Thursday 29 December 2022

Warsash and Solent Shore

Thursday 29 December

Sitting quietly in the study typing up my New Forest report I realised that not only had the forecasted rain not arrived but that the sun was shining - well, trying to shine.  Seemed a pity to be in the house so changed and set off for a walk along the Warsash shore down to the Spit and then on along the Solent shore past the Scrape as far as the Meandering Pool.  It may have been dry and the sun tying to put on a brave face but it was very cold and a strong wind blowing into my face. The tide had turned and was slowly making its way in as first I recorded a trio of Brent Geese and a single Oystercatcher.  Always a Black-headed Gull or two about and ere long I had also recorded my first Redshank.

A few of the Dunlin Calidris alpina

Nearing the School of Navigation many more Brent Geese noted along with both Redshank and Dunlin plus a couple of Curlew.  In addition to the local Black-headed I also noted a dozen Herring Gulls. Inside the ground of the above a single Pied Wagtail.  On the mud a party of six Rock Doves were busy foraging for food and behind me a couple of calling Woodpigeons in the trees.  Looking out towards the outflow from behind the Spit I could see more gulls on the water along with a couple of Shelduck.  Of course there were many Brent Geese and they continued to be present along the whole inland coast.  The Spit inlet itself held a good number of resting Wigeon and all the time a constant movement of Carrion Crows.

Gadwall Anas strepera

Making my way towards the Scrape a single Blackbird and then the almost thirty Canada Geese at the back of the water.  Nearer to me vey many Teal along with a quartet of Gadwall and a couple of Mallard.  A Magpie was moving around at the rear of the water which soon drew my attention to the handful of Pintail resting near the bank at the back.  Soon time to move on down to the Meandering Pool where the only bird present was a Little Egret.  Returning to the Scrape I noted that a Mute Swan and flock of about twenty Pintail had recently arrived.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor

So on back towards the home straight and the Dunlins near the School of Navigation had now been joined by 16 resting Grey Plover.  Two Cormorant flew past me and almost back into Warsash itslef when I found a trio of Turnstone.  A final tally of 25 species and it was still bitterly cold even though much brighter and an almost clear blue sky.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola with Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Cormorant, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow.

Pintail Anas acuta

Redshank Tringa totanus

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Pennington Marshes and Blashford Lakes

Pintail Anas acuta

 Tuesday 27 December

Decent weather for my morning in the New Forest starting at its southern edge with a visit to Pennington Marshes.  Arriving by 9 I was able to go straight to the large pool off the old road before undertaking an anti-clockwise circuit of the area to take in both the Solent shore and its accompanying inland pools before heading back from Keyhaven along along the "Old Ancient Highway," originally an extension of Lower Pennington Lane.  Further than I had anticipated as in reaching my normal turn inland and back to the parked car I discovered the path was not only under water but surplus water was flowing rapidly out of the main lake across the path at a good rate of knots!

Once at the "inland" water just beyond the car park on the right-hand side of the Old Ancient Highway, no sign of the recent American Wigeon nor any other Wigeon.  Indeed, other than a pair of Mute Swans on the far bank and a couple of Coot the water was devoid of birdlife.  A large flock of Canada Geese were grazing about an hundred yards beyond the far bank and just over the fence from where I was viewing the water a large flock of Coot were doing likewise.  Making my back to the car park so that I could take the  track to the Solent shore I stopped to check out the large flooded and water-logged meadow to see what else might be visible along with the many Canada Geese.  Immediately very many Lapwing and an occasional Magpie and Carrion Crow.  A Buzzard was moving away on the far side of the meadow and a Cormorant flew south towards the sea. The larger pols on the far (eastern) side held a number of both Wigeon and Shoveler along with a few mallard.  Three Brent Geese were also recorded.  Then the first major find, a flock of over 300 Golden Plover with a Curlew  and few Redshank nearby.  Checking even further back I even found eight Greylag Geese.

Mainly Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus along with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus and Brent Geese Branta bernicla

Continuing on down the sea wall the next pool held, in addition to more Canada Geese, a handful of Gadwall and a similar number of Teal.  Easy does it, as approaching the end of the path I noticed that the recent rains had lifted the water levels on the pool to my right which had now flooded the path so a question of good balance and walk along the grassy slope, so disturbing a Blackbird.  But eventually at the sea wall, having passed the Pied Wagtail foraging on the muddy path, and with the low sun coming directly towards me from over the Isle of Wight almost impossible to see any anything on the Solent.  Deciding to walk a short walk eastwards before continuing on my anti-clockwise circular trail, first a Heron in the stream and stopping at a sider part of the inland stream I picked up another Curlew, many Wigeon, a Little Egret and a couple of Oystercatchers.  A pair of Woodpigeons were resting in a tree at the back of the area.

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Making my way back to complete the sea wall walk as far as Keyhaven there were relatively few ducks about, especially on the last reedbed pool before the wall turned inland.  Tufted Duck an a few Knot were added and then on the grassy sea edges the marsh held plenty of Dunlin along with more Brent Geese, Oystercatchers and a few Curlew. A Herring Gull was noted and then when admiring a few closer Dunlin and Redshank along with a lone Grey Plover I spotted a pair of larger ducks at the edge of the distant bank.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Good job I had carried the scope with me as I was able to record a pair of Red-breasted Merganser. Also, perhaps, fortunate that my original path was flooded so necessitating my longer detour back to the car otherwise this little ensemble would have been missed.

Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator

The pool opposite held most of the birds with the islands in the middle holding many Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls, Pintail and Brent geese.  In addition I also recorded Lapwing, Mallard and Teal. Finally reaching the end of the sea wall a pair of Mute Swans before taking the original Lower Pennington Lane track towards the car and as I reached the back of the previous pools enjoyed watching the distant Red Kite moving away and showing a perfect silhouette.

Mainly Pintail but also Shoveler Anas

With a list of 34 species I headed north to make a stop at Blashford Lakes on the way home and as I passed through the New Forest cam a cross a flock of feeding Rooks by the side of the road. On this occasion I started within the reserve proper and walking to the Ivy North Hide noted both Robin and Blue Tit in the neighbouring trees followed by a handful of Chaffinches.  Once inside the hide I quickly noted the Teal plus a few Wigeon, Gadwall, single Mute Swan and Cormorant on the water along with a few Black-headed Gulls.  Below me in the reedbed a flock of 10 Long-tailed Tits were bust feeding on the bull rush seed heads.

All quiet walking through the trees to the Woodland Hide save for a quartet of Goldfinch and once inside just a case of many Blue and Great Tits along with a lonely female Blackbird, Robin, handful of Chaffinch and couple of Dunnock.  All most disappointing as I had been hoping for both Serin and Brambling. The Ivy South Hide provided many more Wigeon, a few Teal, many Coot and a Mallard along with just the one Black-headed Gull.

Blackbird Turdus merula

So it was back to the car and drive across the road to the Ibsley Water Hide where, again, there seemed to be far fewer birds in total but certainly plenty of both Coot and Tufted Duck.  The near end to my left held a male Pochard and a couple of Mallard and then the use of the scope to check the birds at the far side of of the water including the small flat islands.  No shortage of either Canada or Egyptian Geese along with many Black-headed and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Apart from many Wigeon I also recoded many Pintail and Lapwing plus a female Goldeneye and four Goosander. The last bird picked out on the far bank was a Magpie.

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch

Oystercatchers and Brent Geese Branta

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Monday 26 December 2022

Hamble River

Monday 26 December

Beautiful sunny morning with no breeze and temperature, at about 7C, quite acceptable. Time for  amid-morning walk up the Hamble River to the conservation area and back and given that it's Boxing day, no shortage of people and dogs!  However, no problem for checking the birds both on the water's edge and the damp meadow behind me awaiting the incoming tide. Both Robin and Carrion Crow as I approached the river but then very little to be seen, just the odd Redshank and a Black-headed Gull.

A few of the feeding Dunlin Calidris alpina

Making my way upriver and at he first bay I found a good number of feeding Dunlin along with the first two dozen Wigeon and a handful of Teal.  Only a dozen Brent Geese, and not many more further upstream, but both a Greenshank and the first of four Curlew seen during the walk.

Curlew Numenius arquata

However, checking beyond the island to the river itself I found a sleeping flock of about 100 Knot.  An immature Herring Gull along with a few of its Black-headed cousins on the beach followed by the first of two Oystercatchers.

Part of the 100+ flock of sleeping Knot Calidris canutus

More and more individual Redshank and then a most unexpected surprise as I found a feeding Whimbrel on the damp meadow that proceeded to wander away to the grassy area. A Heron flew downstream and a second was seen near to the conservation area.

Surprise sighting of a Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

On the next, larger, bat a couple of Brent Geese swimming close to a pair of feeding Little Grebe and I was to find another couple when I reached the conservation area. Whilst at the latter I found the rest of the Wigeon flock plus a dozen Teal and the same number of Black-headed Gulls.  But, on a far tussock at the back, a single Spotted Redshank which proceeded to make a hasty retreat towards the main river. making my way back to the starting point many of the birds now closer with the rising tide and only a couple of Wood Pigeon added to make a final total of 19 species; a question of more quality rather then quantity.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla with a Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Little Grebe, Heron, Oystercatcher, Knot, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Carrion Crow.

More Dunlin with a Teal Anas crecca

Immature Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Redshank Tringa totanus

Male Teal Anas crecca

Male Wigeon Anas penelope

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Sunday 25 December 2022

Titchfield Canal

 Sunday 25 December

A merry Christmas and happy New Year to all reading this blog.  Christmas morning in the UK; dull and overcast with very poor light for my early morning visit to Titchfield canal. Rain forecast for 10 but came 15 minutes early, but I was already back in the car completing my eBird observations! Lots on the water including very many Pintail, Gadwall, Wigeon and Teal along with Coots and Canada Geese. A Buzzard was feeding on the grass next to the water, presumably looking for worms, and remained in the area during the whole of my stay.

Distant record shot of the feeding Buzzard Buteo buteo

Meanwhile, I was also early enough to catch a distant and somewhat obscured view of the local Barn Owl at its nest/roost site, just about visible before turning in for the night (or day in its case!).

Distant Barn Owl Tyto alba just about visible at its roost site

Having already noted many Jackdaws along with both Magpie and Carrion Crow I continued on down to the path towards the wooded area. Lots of Woodpigeons about but a long time before finding any small birds. First a couple of Blackbirds then both Blue and Great Tits. Making my way back to exit the wooded path, a Great Spotted Woodpecker came to make a very brief feeding stop before flying off.

Back at the car and the scope safely stored in the boot I decided to tale the short walk around the spinney at the back of the car park. And very worthwhile it was too! First a posing Robin atop a small tree in front of me and then, looking through the hedge to the paddock on the other side of the wide stream, a trio of Glossy Ibis. No doubt the missing member of the quartet was concealed behind the neighbouring ditch. Then, noting the activity above me in the bare bushes, a good-sized flock of Long-tailed Tits and a single wintering Chiffchaff. As if not content with the morning's sightings, as I returned to the car park a Nuthatch descended on to the tree in front of me and the canal on the other side of the road held a single Mallard as I made my exit. And still dry; what timing!

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Cormorant, Buzzard, Coot, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Gull, herring Gull,  Woodpigeon, Barn Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow.

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Saturday 24 December 2022

Solent shore at Titchfield Haven

Saturday 24 December

It's getting to be a bit like Christmas - dry, but dull and cloudy with only a hint that the sun might eventually put on its hat! So, up and away and down to the Solent shore at Titchfield Haven by 8.15, passing the resident Jackdaws as I drove through Posbrook, in time to find a flock of 26 Eiders just off shore in the gloom along with a Great Crested Grebe,  But then, to their left, a pair of Common Scoters.  As might be expected plenty of Black-headed Gulls about so time to check both the shore line and Meon lagoon just inside the Haven.

Male Eider Ducks Somateria molissima

Lots of Woodpigeons and a regular supply of Carrion Crow but my first visit to the viewpoint overlooking the lagoon produced an island full of Lapwing along with a couple of Oystercatchers and a singe male Gadwall.  A couple of Shoveler off to the left and behind the island the first of three Little Grebe.  Two Cormorant made their departure and scoping the far reed bed I found the hiding Grey Heron.  Using the scope to check further into the reserve and the South Scrape produced more Lapwing along with a good number of both Teal and Canada Geese.

Lapwings Vanellus vanellus with an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus and Gadwall Anas strepera

Reaching the road bridge I was surprised, but delighted, to find a Kingfisher resting in the same tree below as seen last Saturday. Then over the road to note the many Mallard and Turnstone plus a single Redshank and a quartet of Coot.  The solitary Little Egret exited the harbour and was next seen feeding in the main water.   Meanwhile, overhead, at least an hundred Starlings moving above the trees which, in turn, revealed the House Sparrows, Blue and Great Tits near the feeder at the Titchfield Haven Visitors Centre. From inside the reserve I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming away looking for its morning sustenance.

Resting Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Making my way back along the shore towards the chalets, first a handful of feeding Sanderling and more Turnstones plus another Great Crested Grebe on the open water.  Taking the meadow foot path for the last hundred yards I also recorded a Blackbird and a Moorhen. Other than the large flock of Feral Pigeons nothing to be seen in the chalet area so back the same way and picking up both Magpie and a Dunnock.

Sanderling Calidris alba

However, once back at the car and the tide just about full in, I noticed the large roosting flock of waders on the far shore and managed to count 35 Sanderling along with 16 Ringed Plovers.  What should have been a great observation for the day but as I completed my field records I heard a familiar "honking" and opened the car's window to count over eighty Brent Geese coming into the reserve from off-shore for their high tide roost.

Roosting Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and Sanderling Calidris alba

Birds seen: 

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Eider Duck, Common Scoter, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow.

Robin Erithacus

Turnstones Arenaria interpres

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Woodpigeon Columba palumbus

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Thursday 22 December 2022

New Forest Birding

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

 Wednesday 21 December

Dry but very dull and gloomy as I set off for the New Forest, driving through Exbury (no winter thrushes to be seen) to the Solent shore at Lepe with the Isle of Wight looking very close across the water.  The former had already produced both Jackdaw and Carrion Crow along with Wood Pigeons, Robin and Blackbirds but the "special" was the Meadow Pipit that landed on the grass at the left of the road.  Once at the sea the tide was full in but there was a pair of Mute Swans and a Black-headed Gull on the pool to my left.  Moving further along I added a pair of cock Pheasants and then, at my final stop before turning inland and back towards Exbury, a rapidly departing Redshank and a resting Kestrel atop a telephone pole immediately in front of me.

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Next came the thirty minute drive north to Fritham to make a thirty minute stop at Eyeworth Pond where, to my delight, the cloud was breaking and the sun starting to make an appearance.  Over two dozen Mallard on the water along with a single Moorhen and close to my parked car the visiting passerines expecting me to be the bearer of edible delights!  Just the one Nuthatch but at least six Dunnocks and a couple of Robin plus Blackbird and a very small flock of Chaffinches.  One Marsh Tit but a score of Blue and half that number of Great Tits.

Coal Tit Parus ater

By 11.10 I was in the hide overlooking Ibsley Water at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve.  The sun was shining, the wind had disappeared and I spent a wonderful hour enjoying the bird life, even if most of the ducks and geese were at the far end and a scope was most definitely needed.  First on the scene and near at hand were a good number of both Coots and Tufted Ducks along with a pair of Mallard immediately in front of the hide.  However, it was once the scope was in position and I could take a look at the far back of the  water that I found the birds, and many there were. Not just more Coots and Tufted Ducks but also many Wigeon, Shoveler and Pintail plus a few Gadwall.   Most were either on or behind one of the small islands at the back so some searching to find a small number of Common Pochard to the left and a pair of Red-crested Pochard behind the central island.  In front of the latter I also one first a female then the male Goldeneye.  The Goosander was far more elusive and remained well hidden at the back of the left-hand island until I was about to leave.

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

But not just ducks as there a score or more Canada Geese and almost two score of Egyptian Geese.  But, perhaps, best of all, a couple of sleeping Barnacle Geese alongside the Canadas.  Also present but required detailed searching a single Black-necked Grebe; thank goodness there were four scopes concentrating on the specific area at the back.  Such searching also produced a single Heron and a resting Goshawk, almost no more than a "blob" in a tree about a metre or so above the water line.  No chance for me to get to look through my neighbour's scope s the raptor decided there were better places to rest between hunting.

Record shot of distant sleeping Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis

In addition to the above there were a dozen Cormorant and a small number of Lapwing resting on the islands whilst a large gull flock rested nearby.  Lots of Herring along with many Lesser Black-backed and even a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls.  Half a dozen Mute Swans and in the top of the large trees above the Goshawk the local Starlings.  Time to move over the Visitors Centre and check out the other side of the reserve finding a Little Grebe as I departed.

Very little to see from the Ivy North Hide other than more Gadwall and Wigeon and the walk through the trees was even more disappointing with just a singe Chaffinch and couple of Blue Tits.  I had hoped for a good selection of small birds once ensconced in the Woodland Hide but, sadly again, very disappointing.  Here there is just the one opening window and the seat with a view already occupied.  the other non-opening windows were all steamed up on the outside so no chance really of seeing anything.  I did note the many Dunnock and no shortage of Blue and Great Tits along with a Blackbird and a couple of Chaffinches with the lone Greenfinch the pick of the passerines. The outside feeder had been more productive n producing both Coal Tit and Nuthatch but, on this occasion, neither Siskin nor Redpoll and certainly no sign of any Brambling as yet.

Find the Gadwall Anas strepera, Wigeon Anas penelope, Coot Fulica atra and Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

The walk down to the Ivy South Hide was generally quiet but once in the hide in time to see the Kingfisher resting in the reeds away to my left and plenty of Wigeon and Gadwall about along with a few Black-headed Gulls and more Cormorants.  Working my way ack to the car I added both Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon and the return drive to the main road via Ibsley itself produced both a large flock of Black-headed Gulls in the hamlet and the resident Jackdaws.  And no rain - which was more than can be said for those back in Warsash!

Pair of Wigeon Anas penelope

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, Goshawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot,  Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch.

Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Great Tit Parus major

Robin Erithacus rubecula along with the holly

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Wednesday 21 December 2022

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

 Wednesday 21 December

I see that Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group were at the Cabo de Gata in Almeria, one of my favourite and most beautiful birding sites in Spain.  Looking at the birds seen I see a few that will be sadly missed in the coming months and years unless back in Spain.  What's not to like with recording White-headed Duck, Trumpeter Finch, Sardinian Warbler and Iberian Grey Shrike.  Takes great pleasure to wish Dave and all his Arboleas Birding Group a peaceful Christmas and a most happy and healthy New Year.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:  Wednesday 21st December

For our last official trip of the year I was persuaded to give the Rambla de Morales a try as previously Alan and Peter had seen 32 species there.  I picked Peter up from the Overa hotel and we headed south on the A5/E17.  About 20km to go we encountered a bank of fog, but luckily by the time we reached junction 762 it had been cleared by the shining sun.

As we headed towards Retamar Sur we saw a flight of half a dozen Cattle Egret.  In the town we added Collared Dove and Northern Starling.  As we passed one of the plastic greenhouses a female Black Redstart flew across our path.  As we were a tad early we stopped at the Cabo de Gata bird reserves first hide.  We were pleasantly surprised to see, in the distance, that in front of the second hide there was water and there were Yellow-legged Gulls standing in it.  For those not in the know, the water from the reserve had been lost due to a disruption to the water supply from the sea supplying both the reserve and the salt works.  As far as I know the powers that be agree that supply should be reinstated as soon as possible but who was to pay for it was a stumbling block.

A watery view from the Second Hide

Before we departed Peter spotted a Stonechat perched on a distant shrub.

We met Trevor for a coffee in the " roundabout" cafe.  Instead of just going to the Rambla Morales we decided to drive up to the public hide to check the scrubland for Dotterel and then pay a visit to the second hide.  Sadly no Dotterel were seen but we did add Greenfinch and Thekla Lark.  We did a U-turn at the public hide and stopped at the approach to the second hide.  We crossed the road to scan the sea, hoping for the reported Razorbills.  Alas no but I did spot a Shearwater.  Checking my old Collins which I keep in the car, I decided it was a Mediterranean Shearwater, but I knew there had been a split. When I got home I checked my newer edition of Collins and the "Pelagic Birds of the North Atlantic" by Andy Paterson (ISBN 978-1-78009-228-7) and I came to the conclusion it was a Yelkouan Shearwater.  Trevor spotted an immature Gannet shearing over the waves.  As we walked towards the hide a couple of Stone Curlews took to the air.  We only saw the Yellow-legged Gulls, a 3rd year winter with the black spot on the bill confused me for a bit.  A male Sardinian Warbler made an appearance. There was more water in the adjacent salinas but no birds.

Hoping for better things, we made our way along the beachside track towards the Rambla Morales.  We saw a small group of Thekla Larks together with an unidentified pipit.  We were gutted when we got to the parking area to find that there were five dogs loitering around, three with their owners by the birdless estuary end.  We walked along the track towards the hump.  From there we saw some Mallard, a flotilla of White-headed Ducks and a Coot.  A Black-necked Grebe was next to be spotted followed by a Goldfinch on a reed on the opposite bank.  We walked a bit further along to the bend, but only saw more Mallard and White-headed Ducks.  Somewhat dejected, we walked back towards the vehicles. Trevor found an Iberian Grey Shrike on a distant bush. 

Male White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephalus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We said our goodbyes and headed back along the track.  Nearing the end we saw a small flock of finch sized birds flitting to our right.  Some landed on a wooden rail.  Success!  Trumpeter Finches!  Much happier, we made our way back towards the motorway adding House Sparrow, Hoopoe, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon and Magpie.

Trumpeter Finches Bucanetes githagineus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

It was an up and down day, but I really enjoyed the company and some very good birds! 24 species seen.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Regards, Dave & Gilly

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