Guadalentín Valley and Mountains of Mazarron

“River walk & Mountain lunch”

Leader: José Manuel Escarabajal
Participants: P.S., M.L.M., V.H, I. G., F. M., J.V.

CHECK LIST:
Roller, Swift, Yellow-legged Gull, Swallow, Crested Lark, Great Grey Shrike, Magpie, Stone Curlew, Wheatear, House Sparrow, Mallard, Bee-eater, Booted Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, Rock Dove, Jackdaw, Sardinian Warbler, Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Reed warbler, Moorhen, Night Heron, Tree Sparrow, Turtle Dove, Corn Bunting, Kestrel, Blackbird, Kentish Plover, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Nightingale, Short-toed Eagle, Spotless Starling, Woodchat Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe, House Martin, Serin, Red-legged Partridge, Woodpigeon, Golden Oriole, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Coal Tit,  Green Woodpecker, Great Tit, Dartford Warbler, Golden Eagle, Rock Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Crag Martin, Little Owl.

As normal we meet at a bar for a quick coffee and sort out who is going with who. We are not traveling far today but expect to see alot! On our way to the river we stop to admire a Roller sat ontop of a road sign, this is the same place we spotted it during the week with other clients. After snapping off a few photo’s we move on to the river, as we slowly walk along the path Bee-eaters fly above us feeding, Its not long before we see a Moorhen then some warblers and up out of the bank on the other side a Hen harrier takes off. On the other side from us is the wall of  the rambler full of holes, here nesting are Jackdaw’s and the odd Roller.
We move off the normal path and set up the scopes under some almonde trees to give us abit of shade, through the scopes we can see into some of the holes to see the nest of the Jackdaws, and get close ups of the warblers on the reeds in the river. We get a quick fly past from a Bittern, this is a lucky spot as they are very rare here. One of the group also spots a eagle coming our way high up, as time passes it comes closer and lower, now we can see it is a Booted Eagle with its big wings open wide we can see the  black edge to them.
Moving away from the river in the cars we drive through an area of scrub land, here there are Red-legged Partrige, Stone Curlew, Woodchat Shrike, and kestrel’s, we drive slowly to keep an eye out for anything moving. As we pass a bit of scrub the land changes to a strip of plouged soil, at it’s edge something catches my eye so we stop and out with camera’s, feeding on the ground is a Short-toed Eagle no more than 100 meters away, this bird is stunning with its brown mantle blending in with the terrain, she takes off with big swings of her broad wings when high enough she circles round for a while then fly’s off into the distance, amazing!!
A short distance down the road are two Golden Eagles flying high on the winds, but back on ground level a Hoopoe fly’s along side us and stops on a road sign. We make our way up the mountain track to the top where we stop for lunch, here the views are fantastic and the wind is welcome to cool us off. While tucking into our sandwiches someone see’s a Golden Oriole fly past, a few minutes later we see it again and get the scopes on it so we can all get a good look at this bright yellow bird. After lunch we move round the mountain and spot another Golden Eagle this time much closer, as we watch this massive bird above us it fly’s up to a peck close by and stops on the rocks, it must be 200 meters away but we can see it very clearly. A short break here and the eagle is off again, as are we. Back in the cars moving slowly down the mountain track a Partrigde with its chicks move’s quickly across the track, but for one chick not quick enough as a Kestrel comes out of now where and plucks it off the path, this is a real life tour and all the animals and birds have to eat, even if it is a bit sad and spectacular to see all at the same time. Just a bit futher down the track a fox cub climbs the bank, it must be very young as it is grey and no bigger than a small cat it finds it’s den in a group of rocks and disapears into a hole. This has cheered the group up and we move off to the bottom of the mountain.
Time has run out again so we make our way back to the meeting point and pick up our cars and move off to a nearby bar for a cold beer and talk about the days adventures.

Raptor spotting – South-west Murcia

Leader: Jose Manuel Escarabajal
Participants: PS, Kate, Dick, Bertie, Judy,

CHECK LIST:
Roller, Crested Lark, Golden Eagle, Alpine Swallow, Swallow, Red-rumped Swalow, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starlin, Green woodpecker, Bonelli’s Eagle, Craig Martin, Kestrel,  Short-toed Eagle,  Wood Pigeon, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Long-eared Owl.

We met our group of keen birders at El Molino where they have stayed for the past two years, after a brief run-down of what we would hopefully see in this afternoons trip we set off for the South-west of Murcia. After only 20 minutes we spot a Roller in a tree at the road side, so we pull off the road and have a look at this fantastic bird with its bright blue chest making it stand out in the tree. As normal on our tours we like to show our guests all the birds possible in the time we have together so even though this is a raptor trip we cant pass by without stopping when possible.
At our first stop we park up and take in the great views of the mountain range, while we are setting up the telescopes we get our first sighting of a Golden Eagle gracefully gliding over the mountain top and giving us a superb view of  its markings. The group gets to track its flight along the ridge then over the top to the other side. While we wait to see if it will return to our side we spot other birds in the area like Alpine Swallows and Crested Larks. Within ten minutes the Golden Eagle is back and to our delight stops on the top of the mountain giving us a magnificent profile view through the scopes.
We move on after the group has had its fill of the Golden Eagle, on the way to the next stop we see Spotless Starlings, a pair of Green Woodpeckers, Woodchat Shrike and a few Wood Pigeons. After parking the cars we have a short walk to our next view point. Again we set up the scopes and bang on que a Bonell’s Eagle fly’s our way,  passing over head to show off to us, we scan the sky’s for more birds, and not far behind the first Bonelli’s is its partner gliding on the winds. The pair stop on the mountain face behind us giving all a great view. After a while they take to the sky’s again and pass over the mountain out of sight. Our guest have come well prepared and tuck into some sandwiches as we wait to see if the Bonelli’s return. A lone Eagle comes into sight and after a few minutes is close enough to be identified as a Short-toed Eagle, it passes in front of us and fly’s off into the distance.
As the day light starts to fade we pack up and make our way to the cars and home, on the way we have an added bonus Jose spots a Long-eared Owl on top of a telephone pole so we pull off the road and have a look, when out of the cars we here more in the trees and spot that they are young and being watched over by the parent on the pole. The adult owl is not bothered by us being there no more than  15 meters away which allows us to have a good look and with the light fading behind it the silhouette is fantastic and a great ending to the trip.

Birding Murcia in the UK

(WWT Arundel wetlands)

Leader: Paul Sparkes
Participants: PS, JS, GS, MLS, CS.

CHECK LIST:

Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Mute Swan, Puna Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Smew, Mandarin Duck, Common Eider, Magpie Goose, Falcated Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Chestnut Teal, Red Shoveler, Rosybill, Coscoroba Swan, Philippine Duck, Chiloe Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Hawaiian Goose, Eurasian Common Scoter, Canvasback, Buttlehead, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Little Grebe, Pheasant, Lapwing, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, Swallows, House and Sand Martins, Green Woodpecker.

The day starts with a nice drive through the country-side in the south of England, we reach Arundel by 11am and park the car near the castle. A slow walk along the stream gives us plenty to photo, here there are Mallards with there chicks and also in the middle of the stream a nest with three moorhen chicks being fed by there mother. Further along above the trees we see a Buzzard soaring in the wind.
The wetlands are full of many variety’s of ducks and geese the colors are fantastic, we walk slowly through the paths in and out of the reeds, as we do so ducks appear from everywhere. The weather is kind to us today nice and sunny to show off the birds and the surrounding flora, the trees are all different colors of greens and browns and so tall, one thing we miss living in our part of Spain!
We pass a small group of people and chat for a while, a lady tells us that there is a nest of  Little Grebe on the Lilly’s ahead of us if we look hard we should see it, also she tells us how the Little Grebe has suffered here in the past two years because of the Coots, so she is happy to see the nest this year. We pass on deep into the wetlands and come across a nesting Swan, as we pass slowly she stands to reveal six eggs, after she moves them a little see sits and watches us move on. Ahead of us in the path no more than ten meters is a female Pheasant she kindly stands still long enough for us to take a few pic’s then of f into the grass she goes.
After a short walk we come to an open area of water and grass beds with plenty of birds to look at, we take a seat in the hide and watch as the birds come and go. Our next stop is a small wooded area to one side of the wetlands here we see a Green Woodpecker climbing up a tree.  Time is passing on so we make our way back to the car but first stop in the town for tea and a sandwich.
On our way home we pass many wooded areas their floors covered in Bluebells and with the sun shinning through the trees it makes a great end to the day.

Southwest Murcia – Hell’s Canyon

Leader: José Manuel Escarabajal
Participantes: PS, ML, MLM, DLM, IC., VH, AE.

CHECK LIST:
Roller, Swift, Mallard, Swallow, Bee-eater, Stone Curlew, Rock Dove, Jackdaw, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, House Martin, Sandpiper, Chough, Golden Oriole, Little Egret, Magpie, Short-toed Eagle, Red-legged Partridge, Nightingale, Black-eared Wheatear, Green Woodpecker, Rock Martin, Kestrel, Carrion Crow, Golden Eagle, Hoopoe, Spotless Starling, Spotted Flycatcher, Cattle Egret, Little Owl.

  The day starts at 8.30 with a quick coffee then an hours drive down to the southwest of Murcia. Our first stop on the way to the canyon is un-scheduled, we spot a Roller sitting on a cable with its bright blue chest shinning in the sun, also flying around are Swifts and Bee-eaters, colours everywhere! Back in the car we set off down counrty lanes to the first scheduled stop at a reservoir. As we unload our telescopes and cameras Jose spots a Booted eagle hunting for food, and above circling high in the sky are 12 Griffon vultures. Looking down from the high walls of the dame we can see Great Crested Grebe , Coots, Moorhens and Little Grebe fishing for there breakfast.  On the other side of the dame are House martins, Rock Dove, Chough and a fantastic looking Golden Oriole, sitting in the same group of trees is a Little Egret.
We move away from the dame down a tack following the out-skirts of the reservoir, here the weather changes and the clouds roll in bringing a light shower with them, as we turn a corner we spot a Short-toed eagle looking for prey.  At the other end of the reservoir we join a road again and head off for the canyon, on the short drive there we see Nightingale,Black-Eared Wheatear and on the roof of a farm shed Cattle Egrets.
Turning off the road on to a track are two Griffon vultures quite close so we stop and watch them, to our surprise they slowly get closer to the ground and disapear behind a hill, so we walk in that direction, when we reach the top they take off no more than 100 meters away, these birds are impressive with there massive wingspan.  Ten minutes more in the car and we reach the track for the canyon, we unload our backpacks and head off.  The track is easy waliking with breath-taking views of the pine clad mountains, we come to a stream with insects skimming about  in pools at its edge, and in the trees around us birds are singing.  We stop at an old house for a packed lunch in the shade of a big pine tree as another short shower passes.  After our lunch we head off  up the track which leads us to the canyon, here the high cliffs close in on us, and the trees growing on its steep faces make for a spectacular site. After a steady walk of half an hour we come to a bend in the canyon, we stop and set up our telescopes to look at a cliff face high above, on its ledges trying to keep out of the rain are Griffon vultures dotted everywhere.  The rain starts to get abit heavyer so we pack up and head for the car.
In a nearby village we stop for a quick coffee and deside to stop at one more place before we head home, on a quite road side we park the car and search the moutain for any sign of life, we spot some wild goats( Muflone) grazing under pine trees, and also high on a cliff face two Griffon Vultures shaking off the rain that has now stopped.  Shortly a Golden eagle appears above glidding around majesticly, while we watch its flight along the cliff it lunges at one of the vultures chassing it away, then it returnes and does the same to the second one, when the vultures are gone it takes a purch on a high ledge and keeps an eye on the area.  As we pack up and head for home a rainbow appears.
On the drive home we see Little owls along the road side sitting on posts and cables, with the daylight slowly fadeing away we spot a Golden eagle purched on a electric tower no more than 80 meters away, this has been a fantastic day even with a little rain.