Sunday, 1 September 2013

1st September update

Hi all,

Once again, since my last report things have been pretty slow on the birding front, although they have picked up over the last couple of days or so.

At the local salinas of San Pedro del Pinatar and Marchamalo, waders continue to pass through and it is noticeable the numbers of juveniles being seen now, especially Curlew Sandpipers.  The water levels at San Pedro continue on the high side, but this doesn’t seem to be putting off the Black-tailed Godwits which are finally coming through in force, and on the 24th August a breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit could be seen with them.

 The commoner Black-tailed Godwit

 Not so common, a breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit with its cousins

 Other birds seen commonly at San Pedro - here a Little Tern...

 ... Ruff ...

 ... Sanderling ...

 ... Little Stint ...

... and another Ruff

Having mentioned in my last posting about the ‘La Mota’ walk at San Pedro, on the 21st I finally managed to do the walk as far as the second windmill.  Things were very quiet, probably due to the amount of people around, and the flock of Black Necked Grebes was quite small (I estimated about 90).  What made the walk worthwhile was having a flock of 7 Oystercatchers fly over on my way back.

 The flock of Black Necked Grebes is building up slowly this year

 They may be the commonest breeding wader in the U.K......

 ... but in this part of Spain, they're anything BUT common

Slightly close to (my) home, at the farm reservoirs at San Javier, the Black Terns keep passing through but with juvenile birds now, and the Gull-billed Terns seem to have all gone.

 A few photos of the Black Terns at San Javier

At the Marchamalo Salinas at Cabo de Palos, water continued to evaporate away at an alarming rate, but since the 27th, water has once again been pumped in from the Mar Menor (presumavbly whoever is in charge of  the pump is back from their holiday!), and the lagoons on the east side have filled up quite rapidly.  The birds seen there have been much the same as always, differences being a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits that made an appearance for a couple of days from the 24th, and another group of 3 Oystercatchers on the 21st.

 At Marchamalo, without water being punped in, ...

...the level drops rapidly...

  ... which attracts the smaller waders

 Once the pumping restarts...

the levels regain quickly

On the afternoon of the 26th, we did our monthly count at the Cartagena sewage farm.  Although numbers of birds weren’t particularly high (apart from Black Necked Grebes), there were some interesting species seen, with 766 Black Necked Grebe, 4 Ferruginous Duck, 3 Garganey, a Med. Gull and 9 Whiskered Terns, a surprising group of about 80 Jackdaws and a very early Common Snipe, and overhead we had a light morph Booted Eagle.

 An unusual sighting of around 80 Jackdaws - I wonder what attracted them?

 In one of the lagoons, a very late nesting Little Grebe

Whiskered Terns - a species seen very infrequently here
Overnight on the 29th / 30th August, the rain that had been promised all week finally arrived, although judging by the amount on the roads in the morning, there wasn’t a lot of it.  I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the lighthouse garden at Cabo de Palos in the morning, but things were VERY quiet there, most notable birds being 3 Sandwich Terns and 2 Robins!

 Early morning at the lighthouse, with the rainclouds just moving away

Another thing I mentioned in my last posting was to keep an eye out for Dotterrel.
I had planned to go over to the Saladares del Guadalentín (the triangle between Alhama de Murcia, Totana and Mazarron) on Saturday 24th to look for them, but a phone call telling me that there was an ‘orange-billed’ tern at San Pedro caused a change of plan, although when I got there, the tern had gone.
However, a message from Paul Sparkes during last week to say that he had seen a small group of unidentified plover at the saladares, and a further record last friday of a single Dotterel near to Cabo Tiñoso made me determined to go there this last weekend, so yesterday, Saturday 31st , I got over there at 8-30.  It was the perfect time to start – plenty of light for birding and photos, and nice and cool. There wasn’t a lot in the way of migrants, apart from Swallows and Martins, Swifts, Short-toed Larks and a couple of Woodchat Shrikes and a single Roller.  Raptors were represented by a ‘ringtail’ Harrier, 3 Marsh Harriers, 3 Short-toed Eagles on the tops of pylons, a light morph Booted Eagle, 2 Common Kestrels and 7 Lesser Kestrels.

 Short-toed Eagle keeping an eye on things from its favorite perch

 Male Marsh Harrier on its way through the 'saladares'

 Roller letting people know what can and can't be done!

A typical 'overhead' Booted Eagle
By 11-30, having done a couple of circuits of the saladares, I thought it was time for a change of scenery and I decided to call over at the EDAR at Alhama de Murcia.  Things were pretty quiet here too with just 15 Pochard and 6 White Headed Ducks worthy of note, so I then went down to Mazarron to have a look at the EDAR (sewage farm) there.  Here it was also quiet, with more Pochard and White Headed Ducks, a couple of Reed Warblers and at least two Melodious Warblers.  I didn’t stay too long though, as I had a call from Paul Sparkes to say he’d located a Dotterrel.  I high-tailed it back to the saladares and managed to get a few decent photos of it – an adult in breeding plumage (thanks Paul).

 Together with Phalaropes, my favorite wader, Dotterel

Finally, today (1st September), I called over to my local Salinas at Marchamalo.  There wasn’t much in the way of waders today, but there were a lot of Herons and egrets.  I counted 5 Grey Herons and 27 Little Egrets, and in amongst the Little Egrets was a Little Egret/Western Reef Heron cross, which unlike most examples I’ve seen in the past, was a particularly dark example, with just a white face, a few white spots on the wings, and a single white ‘egret’ plume.  A very interesting bird.

 Little Egret and Little Egret x Western Reef Heron

 The cross with its wings open, showing the extent of white
 This shows (just) the yellow feet and single white 'egret'

And that’s all for now.  Should you wish to keep more updated as to what’s being seen, look me up on ‘facebook’ under ‘Richard Howard’.



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