Friday 28 October 2022

San Fernando, Cadiz

 Friday 28 October

Back in Spain, even if only for about three days including one at sea.  Our cruise ship docked in Cadiz before 7 on Friday morning enabling me to find some birding – somewhere!  As it happened, I missed the last train so took a local bus about 10km to the neighbouring town of San Fernando where I was able to spend an hour or so wandering the sea marsh at low tide in glorious sunny weather, albeit most of the time straight into my eyes!  A most strange setup with track seeming to lead nowhere until you discovered the main path that led out towards the sea but, having crossed the main stream no way back unless you returned to the same small bridge.  Made for an interesting experience and just a shame so few birds to observe in the windy conditions which seemed to play havoc when trying to use the small camera.

Having passed a small flock of Flamingo, on arriving at the entrance point via a large sandy car parking area which produced no end of Rock Doves. Most surprising and rewarding to actually see a late Barn Swallow flying low ahead of me.  No sooner seen that a lone Little Egret passed overhead and a Green Sandpiper took its departure from somewhere below me.


Moving on a couple of Redshank and then the sudden flight in front of me over the exposed mud revealed a lone Curlew.  Working my way back from a very muddy path a Ringed Plover on the mud below me and then the sighting of a Grey Plover.

Grey Plover

Meanwhile, after seeing first a Lesser Black-backed Gull I came across a few resting Yellow-legged Gulls accompanied by a handful of Cormorants on the bank of the main river.  Not only a change of gull but suddenly a few Black-headed Gulls to add to the variety of species seen on this short visit courtesy of the number 10 bus.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

A Crested Lark took off from the path in front of me and then even more Stonechats rewarding me with their presence.  Finally, at the end of the walk, a single Common Sandpiper near the town on the still almost empty riverbed whilst a few Spotless Starlings were enjoying the experience from the nearby wires.


Birds seen:

Cormorant, Little Egret, Flamingo. Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Stonechat, Spotless Starling.

Ringed Plover


Cormorant with Yellow-legged Gull in background


For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Thursday 20 October 2022

New Forest Triangle

Siskin Carduelis spinus

 Thursday 20 October

Forecast said yesterday would be the wettest day and today the driest; how wrong they were!  Yesterday was a glorious sunny day whereas today I set off in the rain to visit three favourite sites in the New Forest. But, fare enough, the rain stopped for the five minutes or so I was at Fishlake Meadows in Romsey to check out the main water from the view point alongside the main road.  Not a lot about and mainly Cormorant and Coots but also noted Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Pochard and Heron.  A Magpie was calling above me and no shortage of Wood Pigeons but a change of position revealed both a Great White Egret and very distant, resting Peregrine Falcon.

Blue Tit Parus caerulieus

Light rain as I drove on westwards towards Fritham and, eventually, the lovely pond at Eyeworth.  No Mandarin Ducks on view on this occasion but a score or more of Mallards.  Just one Moorhen but then came the small birds with lots of Blue and Great plus a few Marsh Tits.  It was interesting to note that one of the Marsh Tits had a very lengthy undershot lower mandible but still seemed OK foraging for food - but I still suspect this individual will not be with us come the New Year.

Marsh Tit Parus palustris with overgrowing lower mandible

Also in attendance regular visit from both Nuthatch and Robin plus the occasional Chaffinch, Dunnock and House Sparrow. Apart from a large flocks of Starling and Wood Pigeons and a single Magpie, the main attraction as I left the site was a Stonechat.

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Once at Blashford Lakes I started at the hide overlooking Ibsley Water.  The rain had stopped and although a few more light showers were to follow they all came during the times I was ensconced in one of the three hides visited.  The main water held numerous Cormorant and Coot but rather limited elsewise.  A few Mute Swans and Canada Geese plus a score of more Egyptian and a large flock of Greylag Geese.  Lots of Great Crested Grebe along with a few Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck and Wigeon.  A number of Heron were noted as was the dozen Lapwing on a distant island.

Coal Tit Parus ater

Virtually no gulls with just a single Lesser Black-backed, a couple of Black-headed and a trio of Herring Gulls.  Similarly, only the one Little Egret noted and a pair of Magpies were feeding on a table way off to my right.

Moving across the road, to the accompaniment of both a large flock of Jackdaw and a pair of Carrion Crows, to main reserve very little to add from the Ivy North Hide other than Gadwalls and, similarly, all was generally quiet from the Ivy South Hide, although it did produce more Wigeon and Cormorant plus a couple of Moorhen.

Male Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

But, as was to be expected, time in the Woodland Hide produced the small birds with numerous Blue, Great and Coal Tits.  Regular visits from both Siskin and Chaffinch along with the occasional Goldfinch and Greenfinch with Robins and Dunnocks picking up the spillage.  Then, as I made my way back to the car a Song Thrush flew across the path in front of me to become the 45th species of the morning.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shovler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Can you name these fungi?

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

The newly-arrived Siskins Carduelis spinus

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Titchfield Meon Shore

Mute Swan Cygnus olor

 Tuesday 18 October

Beautiful sunny morning with no wind and little cloud, albeit only 8C as I approached the roadside car park alongside Southampton Water near the mouth of the Meon at Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve.  Immediately obvious that there were birds on the lagoon on the opposite side of the road and with the tide on the way out I could also see a mass of white at the end of a stone spit off the beach. having already seen both Magpie and a pair of Moorhen as I drove alongside the reserve it was time to cheche beach first.

Island resting in the main lagoon

A Cormorant flew overhead and out to the main water as I checked the shingle spit to find a lone Heron and Oystercatcher along with a few Black-headed and a couple of Herring Gulls.  (Later in the visit as I was departing a large flock of the former had gathered to roost.)  Also present at the far end a score of resting Sanderling.  Looking the lagoon on the inland side of the road at the mouth of the Meon, a good number of both Shoveler and Gadwall with many more Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls.  A juvenile Mute Swan swam down river looking for its family and on the island a couple of Mallard plus a number of Lapwing and a handful of Coots. Behind the island a Little Grebe was diving.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Grey Heron with Lapwings Vanellus vanellus

Moving down to the viewing area for a better look at the island, I had a trio of Carrion Crows pass overhead and upstream a quartering Marsh Harrier.  Many more Lapwing and Wood Pigeons could now be seen, especially within the reserve itself.  And a little further ustream a group of four Pintail were feeding alongside the reeds.

The distant quartering Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosis

As I moved to the Visitors Centre I stopped to admire the Robin singing away atop a bush on the opposite side of the road and noticed the resting Teal as I crossed the bridge and once stationed just inside the entry gate to the (closed) Visitor Centre I spent some time studying the large pine tree in front of me and the neighbouring vegetation.  Ere long a few House Sparrows and then the first of the Blue Tits followed by a Great Tit but, even better, a single Chiffchaff busy foraging amongst the pines.  On the ground I picked up the Wren and then moved round to the open little hide at the back to find more House Sparrows on the feeders and a Dunnock below.

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Next, crossing the road, the gathering of about fifty Mallard plus the adult Mute Swans with their now well-grown and turning white cygnets before a little walk to just beyond the boat yard to check the far beach where I recorded the only Little Egret of the morning and nearer to me a small group of waders including Ringed Plover, Redshank and Turnstone. Having already counted to large flocks of Turnstone, these additional sightings took the morning's total to well over 70 individuals.

Our friendly Mute Swans Cygnus olor with cygnets
Turnstone Arenaria interpres 

Time to make my way back and a short top at the viewing area coincided with me being able to see a Willow Warbler alight on the reed top and remain long enough for the conforming identification. And then, as I rounded the car to the back to pack away the scope, a Pied Wagtail walking the road behind giving me a total of 35 species - until I met the resident Jackdaws as I passed through Posbrook on the way home.

Me and my kids; how they've grown!

Birds seen:

Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallad, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Litte Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus with Gadwall Anas strepera
Gadwall Anas strepera

Common Pochard Aythya ferina

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Time to get the sun on your back for these Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Monday 17 October 2022

Warsash Shore and Southampton Water

 Sunday 16 October 

The inlet behind the Spit approaching Southampton Water with mainly Teal Anas crecca on show

The wind from yesterday has gone; it's dry with a little cloud and the sun starting to peep through as I make an 8.30 start to walk along the Warsash village shore and on down past the spit onto Southampton Water, then continue past the "Scrape" to the "Meandering Pool" which lies beyond the beach within the Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve.  With family members coming mid-morning for the day best to get a move on and see what might be about.  Reaching the shore at very low tide all seemed to be quiet with just a single Black-headed Gull and a lone Curlew as I headed south towards the School of Navigation.  Then came the major problem.  Low tide resulting in very distant small waders, no scope and the low sun now shining straight into my eyes. However, I was able to pick out a few Herring and a few more Black-headed Gulls plus the occasional Carrion Crow.

Redshank Tringa totanus

Moving on towards the spit I added the overflying Wood Pigeons, a couple of Little Egret, a single Heron and a handful of Oystercatchers.  A Cormorant flew inland and a number of Redshank started to appear.  It was once at the spit and the nearer birds that I noted the relatively new arrivals of Wigeon plus a few Teal along with a number of Black-tailed Godwits.  More Black-headed and Herring Gulls were also resting on this sheltered water.

Wigeon Anas penelope with a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

So on along Southampton Waer towards the crape with a score of Brent Geese heading up water and to my left a couple of Reed Buntings on the bushes. Once at the pool very many Black-tailed Godwits along with Teal, a few Wigeon and a single Little Grebe.  In addition, I found a quartet of Gadwall and a half-dozen Shoveler as well as a quartet of Little Egret and a second Heron for the morning.  Four Canada Geese were also resting on the water near the island.  Perhaps strange to find a lone Magpie on the small island and as I checked the water as a whole, a Kingfisher dashed down the stream below me, also revealing the perching Robin.

Two of the Canada Geese Branta canadensis with lack-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Walking the edge of the beach and then the path alongside the reserve I could but not notice the huge flocks of Greenfinch which totalled in excess of 150 individuals.  In addition, a Pied Wagtail and a quartet of Stonechat before the score of Starling took off from in front of me.  Overhead fifteen Jackdaw were heading out over the main water to who knows where, as more Brent Geese moved upstream.

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Nothing new to add at the Meandering Pool and as I started the homeward walk at least I now had the sun behind me. Many Meadow Pipits were noted along with a few Linnet and a small part y of foraging Long-tailed Tits.

Record shot of departing Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus

Back at the Scrape I picked up a couple of Pintail at the very back of the water and as I watched a Wren make a hasty retreat from the bush in front of me the Cetti's Warbler started to let go with its loud song and even put in a brief appearance.  Finally, as I left the area not only more Greenfinch sightings but a charm of 40 Goldfinch plus a few Linnets. What also should be recorded is the sighting of at least seven Row Deer in the area and offering, usually, good photographic opportunities.

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti

Then it was back to the spit where I came across a small flock of House Sparrows and once reaching the mud flats, with the tide now pushing the waders closer to me and the sun behind, I could pick out not only the many Oystercatchers and Curlews but the sores of Redshank. Now lots of Black-headed Gulls to be seen along with more Carrion Crows but also a dozen or so Turnstone and a few Dunlin and Ringed Plovers.  Just over a couple of hours and a total of 38 species.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

I did think that was birding done for the day but, following lunch, we decided to take a very short walk up the Hamble River so that the three-year old great granddaughter could see the water and boats and were rewarded by a quartet of Little Egrets, Wigeon and Teal, a single Redshank and both Herring and Black-headed Gull.  However, the icing on the cake was the newly-arrive Rock Pipit that posed on the fence above one of the sluice gates, the first of the autumn.  Most enjoyable.

Curlew Numenius arquata (top) with Oystercatcher Haemantopus ostralegus and Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris and more below

Distant Pintail Anas acuta

Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.