Wednesday, 3 April 2013

3rd April 2013 – Local area roundup

Hi all,

Another slow week, with migrants coming in, but in small numbers.

On Wednesday 27th March, I took a morning look at the lighthouse gardens at Cabo de Palos, where there had obviously been something of a small fall.  Of interest were 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler plus a further 7 Chiff/Willows; 5 Songthrush; 4 Robins; 2 Woodchat Shrikes; a Northern Wheatear; a male Common Redstart; 2 Blue Rock Thrushes (male & female); 2 Common Swift; a Dartford Warbler; 6 Red-rumped Swallows and 3 Swallows, but the birds of the morning were two Short-toed Larks seen early on in my walk.

 Now seen frequently flying around the Cabo de Palos lighthouse area, Red-rumped Swallow

In the afternoon, we had our monthly count at the EDAR (Sewage farm) at Beaza, Cartagena.  En route I called in rapidly at the EDAR El Algar where I had hoped for Garganey, but had no luck with these.  Birds seen here included Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and a couple (pair?) of Little Ringed Plovers.

At the EDAR Beaza, things were fairly quiet, with the majority of the overwintering ducks having now departed north.  The most interesting birds were the waders, with various pairs of Little Ringed Plovers, Common Snipe, 2 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Common and 4 Green Sandpipers, a pair of Stone Curlews and our first Collared Pratincole of the year, looking very dishevelled on the banks of one of the lagoons, obviously a recent arrival.

Thursday 28th March saw me again at the lighthouse garden first thing, where there had been another small arrival. Migrant birds seen were 2 Chiff/Willows, 4 Willow Warblers, 6 Robin, 1 Hoopoe, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, 1 Black Redstart (female), 3 Black-eared and 2 Northern Wheatears, 2 Songthrush, and a strong representation in different species of ‘sylvia’ warblers, with Sardinian, Subalpine and 2 Spectacled Warblers, and a female Blackcap.

 Some of the birds seen during my stroll around the Cabo de Palos lighthouse gardens, from top to bottom
Northern Wheatear; Serin; Subapline Warbler; Swallows and Goldfinch
As it was a holiday and I didn’t have work, I went from the lighthouse garden over to El Mojón (San Pedro del Pinatar) to check up on the Short-billed Dowitcher.  Meeting up with some people who had been watching since first light, it became obvious that the bird was not in its normal place in the corner of the lagoon, so I did a complete circuit of the lagoon, but without luck.  On my way round, of interest were a/the very nice breeding plumage Mediterranean Gull and a couple of Spoonbills, and something distant in flight caught my eye.  Getting my ‘scope on the bird I watched it for around 5 minutes as it tried to land various times including on a tree at the entrance to the Salinas, but every time was chased off by Yellow-legged Gulls.  Eventually I saw it drop into a reedbed – my first Purple Heron of the year.
Other birds seen were the normal waders – Black Winged Stilts; Black-tailed Godwits; Redshanks; Spotted Redshanks; Sanderlings, Turnstones; Common Sandpiper and Ringed and Kentish Plovers – and a single Reed Warbler was singing from one of the reedbeds at the entrance to the Salinas.

 From the end of the canal surrounding the salinas at El Mojón, a group of Sanderling on the beach...

 ... an adult Audouins Gull...

 ... and an adult Slender-billed Gull

On Good Friday, I once again started the day at the lighthouse garden, but this time much later than normal (arriving at around 11:40).  I hadn’t actually intended to go there, but coming out of my house in the morning I saw a Black Redstart on a fence opposite my front door and thought if migrants were around so far inland, there must have been a massive fall on the coast.  Totally mistaken!!  The only migrant I saw at the lighthouse was a single Swallow which was probably a summer resident bird.

On the 30th (Easter Saturday) I called into Calblanque for a change.  Last year we tried out ringing there, in the arboretum next to the camping area and had some interesting birds there.  It’s a good place for the more ‘woodland’ type migrants, such as Bonelli’s Warbler and Redstart and flycatchers later in the season when they come in.  Today I had nothing too special there, a single Woodchat Shrike on the way down from the information centre and a group of 20 or so Swifts/Pallid Swifts plus the resident finches (Greenfinches, Linnets, Serins). 
Calling next at the Salinas there (Salinas de Rasall), I counted 45 Audouins Gulls and read a single colour ring, but by now (11:30) the heat-haze was too much for the distance of the birds and although I could see at least another single colour ring, I couldn’t read it.

Easter Sunday (31st March) saw me once again at the Cabo de Palos lighthouse garden, in what I thought were ideal conditions for a fall (almost full moon and clear skies in the early part of the night, clouding over by daybreak and spitting with rain and no wind by the time I got there) but it was not to be.  The only thing I got was wet! (Oh, and a couple of Gannets south, a group of 5 Red-rumped Swallows and a couple of Chiff/Willows calling from some bushes).

The afternoon of Monday, 1st April saw me once again at the lighthouse garden where things were a little more animated, starting with a couple of Alpine Swifts flying around the lighthouse itself, a group of 7 Mediterranean Gulls moving slowly north out to sea, a couple of Songthrushes (I’m surprised that these are still moving through).  Smaller birds included a couple of Woodchat Shrikes, female Blackcap, Subalpine Warbler, Spectacled Warbler and my first Common Whitethroat of the year, a bright male, and around the rocks at the base of the lighthouse, a group of 9 Northern Wheatears including at least 4 males.

A record shot of the two Alpine Swifts that were whizzing around the lighthouse in the late afternoon
Tuesday 2nd April saw me once again at the lighthouse garden in the morning, and today’s birds were 3 male Common Redstart, a female Woodchat Shrike, a female Black-eared Wheatear (no sign of the Northern Wheatears of last night), the same Common Whitethroat, Subalpine Warbler, 3 Willow Warblers and 4 Chiff/Willows, and the star bird being the single Bee-eater (first heard, then seen) that flew over high up – my first of the year (although in other parts of Spain they’ve been seen for a couple of weeks now).

 Some of the birds seen on themorning of the 2nd April - here a male Common Redstart...
 ... Willow Warbler...

 ... a couple of immature Cormorants - the large flocks have now gone...
 ... and finally, another male Common Redstart
 And that’s it, so until my next report,


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