Wednesday 30 October 2019

Rutland Water

Wednesday 30 October

With today's proposed visit to Boston postponed (hopefully Frampton Marsh in the morning subject to weather) and the sun shining in a clear blue sky I drove over to nearby Rutland Water for a couple of hours to visit three specific sites.  Arriving Burley Fishponds on the North Arm it was obvious that there were more occupants than my short visit last week.  A plentiful supply of Cormorant and lots of Tufted Duck, the latter accompanied by the local Coot and Wigeon.  An Egyptian Goose rested on top of a pole and a few more were noted on the far bank.A lone Heron watched over the proceedings as a couple of Mute Swans drifted past.

A well-concealed Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Whilst a couple of Carrion Crows fed on the nearby grassland and a Kestrel hovered overhead, a few Gadwall drifted past on the North Arm itself no shortage of Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Gadwall along with a plentiful supply of Coots.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Further over I was able to find a large flock of Canada and small number of Greylag Geese.  Plenty of Great Crested and a couple of Little Grebes were seen and in the far bank both a pair of Little Egret and Great White Egret.  Mainly Black-headed Gulls but also a couple of Greater Black-backed Gulls and the final bird before departing a one Wood Pigeon.

Great Tit Parus major, Goldfinches Carduelis carduelis and Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Noting the large number of Jackdaws as I approached the Visitors Centre I went straight to the Feeding Station and immediately recorded Great, Coal and Blue Tit along with Chaffinch and Goldfinch.  Entering the VC to check out the birds on Lagoon 1 I found a further 4 Great White Egrets and a couple of Little Egret plus maybe a dozen Heron.  Lots of Wigeon and Tufted Duck along with Teal and a single Mallard.  Lovely to see the arrival off so many Pintail and there, resting in front of the Centre, was a female Smew.

Pintail Anus acuta (left) concealing the female Smew Mergellus albellus (right)
back to the Feeding Station for a last look and able to add a Greenfinch and Marsh Tit to the list.  A trio of Collared Doves arrived at a back tree and a male Blackbird dashed across form one side to the other.  Whilst the lone Robin posed in front of me the single Dunnock remained in the cover of a bush to my right.
Dunnock Prunella modularis

So on to my final, third, site of the morning.  The Lindon Centre was actually closed but it was the garden feeder that interested me in the hope that it might have attracted both Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow.  In the event neither.  However, there was a constant movement of Coal, Blue and Great Tit and especially the pair of very active Marsh Tits.  But what flighty blighters these are; never still and it seemed always away before you could focus the camera. 

Quick record shot of the Marsh Tit Parus palustris
In addition a pair of Wrens were messing around at the bottom of the bush adjacent to the artificial pond along with a Dunnock whilst above no shortage of both Chaffinch and Goldfinches as they accessed the feeders.
Coal Tit Parus ater
A couple of Starlings flew across and to the side a small number of Rooks were active in the neighbouring field.  And as I drove away up the lane to make my way home another cock Pheasant was determined not to miss out on the day's listing as it casually meandered up the verge.  Just over two hours and 43 species recorded.

What a bunch of tits; Blue Parus caeruleus, Great Parus major and Coal Parus ater

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Tufted Duck, Smew, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

A male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs looks down on a mere Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis!

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

Cold and Windy Norfolk

Tuesday 29 October

Up early and away to collect birding pal, Chris bell at Peterborough railway station and then on to RSPB Titchwell Marsh on the North Norfolk coast.  Mainly Crow, Rook and Magpie plus Jay, House Sparrow and Collared Doves on the journey and, despite traffic holdup approaching Wisbech, on site by just after 9.30.  Off to Visitors Centre so that Chris could get a well-earned coffee having set off around 6ish and immediately Blackbird followed by Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch Great and Blue Tits on the feeders with a couple of Moorhen below - along with a coupe of furry rats!  Also in the general area we also recorded both Wood Pigeon and Black-headed Gull before moving on to "Patsy's Reedbed" where we found Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mute Swan and Little Grebe.

Freshwater marsh, RSPB Titchwell Marsh
Time to head off towards the beach with calls at the two hides on the way.  Passing along the Fen Trail we had a small family party of Long-tailed Tits and a rather noisy Cetti's Warbler.   No sound nor sight of  Bearded Reedling but to our left the first sighting of the newly-arrived Brent Geese along with a couple of Teal and a Redshank so the next stop was the Island Hide looking over the freshwater marsh with the sun behind us.  From the hide we got another view of the Water Pipit that was feeding in the south-west corner noted as we approached said hide.  On the water itself a rather large flock of Golden Plover in front of the main hide but nearer to hand we quickly saw many Teal and Wigeon along with a few Greylag Geese, Shelduck, Pochard and Shoveler.  Waders included Knot, Ruff, Lapwing, Curlew, Dunlin and Avocet.  The only raptor recorded was a Kestrel.

Recpord shot against the Sun of a few of the Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Moving on down to the Parrinder Hide, noting both Meadow Pipit and Sky Lark on the way, we had closer views of the waders, especially the large flock of Golden Plover, along with both Wigeon and very many Teal.  Chris was overjoyed to find the single Grey Plover on the Volunteer Marsh and more Curlew and Redshank were seen plus our first Little Egret and Heron of the day.

The wandering Curlew Numenius arquata

Lots of waders on the beach plus passing Cormorant including Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and Turnstone.  A Common Gull was also recorded before we made our way back to the car park..  However, a few metres beyond the Island Hide we experienced a sudden, sharp and short shower so were able to take a hasty shelter.  Just as well as once inside we had close views of the Water Rail that wandered out from the thick reeds.

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
A stop for our picnic lunch at Brancaster Staithe with the tide well out produced Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Turnstone along with Great Crested Grebe and both Black-headed and Common Gulls then it was on to Holkham to find the wintering Pink-footed Geese.

Common (Mew) Gull Larus canus

No sooner had we found the gees than we also found a very large flock of Brent Geese.  However, neither of these was our our "Bird of the Day" as, having noted the Pied wagtail in front of us and the Robin sitting on the fence, than I saw a couple of Grey Partridge resting/feeding on the grass less than ten metres in front of our newly-parked car.  A closer look produced a further three to the right and, after getting out of the car to take photographs, we found a further thirteen a little further to our left.

Part of the covey of 18 Grey Partridge Perdix perdix
Continuing our search we then found a handful of Egyptian Geese in with the Brants and a small party of Jackdaws flew overhead between the trees.  Not to be outdone, a cock Pheasant casually crossed the road as we made our departure.

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aeggyptiacus

Having seen the Buzzard as we approached Cley, we made straight to the nearest hide where the first bird seen was a low-passing Peregrine Falcon and conformed many Teal along with Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard and Shelduck.  Also seen were Avocet, Lapwing and Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls.

Our final call with light fading fast as the sun dipped low was the very cold beach at the back of the reserve.  Freezing doesn't do justice to how we felt on leaving the car to walk the shingle with still a good number of sea-watchers sheltering from the strong, cold breeze and holding on tightly to their scopes.  We did eventually find a handful of Canada Geese and walking back to the car a few Goldfinches rose from the scrub and then the sight of more than 30 Common Scoter flying westwards low over the water about thirty metres off shore.  Not bad given that the count had been well in excess of 200 for the day.

Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus
Brent Geese Branta bernicla

And so ended our little Norfolk adventure to be followed by the drive back to Peterborough for Chris to catch his train to Worksop and me carry on to Stamford.  A great day's birding in excellent company and a final species total of 71 for the day.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Birds seen:
Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 24 October 2019

Rutland Water

Misty view of the Great White Egret Egretta alba
Thursday 24 October

Just arrived back in Stamford for a fortnight and one of the advantages in living so close to my local patch at Rutland Water is that when the forecast suggests rain all day save for a couple of hours first thing in the morning, you can literally "pop" down the road for a couple of hours and be back before said rain arrives.  This was very much the case this morning.  Overnight rain but very overcast and dull at first light so at Rutland Water by 8.15 and departed just on two hours later.

Greeted by Jackdaws and Wood Pigeons and just a single Great Tit at the Feeding Station so straight off down to lagoon4 before any rain might arrive.  Walking down I encountered both Robin and Blackbird and a large, noisy flock of Rooks as well as more Jackdaws.  On the neighbouring field the odd Crow and a trio of Pheasants.

Gadwall Anas strepera

As soon s I reached the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4 it was obvious that the water levels were very high - but relatively few ducks.  Indeed this was also true of both lagoons 3 and 2.  In front of me a dozen or so Wigeon along with a similar number of Gadwall and a couple of Coots to my left.  In the background, floating through the dull vision, a similar number of Mute Swans and a few Greylag Geese.  Lots of Lapwing and a single Redshank before finding both the Teal and Mallard.  No shortage of Black-headed Gulls and even a small flock of Common Starling.  Using the scope I was also able to  find the lone Pintail and a small flock of Pochard.

Wigeon Anas penelope

Onto the under-repair Shoveler Hide overlooking the western end of Lagoon 3 and, again, noted for its lack of birdlife on the open water.  Lots of resting Cormorant and many Great Crested Grebes further out with Teal and Mallard closer to the hide.  Just a couple of Shoveler and a trio of Moorhen but away to my left a single Great White Egret.

Teals Anas crecca on lagoon 3
Nothing to see from the Buzzard Hide and from the Smew Hide overlooking lagoon 2 confirmation that the birds were more distant including a single female Tufted Duck, more Mute Swans and Coots plus plenty of Black-headed Gulls.

Straight back to the Visitors Centre and still not good light but able to find another pair of Great White Egrets plus single Little Egret and Grey Heron.  More Coots and Black-headed Gulls along with the resting Cormorants but then  the sight of a male Goosander to lighten the spirit.  Nearer to me a Stonechat was perched on a low bush and a couple of Canada Geese flew in.  On checking the gulls I also managed to find a single resting Great Black-backed Gull.

Male Chaffinch Frigilla coelebs

Finally, it was back to the Feeding Station where, at lest, I now had a little more activity recording many Blue and Great Tits along with a single Marsh and couple of Coal Tits.  No shortage of Goldfinch and a few Chaffinch plus more Robins, just the one Dunnock and a pair of House Sparrows.  A Collared Dove made a very brief appearance and then it was time for me to depart for the North Arm.

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis at the feeding Station

Up at the North Arm it was mainly Mute Swans, a few Wigeon and Coots.  The large flock of Tufted Duck was out on the main water along with the many Great Crested Grebes so nothing new to add to the morning's sightings.  All packed and away hone at 10.15 so 41 species on two hours and no rain - yet!
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander,  Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood  Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.

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

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Granada Highlights

Monday 21 October

Just four days later friends Steve and Elena Powell were collecting me for the long haul over to Huetor Tajar to meet up with friend Mick Richards for an in depth search for the local Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Bustards and Stone Curlews.  With friends Barbara and Derek Etherton along with Micky Smith, Gerry Laycock and David Hird also joining us for the "tour", it was almost like a repeat of Thursday's Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Zafarraya nd El Robleda.  Must be something special about the number "9"!

Distant Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
On our way over to the Cacin Valley by 9.15 and approaching the site we soon had sightings of Hoopoe, Collared Dove, MagpieStonechat and both Crested and Thekla Larks.  A short stop to check out the distant Iberian Grey Shrike and we were heading off down a track through one of the many almond plantations, passing House Sparrows, Goldfinch and Serin on the way, to the edge of a couple of large ploughed fields.

 Diligent searching by Mick and others soon found the very distant Black-bellied Sandgrouse with a total of at least 16 seen and excellent views through Derek's scope.

Vert distant record shot of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis

Continuing back to take the usual track onto this site we recorded Corn Bunting before stopping to check out the large flock of Spotless Starlings which also contained more then a handful of Common Starling.  Nearer to us a good number of White Wagtails and a small number of Meadow Pipits.  However, many were more taken by the three Northern Wheatear and a really special sighting was that of the single female (UK) Yellow Wagtail Motacilla f.flavissima feeding with the White  Wagtails.

On the other side of the track many Calandra plus a few Thekla Larks followed by  Sky Lark.  A couple of Kestrels and Linnets were noted and then Barbara spotted a distant Barn Swallow before a pair flew immediately overhead.  Up ahead at the old ruin we could just make out the head of a Little Owl in its usual roosting spot but the bird had moved on by the time we arrived.  Moving on we noted many more White Wagtails, another Northern Wheatear and Corn Bunting followed by a group of at least 17 Magpie and a handful of Greenfinches, Serins and Goldfinches plus another Hoopoe.

"I can see you!" Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctus

Time to head off back to the fields at the back of Huetor Tajar and taking the side road with access to the motorway being closed as work was underway to complete the new road towards Alhama de Granada we stopped to watch he feeding Buzzard and once the raptor had moved away noticed yet another Northern Wheatear in the field to our side.

Common Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo buteo
Once back on the fields behind Huetor Tajar we stopped to unsuccessfully find a Bluethroat but did happen upon a good flock of feeding Common Waxbill.  Lots of calling Cetti's Warbler and Crested Larks on the track.  The field beyond the waterway contained a large flock of sparrows, mainly House but certainly a few Tree SparrowsWood Pigeons were departing the copse as we walked up to the river bank and had soon found both Spotted Flycatcher and Chiffchaff along with a number of Blackcaps.  A Grey Wagtail made the briefest of appearances and then our first Sardianian Warbler of the morning.

Back to the other side of the road where we picked up our first Blackbird and more Stonechats.  A walk along the edge of the tall grasses to the railway line produced a couple of Zitting Cisticola and at at least one Reed Warbler as well as more Blackcaps and Goldfnches.  Our penultimate stop on the track alongside one of the small tributaries to the Cacin with a very small trickle of water produced a good number of Azure-winged Magpies (now known as Iberian Magpie) along with a few Spanish Sparrows.  A couple of Cattle Egrets were recorded and whilst most of us searched the stream Steve and David, the only men wearing long trousers save Gerry, took a walk through the tall grasses towards the railway line where they managed to unintentionally flush a Jack Snipe followed by a second unidentified Snipe.  Returning to the cars, many of us saw the two Common Snipe that took off from under the railway bridge and then a third from below the bank, probably the unidentified Snipe seen by Steve and David.

As we set off for our final destination on the far side of the town we had a small flock of Lapwing and then, successfully, found a flock of at least 25 Little Bustards feeding at the back of a very green field.  A Kestrel watched us depart to check out the Stone Curlew site but with road works in full swing no sign of any so our car plus David made our way back to the meeting point for a drink and departure home.  Meanwhile, Derek's car followed Mick home to collect items for transport back to the UK and then they managed to walk the usual path from the back of the town where they actually not only found 16 more Little Bustards but also about 12 Stone Curlew.  All in all a most successful day's birding in excellent, friendly company and a final total of at least 49 species.

Record shots of the very distant Little Bustards Sison Comun Tetrax tetrax when they "popped" their heads up.

Birds seen:
Cattle Egret, Buzzard, Kestrel, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark,  Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 17 October 2019

Ventas de Zafarraya & El Robledal

Thursday 17 October

The first "formal" meeting of the Axarquia Bird Group for many a month and so pleased that eight members were able to join me u at Ventas de Zafarraya for a 9.30 start by walking the old railway track up through the tunnel and on to the ruined building before returning to our cars.  As might be expected, this side of the tunnel was in the shade and therefore a little on the chilly side but despite that, five of the six gentlemen were still brave or stupid enough to be wearing shorts - including me!

Black Wheatear Collalba Negra Oenathe leucura

Once under way we were soon seeing many Black Wheatears and a number of Crag MartinsGreat and Blue Tit were recorded then a calling Wren followed by LinnetChaffinch and Greenfinch plus the occasional Rock Sparrow.  No shortage of either Stonechat or Sardinian Warbler and even a Robin just after exiting the tunnel.  No sooner had we commented upon there being no Choughs about than a flock of at least 150 were seen and heard below us.  later, either the same flock or more individuals appeared above the cliffs in front of us with  a few making visits to their usual nesting crags.

Red-billed Chough Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax with part f the large flock above
Nearer to the small orchard we started picking up good numbers of Blackcaps and a single Kestrel flew over.  On the pylons a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes and a similar number of Black Redstart.  Finally, we found a Thekla Lark and after a handful of Goldfinches on the return journey our final observation was that of a female House Sparrow.

After a welcome stop for a comfort break and coffee, seven of us made our way up to the woods at El Robledal.  A Jay crossed the track as we approached and we were then greeted by a few Goldfinches.

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (above) Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (below)

The intention had been to tale a short circular route up to and beyond the upper picnic area but in the event we hardly moved further than the northern and of the parking area.  Why?  Not just a number of Chaffinches in the nearby trees but suddenly a mixed flock of Great, Blue, Coal and Crested Tits.  Turning round we found a male Pied Flycatcher and no sooner had all picked out the bird than it was joined by a female and on the ground below the tree a male Common Redstart.

Common Redstart Colirrojo Real Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Back the other way to identify the single Cirl Bunting then the call of a Green Woodpecker.  Back round again as not only were there Pied but also at least a couple of Spotted Flycatchers.  Soon joined by a Robin and more activity by the Common Redstart and we found we had three species in the same bushes as both a Chiffchaff and a Bonelli's Warbler came to join the Common Redstart.

Record shot of Bonelli's Warbler Mosquitero papialbo Phylloscopus bonelli

Blackbirds were heard and seen and as we made our way to the southern end of the parking area a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew from the trees across the track in front of us.  Time to make our way back to the local venta for a quick drink before heading off to our respective homes and Derek, Barbara and Micky were able to see both a Buzzard and passing Barn swallow to complete our species for the day.

Great weather apart from the early start, great company and excellent birding with quality over quantity in the 34 species recorded.

Female Linnet Pardillo Comun Catrduelis cannabina at the Zafarraya

Birds seen:
Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Wren, Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting.

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

Monday 14 October 2019

Rutland Water with Chris Bell

Monday 14 October

Very grateful to pal, Chris Bell who keeps me up to date with what is happening in my part of the Midlands back in the UK.  Certainly means that when returning to Stamford I have a rough idea of what is about and can make relevant plans for upcoming visits, etc.  Not sure whether it was a result of ploughing his way though my epistle re the last week's visit to Huelva/Donana, etc but for Saturday's day out Chris took himself off to my local patch at Rutland Water and sent the following report of birds seen.  Ospreys may have successfully departed but I hope the male Lesser Scaup might still be about when I get back to Stamford later this month. 

Saturday 12 October: Rutland Water

What a “road trip” you had. It was tiring just reading about it. Your monthly listing must be bulging. Perhaps I should have written my Rutland Water report before reading your Seville and Huelva outing.

Early Saturday morning and first check the weather forecast which overnight had changed from rain staying to the south of Oakham all day to rain starting there at 4 PM.  Flamborough Head was forecasted to be dry all day, so was tempting, and stayed tempting until I committed myself to Rutland Water.  At 6:30 AM at home I could hear the screeching of a Little Owl (or was it 2), a promising start to my birding day.

Robin Erithacus rubecula (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Rutland Water it was, and approaching the Visitors Centre, I clocked up the calling Chiffchaff, Wren, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker and viewed Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant,Blackbird and an overflying Cormorant all without a Permit to Bird.

With permit purchased and, at the second attempt with all 3 Visitor Centre ladies assisting, I managed a satisfactory Cappuccino out of their drinks machine.  So up into the “gods” with views over Lagoon 1.  There were already a few punters doing the same and almost immediately the number was swollen by the arrival of half a dozen regular local birders.  Lagoon 1 was alive with several hundred Cormorant ,several hundred Tufted Duck,Little GrebeGreat Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, 2 (cc) Marsh Harrier, a Kingfisher, but with pride of place surely going to a Spoonbill that had being hanging about for a few days, and 11(eleven) Great Egret.

Great Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
The local birders who had just returned from the North Arm told me that the Cattle Egret reported from Manton Bay a day or so earlier hadn’t stayed (it would have been a UK lifer for me).  They then received a telephone message saying that the bird that they had seen earlier was now being viewed from Shoveler Hide, and whilst they departed immediately I still had a hot coffee to drink and a comfort visit to make.  I was soon on my way and despite some of them actually driving by car to close to Lagoon 3 my sprightly walk had me there shortly afterEveryone else seemed to be able to find the target bird amongst the maybe 500 Tufties and a few Pochard, but it wasn’t until a very kind lady whose husband also couldn’t see it, looked down my scope and said it was already in the centre of view, and when it turned round I could see that it was a male Lesser Scaup, a species I had only seen once before 8 years previously.

It was almost a relief to leave the hide and make my way to Plover Hide and view over Lagoon 4.  Lots of Lapwing to be seen a Pied Wagtail, Coot, Moorhen, a flock of 20+ Linnet in a variety of plumages, Starling, and whilst there I had my picnic lunch.  I then made my way to Dunlin Hide, hearing Cettis Warbler on the way, seeing Magpie, and coming across a Blackcap working a section of hedge.

From Dunlin Hide I could see several male Pintail which had virtually completed their moult.  As well as Black–headedGreat Black-backedHerring, there was also a Yellow Legged Gull and later I was to see a flying Lesser Black-backed.

Making my way to Sandpiper Hide, there was a Green Woodpecker on the grass below the lagoon but on the lagoon nothing new was seen .

I then headed back to the Visitors Centre hearing Long-tailed Tit on the way, and looking in on Lagoon 2 added Shoveller, Gawall, Mallard, Teal and Mute Swan.

Gadwall Anas strepera (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Looking in on the feeders by the Visitors Centre, not only was there Blue and Great Tit, but also a Marsh Tit that I was told was a regular there.

Then on to Snipe Hide from where I could see on Lagoon 1 the species I had seen there earlier and was able to recognise that a Marsh Harrier was a juvenile, but adding Grey-Lag and Canada Goose, and  seeing 18 Little Egret loosely together.  (I was of course checking for Cattle Egret).

Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Onto the hides overlooking Manton Bay, and South Arm 2 passing another Green Woodpecker and a couple of Egyptian Geese in the sheep field on the way, and also a Buzzard being harassed by a corvid.  Thousands of birds on the water including many Wigeon.  Then onto 360 Hide where there were half a dozen Curlew and viewed a Jay in the background, no doubt collecting acorns.

Curlew Numenius arquata (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
With well over 50 species on the day, including a semi rarity, no rain and, on checking, I didn’t miss anything, too, too, exciting at Flamborough!

Great report Chris which has whetted my appetite for a visit in about a fortnight's time.

Male Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Saturday 12 October 2019

Birding Seville & Huelva Province: Day Four

Day Four:  10 October - Donana Natioanl Park and Braza del Este

All parked and departed by 8.30 with Azure-winged Magpies sitting on the gate to bid us farewell and more, along with Blackbirds, House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings as we made our way towards the motorway.   A quick stop just before entering the road to check out the mud flats below us on the right produced Little Egret, Heron and a small number of Flamingo along with a single Black Stork.  Also present were Back-winged Stilts and a quartering Marsh harrier looking for its breakfast.  Next up a couple of flying Cormorant and a small number of Yellow-legged Gulls whilst nearer to the fence we had the first Stonechat of the day.

Over the old bridge at Huelva to take the coast road to Matalascanas with a stop at the end of the big lake taking the entrance track at KM13.  Greeted by dozens of Azure-winged Magpies and Common Waxbill we made our way to the brick hide and immediately found Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall and a couple of Teal.  A couple of Purple Swamphen on the far side of the water and behind us both Cetti's Warbler and a Robin.  Waders included both Green and Common sandpiper along with a couple of Snipe.  Then, as we left the sandy track to join the main track back to the road a Common Redstart on the fence in front of us; lovely sight.

Then it was on to Matalascanas picking up Common and many more Azure-winged Magpies on the way plus the first Buzzard of the day.  Upon arrival at El Rocio we were surprised and disappointed to find the lagoon absolutely bone dry, not even a damp patch nevermind a distant small puddle.  However, much searching did reveal a single Northern Wheatear and a distant Cattle Egret.  What a good job we had stopped at the above site.

Working our way to the Dehesa de Abajo we encountered more Stonechats, Goldfinch and a couple of Willow WarblersMoorhen and Coot were recorded and Barbara even caught the glimpse of the Jay that rushed into the trees.  A few Crested Larks were seen, a Zitting Cisticola and then a Raven took off from a pylon in front of us.

More bad news when we arrived on site to discover, like El Rocio, the lake had disappeared with nothing to be seen.  On the opposite fields the rice harvest was well under way with a mixture of ploughed, recently cropped and untouched fields.  Naturally, lots of White Storks to be seen along with Herons and both Cattle and Little Egrets.  The deeper pools held Spoonbill and a walk to the small fresh water lake a little further o produced both Sardinian Warbler and a trio of Night Heron and a couple of Jackdaw.

As we reached the end of the rice fields at Pueblo del Rio we noticed that the final field on the left was being ploughed and contained a large selection of feeding birds including many Glossy Ibis, Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus and many gulls
On into the town centre of Coria del Rio to take the car ferry across the River Guadalquivir and on to a final tour of the Braza del Este from a different direction noting the small number of Greylag Geese as we approached the far bank.  Once into the rice fields, and much less traffic on this occasion, we quickly found lots Lapwing and hundreds of Glossy Ibis.  A half-dozen Black Stork was a welcome sight along with the many White Storks.  Lots of Marsh Harriers as might be expected and also a number of Spanish Sparrows.

Marsh Harrier Aguilucho lagunero Circus aeruginosus

Continuing on along the tracks through the rice fields we also recorded Avocet and a dashing Sparrowhawk followed by a pair of Red Kite and more Kestrels.  Towards the end of the tracks we also found a most handsome male Yellow-crowned Bishop with a nearby female and then a single Yellow Wagtail (Flavissima).

Seventten Black Storks Ciguena negra Ciconia nigra in the Braza del Este
Now came the long drive back home via Alhaurin del Torre and approaching Campillos we stopped to let a tractor pass on the barrow road as another Sparrowhawk also took the same opportunity to cross the road immediately in front.  No sooner had we got over this shock than we had a close Black-shouldered Kite to our left followed by a few Corn Buntings.  having almost reached 60 species for the day we made a final stop at the vertical cliff at the Teba turn on the Malaga road to record both the many Crag Martins and a number of Griffon Vultures before being sighting the high Bonelli's Eagle.  Just to round off the day we also picked up a Greenfinch and Barbara heard a Linnet.

What a way to end four days of fabulous birding in great company and a final species total of about 114.  But, as can be seen, then comes the writing and next the sorting of photographs!

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture,Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purle Swamphen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop.

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