Saturday, 17 May 2014

16th May - another Mar Menor round-up

Friday, 9th May.  Following on from my last blog entry, I once again called into the salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar to check for anything new on the wader front (in particular, summer plumaged Knot), but no, the water level was better than my last visit, but wader numbers down.  I did manage a few photos of the waders that were there though, and get to see TWO Spoonbills, both with white colour-rings.

 Gull-billed Tern - flying over the salinas most of the time

 Always present, but rarely still enough to photograph - Red-rumped Swallow

 Photo to make UK birders green with envy - COMMON on the wires in our area, Turtle Doves

 I was surprised this Woodpigeon stayed so still!

 At the far end of the salinas, two young Stonechats recently fledged

 Common and noisy!  A pair of Black Winged Stilts

 The other common breeding wader, Avocets

 Having changed into its breeding plumage, this Sanderling looks good to go ...

... as does this breeding plumaged red necked Little Stint! ...
 ... and the same bird from the other side

 No mistaking this one coming into its breeding plumage - Curlew Sndpiper

 On one of the lagoons' walls, two late Spoonbills

Saturday, 10th May.  We have our monthly RAM (Red de observación de Aves y Mamíferos marinos) seawatch from Cabo de Palos for three hours on the first Saturday of every month except for when there is a ‘puente’ holiday, in which case it transfers to the following Saturday.  As Saturday the 3rd was part of a ‘puente’ weekend, the RAM swapped to the 10th.  The morning started inauspiciously, with little movement, but as time went on, the wind picked up and swung to the NE, pushing seabirds closer to the coast.  As a result, we had one of the best movements of Balearic Shearwaters for many a month, with an estimated 600 birds flying south.  During the three hour period, we also had 15 Cory’s Shearwaters milling around but drifting north, 10 Gannets (9 adults and a sub-adult) drift south, a couple of Slender-billed Gulls north, a minimum of six Audouin’s Gulls around the rocks, a Caspian Tern north, a group of six Short-toed Larks fly out to sea headed south, and various Swifts, Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows flying around the cliffs.  We also witnessed a canoeist get into trouble off the rocks, with his canoe sinking and drifting out to sea.  Luckily we were able to hail another passing canoeist who obviously knew what he was doing, to go to the rescue and tow the other one in. Probably the first and last time the troubled canoeist would be out in the water!

 These days, ever present - maybe due to the large colony established now at the salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar?

In contarst to the Audouin's, the Alpine Swift has been in short supply locally this year
 After at least half an hour struggling in the water, this novice canoeist was rescued by someone who knew what he was doing - Summer's here, don't you just know!

As the passage had been so good in the morning, I returned to the rocks for an hour in the late afternoon when the light is much better (with the sun behind you), but by then the wind had swung round to SW and there was very little movement.  Calling in to the small area of woodland by the Marchamalo Salinas on my way home, I did manage to pick up another male Pied Flycatcher, and three Alpine Swifts in amongst the Commons and Pallids that are normally there.

Sunday, 11th May. Another trip to the lighthouse area at Cabo de Palos early morning, and another small fall of migrants, with a Woodchat Shrike, seven Common Redstarts, eight Northern Wheatears, six Willow Warblers, a female Whinchat, a Melodious Warbler singing, and overhead a single Alpine Swift and a couple of Bee-eaters.

On my way home, as there had been a bit of a fall at the lighthouse, I called into the wooded area at the Marchamalo salinas again, where I had a single Willow/Chiff calling, a Robin calling, two Short-toed Larks and a Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) singing, and on the Salinas themselves, a small group of five Curlew Sandpipers (plus the usual Avocets, Black Winged Stilts, Greater Flamingos and Shelduck).

And in a quick call into the Los Urrutias sailing club later in the morning, on the green ‘mat’ of algae that’s developing there, 16 Ringed and a single male Kentish Plover.  On the 12th, this group of waders had been increased by three with the inclusion of 3 summer plumaged Little Stints.

 At Los Urrutias, the Ringed Plovers love the 'mat' of weed ...

... and the drifted in flotsum and jetsum
Tuesday 13th May. Another trip down to the lighthouse gardens at Cabo de Palos in the morning produced another small fall of birds, with three Northern Wheatear, a Melodious Warbler, a male and female Common Redstart, and what I took originally as a Reed Warbler singing (but not seen), but in retrospect, could well have been a Western Olivaceous Warbler (the two songs seem similar enough to me that I sometimes have difficulty separating the two).  Very amusing also were the antics of the pair of Kestrels there, flying and soaring around the lighthouse itself.

 The male of the Kestrel pair ...

 ... and here the pair, the male (lower) keeping an eye on the female

Wednesday 14th May, I took another trip over to the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar in the afternoon to see if there had been any change in the waders, but the only change I noted was that there were less of them. 

 More Little Stints, almost in complete breeding plumage ...
 ... and from the other side

 A couple of Curlew Sandpipers, the nearest behind in the plumage stakes
 And another Little Stint

 Individual portraits of the two Curlew Sandpipers seen above

 And to round off with, a breeding plumaged Turnstone

Coming home, I called in to the wooded area at Marchamalo Salinas once again, where I bumped into fellow birder Tomás García.  We had four WillowWarblers, male and female Pied Flycatcher, a single probably Balearic sub-species Spotted Flycatcher (smaller looking, pale forehead and chest, brightish wingbars), and while I was talking to someone on the phone, he had a Wood Warbler that I only managed to see as a movement in the back of a bush.  The 15th he’s seen in the last 3 weeks in the Mar Menor area – quite a record.  As a footnote, in the same wooded area, the following day he had a European Nightjar (wonder why it’s called European when it spends most of its time in Africa?), another bird not seen too often in our area.

And that’s about it for the week – the spring migration tailing off, and now the time of the year for the Spring rarities – wonder what this Spring will bring?


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