Friday, 18 October 2013

Some you get right, some you get wrong………

Hi all,

Last week I mentioned about the weather having finally changed.  Well, that’s what I got wrong!  The weather’s decided to go back into summer mode with afternoon temperatures around the 30ºC mark, blue skies and no wind.  All of which does nothing for the movement of birds (or rather does nothing to force them down from where they’re migrating, high up).  Which brings me to what I got right!
Going over to Isla Grosa for a couple of days (I had hoped it would be for longer, but a lack of boat drivers cut it down to just two days).  The days before I went over, as I mentioned last week, they caught some really good birds, including Iberian Chiffchaffs, Scops Owls and European Nightjars, and culminating with a juvenile Common Rosefinch the day before I went.  Of course, the Rosefinch didn’t stay, and arriving there on Wednesday afternoon (9th October) the only bird of note caught and ringed that afternoon was a juvenile Northern Wheatear, although other birds were Robins and Sardinian Warblers, which were to make up the staple ‘diet’ of the ringers for the next few days.

 On our way to an island in the Med! From the Tomas Maestre marina

 Under the swing bridge...

 ... and here's our target

 Entering in the bay

 The first bird seen in the hand, Northern Wheatear

 A total of eleven 13 metre nets arranged around the back of the buildings

  More of the net placements

Between net rounds, we took a walk to the east side of the island where Cormorants  and Shags were gathering in the bays before going to roost, and I saw the largest number of Shags together that I’ve ever seen in Spain, 60 in total.  Their numbers are really beginning to build up.  The number of Cormorants was higher than I’ve seen so far this autumn, groups coming over from the Mar Menor totaling more than 200.

 From the east facing side, the islet Farallón (Stack) ...

 ... and on the sides of the isla, Cormorants beginning to gather ...

 ... some coming in in quite large groups

 In the sea, a group of 60 Shags quickly built up

Wednesday night sunset from our kitchen

The next couple of days were total relax on the island – not a lot of different birds, mainly Robins and Sardinian Warblers with the odd Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and a few Chiffchaffs thrown in for variety, but excellent for sun-bathing!  Very rapidly, Friday afternoon came around, and it was time to come back off the island.  As I said last week, when I got on the island, things would quieten down!

 Jacinto getting a Robin out of one of the nets
 Side view of our accomodation and its garden
 Down to the serious stuff - Jacinto ringing and Mario Leon writing it all down

 Some of the birds caught - here Common Redstart ...

 ... Male Sardinian Warbler ...

 ... and the commonest bird of all, Robin

 And after a hard days work, how better to relax that a beer and watch the sunset!

 Friday morning, more of the same - here adult and juvenile females Sardinian Warblers ...

 A little bit different, a Pied Flycatcher

 I even had a go myself!

 ... here blowing a Robin (to see how much fat & muscle it had under its feathers)!

 Home with the bath/shower in front of it ...
 ... and the limousine parked out front! (wouldn't want to be in a REAL storm in it)

 The water was pretty clear ...

 ... and you could see plenty of  fish ...
I'll let the experts tell me what it is

And so what happened after?  Well on the first net round after I left, the very first bird extracted from the nets was a Red-breasted Flycatcher - another first for Murcia!  And the following morning, both Scops Owl and European Nightjar were caught and ringed!  Life can be a bitch at times!!

 The one I DIDN'T see - Red Breasted Flycatcher
Photo copyright Francisco Albert Garcia Castellanos

 This photo showing it's buff breast
 Photo copyright Francisco Albert Garcia Castellanos

The weekend I spent doing a bit of a catch-up around the Mar Menor, and also checking the Cabo de Palos lighthouse gardens just in case there might be some good passerine there. But at Cabo, although the number of Robins have definitely increased and there were a couple of Stonechats (male and female), the whole area is so dry that I wouldn’t think any bird would hang around unless it absolutely had to.

At San Pedro and Marchamalo Salinas, it’s the opposite – water levels are so high that only the very long legged birds seem to be around (such as Flamingos, Egrets, Grey Herons, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets and Black Winged Stilts.  There are a few ‘shanks around the edges of the lagoons, but certainly no numbers of small waders.  Having said that, at El Mojon, just to the north of San Pedro del Pinatar, on the beach were a group of waders including around 30 Sanderling and 20 Turnstones with a single Dunlin, and one of the Sanderling was colour ringed with a combination of rings.
 In the Los Urrutias area of the Mar Menor, it's all much the same ...

 ... still plenty of Sandwich Terns ...

 ... some actually flying!

 The same old bunch of waders ...

 ... some very rarely doing anything BUT flying ...
 ... although occasionally they can be caught out on the deck, like this Grey Plover ...

 ... or this Sanderling ...

 ... or a Dunlin ...

 ... or even a Bar-tailed Godwit

 And just to confirm it's a Grey and not Golden Plover

 I suppose the longer the bill, the deeper you can get!

 Time to try somewhere else

I went to San Pedro and El Mojon on Saturday morning, having stopped off at the Marina de Carmoli and the sailing club at Los Urrutias to show a friend, José Antonio Cañizares, the Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot (José is from land-locked Albacete and so doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to see the more marine species).  While at San Pedro, I had a young Osprey fly over me quite low.  I was driving at the time so couldn’t get any decent photos, but later on, on my way home, driving along the Mar Menor I saw what may have been the same or another, fishing, but without success.

At the beach at El Mojon, a colour ringed Sanderling in amongst some Turnstones

The back end of the Osprey at San Pedro salinas

Was it the same bird at the Marina de Carmoli?
Stopping off again at the Marina de Carmoli, where a number of people were doing a raptor watch (Mario León, Tomás Garcia, Alvaro Sixto and Pepe Navarro), we were soon joined by Paul Sparkes.  And while watching we saw one of the strangest birding sights I’ve ever seen.  We were standing around chatting, when a wader flew past us, quite low.  It was a Knot, but its form of flight was very strange.  Flying with very rapid wingtip movement, as I’ve sometimes seen waders fly when on migration, but it had its head hanging down and my first thought was that it had a broken neck.  Well it flew past us, towards the road, when there was a ‘whoosh’ from behind us, and a Booted Eagle smashed into it.  The Booted didn’t actually catch it and it fell to the ground.  The Booted flew off – we think because by now it was too close to the road – and presumably the Knot was by now dead.  Presumably the Booted had already had one go which resulted in the broken neck.  That’s something that will stay with me forever, seeing it flying in ‘autopilot’. That’s nature for you!

Also seen at the Marina de Carmoli, a group of a dozen or more Curlew, and Common Buzzard.

 More waders at the Marina de Carmoli - Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit

 Now in flight with a Turnstone ...

 ... and now with another Knot

 Meanwhile flying in the other direction, a Ruff and Grey Plover

 Back to the Knot and Turnstones ...

 ... and finally, a passing Cormorant

And that’s about it for the week.  This afternoon (Friday) we’re having another go at the wagtail roost in Los Nietos, and I’ll probably have a look for the Richard’s Pipit there (on my last couple of visits, there’s been no sign, but this last week a few pipits have started to pass through so maybe it’s arrived).

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


Birds mentioned in the blog:
Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus – Mosquitero Ibérico)
Scops Owl (Otus scops – Autillo)
European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus – Chotacabras Europeo)
Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus – Camachuelo Carminoso)
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe – Collalba Gris)
Robin (Erithacus rubecula – Petirrojo)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala – Curruca Cabecinegra)
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo – Cormorán Grande)
Shag (Phalacrocora aristotelis – Cormorán Moñudo)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva – Papamoscas Papirrojo)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus – Tarabilla Común)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus – Flamenco Común)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta – Garceta Común)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea – Garza Real)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa – Aguja Colinegra)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta – Avoceta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus – Cigüeñuela)
Sanderling (Calidris alba – Correlimos Tridáctilo)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres – Vuelvepiedras)
Dunlin (Calidris alpine – Correlimos Común)
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica – Aguja Colipinta)
Knot (Calidris canutus – Correlimos Gordo)
Curlew (Numenius arquata – Zarapito Real)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo – Ratonero)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus – Aguila Pescadora)
Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus – Aguililla Calzada)
Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi - Bisbita de Richard)