Arxiu d'etiquetes: bird migration

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

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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

Hume’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei), a mega in Barcelona

It is not happening every day that a mega is found out in a big city. But this just what it was happening the past 5th November, when a Hume’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei) was located in Montjuïc, a gardened hill inside Barcelona and known as the Olympic Hill in the city as it is here were the 1992 Olympic Stadium is located. The bird was first located calling in a Oak patch in the Southern slope of the hill by Manolo García. It was first located by callings and after that it was found out. The bird allowed wonderful views for – days, until 9th November, when it was seen for the last time.

The bird was many associated to a small flock of Goldcrests (Regulus regulus) moving in a Oak (Quercus cerrioides sp.) with no undergrowth. The warbler showed also a big preference for an isolated Robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia) that was visited several times. This sight is arriving soon after a large amount of Yellow-browned Warbler sights not only in Catalonia but also in the rest of Western Europe. In fact, it is already the third autum recording high Yellow-browned Warbler datas and thus, improving the chances for a Hume’s to appear, mainly because of a improvement of the local birdwatchers in telling apart both species. What it is even more interesting is this Hume’s is the second for this patch since another individual was located some yards away in early May by the same birder!!!