Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Western Orphean Warbler at Hartlepool Headland Cleveland UK

Tuesday 29th May 2012 - Quick dash over to Hartlepool Headland with Fred Fearn, Alistair Orton and Malc Curtin to see the Western Orphean Warbler.  What a cracker !  

From the site, went back to work in Cheshire, loaded up and went to Anglesey to carry out some survey work, long day, but worth it !

Not much time to blog today as catching up with everything at the office before heading off to Spain early tomorrow morning for our tour across the Spanish Pyrenees. Hoping to see this species on the trip so that my Dad can see it with me. 
Pictures below courtesy of "Uncle Phil" (Phil Woollen, Cheshire).

Thursday, 24 May 2012

3 day Introduction to the birds of the Costa Blanca

Over the last 3 days we have had 2 Swedish guests out with us who are relatively new to birding.  They have been visiting this part of Spain for a number of years but have never ventured very far from Quesada where they share a holiday home.

A chance meeting whilst we were at El Hondo Visitor Centre, got us talking and they asked us to take them out for a few days this week to show them as many birds and locations as we could.  A nice change for us really, as usually our guests want to see the rarer, migrant or harder to locate species.

As this is our last week here in Spain until the weather cools down later in the year we are just going to show a few pictures of some of the birds we have seen over the last 3 days.  Next week we will post a full trip report on our website covering the locations and sightings more extensively.

Hopefully we will get another blog in this week, although most of our spare time is being spent preparing for the long weekend tour across the Spanish Pyrenees. We will leave Alicante on Thursday 31st May and arrive at the French border, ready to cross back into the UK, in the very early hours of Tuesday 5th June.

 Black-crowned Night Heron

 Black-crowned Night Heron 

 Great Spotted Cuckoo

 Purple Swamphen

 Stone Curlew

Little Grebe 

Monday, 21 May 2012

"The Corridor Runner" (Cream-coloured Courser) UK

Cream-coloured Courser - "The Corridor Runner"
(Thanks to Sue Joynes for the use of her picture)

Last week we searched the fields of Alpera in Spain trying to locate the Cream-coloured Courser that had been reported there.  Today Ashley was lucky enough to see this little beauty that turned up in Herefordshire.   Although we are still in Spain, Ash was working near to where the bird was seen and took a couple of hours off to see it.  Lucky him - not so lucky us - despite trying very hard to relocate the birds at Alpera no-one has seen them for the last 11 days - Hmmm wonder if he flew over to see you guys in the UK chuckling at us as he went ???  

NB:  Cream-coloured Courser roughly translated in Spanish is The Corridor Runner - great name don't you think!

Anyone fancy a beer !

Enough of chasing Coursers .................................................
I think it's time to settle down with the Wagtails and chill with a beer !  

On a more serious note ................. 
Yesterday morning the weather here in Alicante was heavy and somewhat overcast, culminating in an electric storm in the afternoon.  Unfortunately lightening struck the reed beds at La Mata and caused a significant fire, which, aided by a sudden change in the wind spread very quickly.  The emergency services worked hard to control the blaze, ferrying water by plane and helicopter.  How much damage has been caused we are not sure yet, but if access is available we will head out there tomorrow and take a look. 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

El Hondo Parc Natural 17/18/19 May 2012

The last 3 days have been spent exploring the whole of the accessible area at El Hondo Nature Reserve (official title: Parc Natural El Fondo).   There is a lot of ongoing work around the parc and a number of controlled burns have been set recently around the perimeter alongside the road.  The main canal that skirts the reserve has been dredged in readiness for the new water pipes that are being put in.  All the disturbance has obviously not affected the count of White-headed Duck as the pictures below show.  
We spent at least an hour watching them late yesterday afternoon from the hide on the main road.  

They were very entertaining along with the Greater Flamingo that were feeding there in a group of approx. 120 birds.  We had our very own afternoon tea dance ! Accompanying music was provided by the birds all around us as the White-headed Ducks "waltzed" around in front of us, the Grebes "dabbled" and the Flamingo's performed their "pirouette" like ballet dancers dressed in pink - an absolute "Allegro"performance !

Ok, enough of the romancing and down to solid birding - an Osprey sitting a nest is a first for us at El Hondo which was a nice addition to our list of birds seen there.  Other highlights over the last three days include:  Marbled Teal / Little Bittern / Great Bittern / Purple Heron / Black-crowned Night Heron / White Stork / Great Egret / Moustached Warbler / Great Reed Warbler / Red- crested Pochard / Squacco Heron / Red-knobbed Coot / Bearded Tit / Slender-billed Gull / Adult Med Gull / Black-necked Grebe 

 White-headed Duck

 Let battle commence

 lazy days on the water !

Some more........

 and more........

 sorry ! even more.....

and last but not least............

 Great Egret

 Black-necked Grebe

 Red-crested Pochard

Great Reed Warbler 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Birding Blues :-( to Beautiful BLUES :-) !!

                   No explanation required !                                 Ash Ryan & Craig at the ground

The last post we put on the blog was about the Cream-coloured Coursers which unfortunately despite trying very hard we have been unable to relocate - BIRDING BLUES :-(

Since then there has been a weekend and what a weekend it was for the Blues of Manchester !

Along with birding fans we are all avid MANCHESTER CITY fans, so you can imagine what the weekend was like for us.  Not lucky enough to get a ticket for the match Ashley, Ryan and some friends headed off to Manchester to take in the atmosphere and watch the match at a pub near the ground, whilst Mark and I watched it here in the Breeze Bar, the home of the Costa Blanca Blues - a registered Manchester City Fan Club out here in Spain.

We went from absolute despair to complete Euphoria in less than 5 minutes, definitely not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or high blood pressure ! - BEAUTIFUL BLUES :-)

All finally calmed down and back to normal today.  Ashley in South Wales, England and Mark and I still enjoying the sun and the beautiful birds of the Costa Blanca.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Alpera "Wot no Cream-coloured Coursers" !!

Yesterdays birding was hard going to say the least.  Fellow birder and Murcian Resident, Richard Howard and I set off early in the hope of locating the Cream-coloured Coursers that have been recorded at Alpera, Albacete for the last few days.  The information on the location of these birds was sketchy as they had been seen on an un-named road to the South of the Town of Alpera.  We had expected to see other birders looking for the birds so were not too bothered about the lack of directions. No others birders and sadly no Cream-coloured Coursers for us, although they had been reported at 09.15 that morning. 

We decided to head off to Petrola around 2pm in the hope of meeting someone birding who may have further information on the Coursers, but it wasn't to be.  Never one to let a day spent birding be wasted, we salvaged the trip with superb views of over 30 Black Tern, 50 Whiskered Tern and an abundance of waders and wildfowl.  Before we left for home Richard directed me to a site he knows of for Great Bustard.  Our slight diversion home was rewarded with good, if somewhat distant, views of 9 of these magnifnect brids. 

 Black Tern
 And Again
 Couldn't resist another
 Whiskered Tern
 Kentish Plover
 Common Sandpiper
 Black-winged Stilt
Greater Flamingo

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lazy day at the Nut House

Today had been set aside as a recoup and regroup day.  Household stuff, washing, shopping and a bit of R & R around the pool was on the agenda.  Did it happen - of course not !  By mid morning Mark had itchy feet and wanted to "have a little drive out" (Mark's term for let's go out birding and see what we can find).

Determined to spend some time in the beautiful villa we are paying for, I agreed on the understanding that we were only out for a couple of hours.  (I am sure an old shack on some wasteland would do Mark and Ash as long as they could go birding everyday).

Knowing full well that Torremendo is one of my favourite drives Mark headed that way "so I could check on the Swallows nesting there".  Who does he think he's kidding ??  3 mins max checking out the Swallows + 2 hours hunting down and photographing Warblers !!  Melodious and Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and a very photogenic Little Owl were recorded in the area at the mouth of the very impressive reservoir.

In his defence, once we had scratched his birding itch, we stopped at the famous Nut House (official name I believe is Bar Alegria) in San Miguel de Salinas.  Antonio, the owner decided to turn his house turned into a bar, but as he had no licence he was warned by the police that he could not sell alcohol.  To get round this slight inconvenience he sold peanuts and gave away the beer !  Hence the NUT HOUSE !

Whilst we were there today enjoying a plate of peanuts, a few drinks, coffee and tapas, Antonio entertained his diners by singing and playing his old but obviously well loved guitar.   Much better than the original plans of shopping and washing I have to agree.  Returning to the villa we decided to a least keep to part of our original agenda and have a quick dip in the pool and some R & R before our evening meal.

 Spotted Flycatcher 

Olivaceous Warbler 

Little Owl 

Day Tours (Option 6) - Red-necked Nightjar

Last night - Wednesday 9th May - we headed over to our regular site for the Red-necked Nightjar.  It was a lovely warm evening with very little breeze and we arrived just as the light was beginning to fade.

Despite the noise from the firework display in the distance, we could hear the Nightjars as soon as we got out of the car.  The fireworks were heralding the end of the 1st day of a 4 day fiesta in Torrevieja, which is being held to celebrate the traditions & culture of Spain.  Not to be outshone in either the noise or the display stakes, the Nightjars performed brilliantly.  The distinctive churring call got louder and louder until the first bird flew straight across the road only a couple of metres from our heads.

Without doubt this is the best view of Red-necked Nightjar I have seen here in Spain.
(Author - Tracy Powell)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Day Tour (Option 3) - Murcian River Valley

Option 3 of our day tours is a popular choice amongst birders and photographers of all levels.  This versatile natural environment is just an hours drive away.  It's diversity of habitats provides us with the opportunity to see waders, raptors, larks and warblers as well as the breeding highlights depending on when we visit.  April and May are the best times to see the beautiful and graceful Bee-eaters and Rollers as they display in the air and in the valley where they breed. 

Below are some of the photographs we took today in the 5 hours (including lunch) we were on site.  If you would like to join us for a days birding, click here to be re-directed to our website where you can see what day tours we offer.  (A full list of the species seen today is below the photos),

Bee-eater in flight 

And another ........

And another ........

.......... having a well earned rest on the fence 


Roller in flight  x 4

Red-rumped Swallow x 3

Little Ringed Plover 

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Species List 
Roller (15+) / Bee-eater (30+) / Magpie (15) / Black-bellied Sandgrouse (7) / Southern Grey Shrike / Woodchat Shrike / Swallow / Red-rumped Swallow / Swift / Pallid Swift / Nightingale (5) / Spotless Starling / Corn Bunting / Jackdaw / Great Spotted Cuckoo (2) / Quail / Hoopoe  / Turtle Dove / Tree Sparrow / House Sparrow / Greenfinch / Serin / Yellow Wagtail / White Wagtail / Little Owl / Moorhen / Coot / Stonechat /  Red Legged Partridge / Sardinian Warbler / Spectacled Warbler / Whitethroat / Black-winged Stilt / Common Sandpiper / Little Ringed Plover / Little Grebe / Calandra Lark / Short-toed Lark / Crested Lark / Thekla Lark / Kestrel / Montagu's Harrier / Golden Eagle