Saturday, 9 February 2013

Surprise in the Mar Menor

On my first outing since returning from the UK, on Tuesday 6th February in the afternoon I took a little trip along the Mar Menor.  I was principally checking to see if there were still any Velvet Scoter around, and I also wanted to have a look to see if there was anything new along the rambla de Albujon.

So my first stop was just past Punta Brava, Los Urrutias on the F34 where there is a layby at road marker Km.8.  Down at the water’s edge I set up my ‘scope to see what was about.   Behind me over the marina de Carmoli, there were 2 Marsh Harriers (male and female) and a light phase Booted Eagle hunting, and in the Mar Menor, there were still a fair number (I counted at least 12) Great Crested Grebes, and at least 15 Black-necked Grebes.  I found a group of Scoter, eight in total which comprised of the six Velvet Scoters and two female Common Scoters.

It was while watching these that I noticed another bird in the water quite a way off, and focusing my ‘scope on it, I couldn’t believe my eyes – it couldn’t be – but it was – an immature diver that looked large, very much a rarity in the waters of Murcia.  I presumed it to be a Great Northern Diver, but have since seen it closer and have had it re-identified it as Red Throated!  I couldn’t get any photos of it as it was too far out for my normal camera and there was too much heat-haze anyway.

Apart from that bit of excitement, I also had a group of 6 Wigeon (4 males & 2 females) on the water, and along the shoreline, 2 Little Egret, 2 Greenshank and 4 Turnstone.

My trip to the ‘rambla de Albujon’ afterwards was a bit of an anticlimax, seeing ‘only’ 8 Common Snipe, a Ruff, 7 Black-winged Stilt, a Green Sandpiper, 6 Chiffchaff, 4 Crag Martin, 2 Water and 2 Meadow Pipits, and I heard calling my first Quail of the year.

The next couple of days were very windy so I didn’t get down to the Mar Menor again until the morning of Friday 9th February, when luckily the diver was still there.  I managed to get a few ‘digi-scoped’ photos of it one of which was in reasonable focus which I’m including in this post, together with the best of the rest.

 The best of the rest - the bird in front is a Black-necked Grebe

 And the best photo I could get

Also seen on the Friday were my first single House Martin, and a group of three Swallows.  Summer’s a-coming!

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