BIRDWATCHING TRIPS to MURCIA, SPAIN

 Flyer Autunm Trip 2014 (front-B)Banner Walking with WildlifeFlyer Spring Trip 2015 (front) B

Since 2012 WALKING WITH WILDLIFE is organizing, in collaboration with Birding Murcia, birdwatching tours to Murcia (SPAIN), a paradise for birders located in Iberian southeast; a biographical region full of raptors (Golden/Imperial Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Eagle Owl ). and other spectacular birds like Roller, Bee-eater, Oriole, Great Bustard and many other rarities. Great birds, great landscapes, great people and culture as well as hearty local food dishes and enviable weather.

 SPRING SPAIN BIRDING TOUR

(Sunday 17th – Saturday 23rd / May 2015)
 Poster Spring Trip 2015 (for web)

 Join us for an amazing trip to MURCIA SPAIN, taking into coastal mountains, steppe and wetland habitats where they can expect to see many raptors and breeding / resident and migratory birds.

THE TRIP CONSISTS OF:
· 4 FULL DAYS/2 HALF DAYS BIRDING
· SIX NIGHTS ACCOMMODATION BED AND BREAKFAST
· AIRPORT COLLECTION/DROP OFF
· FULL TRANSPORTATION FOR THE DURATION OF THE VISIT GUESTS
· SERVICES ALSO OF A TOUR LEADER, BIRD GUIDE AND DRIVER

· NOT INCLUDED ARE FLIGHTS, EVENING MEALS/LUNCHES/DRINKS, PERSONAL INSURANCE OR ITEMS OF A PERSONAL NATURE

Program Spring Trip 01

WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU AND ENJOYING THE BIRD LIFE OF SPAIN TOGETHER!

DOWNLOAD PROGRAMME HERE (PDF): Program Spring 2015

Please contact us here at WALKING WITH WILDLIFE for more information or at the tour leader email: mandy_west48@yahoo.com

BIRDS OF MURCIA. Photographs taken by our tour leader

TOUR LEADESilueta Mandy 01R MANDY WEST
Mandy is passionate about the natural world and has been a wildlife photographer for a number of years. Her images have been published in books, magazines and on websites. She also names travel as her other main passion, having been fortunate enough to visit many places in Asia, including India, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as places in the UK and Europe.
Mandy loves being out in wild places and is enthusiastic and enjoys sharing her love of photography and the natural world with others.
 More photos of Mandy here:
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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!

Exploring Itineraries (Mar Menor – November 2013)

PHOTO ALBUM

08/11/2013 Exploring the Mar Menor area.

BirdingMurcia team is constantly working to prepare the best itineraries for ornithological tourism in southeastern Spain.

(Click to enlarge)

CHECK LIST (49 species)

Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant,Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moohen, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Monk Parakeet, Woodpigeon, Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Swalow, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Fan-tailed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet,

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)

JAVIER COLL

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

“A man of Murcia in the Shetlands.”

Javier Coll is one of the most important contributors to our project and Southeast vivo. Great photographer and naturalist with extensive knowledge of the nature of the southeast Iberian and avifauna. But above all, Javier Coll is a magnificent nature illustrator, a complete artist brimming with art and nature from every pore of his skin with every stroke and every one of his photos. This time he traveled with his camera and his brushes to the cold shores of northern Scotland to bring us this report.

© Javier Coll

We know you’re a crazy wildlife enthusiast and nature from an early age but, was there a turning point in your childhood or youth to determine that passion?

From my point of view I think that there was no turning point. For whatever reason grew within me a lively interest in nature, the fact that many weekends we went out to the countryside with family I guess reaffirmed my passion. I remember very young, my brother and I ran like crazy to watch TV programs “Man and Earth” by Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, when we heard the music program presentation. And if there really was a turning point was when he fell into our hands, being 10 or 11 years old, a little book called “The Birds”, black and white, but very worthy drawings, in which my brother and I started obsessively identify any feathered creature. Soon our bird guide book was short, our interest in learning species led us to achieve more complete bird guides ( full of exciting drawings), and after many trips to the countryside and the mountains there was a progressive approach, a growing interest in wildlife.

When did this passion for nature move to photography?

In the 90 I bought a film camera with two zoom lenses, one of them was a 70-200mm. In each excursion to the countryside I was trying to photograph birds. I remember specifically a trip to “El Hondo” which I scored a lot, because when I took the photos there I could identify some ducks.  I was already drawing animals since childhood, so I saw in the photographic technique a new way of research and knowledge for my love of drawing birds. As I saw with my camera could not zoom in enough, I opened a new way by discovering the digiscoping.

Landscapes or birds?, Do you prefer to photograph?

I’ve always preferred the birds, for the life that passed, and I love the color, variety and ease of observation. Lately the landscape also interests me, as is the medium in which they grow and live animals and shows us with some clues, we can decipher with sufficient knowledge, the kind of life that sustains both fauna and vegetation.

You’ve tried different photography techniques as: hide, digiscoping … which one do you prefer to photograph birds?

Each has its advantages. To take good photos there is nothing like putting a hide and take pictures with a good camera lens and SLR camera.
For birds that are at a distance, as in the shore, digiscoping technique is very good. But I also like  approaching to  birds just walking; although this doesn´t give me the best  results -at least with my equipment-, it does give the satisfaction of approaching animals and “hunt” in their habitat.

What equipment you used or which equipment currently hold? Anything to add to the debate between Nikon and Canon?

Like I said before, I first analog reflex camera not too much quality, then I bought a telescope and a Nikon digital compact camera, with which I digiscoping, and later took the leap to digital SLR with a Canon 300d, sigma-apo  70-300 lens, which gave me great satisfactions, then I’ve changed  lens and cameras to increase quality, and still with Canon, I do not think one brand is superior to another.

Is there a bird or group that interests you most? Why?

For me, and I’m not very original , my favorite group are the birds of pray, for their speed, their beauty and power. Watching an eagle in its environment still fascinates me, and some of the most touching  visions of nature for me were  hunting scenes where birds of prey played the main role. Waders, because of their variety and relative ease of observation also interest me, and passerine birds, with which I iniciated, are also among my favorites.

You are an expert on both Murcia and iberian nature … you recommend any particular place to enjoy wildlife?

It is hard to choose … In Murcia we are lucky to find great sites for observation and enjoyment of wildlife, as the  San Pedro Salinas and the Mar Menor, or even Guadalentin plains. Out of Murcia, Extremadura my favorite sites would, in whose meadows life bustles  like in few sites already, and the Sierra del Segura and Cazorla, with many possibilities for hiking and wildlife observation.

What would you tell us about the journey you show in this gallery? Why Shetland?

I wouldn´t be able to tell you what this journey meant for me even if a had a whole page available for it, being in a place so full of wildlife as the Shetlands. For example, if you’re in the right place you can have in front of you a kittiwake colony, next to you a  few seals swimming close to shore or simply resting, and at the same time you may see at your back  another puffin and fulmar colony, in the meantime a colony of great skuas and Arctic terns may be hovering above your head. Of course is the site with more birds I’ve seen in my life by far. Here is   the largest colony of great skua in Europe, and the second most numerous, if I’m not mistaken, of gannets. There you also can see  the largest colony of picofino Phalarope, besides numerous colonies of common murres and puffins. It is certainly an unforgettable experience.
Also I would like to highlight the incredible docility of birds in the Shetlands. Due to the small population of the islands and the absence of discomfort, the birds that are usually difficult to approach anywhere else are at your fingertips in these islands.

Besides photography your true passion is the naturalist illustrations you develop in a more or less professional. What have been your most outstanding publications and where you can we see them or consult?

I have made some minor publications such as posters, stickers, informative booklets, brochures. Also large format notebooks in separate sheets describing the Special Protection Areas, published by the Ministry of Environment of Murcia. I also made:

– Illustrations from the book ” Diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey of the region of Murcia“, published by the Ministry of Environment of the region of Murcia.

– Illustrations of the book “Natural heritage and power lines in the region of Murcia“, published by the Ministry of Environment of the region of Murcia.

– Home and illustrations from the book “Manual of good practice hunter“, also published by the same Ministry of Environment of the region of Murcia.

– Illustrations from the book “Ecology and Conservation of European Forest-Dwelling Raptors” published by Diputación Foral de Vizcaya.

Currently working on a project to make a bird identification guide.

How does the eye of an artist / illustrator in the picture or vice versa?

Well, I would like to think that I have a special sensibility to find the beauty in nature, although it is not me who should say so but  others. As an illustrator and amateur photographer I find myself in this second role an invaluable tool to obtain information to adapt to my illustrations, for example on anatomy.

Who are your teachers or your references in this painting and nature photography?

As for photografy I have no reference author. As for the painting and illustrations  my role models in Spain are: Manuel Sosa and Juan Varela, to highlight some; in  the rest of the world I admire Lars Johnson, Roger Bateman and Peter Hayman, whom I have the good fortune to meet and whom I usually accompany on some  birdwatching outings.

Interview by  J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia / Sureste Vivo)

YOU CAN SEE MORE ART-WORKS OF JAVIER COLL AT THIS LINK:

http://javiercoll.wordpress.com/

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All images are subject to Copyright @ Javier Coll and may not be used in any form of media or publication before prior permission.

“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vive) through the Project Birdingmurcia.

New Jersey connection – Mar Menor (Murcia)

TRIP REPORT

TOUR LEADER: Paul Sparkes & José Manuel Escarabajal

PARTICIPANTS: Jimmy & Susan Lee

CHECKLIST:

Spotless Starling, Yellow-legged Gull, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Common Buzzard, Crag Martin, Greataer Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Robin, Green Sandpiper, Common Moorhen, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Common Chaffinch,  White Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Water Pipit, Curlew, Kestrel, Osprey, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Jackdaw, Marsh Harrier,, Laughing Gull, Common redshank , Avocet, Black-necked Grebe,  Greenfinch, Linnet, Serin, Shelduck, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Gannet, Green  Sandpiper, Sanderling Sandpiper, Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Audouin’s Gull, Red legged Partridge, Sparrowhawk, Collard Dove.

From New Jersey America, Jimmy and Susan chose to spend a day observing birds with us, knowing some of the most favorable and interesting birds at this time of year and their habitats. We start in the port of Cartagena, and after a quick chat on the culture and architecture of this historic  area, we took our car and headed to your destination: The Mar Menor  (the largest salt lake in Europe). While driving on the highway from the coast we saw the first flocks of  Starlings, some Cattle Egrets and Cormorants and even a Buzzard perched on power lines.

Our guests showed great interest in everything in sight at all times, from the agriculture and tourism development of the area, to local customs and of course, birds. Upon arrival at our first observation point, a wetland situated between the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean Sea, Jimmy proved to be an experienced birder and although most species were new to them soon became aware of the presence of a good number of birds in the first ponds and canals: Black-winged stilt, Green Sandpiper, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe and Little Egret were the first birds sighted. We were also fortunate to locate a Kingfisher among the reeds that caused astonishment among the group. Before continuing the search of the water we move into the fields and wastelands surrounding the lagoon. Here are some small birds typical of the countryside such as Goldfinch, Black Redstart, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Common Kestrel and Curlew, plus Crag Martin flying around us while an Osprey fly’s by in the distance. Back at the lake discovered in the dense vegetation of the shores are Willow Warblers, Robin, Common Blackbird and  Reed Warbler and a fly by of a Marsh Harrier crossing in front of us while scanning the waters in search of prey.
Now we have the salt ponds on both sides of the road which allows us to meet a large flock of Flamingos (true bird emblematic of the Park) and some of them flying near our position, which is always a show. Near the Flamingos swim some Black-necked Grebes and we observed several  Avocet, Stilt and Redshank. On the shores of another  pond we see Sanderling Sandpiper foraging between silt and reeds. In other ponds rest Yellow-legged Gulls and a small flock of Shelducks that are liked by our guests. It’s time we get into the secluded sandy Mediterranean beaches  these are covered by a blanket of algae remnants of oceanic Poseidonia left by sea on the shore .. But before we cross a small strip of dunes teeming with several groups of Greenfinch, Linnet and Serin. From the beach we observe the plovers and Turnstone on the coastline and offshore cormorants and gannets. The Kestrels hunting over the dunes are another spectacle before making a stop for some tapas in a typical local restaurant.

In our vehicle we cross the vast plain that borders the great lake to head to one of the best preserved sites of this territory and rush the last hours of our journey. On the way Cattle Egrets, Starlings, Kestrels  again become a constant sighting until we reached our next destination: a picturesque landscape of low hills covered with small palms (the palm species native servives in these latitudes its sole European distribution) and dotted with palm trees and some old salt mines that produce some amazing reflections of light in the water really beautiful. And to end the evening, a plus, we observe a European Little Owl, a Sparrowhawk or Buzzard perched on a nearby mountain top, among other species, three magnificent birds posed in front of our telescope and binoculars: a new flock of Flamingo, another sighting of an Osprey hovering over the tops of the nearby hills and a great view of the scarce and rare Audouin’s Gull resting on one of the walls of the saltlake. It was a fitting end to an excellent day of birdwatching in pleasant company of our new friends Jimmy and Susan. Thanks for joining us!

BOB & CYNTHIA KAUFMAN

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

Two Birders to Go

Immersed in a country with 7,100 islands where geographic and evolutionary processes have produced one of the highest degrees of endemic species known in the world with about 181 species of birds found only in this archipelago, Bob and Cynthia are at the same time, two birdwachers and photographers, making them, as they like to call themselves, in two “ornithographers” who enjoy this ornithological paradise and, with each of his photographs, they want to make us aware of the wonders that nature provides.

© Bob & Cynthia Kaufman

The title of your blog reads “Two Birders To Go”. Are you always together for birding? How long have you share this hobby and how it started in each one of you the interest in nature and birds?

Cynthia and I are always together when we go birding. I have always liked birds ever since I was child. Cynthia became interested after we got married in 2004 (it was a second marriage for both of us – I was a widower and she was a widow when we met in 2003).

What equipment do you use? Are you supporters of Canon or Nikon?

We both use Canon equipment. I have a 5DMarkII with 500mm lens and a 1.4X extender. Cynthia uses a 7D with a 300mm lens plus 1.4X extender as well.

You have a very extensive and beautiful collection of photos of birds with many high quality shots. What techniques you use regularly to get them?

Mostly luck. I believe it was through years of practice – we go birding almost every week since 2004 – that we were able to develop our skills.

What are your favorite birds?

Sunbirds. For now.

Tell us something about the images we see in this gallery.

The images in the gallery are the product of 8 years – and counting – of bird photography. We were in America from 2004 to 2010 and that’s where most of the photos were taken. In 2010 we moved to the Philippines and of course we were photographing Philippine birds. We made some trips to Singapore and Borneo, again for the purpose of taking pictures of the local avifauna.

Living in one of the ten most biodiverse countries in the world should be a privilege for bird lovers. Is there a great passion for birdwatching in The Philippines?

Birdwatching is a growing hobby here in the Philippines. We are members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). http://www.birdwatch.ph/index.html. Right now the membership of this group is around 200. There are also several bird tour companies operating here in the Philippines to promote local birdwatching.

How people perceive in your country nature conservation? What is the main threat to wildlife in the Philippines?

Sadly the Philippines still has a long way to go when it comes to nature conservation. Illegal logging is still rampant. There are still hunters and illegal pet trade going on.  But several conservation groups are now actively communicating with the government to stem these illegal activities.

Do you collaborate with any conservationist association or some birding club?

Yes. The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) which I mentioned earlier.

Finally, will you give any advice or message from Philippines to birdwatchers around the world?

We have more than 600 species of birds here in the Philippines and at least 200 of them are endemic and found nowhere else. Come visit us – the Philippines is a very friendly country – and enjoy the unique and beautiful birds that we have here.

Interview by: J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)

BOB & CYNTHIA KAUFMAN CONTACT ADDRESS: 2birderstogo@gmail.com

YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES OF BOB & CYNTHIA AND ENJOY THEIR PHOTOGRAPHS IN:

http://ornithographer.blogspot.com for our blog

http://ornithographer.smugmug.com for our photos.

These photographs are the private and personal properties of Bob D. Kaufman and Cynthia Kaufman. Please refrain from using them without our written consent. Thank you and God bless!

ELOY PEREZ

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

RAPTORS: The sky’s of Murcia

Seasoned and a self-tort field naturlist, Eloy Perez is an expert on Southeast Iberian raptors, he knows  every last cliff ledge and revine where the eagle owls live, from the northern regions of Murcia to the   coastal cliffs. It has been my plesure to have met you and undersand your love of wildlife.

© Eloy Pérez

When did your interest in nature start?

My family tradition of hunting when i was very young, when my uncle began to instruct me in hunting techniques. However, from the age of 23 I started a “gradual conversion process” and killing animals became less sense to me. I kept going to the field often but I changed the shotgun for binoculars to observe and study the wildlife. Little by little at the beginning, and in the company of my children the knowledge of the most iconic natural areas of the Iberian Peninsula. I remember in ’92 when I first saw owls, I was so impressed that I decided to pursue the monitoring and study of this impressive raptor. That’s how I met my two good friends Jose Alfonso Lacalle naturalist and biologist and Mario León Ortega who performed his doctoral thesis on the ecology of the Eagle Owl in Mediterranean Ecosystems; the thesis took severl years of hard work. During this time I have worked in various censuses, biological studies and monitoring and so continued.

How did your interest in photography start?

Reading the stories in wildlife magazines and Natura Quercus, two of the most popular nature publications in the 80s, my interest and my concern translate into images the feelings of my experiences with birds. Taking advantage of the many trips in Spain and field trips of  my region, I bought my first camera and started to photograph the wildlife that past  infront of the lens, and so I continue to date.

What is your favorite group of bird?

Undoubtedly raptors.

Have you one in particular?

The Goshawk.

Any special reason why?

Because it is one of the most intriguing Iberian raptors and surely one of the most difficult to photograph. You can feel it but can not see it. No wonder Dr. Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente was called “The Pirate of the thicket” (The Pirate forest) …

What equipment do you use?

Previously used a Canon D300 with Sigma lens 100×300 and now I work with a Nikon D70 with lens incorporating Sigma EX 80×400 image stabilizer.

I know that you have an extensive collection of pictures, do you publish them anywhere?

In some public institutions I collaborate with, but the truth is that, considering that they dont have enough quality to appear in major publications, practically I only share with my friends and for my personal memories. Recently I am also working with the project Birding Association Southeast Murcia Live.

You are very humble in respect to the quality of your photographs. Do you collaborate them with some project or conservation partnership?

I have never belonged to any groups, I always like to go it alone, but I actively collaborate with the Departments of Toxicology and Ecology, University of Murcia, in the doctoral thesis on the ecology of the biologist, Mario Ortega (As I’ve already said before ) and environmental agenties of the Region of Murcia. In fact, just over a year ago I was awarded the Diploma of Honor and as Honorary Member of the Association of Environmental Agents in the Region of Murcia.
Usually I also do volunteer work for the Environmental Department of the Environment and collaborated with input data in several studies and surveys of regional wildlife.We do not stop!

Finaly the photo’s you have shared with us on this page, how did you collect them?

My aim is to show a simple example of the raptors that ply the sky’s of Murcia. During my free time I spend many long hours studying this field flock which has allowed me over the years to get more interesting catches. Some were made “on the fly”  with camera in hand while walking my natural territory in southeastern Murcia or on many of my travels around the peninsula, others were obtained from waiting in hides during long sessions for the various studies, biological monitoring, campaigns and institutional projects I’ve worked. Also in the vicinity of some of the best hunting grounds for the owls (hunting areas or foraging) I know. Of course, always respecting rigorously, all security protocols for birds and regulations. In the end, between long walks and many hours of waiting I have manage to collect these photo’s.

Interview by: J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)

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The images that appear in this article are the property of Eloy Pérez is necessary to request permission to the author for publication or any other use of the same.

Alert Dotterel

PLOVERS LOOKING AT Guadalentín Valley

After receiving our notice about the presence of a group of Dotterels in one of our usual foraging areas, on October 17th we had the pleasure of accompanying the prestigious birder Richard Howard in search of these rare birds. We met with Richard early, after lunch, ready to enjoy a good afternoon of birding and offer our support to locate Dotterels, a bird very rare and difficult to see in these lands. After the preliminary survey of the terrain, we finally got our objective and Richard could see his coveted Dotterels although we also do other interesting observations throughout the afternoon. Richard tells us in his own words in the following article, extracted directly from his own blog (BIRDING IN MURCIA):

Birds seen

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis); Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus); Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos); Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus); Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa); Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus); Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis); Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus); Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus); Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos); Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis); Crested Lark (Galerida cristata);  Skylark (Alauda arvensis); Swallow (Hirundo rustica); Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus); Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe); Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata); Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis); Jackdaw (Corvus monedula).

“Although I have seen Dotterel in various places in Spain, up until now I have never seen them in the province of Murcia.  This is not due to lack of trying – in fact this autumn I have made a special effort to try to find them but without success.  The Dotterel, although not a rarity in Murcia, can definitely be considered as ‘scarce’.  Unlike in the surrounding provinces of Alicante, Albacete and Almeria, there is no regular spot to see them.  (In Alicante they are normally seen from the end of August in the fields surrounding ‘El Hondo’ near Crevillente; in Albacete there are several flocks seen close to the border with Murcia again from the end of August onwards until October/November and also in the Spring, and in Almeria they winter in the southern coastal dunes to the east of Almeria city).

Recent recorded sightings in the region of Murcia are normally single records per year of single birds although two years ago a flock of 36 was seen.

Therefore apart from being one of my favourite birds to see, I was very interested to receive a message that two had been seen last Sunday in the Guadalentín valley, and that by Tuesday the number had increased to 8.  I arranged to go with the finder, Paul Sparkes, on Wednesday afternoon to view them.  Arriving at 3 p.m., we went straight to the area he had last seen them the day before, but they were nowhere to be seen, but we did have a Golden Eagle go over us quite close.

However, checking nearby likely fields, Paul noticed movement that wasn’t Stone Curlew – yes, it was the Dotterel.  To begin with we only saw five, but eventually saw the whole group of eight.  From the coloration, 2 appeared to be adults as they were quite dark on the breast.

We watched them from a safe distance so as not to disturb them, for about ¾ of an hour, and then had a look around the rest of the ZEPA.  Other birds of note seen were a group of 5 Black-bellied Sandgrouse that flew over, and a ringtail Hen Harrier.” (Richard Howard)

Birding Murcia (Southeast Alive)