Sunday, 3 July 2022

Lower Hamble River

 Sunday 3 July

Forecast says rain later, packing for an away break tomorrow needs to be done later and British Grand Prix live on television later, so what better than an early morning short walk up the Hamble river to the conservation area and back.  The tide was out, it was calm and pleasant and not many people about so no trouble at all in seeing something else other than the resident Black-headed Gulls.  regular sightings of individual Herring Gulls and then the first of four Curlew followed by a Little Egret.  Even a trio of Mallard at the water's edge just after the start of the walk upstream.

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

Signs that the early summer return migration might possibly be underway with a single Black-tailed Godwit but no less than ten Redshank during the walk.  However, I think my bird of the morning might be the resting pair of Great Black-backed Gulls about half-way to my turning point at the conservation area.

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Half-dozen Shelduck on their usual feeding ground on the right and approaching the conservation area the first of four Lapwing and a trio of Carrion Crow with an additional couple of the latter near the end of the return walk.  Whilst at the conservation I also recorded a Heron along with most of the Redshank. The sight of a Rod Deer out in the open with the tall grasses behind it was a lovely sight and near the end of the journey I finally found a couple of Oystercatcher on my hour's walk.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Little Egret, Heron, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Curler, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Staring.

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Friday, 1 July 2022

Wet Birding in the New Forest

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

 Thursday 30 June

With the promise of heavy rain around 1pm I set off from home in Warsash before 7 in order to complete my birding for the month in the New Forest.  By 7.20 I was at Fishlake Meadows on the outskirts of Romsey and walking down the wooded path alongside the narrow canal at 7.20 in calm weather and the sun trying to break through.  Lots of early morning Swifts above me plus a couple of House Martins and Wood Pigeons in the trees.  A Blackbird on the path as a quartet of Whitethroats dashed across just ahead of it and the both Robin and Dunnock foraging at the side of the path a little further along.

No sooner had I turned left through the swing ate than a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the tree above me (the branch not the tree!) but had moved on by the time I extracted the camera from my rucksack.  With the camera to hand I was able to get a couple of shots of the Reed Bunting that was moving around in the next tree.

Female Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

Another left turn and gate and then the path to the wo hides.  Lots of Chiffchaff now calling and soon joined by the Reed Warblers in the reeds to my right and left. Once t the main screen a number of Greylag Geese on the water, mainly asleep on the far side, along with Mallards, Gadwall and Coot.  A Great Crested Grebe paddled by and soon it was time to start the walk back to the entrance. At this point the Cetti's Warblers decided it was time to let all and sundry know they were about or was it simply an advance call to tell their friends that the wet stuff was on its way?  Minutes later the first rain drops so very much a hurried walk back to the main path where, at least, there was some tree cover which conveniently coincided with the heavens opening.

There then followed a slow journey back to the car with a mixture of shelter and exposed, short runs.  Good job I had a mac with me - but it was in the car!  And the rain stopped as I arrived at the car.  Just tome to do a little drying before moving round to the main road to check the large are of water where very little present but able to add Tufted Duck, a distant Heron and both Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Great Tit Parus major

Once back in the car and off towards Fritham and the large pond at Eyeworth and the rains started again.  At least upon arriving I could park the car alongside the water's edge for some dry birding.  Canada Geese taking shelter on he far side and both Barn Swallow and House Martin feeding above the water.  Also on the water and close to me a good number of Mallards, both mature and well-grown ducklings. But then the rain stopped and blue sky appeared so able to get out of the and see the birds in realm life rather than through misty windows.  The bushes next to me had a constant stream of Blue and Great Tits along with Chaffinches and House Sparrows

A rather wet Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Also present, a couple of Marsh Tits and a similar number of Nuthatches, all looking rather bedraggled following the rain.  More Blackbirds behind me a a handful of Carrion Crows at the top of a dead tree on the opposite bank.  But best of all, a couple of Mandarin Ducks right next to me at the the water's edge.  At first I thought they were well-grown youngsters but, on reflection, suspect they were simply adults in eclipse plumage - but I am open to correction.

Female eclipse Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata?

Male eclipse Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata?

Finally to Blashford Lakes, north of Ringwood and a first stop at the hide overlooking the main lake, Ibsley Water.  Everywhere you looked it was white, not snow nor weed but scores, if not a hundred plus, Mute Swans.  Yes, both Black-headed Gulls and Lapwing near the hide its elf but it was then a case of using the scope to look amongst the white blanket.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

To my right on and near the small islands/scrapes a dozen or more Egyptian Geese and at the far end scores of both Greylag and Canada Geese.  To the far ledt a massed flock of hundreds of Coot and then, on the more open water, the occasional Great Crested Grebe, a few Tufted Duck and the odd Herring Gull.  A small number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls was also found in the distance before my attention was drawn to the arriving pair of Ringed Plover and a quartet of Pied Wagtails.  Aklso strange to see a single, isolated juvenile Starling working the shoreline pretending to be a Common Sandpiper; most confusing for some!  

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and with Mute Swans below

But, perhaps best of all, a newly-arrived birder asked if we had seen the Black Swan reported at the site a fortnight ago to which he received a negative reply.  Then, within five minutes, he was able to state that he had found the bird feeding right at the back of the water, probably some 200 metres or more distant.  Luckily, I was bale to drop on it immediately albeit it took much time and effort to focus with the camera as the bird seemed to have its head in the water the whole time.  So apologies for the very distant record shot which is shown below.

Record shot of the distant Black Swan Cygnus atratus

Next it was a move across the road to the main reserve where very few birds were to be recorded but I did manage Chaffinch, Robin and Wren before entering the hide to note both Blue and Great Tits on the feeders.  A Greenfinch was "singing" outside the hide as I made my way to the far hide where many breeding Black-headed Gulls were located along with a few breeding Common Terns. Another Moorhen as I made my way back to the car along with both Wood Pigeon and a few noisy Cetti's Warblers.  Finally, as I set off back towards Ringwood the usual field held at least a score of foraging Jackdaws to complete a list of 34 species at the final site and almost 50 for the day.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo returning with food

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Black Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Mandarin Duck, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Common Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting.

A rather desolate Robin Erithacus rubecula recovering from the rain

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Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa

Wednesday 29 June

An excellent morning's birding by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group for their last group meeting before the summer break.  I certainly liked the ide of Little Egret, Night  and Squacco Herons; what a way to end the season.  By the time the group have rested they should all be ready for the heady days of the autumn migration, certainly something to look forward to.  happy holidays one and all!

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 29th June

For our trip before the summer break we kept local and opted for the Rambla de Almanzora and Vera Playa.  I picked up Juda from the Ballabona service station on the E15/A7 and made for the Desert Springs golf complex entrance to the rambla.  Having already spotted a Magpie, we added House Martin and Black-winged Stilt in the muddy pool by the first concrete weir.  The rambla from then on was as dry as a desert, but we did see the first of many Glossy Ibis flying over.  Also seen were House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Goldfinch and Hoopoe.  Juda then found a perched Roller on the power line.  Next was an Iberian Grey Shrike sitting on a shrub.  There were workers near the desalination plant and they seemed to be pumping water into the rambla, but the birds weren't there yet.  The ford pool produced some Mallard.  We met Bill in the parking area.  He'd already logged Greenfinch, Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove and Common Swift.  He'd also heard a Cetti's Warbler.

Roller Coracias garrulus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We began to do the walk to the sewage works.  Bill added a Kestrel and Little Ringed Plover.  On the two smaller pools we had Black-winged Stilts and a Glossy Ibis on each.  On the big pool there were numerous female Mallards with older ducklings and a number of Black-winged Stilts.  Bill identified a distant Iberian Grey Shrike on a power line.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After returning to our vehicles we headed for the beach.  Juda spotted a Cormorant on the harbour rocks.  She also found a flying Grey Heron . I added a pair of White Wagtail.  As we were leaving a pair of Yellow-legged Gulls flew by.

We drove round to the estuary.  As I drove along the embankment I spotted a Night Heron below us. When we got to the turning circle, there were two more resting on a washed up tree trunk.  We were joined by Jacky.  There were two more Grey Herons, a Little Egret, Coot and Moorhen in the water.  On the beach I identified an Audouin's Gull.  Bill spotted a pair of Turnstone and some Kentish Plovers.  I added a Common Sandpiper.

Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We drove to the dual carriageway behind Vera Playa which overlooks a wetland.  I spotted the first of three Squacco Herons. There were more Glossy Ibis.  Jacky found a Little Grebe.  I found a couple of Avocet.  Bill added a female Common Pochard with diving youngsters.  Nearby was a Black-necked Grebe seen by Jacky.  She heard, then spotted a Bee Eater.  Bill observed a White-headed Duck and I found a Slender-billed Gull.  There were over 30 Greater Flamingos present.

Female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with young (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After doing both sides of the hump we walked over to the first elevated viewing platform.   Bill saw a Great Crested Grebe with chicks on its back.  We added a number of flying Cattle Egrets . Bill scanned the sandy spit and found, together with Common Pochard, Black Headed Gulls and Black-winged Stilts, that there was a female Shoveler and a couple of juvenile Shelduck. 

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus with passenger (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A great final day. 47 species in total. Good birding. Good company.

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Hayling Island & Farlington Marsh

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

 Tuesday 28 June

A relatively early start on a sunny day but quite windy to collect a small part for the car which was conveniently situated between the oyster beds at the north of Hayling Island and very nearby Farlington Marsh.  Arriving at Hayling Island at 8 o'clock the tide was still well out but a number of Black-headed Gulls feeding on the mud flats. A Curlew flew over and away to the adjacent oyster beds and then the sighting of both Oystercatcher and Carrion Crow also feeding below me.  Just a single Herring Gull and then a handful of foraging Rock Doves before I set off on the track to the oyster beds themselves.

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Approaching the first bed I recorded both House Sparrow and Woodpigeon but very little on any of the beds save a few Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Shelduck.  A pair of Linnets made a brief landing on the pebbled beach and away at the back a lone Little Egret.  To the far, seaward side, a Heron as both Magpie and Cormorant flew across above me.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

On the final, largest pool a mass of breeding Black-headed Gulls with their now almost full-grown chicks on the banks and on the artificial floating islands a few more but mainly the remains of the breeding Common Tern flock, probably totalling at this time some forty plus individuals including well-grown youngsters.  And as I made my way back to the car park a couple of Blue Tits put in an appearance.

Mainly Common Terns Sterna hirundo

Thirty minutes or so later, after my garage visit, I was ready to explore the top end of Farlington Marsh where, in addition to more Black-headed Gulls, I also noted a few Lapwing.  A short walk along the side of the harbour took me to the large inland pond where I discovered Shelduck, a large group of Avocets and even a solitary Redshank.  A trio of Canada Geese were in attendance and above the the first of many feeding/drinking Common Swifts.  Indeed, these birds were to be seen all along this river-like lake as I left the main harbour to follow the trail alongside the inland water.  A lovely sight was that of a quartering Marsh Harrier following the opposite bank and ere soon the sound of many calling Reed Warblers.

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta and even a lone Redshank Tringa totanus

In addition to more Oystercatchers, Little Egret and Magpie I also found a quartet of Mute Swans, a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Moorhen.  A rather lovely sight was that of a lone Sky Lark mobbing a passing Carrion CrowStarlings were to be seen in small numbers and then a group of eight Black-tailed Godwits. With a Greenfinch calling away to my left I finally came to the end of the field path and the little lane leading to the, closed, Visitors centre.

Black-tailed Godwit L.limosa with Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Resting on the gate overlooking the lagoon at the end of the "river" I was delighted to finally find some of the local Mediterranean Gulls with a handful resting on the water immediately in front of me.  To the right side a pair of Canada Geese and a few Black-tailed Godwits along with single Coot and Lapwing. A small group of Mallards were at the back of the water and a Carrion Crow was foraging way at the side.  

Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus

Compare Mediterranean with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Leaving the water to walk back along the cycle path tot he car pack I also managed to record Chaffinch and Blackbird with a Collared Dove patiently awaiting my arrival.  A most pleasant couple of hours in total.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern,  Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

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Friday, 24 June 2022

Titchfield Canal, Hampshire

 Friday 24 June

At last time to make my first, short, outing as I get back in the birding saddle.  Only time for an hour's visit to nearby Titchfield canal and then back in the car before the promised rain arrived.  I seem to have arrived the wrong week as not only a change in the weather but the tide times all wrong for morning shore visits.  Not to worry, next week is a new challenge. Arriving on site at 8.40 I was immediately greeted by many Wood Pigeons and a noisy Magpie.  Siting on a support wire to the first pylon a resting Kestrel then on down the canal side path noting both Wren and Blackbirds.

Resting Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

No sign of the resident Barn Owls as the whole bare tree was now enclosed in dense foliage whilst even the river away to my left was partly obscured by the tall grasses.  However, I was able to pick out a lone Avocet and the the Jackdaws started to drift across the field.  By the time I reached the end of the first path and the paved road next to the bridge, I had also added Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler.

From this corner my first decent view of the flooded area and I quickly noticed how the water had drained and or evaporated away so leaving a much reduced surface area.  An adult Mute Swan with cygnet hiding in the reeds behind and to the tight a small number of Mallards.  Mainly Black-headed but also a few Herring Gulls and at the muddy fringes about a dozen Lapwing.  To their right a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and a lone Pied Wagtail.  Feeding over the remaining water were both Barn Swallows and House Martins.  Meanwhile a pair of Goldfinches were moving around in the trees next to me.

Time to walk down the shaded lane alongside the canal with so much foliage difficult to see anything but ere long I had recorded both Song ThrushRobin and more Blackbirds.  A couple Great Tit and then an overflying Carrion Crow before I took a long rest to watch the feeding Long-tailed Tits in the tree immediately opposite me and, at the same time, the appearance of a newly fledged Blue Tit.  A pair of Blackcaps joined in the feeding fun and as I made my way back to the car park first a Pheasant and then a distant Moorhen a the back of the original water, now on my right.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Birds seen:

Mute Swan, Mallard, Pheasant, Kestrel, Moorhen, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

 Wednesday 22 June

It very much looks as if the continuing hot and dry weather is playing havoc with some of our popular birding sites and judging by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group's visit to the Cabo de Gata today this beautiful location was no exception.  Lack of water seems to have deteriorated to no water so requiring much searching through the whole site and some off-track exploration.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained as Dave and friends eventually had an enjoyable morning recording 31 species rather than the expected fifty plus.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 22nd June

No water if front of the first hide at Caba de Gata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

For our penultimate trip before the summer break, I decided we'd go to Cabo de Gata.  I picked up Ab from the Overa hotel and headed south on the E15/A7.  The weather after yesterday evening's minor rain and thunderstorm was hot and sunny.  Down at the coast there was a bit of a breeze. En route from the motorway to the first hide beyond Pujaire we logged Blackbird, Collared Dove and House Sparrow. Trevor was already there waiting for us.  As Bill had stated last week, there was no water at all in front of us and consequently no water birds or waders.  We saw Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Thekla Lark and an Iberian Grey Shrike perched on a post over to our right.  Admitting defeat we had our coffee break in Cabo village.

No water beyond the islands at the public hide (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Trevor left his car in the carpark and joined Ab and I in the truck.  Knowing there was  no water in front of the second hide either, we made our way to the public hide, Ab spotting probable Whiskered Terns over the beach.  We fared slightly better here.  The water had retreated beyond the islands.  There were plenty of Greater Flamingos to our left, but only a few in front of us.  There were Avocets and Kentish Plovers.  Thekla Larks were seen on the savannah and from the church track.

Kentish Plover Charadriua alexandrinus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

I drove to the start of the rear track.  We immediately spotted a single Raven, followed by a House Martin.  Ab found a Kestrel.  The first couple of salinas produced little.  Where there was more water we found a group of Audouin's Gulls.  Venturing up to the goat/sheep trough, we saw more Theklas and I spotted another Iberian Grey Shrike.  Back on the salina side track we saw the first of hundreds of Slender-billed Gulls.  Trevor added a pair of Shelduck.  He also spotted some Red-legged Partridge in the shrubs to our right.  Nearing the end of the track we found a group of flitting immature Sardinian Warblers.  We also flushed a pair of Kestrel near the goat compound.  We made our way next towards the Rambla Morales.  I spotted three Sandwich Terns over the breaking waves. 

Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We parked up and began to walk towards the hump.  Trevor spotted a Kentish Plover in the estuary. From the hump we spotted 8 Black Winged Stilts, 10 Avocet and 3 Greater Flamingos.  I spotted an immature White Wagtail being shushed away by a Kentish Plover.  Ab added Shoveler, White-headed Duck and Redshank whilst Trevor found a Coot.  I spotted a Black-necked Grebe.  A pair of Greenfinch flew over.  We wandered back to the truck seeing an immature Yellow-legged Gull.  At the truck, Trevor saw a gull on the beach.  It was in line with a pair of scantily clad female sunbathers!  Awkward moment!  It was an immature Mediterranean Gull.  We departed for lunch.
We finished up with 31 species.  Despite the lack of water we had a good day.

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Monday, 20 June 2022

Monday 21 June

Just when I assumed that the Arboleas Birding Group had not met last week Dave's report turned up whilst I was sailing the ocean blue, well crossing the Bay of Biscay on my way from Santander to Portsmouth.  Departed yesterday but only able to access the Internet for 45 minutes today so hurriedly got my blogs completed re the drive north then discovered Dave's report had arrive.  So apologies to all for the delay. At a quick glance as my 45 minutes rapidly runs out it looks as if all had a great day.

Sierra de Maria  -  Wednesday 15th June

Boy, has it been hot here for the last week. We were heading for the Sierra de Maria where temperatures are about 7 c cooler than down here near the coast . Juda arrived at my house and we headed north on the E15/A7.  As we gently ascended towards the Velez's we were very pleased to see cloud cover.  As we approached Maria I clocked a perched Woodchat Shrike on a power line.  A Jay flew across our path. 

We met up with a plethora of members at the Repsol Garage cafe.  What with Jacky meeting us at the chapel it made a total of 15 on this trip.  Once at the chapel we were greeted by a perched Rock Sparrow.  We could hear a Golden Oriole coming from the poplar trees.  Eventually a female flew out, but the singing male remained there and unseen!

Bonelli's Warbler (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

I walked towards the fuente, where there was a sodden area caused by an overflow. It was being used as a washing zone for one Subalpine and two Bonelli's Warblers. We scanned the mountain ridge. Jacky spotted the first two resting Griffon Vultures. Once we got our eyes in, we saw quite a few more. En route to the Botanical Garden we added Woodpigeon & House Sparrow. In the gardens Trevor spotted a Chaffinch. Bill was the first to see one of the numerous Crossbills loitering in the tree tops waiting to drop down for a drink. A number of us hung around the gardens as the fitter amongst us did the lower walk. We added Coal Tit, Blackbird and Mistle Thrush. Jacky found a Blue Tit. Juda spotted a flight of Griffon Vultures travelling from the ridge. I spotted two Ravens amongst them. Barrie said they'd seen a Subalpine Warbler and a Firecrest. Upon returning to the car, Jacky spotted a Magpie.

Female Crossbill (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We drove in convoy to the old farm buildings.  I didn't see the 40 odd plume of Griffon Vultures!  A Crested Lark posed well.  There were Barn Swallows flying around.  Trevor added a Hoopoe.  Jen located a distant bird of prey.  I checked it out.  It was a Griffon Vulture, but below it was a smaller raptor. Barrie, with his scope, confirmed it was a Booted Eagle.  Barrie heard a Western Orphean Warbler.

We moved on to the farm trough.  Two White Wagtails flew away from the overflow puddle as we arrived.  Bill heard a Turtle Dove.  It was eventually found in one of the trees.  Jacky & I saw some passing Greenfinches.  A Carrion Crow was heard.  There was a Rock Sparrow at the hamlet.  A Mammoth Wasp, Scolia Ravifrons, was very attracted to Beryl. 

Rock Sparrow (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

On our way to the La Piza forest cafe Bill spotted a Black Wheatear.  On arrival at the cafe, a Jay was on the nut feeder.  Two appeared later as well as an Iberian Red Squirrel.  Also seen were Blue & Great Tits, Collared Doves & Chaffinches.

Crested Lark (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended up with 29 species. A great days birding in good company & cooler weather!

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