Sunday, 5 May 2013

Wednesday 1st May 2013 – Saladares del Guadalentín (Guadalentín Valley)

Hi all,

The 1st of May is a national holiday here in Spain, so I had the whole day to go birding, and as we’d had such a good trip to the Guadalentín Valley last Saturday, I decided to repeat it, and maybe see the display of the Rollers.  Arriving there at just before 9 am., I hoped I might be able to get into some of the tracks we couldn’t visit on Saturday, but the rain on Sunday must had been very heavy here as the area was even wetter, so once again I had to stick to the tarmac roads. I did much the same route as we had on Saturday, and my first bird of note was a good one!  A small falcon scaring the hell out of a Swift – it could only be one thing – my first Hobby of the year.  When it tired of chasing the Swift it carried on to the northwest and disappeared to view.  What a good start to the morning!  As it turned out, with no cloud and no wind, raptors were the stars of the day.  As I made my way around the area, I had a Short-toed Eagle hunting over the car, various Kestrels, a single distant Golden Eagle soaring with a pale morph Booted Eagle, a trio of Marsh Harriers together (adult male and immatures) and two birds come soaring by that I originally thought were Common Buzzards, but now know they were more Marsh Harriers.

 Once it had finished teasing a Swift, this Hobby was off!

 One of a trio of Marsh Harriers

 Another Marsh Harrier

 Hunting directly over me, this Short-toed Eagle

At the area where I normally see the Rollers, I only came across one, together with a group of 7 Bee-eaters.  The Roller was being chased by, and then chased after Jackdaws.  It’s a shame that there weren’t more, as I’m sure they’d be displaying if there were, and their display really is something to see.

Being in no particular hurry, I decided to stop for a while where I saw the Rufous Bushchat (Robin) on Saturday, and it didn’t take long to locate it as it was singing its heart out.  I sat in the car for an hour or so and eventually it came close enough for me to take some photos, although it was almost always in the shade, or in a thicket.  While waiting I also had a Spectacled Warbler come close to investigate me and invite me to take some photos, and 3 Rollers sit on wires overhead.

 Definitely worth the wait, the Rufous Bushchat (Robin)

 This Woodchat wasn't happy at all with the Bushchat and chased it whenever it saw it

 While waiting for the Bushchat, up to three Rollers came and sat on overhead wires
 The Bushctat would disappear then re-appear out of nowhere
 Again while waiting at the side of the road, this Spectacled Warbler popped up
Continuing my trip around the ‘saladares’, I saw all the larks, this time including Lesser Short-toed which we missed on Saturday, although the photos I took were almost all looking into the sun.

 Record shots of the larks - here Short-toed Lark...
 ... Calandra Lark...

 ... and finally Lesser Short-toed Lark

Other birds of interest seen were Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, a couple of Whinchat, hirundines and swifts passing through continuously including Red-rumped Swallows and Pallid Swifts, and various Turtle Doves, and as I slowly made my way out of the area, I disturbed a Great Spotted Cuckoo at the side of the road.  I managed to take a quick photo of it through the windscreen of the car, but as soon as I put the camera lens out of the window, it was off!

 Other birds seen during the morning included Stone Curlew...

 ... Little Owl...

 ... Great Spotted Cuckoo - this photo taken through the windscreen...
 ... and Little Ringed Plover

Leaving the saladares at around 2-30pm, I made my way slowly back towards Cartagena, and en-route came across another pair of Rollers on electricity cables at the side of the road, plus a very nice male Black-eared Wheatear.

 Pair of Rollers seen on my way home

Reaching Cartagena, I paid a call into the sewage farm there hoping that the White-winged (Black) Tern seen on Monday and Tuesday might still be there, but despite searching the two lagoons, there was no sign of it.  My luck had run out for the day.

From Cartagena, I came home along the Mar Menor, and just before entering Punta Brava (Los Urrutias) I noted a Great (White) Egret on the banks of the Mar Menor, the first that I’ve seen for some weeks, as the wintering birds went some time ago, so I presume it must have been a bird on migration.

Species seen/heard during the day
Little Grebe; Black Necked Grebe; Cattle Egret; Little Egret; Great (White) Egret; Shelduck; Mallard; Pochard; White-headed Duck; Marsh Harrier; Short-toed Eagle; Booted Eagle; Golden Eagle; Kestrel; Hobby; Honey Buzzard; Red-legged Partridge; Moorhen; Coot; Black Winged Stilt; Stone Curlew; Little Ringed Plover; Green Sandpiper; Common Sandpiper; Redshank; Audouin’s Gull; Yellow-legged Gull; Rock Dove; Woodpigeon; Turtle Dove; Great Spotted Cuckoo; Little Owl; Swift; Pallid Swift; Roller; Hoopoe; Crested Lark; Calandra Lark; Short-toed Lark; Lesser Short-toed Lark; Swallow; Red-rumped Swallow; House Martin; Iberian (Yellow) Wagtail; White Wagtail; Rufous Bushchat (Robin); Whinchat; Northern Wheatear; Black-eared Wheatear; Blackbird; Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola); Reed Warbler; Spectacled Warbler; Sardinian Warbler; Woodchat Shrike; Southern Grey Shrike; Magpie; Jackdaw; Spotless Starling; House Sparrow; Serin; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Linnet; Corn Bunting.

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