This spring I’ve done just one spring census in Llobregat Delta. This census is inside the Catalan Common Birds Monitoring that ICO (Institut Català d’Ornitologia) is coordinating for several years in the whole country. Catalan Common Birds is based in two census during winter and two spring census, following always the same itinerary in order to get information about the commoner bird species.
I’ve seen several changes between this census and 2010 records. First of all there have been few riverside breeding birds records in comparision with 2010 census:
COMMONER RIVERSIDE BREEDING BIRDS
Cetti’s Warbler Zitting Cisticola Moorhen
2010 30 23 20
2011 19 11 10
Cetti's Warbler is a common bird in riversides and reedbeds of Llobregat Delta (Photo: Carles Oliver)
There have been no migrant passerines recorded this year while 8 species were detected in 2010 (Redstart –Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Whitethroat –Sylvia communis, Subalpine Warbler –Sylvia cantillans, Grassopper Warbler –Locustella naevia, Bonelli’s Warbler –Phylloscopus bonelli and Woodchat –Lanius senator as more noticeable).
Different date in every census is not enough explanation for such a different records. 2010 census was performed on 7th May and 2011’s on 13th May.
The Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) is going North its breeding territory in Western Europe. The numbers of this swallow in Catalonia are also growing up. There are two main breeding populations, one is at North beside the French border but the biggest one is at South and inland in both Lleida and Tarragona provinces. Is in this bigger population where I’ve found this spring some couples breeding in new sites.
Typical Red-rumped Swallow nest inside a non-used building. Photo; Carles Oliver
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) is breeding in new places in a 50 kilometers North of Balaguer town, an area immediatly situated South of Pyrenees. I’ve found until tree nesting couples in different non-used farm houses near the village of Camarasa. The swallows are in an area with no breeding records for this species before.
Red-rumped Swallows use to nest inside small or medium size non-used human constructions as well as under bridges and other structures. It prefers to have near the nest some small river or other fresh water.
It seems clear that this species is gonna be commoner in Catalonia in next years and is even possible that is gonna arrive as a nesting bird to some Pyrenees valleys as a natural process due its strong expansion in Western Europe.
Cerdanya is the name of shire in Central Catalan Pyrenees. It is a tectonical valley crossed by River Segre (main afluent of Ebro River) and surrounded by several high mountains, including several peaks reaching 2500 metres or more.
The valley itself is mainly a cereal farm land with scattered poplar forests and some big river side forests along the Segre. The Northern slopes surrounding the valley host endless forests of Scotch and Mountain Pines (Pinus uncinata) with few Fears and present a huge contrast along with Southern slopes, mainly covered low juniper bush land.
While monitoring birds in Cerdanya Valley for the Catalan Common Bird Monitoring it was possible to verify the breeding of many interesting species in the corn fields of this valley.
It was mid-May and was possible to find many Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) along the way, one Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia) couple breeding in a Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) colony as well as the Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) couple that use to breed, year after year, in a forest edge near there.
Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) was also present with two males and one female and it was possible to see how Iberian Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) and Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) populations are still growing up in these lands. A new Western Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) was recorded in a decidous forest were the species had been not recorded never before (Bonelli’s is common warbler in all forests around) but this year I only had 3 singing Common Whitethroats (Sylvia communis) while 5 males were recorded in the same area in 2010.
The only Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) couple along the transect is still breeding at the same thicket than the past year. It was also interesting the first Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) record in the area as well as the surprising Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) (obviously a migratory bird) that was spending a while and enjoying insects. In this morning was again possible to see how this point is again a hunting area for many raptors, including three Eagles; Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
In May 15th was recorded one 1st-summer male Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) in Catalan Pyrenees, near the city of Puigcerdà. This spring has been recorded a strong migration pass of this species along the Catalan territory with many birds recorded in different areas of the country.
Red-footed Falcon in Cerdanya valley. Photo; Carles Oliver
This male was hunting insects in open fields near the small Sanavastre village. Along the morning it was a strong fighting between the young Red-footed Falcon and a Common Kestrel couple that is nesting in this area and is using the same cornfields to feed in. The Common Kestrel male was specially agressive and spend most of the morning trying to get the Red-footed Falcon off from the best hunting fields of the area.