Wednesday, 30 June 2010

19th - 26th Tour

19th - 26th - Week Tour and Extension

Rufous Bush Robin

I have spent the last week leading a private tour for Father and Son Rob and Dan Pointon and so have had little chance to update. This is a little roundup of the highlights of the tour, a full trip report will be available on the website soon. The Itinerary for the trip was based on our 7 day Costa Blanca/Castille le Mancha tour (see - with an extension for Dan to visit Cazorla in Andalucia.

Before leaving for Cabaneros we visited a few local area's where we watched common and rare resident species; Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Marbled Duck (with 14 chicks), White-headed Duck, Rufous Bush Robin and Black Wheatear were all enjoyed alongside a supporting cast of typical Mediterranean species like Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Serin and Roller.

Montpellier Snake found dead near Montague's Harrier nest. Possibly killed by "playful" fledglings.

Cabaneros did not disappoint and during our two day visit we managed to see all of our target species as well as unexpected ones. A Common Crane was certainly the most unexpected species of the trip and easily makes it into the highlights list along with Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Black and Griffon Vultures, Azure-winged Magpie, Short-toed Eagle, Western Orphean Warbler and Lesser Kestrel.

Moustached Warbler

A full day at El Hondo after returning from Cabaneros left Rob and Dan amazed (as it does with everybody) not only due to the scale and beauty of the area but also because of the lack of access. The usual array of species were seen including Moustached and Great Reed Warbler, Squacco, Purple and Night Heron, Purple Swamphen, Black-necked Grebe, Whiskered and Little Tern, Little Bittern, Greater Flamingo and White-headed Duck. We also managed to locate 2 summer plumage Spotted Redshank and a Wood Sandpiper but the most unexpected bird of the day was by far a Barn Owl which was hunting across the reeds.

Lesser Kestrel

On Thursday 24th we ventured towards Valencia to see Red-crested Coot, at this site we also added Melodious Warbler and Sandwich Tern to the ever increasing trip list. Before returning home we spent a few hours at the coast enjoying a superb sea watch. Cory's Shearwater were present in good numbers and watched at close range with a juvenile Gannet and numerous Balearic Shearwater also passing through.

The final day of the tour was spent in Murcia where we managed to get Rob his main target bird - Golden Eagle as well as many other fantastic species including Bee-eater, Roller, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Quail.

Black Kite

After dropping Rob at the airport Dan and I returned for a walk around the perimeter of El Hondo where we found a male Western Olivaceous Warbler which appears to be holding territory. In the evening we visited a nest site for Eagle Owl near Algorfa, 2 birds showed well just before dark along with Scops Owl, Long-eared Owl and Red-necked Nightjar.

The trip to Cazorla provided us with the chance to see a number of species that we had not yet seen on the trip including, Red-billed Chough, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and European Nightjar. The star bird however was a sub adult Lammergeier which gave fantastic views at close range.

A full species list and day to day account of the trip will soon be on the website available as a PDF download. The trip list ended on 184 with a Cuckoo on the way to the airport being the last new bird of the trip, having unbelievably eluded us all week! Thanks to Rob and Dan for a fantastic week. If you would like details of this trip or would like to discuss your own private tour requirements with me please visit

Thursday, 17 June 2010


I have been really busy with getting the website finished the last few days and as a result, I have had little time for birding. Managed a few hours up at Algorfa this evening which turned out to be really good. As I watched the rock face I hoped to see Eagle Owl on, a number of other species were recorded, Bee-eater (numerous), Iberian Grey Shrike (4), Stone Curlew (10+), Little Owl (2) and Black Wheatear all showed well.

Unfortunetley the Eagle Owl didn't show but I have a good idea where it has moved to, it tends to move around the area and appears not to be breeding despite holding a good (large) territory. A huge consolation was a Red-necked Nightjar which completley out of character began flying around in full daylight and landed in the open for a few minutes. I was that caught up in the moment that by the time I reached for my camera it took to the air again, landing out of view.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Rufous Bush Robin

Rufous Bush Robin

Rufous Bush Robin

As you will know from reading my previous posts, Rufous Bush Robin have given me a bit of a run around this year and refused to pose for pictures. However, this morning I managed to find a very showy individual near Alicante. I watched this male bird for about an hour as it moved around its territory and also chased off a second male which briefly sang close by. A video of this superb bird singing can be seen at the bottom of this post. Other species seen this morning included, Spotted Flycatcher, Hoopoe, Roller, Turtle Dove and Spectaled Warbler.

On the way home I stopped briefly at Santa Pola, unfortunately the water level where the Marbled Duck had been displaying has fallen and the birds have gone. Plenty of other things were taking advantage of the shallow water though; in particular, Squacco and Purple Heron, Whiskered and Little Tern, Greater Flamingo and Slender-billed Gull.

Rufous Bush Robin

Rufous Bush Robin

Rufous Bush Robin Video

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Back in the Uk

Back in the UK
Apologies for the lack of updates over the last week or so, I have been back in the UK and very busy sorting things out for when I return to Spain on Sunday (13th). However, I have found some time for birding. On Friday 4th I made the short drive to Blorenge, South Wales to see the Marmora's Warbler which has taken up residence in the area, what a fantastic song this species has! I watched the bird for 2 hours as it moved around its territory on a feeding circuit, which at times brought it fairly close to where I was stood. Although it was hard to take my eyes of the star of the show, it did have a fine supporting cast which included Whinchat, Cuckoo, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Raven.

Marmora's Warbler: Photo by Steve Hinton

Marmora's Warbler: Photo by Steve Hinton

Marmora's Warbler: Photo by Steve Hinton

Having dragged myself away from the Marmora's, I decided to have a look around Wentwood Forest for the Iberian Chiff Chaff which has been singing here for a number of weeks. Shortly after arriving the birds distinctive call gave its location away and I had soon found it, its fleeting movements through the canopy made it hard to get a prolonged view. Other species seen in the wood included Chiff Chaff, Blackcap, Garden,Willow and Wood Warbler.

Iberian Chiff Chaff: Photo by Steve Hinton

Travelling from Devon to Cheshire on Monday 7th allowed me to explore some old birding haunts. On Tuesday evening I visited Cannock Chase with my Dad (Mark Powell) and Mike Hunter. In the hour before twilight we managed to see Hobby, Woodlark (2), Tree Pipit and numerous Cuckoo; the main attraction also showed well just before dark with a minimum of 5 Nightjar present.

The following morning I managed a couple of hours birding on the North Welsh coast before picking my sister up from Bangor University. My first point of call was Cemlyn Bay where Sandwich, Common and Arctic Tern were all breeding in good numbers. From the sea a steady trickle of Gannets, Manx Shearwater and Auk's passed through; the best of the bunch however, was a Roseate Tern which fished in the shallows for 10 minutes before heading towards the main colony. A brief stop on the way home at Gronant Little Tern colony was a perfect end to a 5 Tern day!