Thursday, 26 February 2015

Out and About, and Fuerteventura

Hi all,

Having written nothing in my blog for a while, I thought it was about time I did, even if only to let you all know I'm alive and kicking!

One of the reasons has been because birding has been pretty quiet of late - with high north / north-westerly winds blowing for almost a month now, very little has been seen.

I have however been out locally on the odd occasion when the wind has dropped, mainly just around the Mar Menor, but also the lighthouse gardens at Cabo de Palos - preparing myself for the new season.

On the afternoon of Monday 16th February I called in at Cala Reona (Cabo de Palos), as it was the only place locally out of the wind.  I was hoping to see some passerines, but found none at all - but I did come across an adult Gannet that was flying in circles within the bay and eventually launched down into the water.  Due to the waves (even there!), I couldn't see if it caught anything but presume it did as it stayed on the water cleaning itself and slowly drifted out of the bay.  At the same time a breeding plumaged adult Cormorant dropped in.

 Gannet that decided Cala Flores was a good place to fish ...

 ... to be joined later by an adult breeding plumaged Cormorant ...

... landing tail first on the water

At the lighthouse on Saturday the 21st February, once again the very pale dove was to be seen in the carpark - the one that I think may well be a Barbary Dove, but I still have to hear it call to be able to confirm identification.

 The probable Barbary Dove that appears to have spent the winter at the lighthouse area at Cabo de Palos

The same morning off the lighthouse rocks was a flock of at least 2,000 Balearic Shearwaters feeding, moving around in smallgroups and sometimes being harassed by a couple of Great Skuas.  It's quite a while since I've seen so many more or less stationary off the point.
Also there, a weak movement of Gannets (mainly adults) south, a few Audouin's Gulls and 4 adult breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gulls north.

In the afternoon, a visit to the sailing club at Los Urrutias produced a few Black-headed (coming into breeding plumage) and Slender-billed Gulls, plus a single Little Egret, the latter looking very smart in their breeding attire.

 Adult Slender-billed and Black-headed Gulls

 Very smart looking breeding plumaged adult Little Egret
On Sunday, 22nd February, on an afternoon visit to the Mar Menor at Punta Brava (just west of Los Urrutias), I saw that the recent winds had formed a 'weedbank' of seaweed in a couple of areas just off the beach, and the birds had taken no time at all in finding them.  More than 70 Black-headed Gulls plus more than 20 Slender-billed Gulls, some looking respendant in their pink breeding plumage.  Waders were to be found as well, with 25 Turnstones, 4 Ruff, 7 Ringed Plovers and a single Oystercatcher, the first I've seen this year.

 At Punta Brava, plenty of gulls, Turnstones, Ruff and a single Oystercatcher

At the beginning of the month (February), I had twelve days outside of the Iberian peninsula, spending a week on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, and a few days back in the UK.  The Fuerteventura visit was an actual holiday and my first ever visit to the Canary Islands.  I have written a separate trip report about my visit, which can be seen using the following link (to access, just click the link - if that doesn't work, you will need to copy and paste the link into your browser):

And if you want to see some of the video footage I took of one of the island's specialities, use the following link:

Houbara Bustards, Fuerteventura, 3rd / 4th February 2015

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