My apologies for no reports over the past 12 days, but to be honest, there’s been nothing much to report about.
Nationally, birds of note have nearly all been gulls, terns or waders, with Cadiz being the place to be, having Elegant, Lesser Crested and last weekend a first winter Forster’s Tern all in the same place, plus a pair of Common Bulbul being seen feeding two young in Tarifa.
As is traditional in the second fortnight of August, Dotterel have started putting in an appearance with birds in Albacete and Almeria provinces (information from Rafa Torralba and Raimundo Martin respectively) and it can’t be that long before they put in an appearance at another traditional passage stopping place, south of the El Hondo reserve near Crevillente in Alicante province. Here in Murcia there is no known regular site for them, although they have been seen in two of the last three years at the ‘Saladares del Guadalentín’ in the triangle between Alhama de Murcia, Totana and Mazarron, so it’s always worth checking local fields.
Locally, there has just been more of the same, with a decent passage of Curlew Sandpipers (up to 60) through Marchamalo Salinas and numbers of both Dunlin and Little Stint building up well. The water here is evaporating fast. At the moment the best place to see waders is still the first pool behind the go-kart track, and in the pool behind that one I had a good gathering of Little Egrets one morning.
At the other side of the Salinas, next to the Playa Paraiso urbanization, gulls and terns are gathering most afternoons, with good numbers of Mediterranean, Black-headed and Audouin’s Gulls, Common and Sandwich Terns as well as the normal Yellow-legged Gulls, being seen recently.
On one morning recently, a good group of Little Egrets
Curlew Sandpipers have been passing through well, and a few Dunlin have started to be seen
A general view from the 'lay-by' behind the go-kart track
The salinas hold a good mix of waders - here Little Stint and adult Dunlin...
... Ringed Plover...
... and more of Little Stint
Numbers of Slender-billed Gulls are building up...
... mainly adults in moult, as can be seen with this individual
At the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar, birds seen are much the same as in my last report – plenty of Black Winged Stilts, Avocets and Kentish Plovers, a few Curlew Sandpipers, Sanderling, Little Stints, Dunlin and Common Sandpipers, Redshank and Greenshank and the occasional Spotted Redshank. Adult Black Terns continue to pass through, either sitting on posts in the third pool on the right or feeding over the first pool on the left as you enter, some looking quite tatty as they moult their primaries. Numbers of Black Necked Grebes are also steadily building up, and I would expect there to be a good sized moulting flock visible from the ‘Mota’ (the path that takes you out to the ‘encañizadas’ from the windmill) – I’ve not had a chance to check this out, but there’s normally a good 3-500 flock at this time of year.
The Little Bitterns continue to be seen first thing (you need to be there by 8 o’clock) in the reed area in the first pool on the right, and there have been a reasonable number of Ruff around.
A locally raised Black Winged Stilt...
... male Ruff and Redshank...
... another very pale looking male Ruff
All the Curlew Sandpipers passing through at the moment are adults, some in stunning plumage
The Dunlins are also all adults, mainly in breeding plumage
Other places of interest that I’ve visited recently have been the farm reservoirs along the road from the AP-7 to San Javier airport, where I’ve seen Night Herons and Black and Gull-billed Terns regularly, and on the 10th August I had an immature Purple Heron.
Black Terns continue to pass through, again mainly adults
Easily spooked, there's normally a Night Heron or two around...
... and on the electric cables around the orange groves, still plenty of Turtle Doves
Quite a rarity, an immature Purple Heron out in the open
Another moulting adult Black Tern...
... and a couple of Gull-billed Terns
Finally, on another visit to the ‘Encañizadas’ at the end of La Manga strip on the 17th August, I finally got to see my first Murcian Bar-tailed Godwit of the year, a stunning adult in breeding plumage.
Distant, but a very smart bird - Bar-tailed Godwit