Arxiu de la categoria: bird migration

Spain Tour 2019

Tour Participants: 5

Dates: From April 15th to April 26th, 2019

Number of species of birds seen: 227

 

Summary

During the tour the temperature ranged from 02ºC to 29ºC. We recorded 7 mammal species, over 227 species of birds and 3 species of reptiles. The species mentioned in the daily summaries are only some of those seen.

Day 1: Monday 15 April: Madrid to La Mancha Humeda and onto Extremadura.

Our trip begun with us meeting for a breakfast at our Hotel in Madrid. After meeting our local Guide and driver Carles we negotiated the Madrid traffic and made our way for the Navaesca lagoon and wetlands. As we left the city and headed into the Winelands and agricultural fields on route we enjoyed sightings of: Common Magpie, Black Kite, Common Wood Pigeon and Crested Lark.

Our first stop after a well deserved coffee break was Navaesca Lagoon south west of Madrid and here we enjoyed some amazing birding with highlights being: 50+ White-headed Duck, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Shelduck, Black-headed Gull, Ruff, Common Greenshank, European Penduline Tit, Bearded Reedling, Greylag Goose, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Red-crested Pochard, Little-ringed Plover and European Goldfinch to name a few. Luck was on our side this morning as we had really top cracking views of these species, we managed brief views of a Moustached Warbler but this unfortunately avoided us despite numerous attempts to relocate. We enjoyed our lunch watching the Whiskered Terns and had a good fly by sighting of a Mediterranean Gull.

White-headed Ducks (Oxyura leucocephala) are a scarce resident duck in Central Spain and along the Mediterranean coast. Image by tour leader Carles Oliver

After lunch the wind picked up and bird activity died down so we made our way to the Extremadura region.  On our way to the Extremadura region we enjoyed road side sightings of: Booted Eagle, European Griffon Vulture, European Black Vulture, White Storks nesting, European Stonechat, Hawfinch, Western Marsh Harrier and Corn Bunting. At our accommodation in Extremaduta we enjoyed amazing next door birding including sightings of European Blue Tit, Black Kite, Red-rumped Swallow, Iberian Magpie, Common Cuckoo, Black-winged Kite, European Bee-eater, Mistle Thrush, Common Chaffinch, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, White Wagtail, and Booted Eagle.

We got daily great views on Black-winged Kites (Elanus caeruleus) during our stay in Extremadura. The fact that one pair nested in our accommodation grounds helped a bit 🙂 Image by Carles Oliver

What a great start to our tour as we enjoyed sunset over the snow capped Monfrague Mountains. Our dinner was enjoyed over a glass of red wine as we chatted about the excellent first day we have enjoyed. Also hearing common cuckoo call its characteristic cuckoo clock call again is always an enjoyable experience. We all slept well after a great day of birding.

 

Day 2: Tuesday 16 April.                             Monfragüe National Park.         

Our morning begun nice and early with breakfast at our lodge as we could hear the birds waking up. We could hear Common Cuckoo calling from the breakfast table, which is not to shabby. We made our way towards the open fields know to be a good spot for both Little and Great Bustards. Lady luck was on our side and one of the first birds we saw in the area was a stunning male Little Bustard which offered us excellent views and and a flight display- wow this was enjoyed by all as these birds are now critically endangered so getting good views of this male was enjoyed by all. Just as we thought what more could we ask for, we had an incredible sighting of a Great Bustard displaying, what a pleasure. After some scanning we found a lek of about 5 males displaying for one females attention, it’s was most comical and most enjoyable to watch this behavior. Other highlights included: female Montagu’s Harrier, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Skylark, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Whinchat, European Stonechat and Red-legged Partridge.

A quick coffee stop was enjoyed overlooking the Gredos mountain range, here we enjoyed a spectacular sighting of both Spainish Imperial Eagle and Cinereous Vulture flying right over us and giving us amazing views. On route to Monfragüe National Park we enjoyed sightings of: European Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Great Tit, Eurasian Wren, Eurasian Blackcap, Woodlark, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser spotted Woodpecker and we hade a brilliant sighting of Western Orphean Warbler- sometimes a difficult bird to see!. As we enjoyed our lunch in the Oak fields we were treated to stunning views of a pair of Short-toed Treecreepers– it was most enjoyable to watch their behavior and antics. As we made our way into Monfragüe we enjoyed a cracking sighting of a Short-toed Snake Eagle with a snake in its mouth as it flew by and over us.

Little Bustard (Tetrix tetrix) showing really well in our tour. Image by Carles Oliver

 

The Monfragüe National Park is a special protected area for Birdlife in Spain and we enjoyed some wonderful sightings of the Griffon Vultures flying over us and in-front of us. Other top sightings included: Cinereous Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart, Subalpine Warbler, Crag Marting, Peregrine Falcon and Black Stork. It was truly an amazing day birding in Extremadura and we all had a wonderful and busy day. As we made our way back to our accommodation we all chatted about the various sightings we enjoyed and also got chatting about the various conservation efforts been made in Europe to protect birds.

 

Day 3: Wednesday 17 April.                            The Caceres Plains and Arrocampo wetlands.                                                                                                               

Our day started nice and early with breakfast and coffee as we got ready for another exciting day of birding in Spain. We made our way to Campo Lugar to improve our views of Great Bustard. On route in the town of Campo Lugar we had great views of Pallid Swift. In the grasslands we were rewarded with excellent views of Great Bustard which was enjoyed by all. Other highlights included: Gull-billed Tern, Northern Raven and Calandra Lark.

In the town we enjoyed a lovely coffee in a small Spanish coffee shop and were treated to exceptional views of Lesser Kestrel colony on a tower, we also had a good view of our first Iberian Grey Shrike of the trip. After our coffee stop we made our way to check the nest boxes put up for the European Rollers and we had good views of the birds nesting and even mating- these are incredible birds that make an extraordinary migration from Southern Europe to Southern Africa and its amazing to see the birds in Spain that we see in Southern Africa. We also enjoyed sightings of Eurasian Hoopoe and Iberian Grey Shrike.

One of the many Great Bustards (Otis tarda) that we enjoyed in Extremadura. Image by Carles Oliver

We made our way to Alcollarin Dam to see which migrant water birds would be around and enjoy our lunch. Our day just got better and better from this point and we enjoyed some incredible birding at the dam and we had sightings of: Collared Practincole, Northern Lapwing, Common Ringed Plover, Common Kingfisher, Temminck’s Stint, Kentish Plover, Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Spoonbill and Black Tern– this is some incredible birding for Southern Europe and everyone enjoyed the avian gems on show. Just as we thought things could not get better we had a lovely sighting of two European Otters swimming in water in front of this- truly amazing and a mammal lifer for all on the trip. As we travelled we chatted about our great day and I enjoyed learning from Larry A about North America and the great birding he enjoys in the State of California. It was also intresting to hear from Larry how the Black Tern in the States is a different tern to the one we have just seen in Spain. Larry also enjoyed the sighting of the Temminck’s Stint as it was a bird he wanted to see.

Spanish Magpie (Cyanopica coocki), a must-seen endemic to get when birding in Southern Spain and Portugal. Image by Carles Oliver

The views of about 30 Collared Practincoles impressed Pam as they flew over head. We enjoyed some down time at the accommodation before dinner and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and some good Spanish wine as we chatted about our wonderful day, birding stories and finished off our listing.

Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) in the grasslands near Campo Lugar. Image by Carles Oliver

Day 4: Thursady. 18 April.           Extremadura to the the Ebro Valley.

Our day begun a little earlier than normal as we decided we would check out the Arrocampo wetlands before moving onto the Ebro valley. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast before heading to the wetlands. Lady Luck was on our side and as we arrived at the wetland and made our way to the hide, we had a great sighting of a male and female Ferruginous Duck fly up and give us brilliant views of this hard to see species of Duck in Europe. It’s estimated that there are about 7 pairs left of these birds in Iberia so seeing a pair was really exciting and enjoyed by the whole group. The birds also decided to come and land on the pond in front of us and we got some really good views of this beautiful duck. Other highlights at the wetlands included: a Purple Heron, Little Bitten, Western Swamphen, Savi’s Warbler, Sand Martin and we unfortunately only managed to hear Water Rail. We were soon back on the road and heading for the Ebro Valley, today was set aside as a day of travel and we had a good 5 hours drive to get to the Ebro Valley and our accommodation.

European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) were a common view in several areas along this tour. Image by Carles Oliver

On the way we had panned a stop to try and find Bluethroat and Rufous-tailed Thrush but unfortunately the weather was not playing along and we had cold and rainy weather high up in the mountains with temperature dropping to 3 degrees Celsius- not ideal for bird watching. We did however get sightings of: European Serin, Eurasian Jay and Eurasian Robin. Our efforts were also rewarded with a wonderful sighting of a Common Salamander- Salamandra salamandra. This was a great find and this amphibian gem was enjoyed by the group, especially by Pam and myself.

We made our way to the Ebro Valley slowly as most of the drive was in the pouring rain, which did not help our birding efforts. As we approached our accommodation we went to the site where Dupont’s Lark occurs and tried our luck in locating this sought after species. Unfortunately the weather didn’t help us and the gusting wild and cold made finding the bird impossible. We did however enjoy views of a Golden Eagle hunting European Rabbits. We enjoyed a quick shower and freshen up before enjoying a lovely dinner together and a good nights rest.

Day 5: Friday 19 April.              Ebro Valley and transfer to Pyrenees.

Our morning begun nice and early so we could get out and try for the Dupont’s Lark again. After breakfast we headed for the area we had been in the previous day searching for the Lark and our luck changed for the better. With the weather being calm and cool with no rain and wind we knew this was our best chance to see the bird. Lady Luck again was on our side and within 30 minutes we had spectacular views on a male Dupont’s Lark– this was just great and made up for our efforts from yesterday. The bird performed well and we could all enjoy this beauty. Larry was particularly chuffed as he had thought we would not see the bird- patience and perseverance paid off.

Other highlights for the morning included: Greater Short-toed Lark, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, European Turtle Dove, Calandra Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Carrion Crow and Willow Warbler. After a short coffee break we made our way to an area to try and improve our views of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and this we did with 5 birds showing well in the scopes- we then got treated to a fly by and all had awesome views of these magnificent birds. Another highlight was a male Pallied Harrier flying over the grasslands which we all managed to get good views of- this species is rare in Spain and was a good record for the tour.

In the tour we were lucky and enjoyed multiple and long views on Dupont’s Larks (Chersophilus duponti) in the wonderful steppes close to Codo. Image by Carles Oliver

We stopped to enjoy some of Spain’s old castles and made our way to lunch in the town of Bujaraloz and after a wonderful lunch enjoyed some birding at a nearby pond with us seeing: Green Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Northern Shoveler. We made our way onto the Pyrenees and our accommodation. A strategical stop was made at a spot to try and find Black Wheatear and this paid off with us getting some good views on a pair, we also enjoyed sightings of good numbers of Griffon Vultures as well as Thekla Lark, Sardinian Warbler and Spectacled Warbler. We made our way into the Pyrenees Mountains and the birding that lay ahead of us was off the charts with us getting good views of Long-tailed Tit, Egyptian Vulture, Bearded Vulture and a male Wallcreeper moving along the rock face, this was a magical end for this day, probably one of the best days during the tour!

This male Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) delighted us with great, but a bit distant views, just in our first stop into the Pyrenees. Image by Carles Oliver

We quickly freshened up and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at our accommodation at, the foot hills of the Pyrenees. What a brilliant day.

 

Day 6: Saturday 20 April.                                                 The Pyrenees.

Our morning once again begun nice and early so we could get into the high mountains of the Pyrenees and target some of the special birds of the high altitudinal areas. After a lovely home cooked breakfast we made our way to the Portalet mountain pass at about 2000m above sea level. We had a few high mountain birds to target.

Not really an average sight on Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus). Image by Carles Oliver

The snow capped mountains and the scenery was absolutely spectacular and we enjoyed taking in the magnificent part of Spain before crossing into France. Soon after entering France we enjoyed some good birding with us getting good views of: Bearded Vulture, Northern Wheatear, Red Kite, Yellowhammer, Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor which put on a wonderful display. We also enjoyed the antics of the Alpine Marmots on the cliffs. We also had spectacular close up views of both Alpine and Red-billed Chough. What a great morning of birding.

Lammergeier (Gypaetos barbatus) showing superbly during our tour. Image by Carles Oliver

We enjoyed launch overlooking the snow capped mountains and made our way further into France to continue our birding and try for the elusive White-backed Woodpecker- we unfortunately only could hear this bird and could not get any views on the species, we did however enjoy good views of: Ring Ouzel, Tree Pipit, Common Firecrest, Citril Finch– a good bird to see and with exceptional views which made Larry’s day, Eurasian Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest and a Song Thrush displaying for us- all in all some good birding. We made our way back up the Pyrenees through the maze of tunnels and into Spain to get to our accommodation in time for a lovely home cooked traditional meal. This is exactly what the group needed and we all had a well deserved nights rest after another good days birding.

The very scarce and located Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conscipillata) was really showy in the early afternoon. Image: Carles Oliver

 

Day 7: Sunday 21 April.                                                   The Pyrenees.

Another early start was on the cards for us in order to get out to the San Juan de La Monastery to try for the elusive Black Woodpecker. A quick walk around our accommodation after our lovely breakfast yielded us good views of Common Rock Sparrow– our first bird for the day and new for the trip. At the monastery luck was on our side and we managed to get several views of the hard to find Black Woodpecker. We also enjoyed very close up views of: Eurasian Treecreeper, Eurasian Crested Tit, Coal Tit and Eurasian Jay.

After a long search, we finally managed great looks on this Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris). Image by Carles Oliver

Despite the rather poor light, Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) gave us great sights up in the Pyrenees. Image by Carles Oliver

We made our way further into the Pyrenees towards Echo valley. Roadside birding included Griffon Vultures, a Booted Eagle being mobbed by a Red Kites and Egyptian Vulture. We headed high up into the mountains to our lunch stop and while having lunch enjoyed great sightings of Dunnock, European Robin and Coal Tit. We birded the area after lunch and had some really good birding with highlights being Citril Finch, Cirl Bunting, White-throated Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Short-toed Treecreeper, Marsh Tit and Common Chiffchaff. We all had some time to relax before dinner and enjoyed another wonderful home cooked meal by our host. The place we are staying is a traditional Spanish farm house that was built in the 1700s and had been tastefully upgraded and gives a lovely warm feel to it. The host is so welcoming and Larry S, Larry A, Pam and I really enjoyed staying here. The warm hospitality and traditional home cooked meals were welcomed and enjoyed by all. We all had a good nights rest after another great days birding in the Pyrenees.

 

Day 8: Monday 22 April.                                  Lleida Steppes.

We had a slightly earlier start today so we could get into the lower Step areas and Open fields of the lower Pyrenees to target a few birds we had missed. After a lovely home cooked breakfast we said our goodbyes to our wonderful host and headed out. The area in which we started our birding has some of the best Steppes and open grassland in Spain and as soon as we got into the area we had a wonderful sighting of a Short-eared Owl that was perched and proceeded to give us a wonderful fly by- a highlight for all on the tour and a great start.

We enjoyed some good birding with highlights being: Little Owl, Black-eared Wheatear, Calandra Lark, Common Redstart, Tawny Pipit, Whinchat, Thekla, Greater-short Toed and Lesser-short Toed Larks. The hard scan around pay off when we finally got 2 Great Spotted Cuckoos feeding in an open field. We managed to get long and wonderful views on both birds on the ground, but we could not get too much close of them since they were feeding on a sensitive field, nesting ground for Sandgrouses and Larks. After a slight drive and a short coffee stop we stopped along a small stream and enjoyed some more birding with our first views of: Eurasian Golden Oriole, Wood Warbler, Common Nightingale and Alpine Swift. We also had some really good views of Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting.

Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) in a late evening sight that included some great vocalisation. Image by Carles Oliver

We made our way further south to Fraga, just outside or Lleida and checked into our accommodation for the night. We decided to take a slight afternoon break as tonight we are going to take a night drive and target some of the nocturnal birds in the area. We all deserved the slight bit of downtime and after a slightly earlier dinner went off into the late afternoon and night to see what nocturnal birds we could find. Luck was once again on our side and we had an incredible night drive with us getting great views of Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Western Barn Owl and Eurasian Scops Owl. We were very lucky to get great views of all of these species and it made it an Owltastic day, with us seeing 5 species of owl in the day, that being: Short-eared Owl, Little Owl, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Western Barn Owl and Eurasian Scops Owl. We all enjoyed a good nites rest after another great days birding.

 

Day 9: Tuesday 23 April.                                       Lleida to Ebro Delta.

Another early start was on the cards for this morning so we could make our way to the Ebro Delta but still try and connect with a few birds we need in the area. After a lovely breakfast we were soon on the road and heading for the flowing step landscape just outside of Lleida. The break in the rain meant we could try see what birds were active and we had some good sightings with highlights being: Common Nightingale– finally some good views, Eurasian Hobby, Ortolan Bunting, Subalpine Warbler– great views, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Sparrow and improved views of  Eurasian Jay.

Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) is a scarce migratory bird in Catalonia. Due to a huge irruption, during the tour we enjoyed a good number of them. Image by Carles Oliver

A stop along the nearby stream yielded us with a great sighting of Hawfinch- a difficult and tough bird to see, and we got good views. We soon were back on the road, heading for the Mediterranean coast. A quick lunch stop was enjoyed at a local tapas bar before making our way to a spot to try for Dartford Warbler– luck was on our side and we enjoyed good views on a pair of birds and also got some good views on a Common Whitethroat– the first for the trip. We soon moved onto a local wetland to check for any migrating birds and got rewarded with good views of Wood Warbler, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

We made our way down to the coast and arrived at the Ebro Delta in the late afternoon to some perfect weather conditions and we got treated to some exceptional and exciting birding. We enjoyed views of: Curlew Sandpiper( breeding plumage), Eurasian Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Dunlin, Common Shelduck, Garganey, Western Osprey and Bar-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage which was enjoyed by all as no one had seen the bird before in breeding dress.

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) in almost full summer plomage at Ebro Delta. Image by Carles Oliver

As we left the bay we had the most incredible sightings of Audouin’s Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull and Eurasian Curlew all sitting in the open offering excellent photo opportunities and also gave us a chance to compare the different Gills next to each other and therefore learn how to ID them. Both Larry’s enjoyed this opportunity. We made our way to our accommodation close to the Ebro Delta, settled in and had a lovely dinner talking about our great day and completing our lists. We all had a good nites rest after another great day.

 

Day 10: Wednsday 24 April.                                                  Ebro Delta.

We begun our day once again with an early start and a lovely breakfast and then headed out to explore the Ebro Delta and surrounds for the day. A walk around our accommodation yielded us sightings of Black-crowned Night Heron, Mediterranean Flycatcher (a really good bird to have in Catalonia since is nesting in the islands of the Western Mediterranean), European Pied Flycatcher and Little Bittern. We made our way north into the Delta to the point and had some really good birding with highlights being: Icterine Warbler, Western Yellow Wagtail, Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole and Red-crested Pochard. Unfortunately the wind picked up badly and this halted our birding, we decided to stop for a coffee break and try plan B.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorac nycticorax), a common nesting heron at Ebro Delta. Image by Carles Oliver

Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla), a wonderful sight close to Ebro Delta! Image by Carles Oliver

We did have some excitement in one of the Subalpine Warblers we saw and photographed as we thought it could have been the recently split- Moltoni’s Warbler but after extensive checking and sending pics to experts we decided that is was a Western Subalpine Warbler. We also enjoyed watching a flock of about 50 Yellow Wagtails in a field close to the car and this gave us a chance to study the different races and we decided we have races from Italy, Iberia, NW Africa and Central Europe all in one spot- interesting stuff which was enjoyed by all but especially Larry S as he could also photograph the birds well. Our plan B kicked into place and we decided to enjoy lunch in a near by hide and boy did this work out as we had some exceptional birding which included: Little Stint, Baillon’s Crake, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Common Snipe and Wood Sandpiper. What a lunch stop!

Ebro Delta is always a guarantee and this time provided with really close views on Collared Pratincoles (Glareola pratincola). Image by Carles Oliver

The biggest surprise of our lunch was the Jack Snipe that showed up and was on display feeding right in front the hide offering exceptional views- this was truly amazing as this is a hard bird to see and to see it so well was amazing. The bird was also a lifer for all on the trip. We decided to take a slight break from the wind before heading out again in the late afternoon. The afternoon was enjoyed coming to grips with the different Gulls and Terns of the area, and we enjoyed the late afternoon watching the terns coming into roost, we enjoyed good sightings of Caspian, Little and Whiskered Terns. We enjoyed a lovely traditional dinner at the lodge while we chatted about the excitimng day and also enjoyed working through our checklists and rounding off another great day. After dinner we enjoyed a slight walk around the accommodation and got good views of the nesting Eurasian Scops Owl.

And this Jack Snipe (Lymnocriptes minimus) was probably the most celebrated bird of the tour. Image by Carles Oliver

Although this Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) moulting to summer plogame (see the Black center in the wing feathers) was also a hit! Image by Carles Oliver

 

Day 11: Thursday 25 April.                         Ebro Delta and Tortosa Beseit Natural Park.                                                                                                                      

We started our day once again nice and early with a lovely breakfast before heading out for some birding. The weather looked promising and we enjoyed great views of Black-crowned Night Heron at our accommodation. We made our way into the Delta and had a good sighting of Common Reed Bunting at the local wetland, the species we saw is actually Iberian Reed Bunting, the race is know as Witherbyi and could in the close future become a new split and species so it was really good to get good scope views on this endangered species. Other highlights included: Common Shelduck, Caspian Tern, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) controlling its territory from an advantatged point. Image by Carles Oliver

We made our way off the Delta towards Tortosa Beseit Natural Park to try a spot we know of for Bonelli’s Eagle. Luck was on our side and we arrived at the nesting area and had great views of the pair sitting up on the rocks, we also managed to get great scope views on a chick sitting on a neat nest- wow what a great sighting of this endangered Eagle. We made our way down into the Delta for lunch and had some good road side sightings of Short-toed Snake Eagle and Booted Eagle. Just before we lunch we got lucky and had a Red-footed Falcon fly by us while driving and we managed to relocate the bird and have exceptional views. The bird was flying and hawking insects and also perched close to us. We enjoyed lunch in the field and had our first European Honey Buzzard for the trip fly pass and offer decent views.

Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), again a scarce migratory bird in Catalonia that we were lucky yo enjoy in Ebro Delta. Image by Carles Oliver

We decided to take a short break before heading out in the afternoon to do some shore birding. Our afternoon birding was a great success with us enjoying some top birding at one of the local hides. Highlights at the hide included: Melodious Warbler, Water Rail, Eurasian Spoonbill, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Willow Warbler and fabulous views of the Jack Snipe in-front of us in the open purring on a show. We had a fabulous sunset over the water with the Greater Flamingoes and Pied Avocets offering us great shots as we got the reflections off the water- what an incredible way to spend our last evening on tour. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and chatted about the great day and tour we have had and how it’s sad that it’s already over. We all enjoyed the wine on offer and took a short walk outside to locate the resident Eurasian Scops Owl and we all have good views of the bird on the nest box. We all have a good nites rest after another great day.

Melodious Warbler (Hyppolais polyglotta) showed really in Ebro Delta along with its much scarcer relative Icterine Warbler (Hyppolais icterina). Image by Carles Oliver

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops) provided with great sights in our accommodation at Ebro Delta. Image by Carles Oliver

 

Day 12: Friday 26 April.                             Ebro Delta to Barcelona via Llobregat Delta.                                                                                                                     

Our final day of the tour started with a lovely breakfast and a walk around our accommodation. The weather was juts perfect for our last day and our walk after breakfast rewarded us with great views of a Garden Warbler which was new for the trip. We were soon on the road and made a short stop along the coast to scan for sea birds and this rewarded us with scope views of a Mediterranean Storm Petrel, closer to the shore we enjoyed views of Lesser Black-backed Gull and a European Shag sitting on the rocks giving us wonderful views.

Mediterranean Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii), a splitable race to take in count. Image by Carles Oliver

Soon we were back on the road towards Barcelona and the Llobregat Delta to see what we could find. We decided to bypass Barcelona and spend some time at the Llobregat Delta before ending the trip later in the afternoon in Barcelona. A stragic stop just outside of the Llobregat Delta rewarded us with good sightings of a pair of Iberian Green Woodpeckers; we got some really good views of these birds. We also enjoyed views of Monk and Rose-ringed Parakeet. Larry S took some time to enjoy and photograph the Common Swifts flying over head. We moved onto the Delta to enjoy our lunch in one of the bird hides. This worked our really well and we enjoyed some good views of: Northern Shoveler, Garganey, Collared Pratincole, Ferruginous Duck, Common Shelduck, Ruff, Common Greenshank and Common Redshank. What a way to enjoy our final lunch of the tour. We then knew we had to make our way into the hussel and bussel of Barcelona City to get to our hotel for the night.

After negotiating the Barcelona traffic we made it to our hotel in the city center and it was time to say our goodbyes after an incredible birding trip through the country of Spain. It’s always sad saying bye to lovely guests like Larry S, Pam and Larry A and it’s was an end to an incredible tour. We had a great time together, the trip was enjoyed by all and I had a great time. Our goodbyes were said and it’s always rewarding to have guests say they loved the tour and will back with us again. I would like to thank Larry S, Pam and Larry A for a wonderful trip, for the Enthusiasm, patience and all the laughs and good times we enjoyed.

And this was the end of the trip. Please contact us for more birding in Spain and other countries by info@barcelonabirdingpoint.com or visit our website with plenty of information about, http://www.barcelonabirdingpoint.com

 

 

 

Influx of Crakes (genus Porzana) in Catalonia

Late March and early April is normally one of the best moments to look for Crakes in Catalonia. Despite the migratory movements of all three species ocurring in the country (Spotted Crake, Little Crake and Baillon’s Crake) start along February and stretches well inside May, the last days of March and early April concentrates a good number of them.

This 2019 sightings of Crakes in Catalonia were low. Spring migration was rather late for some species and it looked like it was so for all Porzanas. Until the very last days of March there were only a handful of sights, mostly concentrated in typical areas for these species.

Little Crake (Porzana parva) male at Riu Besòs, Barcelona. The bird stayed some days in the same location. Seen during our tour on 29th March. Image by Carles Oliver

But this was to change fast as from March 28th there were reports some Little & Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) in diferent coastal wetlands along Catalan coastline. On March 30th-31st the increase on sights was huge, with several Spotteds reported in diferent areas, even in small ponds and other unusual locations. On March 31st up to 4 diferent Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) were seen in diferent locations (Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Aiguamolls de Pals, Riu Besòs & Pantà del Foix). All birds out of one “joined” by Little or Spotted Crakes in the same spot.

This abrupt influx could be explained by a change in the weather conditions. A low press System was affecting SW Europe and combined with Eastern winds in the Mediterranean. Enough explanation? Probably not…

On 31st March we were leading a trip to Aiguamolls and enjoyed 4 Little Crakes (Porzana parva), 2 Spotted Crakes and 1 Baillon’s Crake only in two spots, 200 metres away from each other!

Please enjoy this small selection of images from these days. Several local birdwatchers have enjoy them. Today, 4th April, there were still 2 Baillon’s & several Spotteds around!

One of the 2 obliging Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) seen in Aiguamolls de l’Empordà during our tour. Image by Carles Oliver

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) in Corncrake-like action! Image by Carles Oliver

 

The spots can be really efficient to make Spotted Crakes disappear in the riparian vegetation. Image by Carles Oliver

One of the Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) in Catalonia during early April 2019. This one proved to be really cooperative at Riu Besòs. Images by Carles Oliver

 

Here a nice comparative of Baillon’s (above) versus Little Crake (below). Differences on coloration and structure are evident. Images by Carles Oliver

Emberiza & CIA a la Marató Ornitològica 2018

Aquesta és la crònica de la participació de l’equip Emberiza & CIA a la Marató Ornitològica organitzada per SEO/Birdlife. Els integrants del grup enguany van ser en Víctor Sanz, Ramiro Aibar, Antonio Martínez i Carles Oliver. També el fill de l’Antonio, l’Oriol Martínez, que amb només 11 anys va estar sempre alerta i assenyalant rapis al cel!!

Durant tota la jornada vam gaudir de molt bon temps. Tot i la previsió de pluges disperses més o menys generalitzades, vam tenir sol quasi tot el dia, gens de vent i cap gota d’aigua. Condicions idònies, tret de la temperatura un pèl massa alta al migdia. Només una coseta abans de començar, algunes de les localitzacions les mantindrem en secret…secret professional, vaja.

La jornada comença unes hores abans que comenci el termini pròpiament dit per fer la Marató. La nostra data escollida és el dia 6 de Maig i ens trobem a les 21:00 del vespre del dia 5 a Sant Andreu de la Barca. La idea és trobar-nos abans per fer un àpat més o menys en condicions i acabar de perfilar el que serà l’itinerari i els tempos a seguir durant la marató. També és moment d’estrenar l’equipació d’enguany, disseny exclusiu de samarretes by Victor Sanz!

Ens posem en carretera direcció a Lleida i deixem enrere Sant Andreu. Aprofito aquest espai, i crec que parlo en nom de tot el grup, per mostrar tota la nostra solidaritat amb la comunitat educativa d’aquesta vila arran dels vergonyosos atacs patits al llarg de les últimes setmanes. Des d’aquestes línies us diem que no esteu sols!

De camí cap a Lleida toca fer parada per sopar. Tot va amb normalitat, més enllà de que el restaurant escollit inclou Cobaia al Forn com a segon plat del menú…estranyament ningú no escull rosegador com a plat principal de l’àpat nocturn…particularment em quedo amb ganes de veure com la serveixen…

Un cop sopats enfilem cap a la primera localització. Aquesta primera parada és molt important quan fas una cursa com aquesta. La localització nocturna (o les localitzacions nocturnes) han de permetre treure les màximes espècies de nocturnes (mussols i caprimulgus) possibles sense haver de recórrer a les últimes hores del dia per empaitar-los, quan el temps escassejarà, tots anirem molt més cansats i cada espècie pot suposar un sobre esforç.

A les 00:07 arribem a la primera localització, dins territori aragonès. Abans no baixem del cotxe ja sumem la primera espècie: Xot (Otus scops). Perfecte. Aparquem i escoltem al voltant. Un parell de rossinyols (Luscinia megarhynchos) canten a la foscor acompanyats d’un parell de xots. Deu minuts d’escolta no produeixen res més. Hi ha un punt de nerviosisme…Un torlit (Burhinus oedicnemus) reclama en la distància però no alleugera la pressió. De cop, al lluny, un siboc (Caprimulgus ruficollis) canta. Molt bé. Enguany als Caprimulgus els hi ha costat d’arribar des d’Àfrica però a nosaltres amb un ja en tenim prou. Tot seguit una cria de mussol banyut (Asio otus) reclama des d’una taca de pins llunyana. Només ens en falta un. I arriba. Una òliba (Tyto alba) fa el seu reclam característic en passar per sobre nostre. Perfecte!

Ens movem una mica. Fem una mica de prospecció per mirar de trobar uns mussols emigrants (Asio flammeus) que es mouen per la zona, sense sort. No tenim massa temps i toca parar orella en una llacuneta propera. En la distància se senten més rossinyols però també rascló (Rallus aquaticus), cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis), polla d’aigua (Gallinula chloropus) i fotja (Fulica atra) reclamant. Però se sent un altre reclam així ens movem una miqueta i escoltem millor per esclarir i si, tenim un rascletó (Porzana parva) a la llacuna. Això és excel·lent perquè és una mica inesperat. Però encara tenim més, perquè un bitó (Botaurus stellaris) canta unes quantes vegades darrera la sorollada de rossinyols que canten des dels tamarius! Anem molt i molt bé, tot i que ens queda molt per patir. Cal perseverar!

Fem un curt recorregut un cotxe per mirar de trobar un dels ducs (Bubo bubo) que viuen a la vora. Voltegem un territori. Els ducs acostumen a estar per aquí però no els podem trobar.. Decidim fer una passejada per la zona, aviam si tenim molta sort i els fem moure. Res. En comptes d’això sentim, des del turó, un altre bitó cantant en un estany diferent de l’anterior!! Plaga de bitons… Tornem tots a la furgo. Amb tot ja són quasi les dues. Toca començar a moure’s cap al Pirineu. Aquí hem fet bo i massa!

De camí cap a la Vall Ferrera fem una paradeta ràpida a prop de Tremp. En un paisatge de màquia i roureda fem una escolta ràpida que ens permet sumar gamarús (Strix aluco). De fet, en sentim 3! L’enganyapastors (Caprimulgus europaeus), l’altre objectiu de la parada, no apareix. Preocupació menor, al vespre. Seguim.

 

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En Ramiro Aibar i en Víctor Sanz gaudint del primer escorxador (Lanius collurio) de l’any moments abans de marxar cap a Collegats.

 

Arribem a algun punt de la Vall Ferrera i fem escolta. Són quasi les 5:00. Deu minuts i els ding! de la becada (Scolopax rusticola) anuncia el seu vol al nostre voltant. Les llunes de Júpiter són testimonis del seu vol feixuc mentre continuem sondejant el silenci a la recerca de més espècies. Hi ha una mica de cansament però la temperatura és agradable i la nit està sent profitosa. Tot i així ja queden molt lluny les nits sense dormir de quan érem més joves.

Cap a un quart de sis comencen a cantar els Túrdids. Tord comú (Turdus philomelos), griva (Turdus viscivorus) i merla (Turdus merula) són dels primers. Una mallerenga petita (Periparus ater) molt matinera es deixa sentir i els pit-rojos (Erithacus rubecula) no fan tard a les primeres tonalitats ocres del cel. Cotxa fumada (Phoenicurus ochruros), reietó (Regulus regulus), merla de pit blanc (Turdus torquatus) i mallerenga emplomallada (Lophophanes cristatus) són detectats en un lapse de pocs minuts. Però cap espècie de pes (amb el permís de la merla de pit blanc).

Decidim fer una caminada amunt, aviam què trobem. Hi invertirem massa temps, en part perquè la foscor fa que em desorienti (…) Però tindrà els seus fruits. Caminem vessant amunt en un paisatge dominat per un bosc de pins emmoquetat per nerets i nabius així que a ningú ens estranya quan en la profunditat del bosc sentim els típics sorolls d’un gall fer (Tetrao urogallus). Excel·lent! Caminem molt poquet més i fem una mica més d’escolta. La caminada pren tot el seu sentit quan el reclam d’un mussol pirinenc (Aegolius funereus) arriba a les nostres oïdes! Perfecte! El mussol pirinenc és una de les espècies més difícils per una marató així que poder-lo incloure és sempre un luxe i un orgull.

Decidim començar a baixar i fer una petita volta. Crasso error. Perdem temps. El rellotge corre, ja és dia obert. Pardal de bardissa (Prunella collaris), picot negre (Dryocopus martius), pinsà comú (Fringilla coelebs), gaig (Garrulus glandarius), cucut (Cuculus canorus), sit negre (Emberiza cia), picot garser gros (Dendrocopos major), bruel (Regulus ignacapillus), trencapinyes (Loxia curvirostra), cargolet (Troglodytes troglodytes) i raspinell comú (Certhia brachydactyla) són agradosament afegits a la llista de la nostra marató. Però ens falla el lluer (Spinus spinus). Nidificant escàs i localitzat al Pirineu, aquesta espècie acostuma a ser fàcilment detectable a la localització on som. Però no avui, no ara.

 

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Llucareta (Serinus citronella) mascle lluint disseny alar a la Vall Ferrera.

 

Arribem tardíssim al cotxe. Marxem, marxem, marxem. Són les 7:15 però no cal entrar en pànic. De baixada, quasi a la carrera, hem vist i sentit llucaretes (Serinus citrinella). Hem tret quasi totes les espècies que havíem de treure. Quasi totes. Abans de marxar, però, fem un mos al costat del cotxe. Última oportunitat per lluer i raspinell pirinenc (Certhia familiaris) per unir-se a la festa. No ho faran…Marxem, marxem, marxem!

De baixada per la pista afegim tallarol de casquet (Sylvia atricapilla) i 1 puput (Upupa epops)… una puput en un bosc dens, molt dens de pi roig a uns 1300 metres d’alçària (!!!). Puput en hàbitat de picot negre… Per a mi, l’observació més curiosa de la jornada.

Parades ràpides en diferents prats. Alguna de gens productiva. Entrem a un prat i pam! un pinsà borroner (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) marxa volant de la capçada d’un bedoll. Parem per fer un cop d’ull. El prat ha estat pres per una horda de trencapinyes que sotmeten el prat als seus designis, desfoliant les capçades de bedolls, àlbers i qualsevol arbre que hi hagi. Què fan aquí baix? Repassem el prat. Parella de mallerenga carbonera (Parus major) i alguna mallerenga blava (Cyanistes cyaneus). Res de especial. Però vet aquí que surt un bitxac rogenc (Saxícola rubetra). Serà l’únic del dia! Continuem baixant. Següent prat. Sembla que res, tret d’un fantàstic colltort (Jynx torquilla) que s’arregla el plomatge al sol… De nou, l’únic del dia! Toca paradeta al riu: cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea), picot verd (Picus sharpei), mallerenga cuallarga (Aegithalos caudatus), tudó (Columba palumbus), orenetes cuablanca i vulgar (Delichon urbicum – Hirundo rustica) i també roquerols (Ptynoprogne rupestris). On és la merla d’aigua? És tard. Marxem.

Propera parada, a prop de Sort. De camí cap allà, típiques espècies de carretera. La primera, una merla d’aigua! Tres dels cinc la veiem en una curva. Bé. Garsa (Pica pica), Cornella (Corvus corone), pardal comú (Passer domesticus), colom roquer (Columba livia), falciot comú (Apus apus) i estornell vulgar (Sturnus vulgaris) “cauen” a diferents antenes i similars de Tremp. D’aquí agafem una petita carretera que ens fa guanyar alçada (però perdre temps, Déu meu que llarga que es fa…) i arribem a localització a les 9:00 tocades. S’ensuma el desastre del timing…

Però el lloc val la pena. En 14 minuts contats d’observació sumem: tallarols emmascarat (Sylvia hortensis), de garriga (S. cantillans) i vulgar (S. communis), escorxador (Lanius collurio), còlit gris (Oenanthe oenanthe), bitxac comú (Saxícola rubicola), merla roquera (Monticola saxatilis), cotoliu (Lullula arborea), passerell comú (Carduelis cannabina), Cadernera (Carduelis carduelis), mosquiter pàl·lid (Phylloscopus bonelli), hortolà (Emberiza hortulana), perdiu roja (Alectoris rufa), gralla de bec vermell (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), capsigrany (Lanius senator) i gratapalles (Emberia cirlus) tot i que els ocells quasi no canten aquest matí. Un escaneig ràpid del cel produeix un trencalòs (Gypaetos barbatus) i un grup d’abellerols (Merops apiaster) en migració ens passen a tocar. Primer rapinyaire del dia! I just en marxar una alosa (Alauda arvensis) ve a aterrar a la nostra esquena. Tot un detall. Agraïts.

Baixem. Encara anem tard. Propera parada; Collegats. Cuereta blanca (Motacilla alba) i Corb (Corvus corax) a la carretera. Voltors comuns (Gyps fulvus) al cel. Dins la furgo discutim si parar o no a Collegats. Guanya que parem, encara bo. De camí (encara no hi som?) una parella d’àguiles calçades (Aquila pennata) ens fa mig parar un moment. Són una fase clara i una fosca. Bé. Una mica més avall un aligot comú (Buteo buteo) es creua al cel amb una àguila marcenca (Circaetus gallicus). Sembla que hi ha moviment de rapinyaires.

Collegats. Tothom fora i mirada a l’infinit. Voltors. Milans negres (Milvus migrans) en migració cap al Nord. Aufrany (Neophron percnopterus) contra els penya-segats. Bon dia maco! Algú veu un falcó peregrí (Falco peregrinus). Poc després un esparver vulgar (Accipiter nisus) remunta amb uns voltors. Una probable àguila daurada (Aquila chrysaetos) se’ns escapa per mil·lèsimes. Qui l’ha vist no pot confirmar. Com la trobarem a faltar! Llàstima! Mallarengues al nostre voltant. Res de l’altre món fins que un picot garser petit (Dendrocopos minor) tamborileja a tocar del grup. 1, 2, 3 vegades. Molt bé! No hi comptàvem. Marxem, que fem tard!

Ja són tres quarts d’once quan enfilem cap al Sud. Destinació; estepes! Tenim una tiradeta…De camí, típiques (i no tant típiques) espècies de carretera. Entre Àger i Balaguer oriol (Oriolus oriolus), tórtora turca (Streptopelia decaocto) i ballester (Apus melba). Entre Balaguer i Àger estornell negre (Sturnus unicolor), cogullada vulgar (Galerida cristata), ànec coll-verd (Anas platyrhynchos), cruixidell (Emberiza calandra), gafarró (Serinus serinus), gralles (Corvus monedula), xoriguer comú (Falco tinnunculus), arpella vulgar (Circus aeruginosus), falcó mostatxut (Falco subbuteo) i aligot vesper (Pernis apivorus). Hi ha força rapinyaire al cel, el que és d’agrair en un dia com avui. Ja a prop de la nostra destinació un fantàstic astor (Accipiter gentilis) vola a prop d’una marcenca aturada en un torre d’electricitat.

Ja passem clarament de les 100 espècies. Arribem a les estepes. Ara l’objectiu és arribar ràpid a la primera localització i, com a mínim per a mi, menjar. La bateria interna està baixa i si volem rendir a la tarda bé hauríem de menjar alguna cosa! A un parell de quilòmetres del lloc a on parem ja entrem en zona molt bona. Seguim sumant. Còlit ros (Oenanthe hispanica), Cogullada fosca (Galerida theklae), Guatlla (Coturnix coturnix), Pardal roquer (Petronia petronia), gaig blau (Coracias garrulus), tòrtora (Streptopelia turtur), trobat (Anthus campestris), calàndria (Melanocorypha calandra) i, just en aparcar, terrerola vulgar (Calandrella brachydactyla).

 

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Merescut descans de l’equip a Monegros després d’un matí molt intens!

 

Fa sol i bastanta calor. Estem a uns 24ºC i, tot i que la previsió era de ruixats dispersos, només plou vitamina A. No hi ha massa activitat. Són les 13:20 quan ens aturem, no precisament la millor hora…Durant el quart que estem aturat només sumem milà reial (Milvus milvus). No són bones notícies. Les aloses becudes (Chersophilus duponti) que tenim bastant a prop no es deixaran sentir amb aquesta calor tant sobtada…

Ens movem. Tenim una llarga llista d’espècies i el temps és curt. Tombem i la perseverança ens premia amb increïbles observacions de terrerola rogenca (Calandrella rufescens). Fem unes quantes fotos. Val molt la pena. Seguim tombant però no hi ha quasi activitat. Anem a un raconet a on podem tenir sorpresa i bingo!, dues xurres (Pterocles orientalis) es mouen en un guaret. Seguim al guaret. Terreroles vulgars arreu i 3 xurres més, però sense senyals de les gangues (Pterocles alchata). No tenim més temps per a elles. Una llàstima!

 

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Petita llicència fotogràfica el plena marató però és que aquesta terrerola rogenca (Calandrella rufescens) bé s’ho valia!

 

Ens movem uns quilòmetres. Una prospecció ràpida (molt ràpida) a una zona arbustiva produeix tallarol trencamates (Sylvia conspicillata). Una mica més enllà mussol comú (Athene noctua). Fem un cop d’ull a una colònia de xoriguer petit (Falco naumanni) però sense rastre d’ells. S’olora el pànic dins la furgo! Sense temps per a més baixem a uns tallats vora un riu. Última oportunitat per a un bon grapat d’espècies. El Delta de l’Ebre ens espera, ens crida! Parem al peu dels tallats i seguim afegint noves espècies. Un parell de bosquetes vulgars (Hippolais polyglotta) cantes a les bardisses vora el bosc de ribera. Verdum (Chloris chloris), rossinyol bord (Cettia cetti), tallarol capnegre (Sylvia melanocephala) i sit negre canten al voltant. A dalt del turó una tallareta cuallarga (Sylvia undata) fa un vol curt d’un arbust a un altre. Amb això n’hi ha prou. Als tallats raspem un parell de xixelles (Columba oenas) i un mascle d’esparver cendrós (Circus pygargus) ens passa per sobre. Ja són les 15:00. Hora de marxar!

Pugem a la furgo, 400 metres i hem de parar! 3 xoriguers petits volen als tallats. Així que aquí estàveu! Ara sí, marxem! Poc després un segon mascle d’esparver cendrós vola en paral·lel a la furgo. Silenci mentre tothom mira per les finestres. Quina meravella d’ocell…Anem cap al Sud. Hi ha qui aprofita per dormir. El dia està sent intens i fa estona que tenim la sensació d’anar tard. Ara és el moment de relaxar-se una mica. Uns esplugabous (Bubulcus ibis) en un lloc indeterminat ens marquen el camí a la terra baixa.

 

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Moral alta en els trajectes. Aquí la comoditat del transport s’agraeix!

 

Passat Flix fem una paradeta de 3-5 minuts. Només sortir de la furgo una merla blava (Monticola solitarius) ens passa volant per sobre mentre un trist (Cisticola juncidis) va fent al cel. Repassem en busca de rapinyaires. Res. Corb marí gros (Phalacrocorax carbo) al Riu Ebre. Marxem.

-Espera.  Qué pasa?   -Rapaz en la torre de electricidad. Da la vuelta! Da la vuelta!

Tornem carretera amunt uns centenars de metres i sí, una àguila cuabarrada (Aquila fasciata) està aturada en una torre d’electricitat. Bé! De camí entre Flix i el delta no afegirem res de nou tret d’un falciot pàl·lid (Apus pallidus) que es deixa prou bé per ser identificat. Els nostres esforços (anar a 87km/hora en comptes de 95km/hora) per veure una oreneta cua-rogenca són debades…

Són les 17:35 quan arribem al Delta de l’Ebre. Aquí la desfilada d’espècies és ràpida i àmplia. Són a la zona Nord. Hem decidit que ens mourem de Nord a Sud. Martinet comú (Egretta garzetta), gavià argentat (Larus michahellis), pardal xarrec (Passer montanus), bernat pescaire (Ardea cinerea), cames llargues (Himantopus himantopus), gavina riallera (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), cabussó emplomallat (Podiceps cristatus) i capó reial (Plegadis falcinellus) són dels primers a caure.

Anem de camí a El Goleró. El nivell d’aigua està baix i està mig ennuvolat. És una bona combinació. Ens sentim contents i frescs, descansats. Hem arribat prou d’hora al Delta, el que ens garanteix temps per fer un cop d’ull a uns quants hot-spots. Tota la sensació d’estres que hem acumulat al llarg del matí es fon amb la brisa del mar per donar pas a un ritme compassat i natural d’anar sumant. El Goleró es mostra benèvol amb nosaltres però sense escarafalls. Gavines corses (Larus audouinii) i capblanques (Larus genei),  gavians foscos (Larus fuscus) i fumarells carablancs (Chlidonias hybridus) són evidents arreu. Gamba verda (Tringa nebularia), gamba roja vulgar (Tringa totanus), garsa de mar (Haematopus ostralegus), pigre gris (Pluvialis squatarola) i territ menut (Calidris minuta) són els primers limícols afegits a la llista. Al voltant nostre hi han molts xatracs comuns (Sterna hirundo), bastants de bec-llargs (Sterna sandvicensis), 2 de grossos (Hydroprogne caspia) i 1 de menut (Sternula albifrons). Als canyissars de darrera nostre canten balquers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) i boscarles de canyar (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Flamencs (Phoenicopterus ruber) i xibecs (Netta rufina) també es deixen veure. Una inspecció més detallada de la zona produeix becut (Numenius arquata), tètol cuabarrat (Limosa lapponica), corriol camanegre (Charadrius alexandrinus) i corriol gros (Charadrius hiaticula). Ens movem cap a l’Est i, en una parada per repassar limícols, ens sorprèn el cant d’un borcarler comú (Luscinia luscinioides). Una mica més enllà la sorpresa és més gran quan un blauet (Alcedo atthis) surt volant d’un pont per perdre’s en un canal. A la última parada aquí gaudirem de remena-rocs (Arenaria interpres) en lluent plomatge nupcial a més de sumar territ gros (Calidris canutus) i agró blanc (Egretta alba).

 

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Els últims remena-rocs (Arenaria interpres) en pas són sempre els que llueixen un plomatge més espectacular. Aquest bé es va merèixer una paradeta!

 

Ha estat un bon començament. Bona part dels camps del Delta comencen a tenir aigua i es poden veure alguns limícols aquí i allà. La temptació de parar cada pocs camps és molt gran i de vegades no tenim més remei que fer-ho. De camí entre Goleró i Alfacada veiem valona (Tringa glareola), xivitona (Actitis hypoleucos), martinet ros (Ardeola ralloides) i curroc (Gelochelidon nilotica).

Un cop arribats a l’Alfacada ens acantonem a la torre, a on corre una brisa que ens va refredant a mesura que passen els minuts. Tots menys els més llestos baixarem gelats…El privilegiat punt d’observació ens permet sumar un bon grapat d’espècies: ànec blanc (Tadorna tadorna), ànec cullerot (Anas clypeata), griset (Anas strepera), batallaire (Philomachus pugnax), bec d’alena (Recurvirostra avosetta), mosquiter de passa (Phylloscopus troquillus), polla blava (Porphyrio porphyrio), martinet menut (Ixobrychus minutus) i martinet de nit (Nycticorax nycticorax). Des de dalt la torre repassem el mar, que se’ns mostra com un fantàstic desert blau amb alguna taqueta bec-llarga que es cabussa i torna a tirar amunt… Una potencial fotja banyuda (Fulica cristata) es deixa estimar durant quasi mig minut a Buda, davant per davant de la torre, però uns tamarius dificulten l’observació i no podem extreure una conclusió definitiva… al llarg de l’estona que estem dalt intentarem relocalitzar-la, debades. En baixar de la torre notem que les cames pesen. Estem cansats. Són més de les 18:30, no ens queda massa temps.

 

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Últims moments de llum. Moments per comentar el dia, fer bromes, rascar alguna última espècie i menjar alguna cosa a les Salines de Sant Antoni. Feia fresca!

 

Tirem cap als Eucaliptus. Una ràpida inspecció dins el camping produeix xarrasclet (Anas querquedula), ànec cuallarg (Anas acuta), morell xocolater (Aythya nyroca) i ànec xiulaire (Anas penelope). Un cop fet el tràmit comentem si anar a l’arbreda de la zona d’acampada o a Riet Vell per migrants. Optem per Riet Vell i dóna un gran resultat: Papamosques gris (Muscicapa striata), mastegatatxes (Ficedula hypoleuca) i cotxa cua-roja (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) són tots afegits en 5 minuts junt amb una gavina capnegra (Larus melanocephalus) que reclama en el camp del costat. Bravo!

D’aquí volem a Sant Antoni, la nostra esperança per un grupet de limícols que semblen no voler aparèixer. De camí cap allà, ja amb el sol molt baix, apuntem un grupet de 7 tètols cuanegres (Limosa limosa). En arribats a les salines repassem bé cercant corriol petit (Charadrius dubius) o territ variant (Calidris alpina) però sense ser capaços de trobar cap d’aquestes espècies. Mentre sopem gaudint d’un màgic capvespre a les Salines de Sant Antoni encara sumem perdiu de mar (Glareola pratincola). Ens sentim genial. En part perquè un error al sumar ens fa pensar que hem superat de llarg les 200 espècies… En realitat estem una mica per sota.

Un cop acabats de sopar fem un parell de parades a la sortida del Delta, ja camí de Barcelona, per mirar de sumar l’enganyapastors. Però no surt. Al final decidim (bueno, jo ja estava bastant fora de combat) de provar sort a Sant Andreu de la Barca. Arribem justets, justets de temps. 23:47 comencem escolta…23:53 un enganyapastors canta a la vall que tenim a l’esquerra. Espècie número 196!

Tothom a dormir!

 

Com a resum crec que puc dir tranquil·lament en nom de tots el membres del grup que estem molt satisfets per aquesta edició, la primera en la que hem inclòs el Pirineu de Lleida en l’itinerari. De ben segur que no serà la última!

El timing se’ns ha anat una mica al Pirineu, en bona part per la passejada una mica massa llarga a primeríssima hora del matí. Això ha fet que no poguéssim tenir tot el temps que haguéssim volgut per explorar les estepes i, el que és pitjor, ens ha fet arribar a una hora que feia molt difícil sumar espècies com el sisó (Tetrax tetrax), especialment amb el sol picant tal i com ho feia al migdia! Però bueno, que consti que ja tenim la clau per superar-nos el 2019. Amb il·lusió!

En defitiva, que una cursa ornitològica pot ser molt divertida. No cal fer-se mala sang amb el que facin els altres equips (fins a cert punt) i és sempre molt millor si vas amb amics! Això sí, requisit indispensable, estar tocat de l’ala…

Com a últim apunt, un reconeixement especial a l’Oriol, un birder de només 11 anys que va gaudir com el que més, que ens va aguantar a tots 4 durant 24 hores i que de ben segur esdevindrà un naturalista de primera! Felicitats Oriol!

 

HORA INICI: 00:00                 HORA FINALITZACIÓ: 23:59                  INTEGRANTS EQUIP: 5

LLISTAT D’ESPÈCIES CONTACTADES PER L’EQUIP EMBERIZA & CIA EN LA MARATÓ ORNITOLÒGICA 2018

  1. Ànec blanc (Tadorna tadorna)
  2. Ànec xiulaire (Anas penelope)
  3. Ànec griset (Anas strepera)
  4. Xarxet (Anas crecca)
  5. Ànec coll-verd (Anas platyrhynchos)
  6. Ànec cuallarg (Anas acuta)
  7. Xarrasclet (Anas querquedula)
  8. Xibec (Netta furina)
  9. Morell xocolater (Aythya ferina)
  10. Gall fer (Tetrao urogallus)
  11. Guatlla (Coturnix coturnix)
  12. Perdiu roja (Alectoris rufa)
  13. Corb marí gros (Phalacrocorax carbó)
  14. Bitó (Botaurus stellaris)
  15. Martinet menut (Ixobrychus minutus)
  16. Martinet de nit (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  17. Martinet ros (Ardeola ralloides)
  18. Esplugabous (Bubulcus ibis)
  19. Martinet blanc (Egretta garzetta)
  20. Agró blanc (Ardea alba)
  21. Bernat pescaire (Ardea cinerea)
  22. Agró roig (Ardea purpurea)
  23. Cigonya blanca (Ciconia ciconia)
  24. Capó reial (Plegadis falcinellus)
  25. Flamenc (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  26. Cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  27. Cabussó emplomallat (Podiceps cristatus)
  28. Aligot vesper (Pernis apivorus)
  29. Milà negre (Milvus migrans)
  30. Milà reial (Milvus milvus)
  31. Trencalòs (Gypaetos barbatus)
  32. llistat en construcció. Us remeto al text per saber més 😉

Is April the best month for birding in North-East Spain?

Every little time we got requests of birdwatchers that, interested about coming to do some birdwatching in Catalonia, ask us about what it is the best time to come.

Well, this is always depending on what do you want to see… But it is not wrong to think on spring as being probably the best time for birdwatching. In the Mediterranean this means a combination of excellent, sunny weather with pleasant temperatures, high activity of the nesting species (resident or not) and tones of migratory birds in their way to Northernmost nesting grounds.

I personally love April. It is just because of the really good general birding. This is probably one of the best moments in the year for Crakes. And not talking about listen them, but talking on seeing them! Migration goes in excellent numbers along Mediterranean wetlands and, along with warblers, waders and raptors, it is always possible to enjoy Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) or Little Crakes (Porzana parva). Early April is also a good time to look for Iberian Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus ibericus) as they hang around in their way to their nesting grounds. Along the month waves of Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus) are to arrive to their nesting grounds. Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) are already defending their territories as they arrive as early as early-mid February.

 

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Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) show up all along March and April in all kind of wetlands. Numbers are highly variable depending on the year. Image: Carles Olive

 

 

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Egyptian Vultures keep expanding in Catalonia. They arrive as early as February. Image: Carles Oliver

 

By mid April Woodchat Shrikes (Lanius senator),  Spectacleds (Sylvia conspicillata), Subalpines (Sylvia cantillans) and Orphean Warblers (Sylvia hortensis) will be all at their nesting grounds, but it is mandatory to keep searching for not-that-common birds in migration that can easily include Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) along with some Balearic Flycatchers (Muscicapa tyrrhenica) to be discovered among the many Spotted Flycatchers (Muscicapa striata).

 

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Western Subalpine Warblers (Sylvia cantillans) are a common migratory bird all along April. From 10th onwards they can also be found at their nesting grounds around. Image: Carles Oliver

 

 

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Wood Warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) are exclusivelly migratory birds in Catalonia, an rather scarce! They normally are to be found in mixed migratory warblers flocks. Image: Carles Oliver

 

But probably the best is that all of that can be done while still enjoying on Wallcreepers (Tichodroma muraria) in the Pyrenees as they still goes up. They are not that “easy” to find as in winter but still is mandatory to check some spots! And now, while looking for them, it is likely yo see superb Common Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) or Rock Buntings (Emberiza cia) singing around!

In the wetlands, Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) keep going North and more active as never before so it gets easier to locate them, and Iberian Reed Buntings (Emberiza s. whiterby) are also showing well within its tiny range! Small flocks of waders and beautiful ducks such as Garganeys (Anas querquedula) can be seen in every wetland and you can enjoy male Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) going up with their splendid spring plomages. Few days ago we just got a mixed flock of Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) along with Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta), Ruffs and Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) only 30 minutes after enjoying a Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) singing right in front of us…

 

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Garganeys (Anas querquedula) show up in good numbers all along April. Image: Carles Oliver

 

 

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Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) in flowering steppe vegetation. April at its best. Image: Carles Oliver

 

No mention to the steppes… they are never as beautiful as are in April. And are really productive! Many areas are carpeted by yellow, red and white flowers and Little Bustards (Tetrax tetrax) sing in the middle of the flowers while flocks of Sandgrouses (Pterocles sp.) and Stone Curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) feed around. You will listen some 100s of Calandra Larks (Melonacorypha calandra) and Corn Buntings (Emberiza calandra)… you may think; “it would not be 100s!”. Yes, 100s

In the fields, flocks of Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava spp.) feed along with Pipits (meadow, tree, red-throated?), Great Spotted Cuckoos (Clamator glandarius) will always be really busy and noisy at this time while small parties of tiny Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanii) move up and down in the air…

 

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Great Spotted Cuckoos (Clamator glandarius) are superb birds! Arriving along March, they are especially active in early April. Image: Carles Oliver

 

Yes, spring is here and, maybe is not that important whether April is the best moment to enjoy birds in Catalonia or not. It is still a wonderful time to come and enjoy!

Check out our birding trips at barcelonabirdingpoint.com our contact us to design your birding adventure at info@barcelonabirdingpoint.com