The 15th August is a public holiday here in Spain, so last Friday despite the hot weather, I decided another trip to the interior of Murcia was in order, so 6-45 saw me setting off together with Mick Brewer on another attempt to find Trumpeter Finches north west of Murcia city. We arrived at a spot where I have seen them in the past at 8-30, and started looking. First we had to find water as the site is a drinking pool. Here we had a major problem – the river had dried up completely, and there were no pools of water! Things didn’t bode well, and in the end we didn’t hear or see the birds in question, although we did have Black-eared Wheatear, Sparrowhawk, a pair of adult Bonelli’s Eagles, Crested Tits, Woodchat Shrike, Crag Martins, Dartford Warbler, Long-tailed Tit and Red-rumped Swallow. We hung around the area for about an hour, but in the end decided to give up and make the most of being out in that area by calling into the nearby Campotejar sewage farm (EDAR Molina de Segura).
A record shot of one of the Bonelli's Eagles
Arriving at Campotejar at 10 o´clock, we had no sooner pulled in through the gates when we heard the distinctive song and call of Golden Orioles. As there was no-one else around, we stopped there and spent half an hour getting various glimpses of Golden Orioles, including at least two males.
Around the first lagoon as you enter, there were also a few Squacco Herons at the edges of the reeds (in the end we saw a total of 12), plus a couple of Night Herons, Little Egrets and two Purple Gallinules. There was also a Little Bittern that I DIDN’T see until downloading record shots of Purple Gallinule on my computer, although we did see another female or immature briefly.
To the left, a Squacco Heron hiding in the reeds, and Night Heron on the right
Bottom left, Purple Gallinule, and top right, Little Bittern
And just to prove Purple Gallinules ARE capable of flight!
The couple of Night Herons
Some of the total of 12 Squacco Herons seen ...
... and some more
Other birds seen in our couple of hours around the lagoons were at least 2 Kingfishers, a female Marsh Harrier, Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plovers, 16 Whiskered Terns (mainly adults in moult), Hoopoes, Serins, Reed Warblers, Little Grebes, a single Great Crested Grebe, many Pochards, White-headed Ducks and Mallard. On our way out from Campotejar, the Golden Orioles were still calling from some trees, and we finally managed to get some good, if distant views, of a male through the ‘scopes.
Leaving the reserve, one of at least 4 Golden Orioles seen
Now on our way back to the Mar Menor, we called in briefly at the Salinas of San Pedro, although by now there were a lot of people here walking, cycling and generally scaring any birds around, and we only saw distant Flamingos, a couple of adult Curlew Sandpipers in moult, a male Ruff now in its winter plumage, 4 Black Terns and a few ‘flava’ wagtails.
Our last stop was at some farm reservoirs close to San Javier airport where we could see Black Terns much closer. We had about 20 here, mainly adults moulting into their winter plumage, and also a couple of Little Ringed Plovers still hanging around, and we arrived back at home around 2pm. A good few hours seeing a good mix of species even if we didn’t see the main birds we were looking for!
Photos actually taken a day later, of some of the Black Terns in San Javier