Ignacio greeted us at the North Gate of El Hondo this morning for a couple of hours ringing in the reedbeds. With the wind set to increase during the morning we were fighting against the clock, but no sooner had we put the nets up than a flock of Bearded Tits flew past our nets, 7 of which got caught! A great start and the morning light allowed the excellent pictures below to be taken.
Bearded Tit - female
Bearded Tit - male.
Just as our excitement of the previous catch began to subside, something ran towards the nets and fell into the lower panel, it could only have been one of 2 species and to our amazement it was the much scarcer of the two – an adult Water Rail! (See below). During the remainder of the hour we managed to catch a few other species before the wind increased to the point that the nets needed to be lowered; these included – Robin (4), Cetti's Warbler (3, below) and a female Blackcap. Before leaving the North end of the reserve we spent an hour or so walking to a few of the viewing platforms recording; Marbled Teal (20), Teal (numerous), Pintail (40+), Great Reed Warbler (1), Wryneck (1), Booted Eagle (2), Greater Spotted Eagle (1 adult) and 2 singing Moustached Warblers.
The afternoon was spent in the south of the reserve where raptors appeared abundant yet frustratingly too distant for the camera. Raptor totals included – Greater Spotted Eagles (3!), Golden Eagle (2 adults), Booted Eagle (5), Bonelli's Eagle (1), Buzzard (2), Marsh Harrier (5+), Hen Harrier (1 male, 1 ringtail), Kestrel (7) and a single Sparrowhawk – certainly a memorable day for raptors! Other species recorded at the south included; Whinchat (20+), Iberian Grey Shrike (4), House Martin (15+), Sand Martin (100+), Swallow (10)and an abundance of Chiffchaff.
Greater Spotted Eagle - Adult