kingfisher, 5 Willow Warblers, a male Common Redstart and a Subalpine Warbler.
Friday, 14th September 2012 - Marchamalo salinas, San Javier, San Pedro del Pinatar salinas
Today I had a morning roadside look before going to work at the Marchamalo salinas. Now the light was much better, and there was a small group of waders feeding just in front of me. Nothing too special, but it's nice just to see any waders there now that there's a bit of water in some of the lagoons.
Birds seen were 2 Redshank; 10 Dunlin; 3 Little Stint; 3 Kentish and 4 Ringed Plovers; 26 Black Winged Stilts (quite a high number - many of them were flying around in a group and I think they had just arrived or were intending to go off elsewhere); 2 Greenshank; 7 Grey Heron; 2 Little Egret; 28 Slender-billed Gulls; 46 Greater Flamingos (which included 3 juveniles, and I was able to read 2 rings).
One of the Redshanks seen
A general view over the salinas
The 'mota' where the terns and gulls roost
Part of the wader flock, a group of Dunlin...
... and a couple of Little Stint
In the afternoon I made my way to San Pedro via San Javier, but stopping off briefly at Lo Poyo on the Mar Menor (between Los Nietos and Los Urrutias) where I just had a light phase Booted Eagle.
In San Javier I stopped at the farm reservoirs near the airport to see what was and what wasn't still about. Here too there were more Black Winged Stilts - I counted 17, and I also had a flock of Little Ringed Plovers (12 altogether). There were still a good number of Black Terns, both adults (some very black) and juveniles
- I counted 26 in total, and around the resevoirs I saw a couple of Turtle Doves (the majority of these seem to have gone now).
A couple of photos taken of the Black Terns
Ringed Plover on one of the mud banks dividing the salina pools
Again, a morning visit to Marchamalo (in case you're wondering why, apart from the fact it's a good place at the moment to see waders close up, there's been a smattering of Pectoral Sandpipers in the north and more recently the east of the spanish peninsula, so if one turns up here it should be easy to see and I don't want to miss it!). Well, there wan't a Pec., but there were definitely more waders than yesterday, with 3 Curlew Sandpipers (2 adults still with some red feathers), 8 Dunlin, 5 Little Stint, 1 Common Sandpiper, 18 Black-winged Stilts, 4 Ringed Plovers plus Kentish Plovers. Also a single Willow Warbler, and on my way out of the salinas, a Sparrowhawk (yesterday, a friend watching for raptor passage from a mountain area near Cartagena had 23 Sparrowhawks, so they're obviously on the move - he also had an Osprey).
Little Stint with some quite strange head markings
Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper...
...and an adult still showing breeding plumage feathers
Adult male Ringed Plover
The only two juvenile Greater Flamingos
A quite showy Common Redshank
Adult Slender-billed Gull - note the dark smudge behind the ear coverts - winter plumage
The commonest gull seen anywhere - Yellow-legged Gulls roosting on one of the dry lagoons
Gulls and terns roosting. The gull facing you above the Grey Plover is a ringed Mediterranean Gull
Three record shots showing the Little Egret x Western Reef Heron, with Little Egrets
Some of the passerine migrants seen - Reed Warbler...
...and Willow Warbler
Sunday, 16th September 2012 - Marchamalo salinas & Cabo Tiñosa
Another morning visit to Marchamalo, but with little change. A couple of Avocets were new, as was a 4th Curlew Sandpiper. Also of note was a group of Grey Herons that had obviously just arrived, and 2 Mediterranean Gulls (adults in winter plumage).
Recent arrivals to the salinas, a group of Grey Herons
Tricky business landing, when you're not used to it
Adult and juvenile Curlew Sandpipers
Common Sandpiper out on the prowl for food
'Flashing' Curlew Sandpiper
Dunlin with Little Stint
I decided to try somewhere high up to see if there was anything of a raptor movement, and decided upon Cabo Tiñosa, an old fort/gun battery on the coast between Cartagena and Mazarron. It took about an hour to get there and I had a good walk around the fort itself, but there was absolutely nothing in the way of raptors (or indeed birds in general - the only bird of note was a single Black Wheatear).
Black Wheatear - one of very few birds seen
Record shot of adult and immature Golden Eagles
Record shot of two Golden Eagles (originally i.d.'d as Bonelli's Eagles)
Monday, 17th September 2012 - Marchamalo salinas
A midday visit today, but the only noticeable change from yesterday was that the Avocet numbers had increased to nine.
Another (or the same) juvenile Little Stint with the strange head markings
Curlew Sandpipers with a Dunlin and Little Stint in the foreground
Back to a morning visit today to the salinas, with a heavy mist/low cloud in the sky, and a noticeable increase in Little Stint numbers (9) and a group of 5 Black-tailed Godwits. On the way back to Los Belones, a single Common Swift.
Several Grey Herons took off from the salinas, heading south east
A Little Stint with 'small person syndrome', chasing off a Dunlin
Juvenile and adult Little Stint
Greenshank giving a Black-tailed Godwit a wide berth
A Redshank got closer, but was still pretty nervous about passing the Godwit
Possible a local bred bird, a juvenile Kentish Plover
In the afternoon, I had a look at 'Lo Poyo' (beach area between Los Nietos and Los Urrutias), ever hopeful for a Dotterel, but I didn't even see a Richard's Pipit! I did however see a female/immature Marsh Harrier and pale morph Booted Eagle.
I then called into the old EDAR at El Algar, but the only pool with any water was void of birds. However, a raptor sat on an electricity pylon, when I got my 'scope on it, turned out to be a (presumed juvenile) Osprey! A very good sighting. It also obviously saw me, as it got up and flew lazily off, in the direction of Cartagena. Also there were 3 Turtle Doves.
Record shots of the Osprey seen at the old sewage works at El Algar
My last stop of the afternoon was at the 'desembocadura de la rambla de Albujon' beyond Los Urrutias - literally 'where the rambla empties into the sea' on the Mar Menor. Here again things were pretty quiet, the only birds of note being 5 Turnstone and a Kingfisher.
Wednesday, 19th September 2012 - Marchamalo salinas & Calblanque
Today I called in at Marchamalo Salinas at midday. Changes from yesterday were a total of 22 Grey Heron, 24 Avocet, 6 Curlew Sandpipers (2 adults and now 4 juveniles), a Grey Plover, 3 Spotted Redshank, only 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 54 Greater Flamingo (3 of which were juveniles) and 21 Sandwich Terns.
A couple (possibly a pair) of Ringed Plovers, the male being particularly aggresive
Later in the afternoon I called in at Calblanque (the Mediterranean side of the autovia, between Los Belones and Cabo de Palos). The first bird of note was a Peregrine, feeding on one of the H.T. pylons. On checking the photos I took, it appears it was eating a Woodpigeon (of which there were 17 on nearby H.T. cables).
Peregrine falcon seen tearing a pigeon apart on a pylon
Bee-eater swooping around searching for food
In nearby carab trees, there were a couple of Spotted Flycatchers together, and a Subalpine Warbler.
On the way down to the disused ‘Rasall salinas’, I stopped off at an abandoned cottage which can be quite good when there are passerine migrants about, but on this occasion I only saw 6 Crested/Thekla Larks and a male Common Redstart.
Record shot of a male Common Redstart