Sunday, 28 April 2013

Friday 26th April 2013 – Around the Mar Menor

Hi all,

Well the weather forecasters got it pretty much spot-on!  Yesterday the weather finally broke, and it rained for most of the day and night – impossible to get out and do some birding.  So this morning saw me with renewed enthusiasm at the lighthouse garden at Cabo de Palos at 8-15, with the sky almost totally overcast.  Mick Brewer had got there slightly before me, and I met up with him ‘scoping the sea where there was a group of Common Terns feeding, and amongst them a single breeding plumaged Black Tern.  We watched this for a while and as we did so, a group of gulls came into view – 13 Mediterranean Gulls in a flock, two adults in breeding plumage and the other 11 second calendar year birds. The sea itself wasn’t that rough (the wind had almost totally dropped from the previous day) but there was a large swell.  The next birds to catch our attention was a group of 11 Shags that flew around the rocks to join a 12th already in the sea.  In this group, seven of the birds were juveniles.  More birds out at sea were a couple of Audouins Gulls, an adult Gannet flying south, and later on a single Whimbrel flying north.  Passerines were few and far between, until later in our walk – presumably they didn’t begin to come in until later – just a couple of chiff/willows, Robin and a single Northern Wheatear.  Going right the way around the cape and through to the ‘Sirio’ gardens (just outside the fenced area of the actual lighthouse garden), we seemed to see more, including more Robins, a couple of Swift/Pallid Swifts over, a female Redstart, a strange largish bird with a long tail which when we got on to properly, turned out to be a Great Reed Warbler – the first time I think I’ve seen one ‘out of context’ and not in a reedbed.  We did have a couple of other good birds, a Melodious Warbler which Mick really liked, but for me the star bird of the morning may seem a little strange for UK based birders – a Blue Tit!  As I’ve mentioned in previous blog entries, I’ve sometimes gone a year without seeing one in Murcia if I haven’t travelled out to the northwest of the province, so to see one in my own local patch was for me really special!  I scanned it as good as I could to see if it might be a strange sub-species, but it looked like a standard Blue Tit.  It sat on top of one of the ‘pita’ plants for a while, then flew up in the air quite high and was off to the west.  My second species in 8 days that is normally considered to be a sedentary species, but seen on active migration (the other being a Green Woodpecker last week).

 Three of the group of Shags that dumped down in the sea...

 ... and another photo of some of the group

 Most unexpected, and for me a rarity, this Blue Tit

I had to go off to work then, but immediately after, I returned to the lighthouse, in the hope that maybe more birds had come in.  They obviously had, but not in the numbers I had hoped for, and all I saw were a couple more Chiff/Willows, 2 Melodious Warblers, a Bonelli’s Warbler, 2 male Redstarts, and along the shoreline at the base of the lighthouse, a couple of Common Sandpipers.

Later in the afternoon, I had to go out for diesel and while I was out, thought I’d call in to the sewage farm (EDAR) at El Algar.  As it had rained all day yesterday, I wanted to see how the water levels were doing.  Well they were certainly up on the last time I was there, to the extent that I think they may have flooded any Black Winged Stilt and Little Ringed Plover nests that may have been there.  Birds seen were a couple of Turtle Doves, Southern Grey Shrike, 13 Black Winged Stilts, Mallard and Shelducks, 2 Wood Sandpipers and 3 Little Ringed Plovers.

Three shots of the EDAR, El Algar - something GOOD's going to turn up in the Autumn if there's still water there!

Having now gone out and as it was starting to get late (around 6pm.), I decided to carry on to the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar to see if there was any buildup of Black Terns (late afternoon is the best time to see them and San Pedro one of the best places).  Well, there wasn’t any build up at all – I only saw one bird, but also had Little Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Common and Sandwich Terns, and a couple of Little Stints in breeding plumage, so the visit wasn’t wasted, and was made altogether better when on returning home along the Mar Menor with the sun going down, I had a ‘blob’ on an electric cable which on investigating, turned out to be a Roller!  Shame it wasn’t just a little earlier with better light, as it would have been a good photo.

 At San Pedro, all the breeding terns are now in...

 ... but wader passage is slow at the moment, with just a few Litte Stints

Just a record shot, but you can see what it is! - Roller in Los Urrutias


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