Birding Autumn Tour with “Walking With Wildlife”

TRIP REPORT

(September 30-October 5) ORNITHOLOGICAL TOUR IN SOUTHEAST IBERIAN

LOCAL GUIDES: J. M. Escarabajal; Paul Sparkes

PARTICIPANTS: Mandy West, Steve Harford, Jean McKell, Paul Coombes and Cedric Coombes.

CHECKLIST (115):

Poster autumn Trip (for web)Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Gadwall , Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Black Kite, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk , Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Iberian Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine, Red-legged Partridge, Moorhen, Coot, Crested Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing , Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank , Redshank , Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Eagle Owl, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff , Firecrest, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Southern Grey Shrike,  Great Grey Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Raven, Jackdaw, Red-billed Chough, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill , Corn Bunting.

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Last year we had the pleasure to welcome Mandy West (tour leader in Walking With Wildlife) who visited our region for our ornithological tourism project and the potential for bird watching in the southeast Iberian. As a result of this first visit we organized a trip for 2013, Birdwatching and photography through the Region of Murcia and some of its neighboring provinces. Here we have the report of an interesting and busy week in southeast region of Spanish  with a group of British birders.

The first day, after picking up our guests at the airport we made our way to the rural accommodation “The Perez B & B,” a nice house in the middle of the countryside in the Campo de Cartagena, on the way stopping at a local bar for tapas and a cold beer! In the afternoon we had our first contact with some of the birds of Murcia (Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler …) and also in a lonely valley at sunset, with got to see an Eagle Owl.

The second day was pretty intense and helped us to meet the extensive Iberian steppes in the south of La Mancha, in an unknown place, where the plains are mixed with small and medium gaps. There you can see a number of different birds, both aquatic and steppe, and also the area is used by many raptors as hunting ground. Thus we enjoyed watching several species, such as Little Owl,  Great Bustard, Black-bellied sand grouse and pin tailed sand grouse, Stone curlew, Flamenco, White-headed duck, Black-necked Grebe and up to 8 different species of raptors, highlighting a small group of Black Kites and at the end of the afternoon, two juvenile Imperial Eagles and a magnificent specimen of Golden Eagle that flew over our heads for several minutes.

The third day it was the turn of wetlands, in a beautiful natural park near the Costa Blanca, where there is an abundance of waterfowl and, at this time of year, migration occurs and the start of the wintering of various birds of prey (this time, again, another 8 different species in a single day). The group was able to enjoy, despite the hot day with good observations, Squacco heron, Glossy Ibis,  Red-crested pochard, Osprey, Booted eagle, Southern grey Shrike, Little owl and Bee-eater, the later probably the stars of the day. A gastronomic delight  in a rustic restaurant where we enjoyed the excellent local cuisine was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

The fourth day was reserved to visit a colony of Griffon Vultures ( throughout the morning these flew close to the rock faces) in the interior mountains of southwest Murcia, an unknown area that retains some of the best and most lonely landscapes of this region, with a variety of habitats (forests, crags, rivers, canyons, plains, reservoirs) which allow the presence of a variety of birds. Herons, grebes, cormorants, larks, crows, raptors, small forest birds, shrikes, wheatear, woodpeckers and owls came out to greet us. For example, it was a good day to learn the differences between Crested and Thekla larks and to get good observations of the Black Wheatear. Again at sunset, we had a second meeting with the Eagle Owl.

The fifth day began with a visit to a saline steppe zone in the central sector of the Region of Murcia. Although we saw some interesting birds like the Hoopoe and Spectacled Warbler , the number of species was not abundant and decided to change our route to the mountains, rising in the east in search of the Crested tit , Steve’s favorite species, and also for other members of the group that had never observed it. Between spectacular peaks and dense forests of Pines , we went up through the pine forest where, in addition to our main goal ( the crested tit ) We could see other species, such as Common Treecreeper , Peregrine Falcon and Red-billed Chough … In the afternoon , after crossing , again , the salt steppes we observed lesser kestrels. We then headed to the coastal range in search of prey on migratory passage : Booted Eagle , Common Buzzard , Eurasian Hobby , Marsh Harrier and a great sunset over the cliffs and the Mediterranean Sea .

On the sixth and last day with time to devote half a day of birding we went to the saltpans around the Mar Menor (the largest salt lake in the Mediterranean). This was one of the days our guest appreciated the most for observing very closely several species of wading birds and other waterfowl which made a good  photographic oppertunity. Black-winged Stilt, Knot, Audouin’s Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Avocet, Redshank and the flight of the flamingos very impressive passing over our heads.

In short, a lovely and enthusiastic group, with a fun atmosphere and as warm as the good weather that accompanied us throughout the trip, we also enjoyed the delicious local cuisine, the breathtaking landscapes and birds as spectacular as the Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Eagle Owl (up to 18 species of raptors), Great bustard,  Flamingo, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Little Owls and Crested tit.
Thanks for your visit and for your contribution to the protection of birds of southeastern Spain! We’re waiting for our friends at Walking With Wildlife for there next trip in spring!
(And thanks to our dear friends Rafa Torralba and Guillermo Garcia-Elder for there invaluable assistance).
Cheers guys!

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From plain to rocky hills.

BIRDING DAY – TRIP REPORT

GUIDES:  José Manuel Escarabajal & Paul Sparkes

PARTICIPANTS: C & B Hughes

CHECKLIST (50):

House Martin, Common Swift, Swallow, Black-winged Stilt, White-headed Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Coot, Serin, Spotless Starling, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Little Ringed Plover, Yellow-legged Gull, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Fan-tailed Warbler, Jackdaw, Roller, Kestrel, Magpie, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Spectacled Warbler, Corn Bunting, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark, Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Little Owl, Red-legged Partridge, Long-eared Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Golden Eagle, Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldenfinch, Red-rumped Swallow, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Sardinian Warble, Blackbird, House Sparrow. Eagle Owl.

Day trip:

Our day Started at 8.30, we collected our guests and made our way to the first site. The cloud cover was very low almost to the ground so we new there wouldn’t be a lot to see in the air for a while.  We parked the vehicle and walked for a few minutes to the lakes. In the first of the two lakes we viewed White headed duck, Little grebe and Pochard all keeping close to the canes at the edges of the lakes.  In the second lake were Black-winged stilts, Coots, Moorhen and again Little grebe. As we walked around the area a flock of 10 or more Night herons flow over our heads no more than 20 metres above and they kept circling for a few minutes, it was a great site!
We moved away from the lakes in the vehicle to our next stop, this area is home to many birds this time of year with the summer birds now arriving. As we made our way along the path we spotted Sardinian warblers also Jackdaw, Kestrel, Black-winged stilt, Green sandpiper, Little ringed plover and Little owl.  A bit further along the path we set up the scopes to get better views of the Kestrel and Jackdaw as they where nesting in the sandbanks, but the main attraction where a pair of Rollers sat on the top of the sand banks.
After a short walk we jumped back in the vehicle and drove around this vast steppe area, now the sun had burnt of the low cloud we made a stop by the roadside to view Spectacled warblers flitting about in the vegetation, the next sighting was a first for our guests in this area, a male Little bustard flighing past, as we watched it slow and finally stop in the vegetation  we put the scope on him to get a better view of the plumage, in doing so another past, then another.  Off we moved again but in only a few minutes we were back out of the vehicle as we had spotted a raptor in the sky above, after a quick look with the binoculars it was clear to see it was a Buzzard after a while we spotted another raptor, this time much bigger a Bonelli’s eagle subadult, this was great for our guests but not for the Buzzard who tried chasing off the Bonelli’s but with no luck! While driving around the steppe area we also viewed Chough,Crested and Calandra larks, Hoopoe, Corn bunting and Magpie.  We ended up close to where we had walked earlier but on the tops of the banks now, here we had a good view of another pair of Rollers sat on a cable, also close by a nest with three Long-eared owl chicks staring at us. We moved off quickly and quietly not to bother the chicks to our next quick stop, here we scaned the area and within two minutes a pair of Great spotted cuckoo turned up flew around from tree to tree then stopped together on the same branch and looked at us.
By now we where all hungry so we moved off to a traditional restaurant for some lunch. After we had eaten we made our way up the mountain in the vehicle, close to the top a Golden eagle flew over us with its massive wingspan. At the top we stopped to take-in the spectacular views, while we did a small flock of Bee-eaters circled over head and stopped on cables nearby. Further down the mountain on the other side we spotted  Kestrel, Green and Gold finch. At the next stop we viewed the mountains and trees here we spotted Pied flycatcher, Redstart, Serin and a possible sitting of a Crested tit from one of the guests.
As time was getting on we made a slow trip back to our guests house on the way spotting finches, larks and warblers and an Eagle Owl on a nearby rocky as last surprise of the tour.. A great day was had by all!

We would like to thank our guest for their company and welcome them back soon.

Jose and Paul

GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE (Aquila clanga) EL HONDO

TRIP REPORT

“On the path of Greater Spotted Eagle”

Over de past Wednesday 9th and 16th january 2013 a team of Birding Murcia visited the Natural Park of El Hondo, in Alicante, to try to photograph Tönn, a Spotted Eagle marked and followed by satellite using GPS transmitter that, for several years, migrated from Estonia to Iberian southeast to pass the winter. On the first day we could only photograph another Spotted Eeagle  accompanying Tonn on his journey but the second day, we were able to achieve our goal. In the following testimonial images of Santiago Carrasco, you can see the result of our sampling with which we want collaborate in this project of internacional scale.

OBSERVERS: Santiago Carrasco, Javier Coll and Jose Manuel  Escarabajal.

DAY 1 (9th January 2013)

CHECKLIST (60)

Cattle Egret, Jackdaw, Yellow-legged Gull, Green Woodpecker, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Great Grey Shrike, Ratonero Común  Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Snipe, Stone Curlew, Spoonbill, Water Rail, Shelduck, Coot, Cuchara Europeo Shoveler, Porrón Europeo Pochard, Cerceta Común Teal, Mallar), White-headed Duck, Pintail, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Booted Eagle, Glossy Ibis, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Kingfisher, Purple Gallinule, Osprey, Great Spotted Eagle, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Crag Martin, Robin, Kestrel, Spotless Starling, Serin, Black Redstar, Woodpigeon, White Wagtail, Stonechat, White Stork, Redstar, Golden Plover, Starling, Linnet, Greenfinch. Meadow Pipit, Southern Grey Shrike, Green Sandpiper, Bluethroat, Crane.

(Coming soon we will expand information)