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
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 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
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
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’.