Thursday 27 June 2019

Rutland Water

Thursday 27 June

After all the excitement of driving north through Spain almost immediately after seeing the Red-footed Booby at Caleta, the gems at Daimiel and the White-backed Woodpecker in the Pyrenees it was back to "normal" today as I visited local Rutland Water, arriving just after 6.30 for a couple of hours or so, and got used to the very many Jackdaw, Rook, Wood Pigeon and other common British species.  However, I did have the pleasure of seeing a pair of Bullfinch as I made my way back to the car park.

Common Terns Sterna hirundo

It was a cold, cloudy and windy morning with the sun only just starting to put its hat on as I was leaving to take a look at both the Lyndon Centre and Upper Hambleton on the way back to Stamford.  Driving along the northern edge of the water I had my first Blackbird, Wood Pigeon and a pair of Magpie on the wires.  A Jay flashed across the road in front of me and, having seen a couple of Carrion Crow, I took the small lane down to Egleton.  The freshly cut field on my left held over an 100 corvids, mainly Rook but also a good number of Jackdaw and in the next fields along a small family of Greylag Geese. Collared Doves as I parked the car and then the walk down to the feeding station outside the Visitors Centre.  A pair of Pheasants were picking up spilt seeds form the hoppers and a Robin came to feed.  Good numbers of both Blue and Great Tit, including many juveniles, and then a couple of Chaffinch.

Greylag Goose Anser anser

Off down towards the north passing more Greylag Geese and from the Redshank Hide good views of the numerous Sand Martins and their artificial nesting site.  On the water in front many Black-headed Gulls, they seem to have had a good breeding season, Coot and Mallard.  A small number of Tufted Duck were further back on the water plus Mallard and my first Great Crested Grebe of the day.  It would appear that every lagoon held good numbers of Black-headed Gulls including very many full-grown juveniles.

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (Female above, male below)

It made a change to see a handful of House Sparrows as I made my way down to lagoon 4 and the Sandpiper Hide. Even better when I watched lone Muntjac DeerMuntiacus reevesi wander through the grass jut the other side of the fence and stop less then four meters away when it looked up, saw me and turned to make a run for the other side.  Until it lopped away I had no realised what a large, upturned tail this deer possessed.  No point trying to get the camera out of my rucksack as I was too busy enjoy the sight whist the deer was unaware of my presence.  I image the animal was downwind of me and picked up my scent - even though I had been in the shower not fifty minutes previously!

Pen and cob Mute Swan Cygnus olor

Once in the hide many more Greylag Geese to be seen along with even more Black-headed Gulls.  A dozen or more Mute Swans were spread around the pool and at the back a handful of Great Black-backed Gulls.  Nearer to me a small number of Lapwing, a quartet of Little Egret and maybe a dozen or so resting Common Tern.  Just the one Pied Wagtail and a couple of Oystercatchers whilst on the water itself good numbers of both Mallard and Gadwall plus a few more Tufted Duck and a single Shelduck.  Scoping the back of the water I also managed to add a few Pochard and then a small flock of Teal appeared closer to the hide.  Finally, I managed to discover where a small flock of Canada Geese were hiding.

A group of the Teal Anas crecca

The Buzzard Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 produced more of the same with extra numbers of Shelduck and a Moorhen.  Walking round to the Crake, Lapwing and Smew Hides I could hear numerous Reed Warblers and even a single Cetti's Warbler.  And as I retreated back to the main track outside a male Reed Bunting flew over the fence and across in front of me.It was as I walked back to the gate leading towards Lagoon 1 that the Bullfinch pair flew away from in front of me.  Back at the Visitors Centre I was able to see a departing Heron and a number of resting Cormorant.

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

A quick visit to the Lyndon Visitors Centre produced noting new; indeed, the only bird to visit the feeders was a single House Sparrow.  Stopping on the bridge at Manton Bay I could just make out the heads of a couple of the four successfully hatched young Ospreys (two male and two female) that had been ringed less than a week ago.  So on up to the end of the road beyond Upper Hambleton where still no sign of an Egyptian Goose but feeding in the field a single Curlew.  Returning from the car having gone to retrieve the camera I mistakenly tried to get a little close to get a half-decent shot but I was seen and bird was up and away.  My last bird of the morning as I made my way through the trees opposite Burley Fishponds was a Buzzard; not a bad way to end an enjoyable couple of hours or so.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta with Coot and Lapwing to left

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus with youngsters in middle
Great Crested Grebe  Podiceps cristatus
Distant Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 26 June

Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have certainly had some good sightings these past months and today's visit to the Sierra de Maria was no exception.  A few birds here I am yet to see in Spain this year.  On the other hand, in a seven day period I had two "lifers" with the Red-footed Booby at nearby Caleta harbour and then the White-backed Woodpecker on my north as I drove up into the Pyrenees.  This may be the group's last outing before the summer break but I am sure most, if not all, will continue their birding whilst they await the season.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 26th June

For our final trip before our summer break we decided to head for the cooler mountains at the Sierra de Maria.  Me, driving Richard in his car (nice AC!).  We picked up Peter and headed north.  From the motorway approaching Velez Rubio we could see the Maria range was completely obscured by low cloud.  Sure enough after passing Velez Rubio we drove into cloud, but thankfully between Velez Blanco and Maria we came across sun and blue skies.  We saw a Woodpigeon en route to the Repsol garage cafe.  There, sitting outside drinking a coffee, we added House Martin, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Collared Dove and Common Swift.  We were joined by Trevor, Adrian, Claire with her Spanish friend Loli with her 10 yr old son, Leonardo, Michael, Karen and Mary.  We made our way to the chapel, seeing a Magpie on the way . We parked up and I scanned the ridge.  I found three Griffon Vultures sitting there.   Later a stream of about a dozen Griffons flew over.  We walked over towards the trough area.  In the man-made pool were two domesticated geese, apparently known locally as Christmas Day and New Years Day! Looking towards the trough we were not hopeful of seeing much as a cat was sitting just below it.  However, the far side of it, in a bush, we saw Subalpine and Bonelli's Warbler.  We could hear a distant Hoopoe.  We saw movement in a large shrub to our right.  A Melodious Warbler was feeding young therein.

The domesticated Geese know as "Christmas day and "New Year's Day"
Richard meanwhile had driven up to the Botanical Gardens, seeing Pied Flycatchers on the way.  We walked up.  In the gardens we saw Crossbill, Coal Tit, Crested Tit and Blue Tit.  Mary found a Rock Bunting. Richard had also seen a Great Tit.
Apart from Adrian and Richard, the rest of us walked the lower walk.  We added Long-tailed Tit.  Richard had added Greenfinch, White Wagtail and a Short-toed Treecreeper as we were leaving.  When we got to the chapel car park, Michael had spotted a pair of Woodchat Shrike sitting atop adjacent trees.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: Davis Elliott-Binns)
We then drove to the ruined farm buildings, seeing a Magpie and Jay on the way.  There we saw Barn Swallows, Crossbill and a Serin.  Moving along through the pine trees, Richard spotted a Raven. 
At the water troughs we saw more Rock Sparrows and a Crested Lark.  I spotted a Northern Wheatear.  Richard (he has exceptional eyesight!) spotted an approaching raptor.  I identified it as a Short-toed Eagle.  It gave good views as it soared above us.  Heading down onto the plain, a tree had a number of Carrion Crows perched on it.  Leading the convoy, I spotted a lark perched on a rock.  Luckily I had a chance to take a number of photos.  At first I thought Tawny Pipit as it appeared to have long legs, then juvenile Calandra Lark, but I know think, looking at the photos, a Short-toed Lark.  I'm sure one of you will put me out of my misery!  We also saw a Hoopoe.  At the hamlet there were three or four Lesser Kestrels, one of which had, I suspect, a snatched baby Barn Swallow in its jaws as it was being vigourously harassed by two adult Barn Swallows.  Also I spotted two more Northern Wheatear.  Being lunchtime we headed for the La Piza forest cafe. We saw Chaffinch, Jay and Collared Dove as well as 5 Griffon Vultures which were circling above us as we arrived.

For Dave's benefit, Tawny Pipit or Short-toed Lark (PHOTO: Davis Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 36 species.  A lovely end to the season, but very sadly, Mary Taylor will be leaving Spain soon to live in the UK.  We wish her all the best for the future.  Hopefully she'll return for some sun sometime!  It was lovely to have an enthusiastic Spanish lad and his mum out with us.  Hopefully they'll be joining us again.
Enjoy your summer.  Will be back in September (or maybe the odd solo day out in between!)
Regards, Dave
Friendly Lizard (PHOTO: Davis Elliott-Binns)
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Pamplona Pyrenees

Sunday 23 June

Away relatively early to head up into the Pyrenees above Pamplona and check out the wooded hills before crossing over in to France.  My last Spanish birding and after today equipment away for the long drag through France to the Calais - Dover ferry.  Birding to be resumed, hopefully, once back in the UK when I hear Rutland Water and Frampton Marsh calling.  No sooner had I left the hotel and I continued to witness many Common Swifts which, to me, suggests that there is till not only a plentiful supply of insects but that these birds are also finding suitable nesting sites.  The occasional Barn Swallow but regular sightings of both Wood Pigeon and Magpie.

No sooner out in the countryside and I cam across a pair of Carrion Crow and another in the the foothills.  I also managed o come across a couple of Buzzard but it was the first Black Kite of the journey that was really impressive. I also had a a couple of Common Kestrels and, of course, local House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings.

Having reach the recommended site up in the wooded Pyrenees and paid my car entrance to drive to the local reservoir, I settled down in the h of finding a woodpecker or two.  Chaffinches calling all around me and much evidence of previous work by the woodpecker gangs judging by the rotten trees and their tell-tale holes but then a movement away to my left.  Bins on the subject and look very much like a Great Spotted Woodpecker hammering away at the side of the tree but more often than not out of site.  An amazing amount of cascading sawdust as a result of the bird's endeavours.  Photograph taken as best I could and then the bird was away.  That was to be the only woodpecker seen but on looking at the camera it would appear that I had made a mistake; not a Greater but a Middle Spotted Woodpecker.  Then, once a more detailed examination of the bird it was deemed to be the very rare White-backed Woodpecker!  Knowing the size difference between the British Great and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers you (wrongly) assume that the same would apply when considering Middle Spotted or White-backed.  My best piece of advice might be to think of the alternative name for the Greater Spotted being a Pied Woodpecker with a large white slash on the wings.  This is not the marking of the White-backed Woodpecker which appears about the same size but with more of a "rounded" rather the "flat" head.  What a wonderful turn-up for the proverbial book as far as I was concerned.

Distant record shot of White-backed Woodpecker Pico Dorsiblanco Dendrocopos leucotos
Then, on the way back to the car park a (northern - European) Tree-creeper on a fallen log at the side of the narrow concrete road that beat a hasty retreat to the neighbouring trees.  Enough for a good view and listen even if no time to reach for the camera.

Wonderful views as I cross over the top into France and, on the almost summit on the Spanish side, a chance to watch a trio of soaring Griffon Vultures.  As far as France was concerned, the only birds of note were the occasional Buzzards and a Jay that flashed across a mountain road in front of the car.  But, approaching Poitiers, I did come across a single Turtle Dove on the ground; just goes to show that some survived the migration guns and even the local huntsmen.

Birds seen:
Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, White-backed Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, Tree-creeper, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Saturday 22 June 2019

Laguna Pitillas

Saturday 22 June

Laguna Pitillas - known to me as "Swan Lake2
Just a two hour journey to reach Laguna Pitillas (known to me as "Swan Lake") from the overnight stop at Ateca and yet another glorious day.  Certainly the lake lived up to its name and came up trumps, fortunately not of the "Donald" variety, with the sighting of the breeding Mute Swans.  Is this the only site in Spain that has these wonderful and graceful birds as a breeding species?  Not only Mute Swans but in the scores and scores of Common Pochard, good numbers of Red-crested p Pochard and the ever present Mallard a handful of Tufted Duck.  And my last bird of the day before departing just after 1pm was yet another new species for the year with sighting of a Tawny Pipit which just sat and sat.  Mind you, I had to double check as the bird so took me by surprise for some reason.

Some of the resident Mute Swan Cygnus olor

The journey up to the laguna had produced some interesting species including Common Swift, Wood Pigeon, lots of Magpies, Kestrel, Hoopoe and a resting Buzzard albeit I was not expecting to see two Grey Herons drift over the road.

Once on. site I quickly added both Collared Dove and House Sparrow and as I walked to my left to check out the large duck population I also added Coot, Reed Warbler and White Wagtail.  A couple of Barn Swallows and many Common Swifts were seen before I found the first the Black-necked Grebe followed by the Little Grebes.

A walk to the fa hide to my right produced a couple of Crested Larks and once in the hide I saw my first of three Marsh Harriers that were quartering the reed beds.  However, walking back to the Visitors Centre I also found a number of Sky Larks on site.  Also present and singing away were a number of Great Reed Warbler but, on this occasion, no sighting of the resident Bearded Tits.

Female Linnet Carduelis cannabina - thinking of nest two?

Next into the car for the drive round to the back of the water in the hope that one of the local Great Bitterns might put in an appearance or fly over the reeds but it was not to be.  I did have a Hoopoe fly across the track and a posing Corn Bunting followed by a couple of Linnet which appeared to be collecting nesting material (second brood?) and then a stop to photograph the distant mystery bird.  Camera view enlarged and a check with the "Collins" to confirm a rather neat Tawny Pipit.

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris

Just the morning's birding so that I could check into the local hostal for a rest before the early, hopefully, start in the morning to spend some time in the upper Pyrenees, my last day of Spanish birding, before heading off to Calais and the ferry to Dover with overnight stops at Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port and Poitiers.  So far it has been a very enjoyable feed days of birding with lots of good sightings.

Birds seen:
Mute Swan, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Tawny Pipit, White Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Daimiel: A second bite of the cherry

Roller Coracius garrulus
Friday 21 June

Up very early and out of the hotel door by 6.30 in the hope that I might catch some early birds.  Nobody about as I arrived at the Navaseca car park and even the Flamingos were just below the hide along with Coot, Mallard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe and both Black-headed Gull and Whiskered Tern.  Then the Flamingos decided that it was time for their morning exercise!

The early morning flight of the Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

Lots of low feeding Common Swifts and a few House Martins above and then a Great Reed Warbler appeared to give me its full repertoire.  A stop at the hide below confirmed the presence of both yesterday's Ringed Plover and Redshank plus good sightings of Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall and Common Pochard.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Also recorded both here at the various observation points around the water were Spotless Starling, Wood Pigeon, lots of Barn Swallows, Goldfinch and Crested Lark.  The Black-winged Stilts were still screaming at my intrusion into their territory and, as usual, the Moorhen were quick to scuttle away.  A couple of Savi's Warblers along with both Reed and more Great Reed Warbler were also found a the end of the laguna.  This site and the Tablas area must be a heaven for Great Spotted Cuckoos given the number of Magpies to be seen.  The Greylag Geese were still about in good numbers and the Cetti's Warblers were calling well and loud.

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus aundinaceus

So on to the Tablas de Daniel but I was to be disappointed as not one Bearded Tit recorded.  I did have more Savi's and Great Reed Warblers.  Approaching the area I had Little Owl, Hoopoe and Rock Doves and arriving at the first water a pair of Rollers just waiting to have their photograph taken.  The White Storks were more visible than yesterday and, again, a Red-legged Partridge came to to see what all the fuss was about.

The breeding pair of Roller Coracius garrulus
Walking towards the boardwalk I once again had a plentiful supply of Nightingales and could also see the distant Cormorants.  A lovely male Marsh Harrier was quartering the reeds but no sign of the Red-crested Pochard this morning albeit the Coot family were still about.  A number of Little Egrets flew in and even handful of Cattle Egret but no Heron was seen.  A couple of Little Bittern then to the far end of the reserve and walking y]up to the viewpoint I had a couple of Tree Sparrows plus Zitting Cisticola and even a Whitethroat.  Also lovely to see an adult Blue-headed Wagtail with two youngsters.  Again, Corn Buntings seemed to be out in force with many fledged youngsters still being fed by parents.

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra

Continuing on around the bottom through the trees I managed to find a Stonechat plus a single Melodious Warbler and more Nightingales.  On to the final boardwalk loop where I picked up Reed Bunting, a Sand Martin and Linnets.  Finally, almost back to the car park, not just more Nightingales  but a couple of Chaffinch and then a pair of Greenfinch.
Male Stonechat Saxicola torquatus in the early morning light

Once the car packed and I had had some breakfast and changed I started on the journey to Ateca in readiness for tomorrow's visit to the Laguna Pitillas.  My journey produced numerous Magpies along with many Wood Pigeon but also Kestrel, Jackdaw and a Griffon Vulture.

Before leaving the tablas site I did pop in for a few minutes to the "Acclimatisation Laguna" where a Barn Swallow had a nest inside the hide and out on the water very few birds, mainly Red-crested Pochard but also a trio of Ferruginous Duck.

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, White Stork, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Common Swift, Roller, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Whitethroat, Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Daimiel: Navaseca and the Tablas

Thursday 20 June

The time has finally arrived for the long drive back to the UK with some serious birding before I hit the French border.  Today it was the journey up to Daniel and all was going swimmingly until the cruise control played up and I rammed the car in front.  Could have been worse as with no way to get past the two cars in front which suddenly slowed whilst they decided who would pass the lorry first at least I only hit the one, the Mercedes, at a steady 100kph.  On the other hand, the cars in front were probably driving at almost the same speed so relatively little damage and no injuries, just a pain in the arse as I had to wait for the Guardia Civil bikes to arrive but all were very positive and helpful.  So, eventually, booked into my hostel at just after 2pm and the for a rest as far too hot for birding.  All the birds seen during the journey were to be seen later so straight on.

First stop the water treatment ponds known as the Laguna Nevaseca.  Wonderful site and lots of Flamingos on display along with the breeding Black-headed Gulls and Whiskered Terns.  Coots, Mallards, lots of White-headed Ducks soon got me excited and ere too long I had also added both Little and Black-necked Grebes.  Just the one Teal and a couple of Shoveler along with a single Gadwall.  Then the Mallard families appeared in the scope.

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala (female above and male below)
The Black-winged Stilts were obviously still breeding judging by the racket they made even time somebody showed themselves and then, of course, we also had a single Ringed Plover and a Redshank.  Also, no shortage of Moorhens on site.  Always lovely to see Shelduck with their smart coats and red bill but time to record what was going on both overhead and in the reeds.

But I digress.  One arriving at the car park I noticed a people carrier with a "Malaga Car" sticker and, upon arriving at the lower hide on the main road found Mick Richardson along with two clients on his way north to Santander as part of his Picos expedition.  Great to see Mick and catch up on the latest news.  Mick's bird call recognition was working overtime as he soon found the first Savi's Warbler to add to both the Reed and Great Reed Warbler already recorded.  Cetti's Warblers were blasting away around us and overhead we had lots of Common Swifts along with a good number of House Martins and a smaller supply of Barn Swallows.  On the other hand, lovely to see the Marsh Harrier drift by.

Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica resting
Leaving Mick I took a tour round the laguna and at he two smaller hides was able to add Wood Pigeons, Bee-eaters, Shoveler and Pochard to the day's sightings.  The first hide not only had close sightings of the White-headed Ducks but a good-sized flock of Greylag Geese, many with this year's young.  At the far side just before the main works I had very close views of the many Whiskered Terns and at least a dozen Black-tailed Godwits.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
In the grounds of the works I also added Spotless Starling and House Sparrow and as I left quickly added Crested Lark and a lone Little Owl that took off as I approached.

A few of the Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybrida
And so on to the Tablas de Daimiel where approaching the first water I had not just more Greylag Geese but also a single Great White Egret.  White Storks to my left and a short drive up the lane to the right after crossing the long, stone bridge brought a female Red-legged Partridge with just two running chicks.  Lots of Common Swifts about as I made my way top the car park where, once again, I caught up with Mick and party.

Having added very many Magpies, we eventually reached the boardwalk through the reeds having already noted the Nightingales and found Reed, Great Read, Savi's and Cetti's Warblers.  Eventually I thought I saw a Reed Warbler dash low down through the reeds and Mick was able to confirm that it was indeed one of the local Bearded Tits.  Many thanks, Mick, just what I needed!

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

From these view points we also managed to record three Little Bitterns and now the Barn Swallows were well and truly in evidence with many youngsters already on the wing.  Continuing on round the boardwalk circuit we then added a Linnet followed by a number of Corn Buntings plus just the one female Red-crested Pochard with two young ducklings.

Corn Buntings Emberiza calandra

On the far side of the water to our right we eventually found our only Heron of the day plus a small flock of Lapwing.  A couple of Goldfinch and a female Linnet added to the day's sightings and then Mick spotted the single Sand Martin associating with the Barn Swallows.  Lots of Cormorant and nearer to hand I even found a lone Spotted Flycatcher as I walked up to the distant hide.  Nothing to be seen apart from Cormorants and a lone Spoonbill but with the path closed it was a long way back to pick up the return path o the car park.  But, on the other hand, it did give me chance to find yet more Nightingales including many juveniles.

Dinner time for this Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

As I left the Tablas I too the little country road mentioned earlier where I had found the Red-legged Partridge and continued on till the end.  Not only did I find a second Little Owl but also a rather lovely Roller sat on a sign post - but not for long when it saw the approaching car.  However, by far the biggest surprise was the flock of bout 200 Cattle Egret on the fields both sides of the road and within a hundred metres another hundred or more in the trees by the water's edge.

Sleepy Little Owl Athene noctua

Mick had already returned to find a host for the night but I took the opportunity, it now being about 7.30 to see if the Pin-tailed Sandgrouse might pit in an appearance back at Navaseca.  I had hardly stepped through the grass to the water's edge when I saw that lovely golden flash as two individuals flew in to take an evening drink.  No time to focus, just point and press the camera's shutter and hope for the best as the birds stayed only for a few seconds - obviously saw my presence and took umbrage, seems reasonable to me!  But it did mean that I had seen, with the Bearded Tit and Savi's Warbler three new species for the year.

Part of the Greylag Goose Anser anser flock

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard,  White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Little Owl, Common Swift, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Bearded Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Thursday 20 June 2019

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 19 June

Whilst I was resting in preparation for Thursday's start to me drive north and onwards to Calais for Tuesday's ferry to Dover followed by a walk down to Caleta Harbour to take a final look at the surprising visit of a lone Red-footed Booby (and yes, I did get to see the bird in flight), friend Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group were enjoying a birding day at Cabo de Gata and the Rambla Morales.  I wonder if they found time to jump into the sea whilst the opportunity was there?  I somehow think not.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 19th June 
On our penultimate trip before breaking for the summer, we decided to go to Cabo de Gata.  Gilly managed to get the day off work, so I drove her down to the Pujaire cafe. After leaving the motorway we managed to log Jackdaw, Bee Eater, House Sparrow, House Martin, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Spotless Starling and an Iberian Grey Shrike. Whilst having coffee we were joined by Trevor, John, Karen, Michael and Kevin.  Suitably refreshed, we made our way to the first hide where Jacky was waiting.  Trevor spotted another Iberian Grey Shrike as I scanned the water and shoreline ahead of us.  Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Slender-billed Gull, Kentish Plover, Mallard, Shelduck and Black-winged Stilt.  Little Tern were dive fishing.  I found a single Yellow Wagtail on the blanket weed and a Little Egret on the far bank.  John thought he saw a pair of flying Ringed Plover before they disappeared below the shoreline shrubs.  Also seen was the odd Barn Swallow and a Thekla Lark.  Jacky and Gilly could both hear the Zitting Cisticola.  I couldn't!

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We drove to the beach opposite the second hide.  Nothing on the shoreline, but I spotted a Cory's Shearwater out to sea.  From the hide itself we had good views of a couple of male Sardinian Warblers.  Trevor found a Little Egret.  Gilly counted 189 Greater Flamingos.  A Yellow-legged Gull was sitting on the island.  An Audouin's Gull had landed on the beach when we got back to the vehicles. 

Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
From the public hide we saw a Godwit species.  Due to distance and heat haze couldn't tell which. Some Gull-billed Terns made an appearance.  John found a Black-headed Gull and Jacky had a probable Corn Bunting.  A Kestrel flew over the savanna.

Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After a refreshment break we made our way to the lighthouse, but it was crowded with tourist, so after a quick look out to sea we made our way towards the Rambla Morales. Kevin spotted a Red-rumped Swallow as he drove along the road by the salinas.
Gilly and I were leading the convoy along the beach side track.  We spotted a White Wagtail and another Gull-billed Tern.  At the Rambla there were a few Kentish Plovers at the beach end.  Kevin found some White-headed Duck over the far side.  From the hump we saw about 60 Greater Flamingos as well as more White-headed Duck, a Coot and a pair of Little Grebe with chicks.  Four Shoveler flew by as did some Common Swifts.  Did hear the Zitting Cisticola this time!
We ended the day with a moderate 37 species, but it was still a good day in good company!
Regards, Dave

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Monday 17 June 2019

Red-footed Booby at local Caleta harbour

Monday 17 June

What a way to start the week after last night's disappointment.  Quick look again with friend Derek Etherton for the sighted Red-footed Booby and no sooner had we left than a phone call from our mutual friend, Andy Paterson to say that bird had immediately been located resting on top of a set of floodlights - almost right above our heads.  And when well-hunkered down almost impossible to see without bins/scopes.  Initial photos take on phones at about 9.45 then back on site just after 4pm with my little camera.  The bird had now moved to the centre of the fight unit to, presumably, get a little more protection for the the very hot sun in such an exposed situation.

Most of the time the bird was preening but did look up once in a long while to give an opportunity for a head shot - but these opportunities could be measured in fractions of a second!  However note the bill, obviously not a Gannet, and also the red feet.  I have also included one more open shot to give an idea of the roosting site on top of the floodlights.  Meanwhile, down on the neighbouring beach in the harbour entrance no shortage of Audouine's Gulls and, of course, anywhere in this area is going to have visiting, noisy Monk Parakeets.

The very rare visiting Red-footed Booby Piquero Patirrojo Sula sula at Caleta Harbour , Velez Malaga.

Lots of Audouin's Gulls Gaviota de Audouin Larus audouinii but did you realise how small they are compared to their cousins
One of the scores of Monk Parakeet Cotorra Argentina Myiodsitta monachus
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information