Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wednesday, 12th September – Mar Menor

Sky clear, wind SW F3-4; 28 – 25º
This afternoon I spent a few hours around the south end of the Mar Menor, visiting Lo Poyo (the beach area between Los Nietos and Los Urrutias), Punta Brava, the Marina de Carmolí (the area to the west of Punta Brava), and the ‘rambla de Albujon’.

Driving down to the Mar Menor at Lo Poyo (past the field where the model aircraft are normally flying, although today there were none, probably due to the gusty wind that was blowing), the first bird I saw was a harrier.  Stopping the car and checking it out with my bins., I could see it was an adult male Marsh Harrier – an uncommon sighting as the majority of birds we see here are females/juveniles.  Then I noticed another harrier some way off, which turned out to be a juvenile Montagu’s. I’d seen one a few days ago in much the same spot, and maybe it was the same bird.  I checked it out, just in case it might be a Pallid, but no, it had the underwing pattern of Montagu’s.

I went down to the Mar Menor, but there wasn’t much there, just a few Sandwich Terns, Slender-billed Gulls, Little Egret, Grey Plover, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Greenshanks and something of a surprise, two Spotted Redshanks.

As I drove back to the road to continue my visits, I noticed there were now 4 raptors in the sky – the original Marsh Harrier had been joined by another, the Montagu’s Harrier, and a light phase Booted Eagle.  I hung around for a while as the Montagu’s Harrier was making some low passes, and I thought I might get some photos, but as soon as I stopped, it moved further away, although I did manage to get a couple of photos.

 Montagu's Harrier in 'Lo Poyo'

I carried on along the Mar Menor, stopping next at Punta Brava, which is just beyond Los Urrutias.  Here I had more waders (Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover) and another Little Egret but very little else.

 A small group of Turnstone and Ringed Plover at Punta Brava

My last stop was at the ‘desembocadura’ of the rambla de Albujon.  Parking here, I had another Marsh Harrier, a female fly along the beach in front of the car. 

 Female Marsh Harrier along the beach front

Walking to the rambla, I saw a group of 8 Avocets flying over the Mar Menor some way off.  I walked up the ‘rambla’, but there was very little to be seen as the reeds have nearly all been recently cut, so there is very little cover for birds.  However I did have a Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and my first Common Snipe of the post-breeding season.  Also I had a very smart Kingfisher fly up the rambla and a Hoopoe fly down to the side of the rambla, and returning to the Mar Menor, a single Little Tern (they all seem to have disappeared over the last couple of weeks), and an adult winter-plumaged Mediterranean Gull, and a flock of 7 Black Winged Stilts flew in.

My first 'post-breeding season' sighting of Common Snipe

In all the places I visited today, there was a constant stream of Swallows in movement, with a few Red-rumped Swallows thrown in for good measure.  In the 3 hours total that I was out, I estimate I saw several thousand in total.

Bird species seen
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygarus)
Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Kingfisher (Althedo atthis)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Southern Grey Shrike  (Lanius meridionalis)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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