Monday, 27 June 2016

Rutland Water

Monday 27 June
Lovely to see the Common Terns Sterna  hirundo

With showers yesterday and more rain forecast for Tuesday, it would seem that today was the obvious choice to pop over to Rutland Water for a couple of hours or so.   What you might call a white morning;  lots of white cloud in the otherwise blue sky and the water full of white birds including Mute Swans, a number of Lapwing and Oystercatchers and the occasional Shelduck along with the white flashes on the male Tufted Ducks whilst, above, no end of breeding Black-headed Gulls along with their ochre-tinted juveniles, but many others till on the provided nest boxes, a pair of Yellow-legged amidst roosting Great Black-backed Gulls and feeding Common Terns.  Whereas no sign of the resident Ospreys on or over the water, as I made my way via the Lyndon Centre an individual crossed low over the road immediately in front of the car near the dam.  As I said, a morning of white which was even found on the Chaffinch flashes, Coots' foreheads, necks of Canada Geese, the feeding Great Spotted Woodpecker and the very many Wood Pigeons.  Looking at the above it might have been quicker to name the birds without a marked white area!


In addition to the above there were many sightings of the local Jackdaws along with a few Carrion Crows and a pair of Magpies (yet more white birds) feeding on the nuts at the Lyndon Centre along with both more Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows 

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Blackbirds were recorded at the main feeding station along with both Blue and Great Tits, a single Robin and Dunnock and even a cock Pheasant put in an appearance.  The Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the back feeders and almost hidden from sight behind the tall vegetation where also a Collared Dove was having a go at the feeders.

Female Blackbird Turdus merula
From the Visitors Centre I looked out onto the water which included Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Cormorants and Coots in addition to the many Black-headed Gulls which seemed to occupy the top of every post in sight.  Just the one pair of Mute Swans as most were on the main water just beyond the North Arm with a smaller number on Lagoon 4.  Also on this lagoon I was able to observe the female Great Crested Grebe with her chicks hanging on to her back whilst the male continued feeding nearby.

The Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus family with young on back of the female
Many Sand Martins were feeding over Lagoon 2 from their artificial nesting colony to ad to the Barn Swallows seen as I approached the site.  Lagoon 3 provided a range of ducks including Mallard, Tufted, Shelduck, Pochard, Gadwall and Wigeon.  No Heron this morning but I did observe a pair of Little Egrets.  By way of variety, as I entered the Buzzard hide and looked through the opening a single Reed Warbler made a dash for cover.

Male Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Other birds seen at the main feeding station included both Greenfinch and Goldfinch along with a handful of House Sparrows but the Common Starlings were recorded feeding on and near the sheep in Egleton village itself.

Even Greenfinches Carduelis chloris get hungry
With very high water levels and all the fields and borders looking as if they were trying to establish themselves as a rain forest, it was, perhaps, no wonder that only 41 species were recorded and a reason for not staying longer.  Now, with luck, I can finish the blog and then be free to watch the England game to see if they can join my Welsh boyos in the final sixteen!


Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Osprey, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Eyebrook Reservoir

Saturday 25 June


A special report for Bryan to reassure him that all is well with Jenny and I and we are doing great with one wedding done and one to go!  But if only we had the sunshine that is presently burning the Spanish shores; you really could do with a swap, your sun for our rain.

And today, Saturday, was a typical day.  Having just about recovered from staying up to see the first dozen UK results re the the EU Referendum and needing some fresh air before settling down to watch my Welsh take on the Irish from the North, jenny and I decided that a walk into Stamford was on the cards.  We locked the door, crossed the road and walked at least twenty yards (must get used to going back to "yards" now we are about to depart the fiasco known as the European Union) when the first spots fell on us.  What to do?  back to the house collect the car keys and decide to take a drive into Oakham for a look around.  And very interesting it was too, especially as the rain came to nothing.  Still early so drove the short distance via Uppingham over to Eyebrook Reservoir to see what might be about, passing at least half-a-dozen Red Kites on the way.

Arriving at the car park below Stoke Dry (now there's a misnomer if ever there was one!) we immediately saw how full the reservoir was and no chance for any waders; more a direct sap from deep water to long grass.  In front at least a handful of Great Crested Grebes and as I swept the binoculars over the water I picked out at least another half-dozen or more.  No shortage of Mute Swans about and over fifty counted.  Not too many Mallards, maybe a couple of dozen, but at least as many Tufted Ducks on the water.  A couple of Cormorants flew over the water and then, of course, an expanse of water such as this is going to contain at least a minimum of Coots.  But the most exciting sight was the, at least, twenty Common Terns that were fishing close to the shore from a photographic point of view.  The only trouble was that I had no camera as we had not intended this to be a birding trip! Great to watch these athletic and agile birds diving down into the water - and appearing to come up with nothing so I imagine it is small fry, lots of puns intended here, for these terns which area easily separated from their close relatives the Arctic Tern by the black tips to their bills.

A drive around the water enable us to  see a flock of 32 Greylag Geese but only a pair of Canada Geese.  Lots of Blackbirds about along with the occasional Dunnock and a number of House Sparrows as we entered Great Easton.  Similarly, Crows a plenty along with Jackdaws.  And as for Wood Pigeons, they seemed to be here, there and everywhere and outnumbering all other birds put together.  Strange, after Spain, how few Goldfinches we see here.  Add on Common Starlings and a few Collared Doves and we were just about done so back home for a quick sandwich and then settled for the second success in as many days with Wales staying in Europe until next Friday at the earliest.  However, I suspect that I might well get the cold shoulder if the English team continues in its present non-winning ways when they meet the Icelandic heroes.  Must be the year of the small country, especially given some of the football rubbish we have so far seen from the so-called "more recognised" football giants!

Finally, I have birding dates fixed for Rutland Water on 7 July and RSPB Lakenheath on 21 July and, in between, some additional trips over to nearby Rutland Water and also Titchfield Haven when we visit brother-in-law Chris at his new home in Warsash on the Hamble River.  I must remember to take the camera!

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Red Kite, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Dunnock, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch



Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Rutland Water

Saturday 11 June

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Back for one day and grass cut, shopping done and the British rain initiation where I get soaked to the skin!  But all calm with a good cloud covering and some hazy sunshine ion Saturday morning as I drove over to my local patch of Rutland Water to collect a replacement head for my tripod. passing numerous Jackdaws and Wood Pigeons on the way along with the occasional Crow and Common Starling.  From the road I could see a number of Mute Swans and Pochards on the water and a Mallard flew over the road.   Once in the car park welcomed by both Collared Dove and Blackbird and then off to see Mike at In Focus re the tripod head and have a general catch-up on what's been going on over these past four months.

Having arrived at the Visitors Centre it would seem a shame not to check out the feeding area even though I was only supposed to be out of the house for less than an hour.  Lots of Chaffinches and Jackdaws about plus a number of Blue and Great Tits along with a few House Sparrows and a Robin.  Checking out the repaired scope I took a look at the water in front where just the one Mute Swan was in residence along with a handful of Cormorants and probably a score or more Black-headed Gulls.  Also on the water a couple of Coots along with Shelduck families, Tufted Ducks and Mallards.  A whole raft of Greylag Geese and goslings drifted by whereas the Canada Goose was hunkered down in the grass to my right and the breeding Sand Martins hawked over the water.

Marsh Tit Parus palustris to the left and Tree Sparrow Passer montanus to the right

Ospreys Pandion haliaetus on the Manton Bay nest with 3 chicks
Rather than go straight home, or even call in at the North Arm on my way, I took the ant-clockwise circuit of the Water and stopped at the bridge to check out the Osprey's nest where both adults were in residence along with their three chicks.  Below them mainly Mallards and Black-headed Gulls but also a couple of Gadwall.  Then it was a quick call in at the Manton Visitors Centre where, on the feeders, I picked up Marsh, Blue and Great Tits along with Chaffinches, Greenfinch and Goldfinch with a pair of Yellowhammers foraging below the feeders along with a pair of Mallards.  A Magpie came in to join the feat but the most common species was the local, resident, Tree Sparrow.


Off you go Dad, the youngsters need a fish for lunch!
Now well late so I made my way back to Stamford and before rejoining the main Oakham to Stamford road was able to watch a Red Kite overhead.  No Kestrel, Dunnock nor Rook seen this morning otherwise I would have achieved the round 30 mark or more in my short visit.


For the very latest on the Rutland Ospreys you can watch the Manton Bay nesting activity on a live webcam.  CLICK HERE for link and then click on the preferred camera.


Both Ospreys with their 3 chicks on the nest at Manton Bay - from live feed


Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan,Shelduck, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Osprey, Red Kite, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Robin, Blackbird, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer.


The resident Tree Sparrows Passer montanus


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Mezquitilla to Roscoff

Monday 6 June

The big day has arrived; the first of three days including two overnight stops to get to my sister in Plymouth in readiness for visiting mother just before her 99th birthday. The original idea was to be away  y 8 o'clock for the long drive up to Pancoba to to the east of Burgos but, waking early I was able to depart by 6.55 so a good chance that I might make the hotel by late afternoon or sooner.  Early Blackbirds, Collared Doves, Barn SwallowsSpotless Starlings and House Sparrows and I was soon coasting around Granada at 8 o'clock and thankful I did not have to remain with the heavy traffic as it entered the city proper.

Approaching Jaen I not only had a number of Wood Pigeons but then the first of the Magpies and a couple of Carrion Crows; very reminiscent of driving along a British motorway.  With the first "proper" stop at La Carolina fast approaching to top up with coffee and buy a fresh loaf of bread for lunch, the sudden dull, flash of an amber warning light rapidly followed by red and then the car all over the nearside lane as the front nearside tyre punctured.  Fluorescent jacket on and out of the car to inspect the damage and before even opening the boot the Guardia Civil car was up behind me to check all was OK.  I cannot speak highly enough of their service and help I received including giving me a 5 km escort to La Carolina and the Renault garage.  Then the fun and games started! From arriving just after 10 and the promise of ordered tyres to arrive within the hour, during which time I walked into the town for a coffee and recorded both Common Swift and House Martin, it was 12.30 when said tyres finally arrived and a full hour to actually manage to get the tyres onto the wheels. Three and a half hours lost which explained why it was eventually 7.30 pm when I finally arrived at the booked hotel.

Back to the journey and still in Andalucia's Jaen Province I had a single White Stork overhead and a Hoopoe disappeared left whilst, on the steppes to the left, a solitary Lapwing was working the soil.  A little further north and Booted Eagle put in an appearance along with a single Griffon Vulture.  Naturally, there were Rock Doves to be seen as I passed through Madrid and making my way north on the A1 I soon had both a Raven and another White Stork before eventually meting up with a Red Kite and a Buzzard on the wires near Lerma, this soon after noting my first Corn Bunting of the day. This part of southern Burgos also produced a second Crow sighting.  The final Spanish sighting was that of a small group of Jackdaws just beyond Burgos.

Day 2 working my way north through the western side of France I soon added a hovering Kestrel and more Buzzards.  Finally, on the following morning as I passed Rennes I cam across the first Rooks and then a Jay flew across the road in front of me.  At the conclusion of the journey I had time to pay a short visit to the marina at Roscoff before joining the queue at the port to board the ferry and, with the local market in full throw, Both lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were feeding on a couple of large discarded cod heads that had been thrown over the wall onto the shingle beach below.  Thick fog as we set sail rather scuppered any further birding.

Birds seen (France only in blue):
White Stork, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

John & Jenny on the Sierra Loja


8 June 2016

Six hours top kill on the Roscoff - Plymouth ferry so time to read and publish John's report about his trip up nearby Sierra Loja on Sunday last with lovely wife Jenny.  Me?  I have been travelling the length of Spain from Mezquitilla to San Sebastion via Burgos and then up the west side of France with about 70 litres of diesel in the boot in readiness to meet the "no fuel available" situation in France.  As it turned out, most garages seemed to be open for business and the rain and floods were to the east so lovely sunshine all the way.


Sierra Loja: Sunday 5 June
 
Very hot today, even with a breeze.
 
We thought we would take a ride up to the Sierra Loja as we had not been there for a couple of weeks or so. We dropped in at the Eagle Owls site but no sign of it.  Up through the tree line we had Short-toed Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Azure-winged Magpie and Blackbird, and the cliff areas held Jackdaws, Stonechat also a Spectacled Warbler was noted on the down slope.


Moving up the track a group of six Hoopoes came across our front, while two separate families of Thekla Larks were noted.   Lots of noise from the Red-legged Partridges perched on their calling rocks.  A few Spotless Starlings here in the rocks along with a small amount of Linnets, while above us a pair of Common Kestrels soared amid a good number of House and Crag Martins, Common Swifts and a lone Barn Swallow. As we rounded a bend the silhouette of a Little Owl was seen but better views were had as we progressed up the track. Quite a lot of Black-eared Wheatears about as normal but only one Northern Wheatear was seen throughout the day.


Up at the pond the Rock Sparrows were in full song and the feeding of their young was being carried out.  Several Iberian ribbed newts(Pleurodeles waltl) were spotted in the bottom pond and a Corn Bunting landed on the posts surrounding the pond.

Rock Sparrows (Photo: John Wainwright)
Along at the "fossil cave" more Crag Martins, Rock Sparrows, Linnets were seen as was our first Black Wheatear of the day.  At the climbing area a Rock Thrush was seen displaying and a Great Tit was heard, also a Chaffinch and a Corn Bunting were singing from the now fully blossomed Hawthorn bushes.


Distant Rock Thrush (Photo: John Wainwright)
No sign of the Scops Owl today, but dropping down the track we saw Rock Buntings, Blackbirds, Blue Rock Thrush and a Black Redstart.   A huge shadow on the cliff gave us good views of a lone Griffon Vulture which duly landed on the cliff-top and a few photos were taken.  Another Rock Thrush was seen down in the valley - by the orange tiled cottage - together with a Rock Sparrow, also another Blue Rock Thrush was seen here as well as two Spanish Ibex and a Little Owl.  A pair of climbers had just arrived which was to put an end to any more birding in this vicinity for a while.


Griffon Vulture (Photo: John Wainwright)

Across at the Sierra Gordo area we found Thekla Larks more Black-eared and Black Wheatears, another Rock Thrush displaying and a Mistle Thrush  was heard then seen.  As we descended Chough and Jackdaws were noted feeding side by side and in the same area a Woodchat Shrike was spotted. Another single Griffon Vulture was seen - probably the one seen previously - and yet more Black-eared Wheatears.  Another Little Owl, Blue Rock and Rock Thrush (four in total) were seen as was a male Montagu´s Harrier (possibly one of the two pairs from the Venta del Rayo area).


Little Owl (Photo: John Wainwright)

Another very pleasant few hours in our local spot.


A mix of Jackdaws and Choughs (Photo: John Wainwright)

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Cazorla, Jaen Province with John and Jenny

Tuesday 31 May - Thursday 2 June

Whilst I have spent this week chasing around getting ready for the drive back to the UK  and, at the same time, trying to get everything in order to complete the sale of Casa Collado, John and Jenny Wainwright managed to get away for a few days to Cazorla and district in Jaen Province.  As John reported back to me. the raptors may have been a little disappointing but it was a really wonderful place for a few days.

Very hot days and up to 40C .

As we approached the village we spotted one Bee-eater above the olive groves, a Common Magpie on the wires and two Little Owls on a barn ruin, then a Common Kestrel. After finding the hotel and depositing our gear in the room, we set off for the Nava de San Pedro area.

Chaffinches were heard all the way up the A319 and as we stopped at the Puerto de las Palomas mirador on the telegraph wires to our rear we saw a Corn Bunting and a Stonechat.  Below us a Black Wheatear flew from rockpile to rockpile, but apart from this nothing else about, until we set off again and a Carrion Crow flew across the road and into the firs, it kept its distance from us as we followed it down the road and finally departed down the mountainside.  We then picked up the tarmacked road to Nava de San Pedro where we found Chaffinches, Griffon Vultures, Cuckoos, Great Tits and as we came upon a grassy glade a beautiful male Fallow Deer was spotted, alas, the cameras were too slow to capture him.



Carrion Crow Corvus corone (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
From here we the road turned to track for the next 3km and as we parked up at the Nava de San Pedro building we noted a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bonelli´s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Mistle Thrush. We drove along this track for another 5km seeing en route Wood Pigeons, Melodious Warbler, more Carrion Crows, Blackcaps and a few Jays.  We were getting hungry now so we retraced our steps noting a Red Squirrel that had ventured onto the road and while we photographed it a Nightingale started singing followed by a Blackbird.  As we neared Cazorla a Red-legged Partridge was seen as well as Collared Dove and another Corn Bunting, very little in the way of hirundines only a few Barn Swallows were noted, our one and only Black Redstart here also.

The next day we started off to find another hotel - as the last one was not up to much -  which we did on the A319 just outside Burunchel (more on this later).  We were heading for the Embalse del Tranco about 50km away, although the road was very twisty it was surprisingly empty of traffic and good views were had of more Carrion Crows, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Griffon Vultures.  As we came out of the (thankful shade of the pines) a Black Kite passed over but quickly disappeared in the trees to our left, so we parked up to get views of it but no luck, but we did spot a very pale Common Buzzard atop a rock in the distance.


Accommodation just when needed  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Moving on we reached the Traco dam and apart from House Martins, a Barn Swallow and Common Swifts, very little else was seen although we heard Cetti´s Warblers regularly. Heading back in a very roundabout route to our new hotel, we stopped for a break in the pines, whereupon I went for a walk and Jenny stayed about the car area, much to her disappointment as on my small walk I picked up a calling Scops Owl and as I passed a hawthorn bush the bird flew off of a branch and down into the forest. Moving down the mountain we spotted three Fallow Deer - all females - feeding at the roadside, another Red Squirrel and that was it until the hotel.


Fallow Deer Dama dama (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
After unpacking we decided to have a walk around the hotel grounds, here we saw Blackcaps, Blue and Great Tits, Melodious and Sardinian Warblers, two Raven were calling from a bare tree at the back of the hotel and as we retired to the shade of the bar, we spotted two Spanish Ibex  - on what seemed to us a sheer cliffside, feeding in and on the bushes there. We were told that there was a family of wild Boar came to feed in the orchard outside our window, so after dinner, we gave up some of our bread rations to bait the area. In the morning the bread had gone but we had fell asleep and missed them.


Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Next morning we decided to head over to the viewpoint(hide) on the JV7107 (off the A322, just outside Cazorla), nothing extra than what we had already seen until the hide, where we saw Alpine and Common Swifts, House and Crag Martins, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows.  Scoping the cliff face from the hide area we noted several Griffon Vultures on their nests with chicks, also here were good numbers of Red-legged Chough and Carrion Crows, one Booted Eagle was seen here and in the wooded areas we heard Green Woodpeckers and Cuckoos, while in the firs at the back of the hide Short-toed Treecreepers were noted as were Linnets, Goldfinches, Blue and Great Tits. We drove around the track and then walked down to see the cliff face below the hide, here we saw Common Kestrel but nothing more.  Coming down the mountainside a Red Deer doe was feeding at the forest edge but she saw us and hurtled down through the forest.


Blue Tit parus caeruleus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

So making our way home we picked up another Common Buzzard and an Azure-winged Magpie.
Pity about the lack of raptors (especially the Lammageier) but another visit is a must in the near future.
PS: If you are a scenery buff, this is a must visit as it was absolutely fabulous (what about the "Bike House" then, isn´t it quaint!!!


The well-known "Bike House" (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.