Thursday, 12 December 2013

Baikal Teal at Last

Yesterday I got the chance to try again for the drake Baikal Teal that has been showing at Marshside RSPB.  I say again because I've been no less than three other occasions in the last fortnight and failed miserably each time.  Having emailed Jeff Hazell,  a recent participant on our "November Costa Blanca Tour " to tell him of my failing he was quick to reply and tell me he had already been up and seen the bird.  At seventy something years old Jeff, you are a legend.  As you can see from the picture below,  I finally managed to see the elusive bird and well worth my trouble it was  - Mark 

 and lots of
 Baikal Teal there somewhere
Pink-Footed Geese

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Spain Costa Blanca Tour

Here are some of the images from of our recent Costa Blanca Tour, that I have found time to process; a full trip report will be available soon on the main website. I'm sure some much better photos will also surface, as two of the three trip participants were very skilled amateur photographers. A combined trip total of 117 species were recorded, not bad in 5 days hey! 

Highlights included - Greater spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Black Wheatear, Spectacled Warblers, Bluethroat, Calandra Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Red-knobbed Coot, Purple Swamphen, Penduline Tit, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow and many many more!

If you like the sounds of our five day Spanish Tours, you should check out what additional species you can see on our spring dates! April 7th-12th and April 21st-26th. For further information please click here to visit our website or e-mail

 Spotted Redshank
 Kentish Plover
 Sanderling & Little Stint
 Yellow Legged Gull
 Greater Flamingo
Nine Marsh Harrier on Vista Bella Road
 Common Crane 4 of 22 seen
 Spectacled Warbler
 Audouin's Gulls
Audouin's Gulls
Slender Billed Gull
 Common & Green Sandpiper
 Black-Necked Grebe
 Black-Necked Grebe
 Greater Flamingo
 Joined by Water Rail
 Monk Parakeet
 and again
 Black Redstart
Great Bustard four out of 91 seen
 Greater Spotted Eagle (Tonn)
Greater Spotted Eagle (Sub Adult)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Day 3 - Costa Blanca 5 day tour Eagle Euphoria !

Day 3 - Wednesday

On previous tours we have been able to gain access to El Hondo Natural Parc on Wednesday mornings to more or less be sure of a sighting of one of the magnificent Greater Spotted Eagle that return here each year. However, work on the reserve now means that public access to the parc is limited to three hours on a Saturday morning making sighting/viewing the Eagles considerably more difficult especially with the weather this morning.

Our usual Day 3 itinerary starts with meeting the warden of El Hondo and spending 3 hours in the reserve at the well elevated observation point.  As this is not possible just now the challenge to show Jeff, Kay and Brian the Eagles was a lot harder.  We have already spent hours over the last 2 days scanning the "big blue sky" for our quarry. Whilst we had no luck with our desired bird we have had some fantastic views of Common Crane (22) & (12), Booted Eagle (dark & pale phase) in good numbers and Male & Female Marsh Harrier (as many as 9 in one scope view), Buzzards and a single male Hen Harrier.

A torrential downpour last night has left a lot of water lying on the roads and the land, but determined to help Jeff reach his goal of seeing every European raptor, we headed out to Hondo after spending the first part of the morning at Clot de Galvaney (more details in our trip report). On a cycle path where we have seen these Eagles before we were able to achieve Jeffs' goal and good scope views were enjoyed by Jeff, Bryan and myself of an adult Greater Spotted Eagle.  Moving on to an area near the south gate we hoped to be able to show Kay an Eagle as it was too difficult for her to access the first viewing point.   Much to our delight and Jeff and Kays' absolute euphoria,  there perched in one of the eucalyptus trees sat a second one of the Greater Spotted Eagles we had been searching for !  Ever seen a guide so pleased to see a bird that he grabs and kisses his guest ? Well I have now !!!  Aquila Bird Tours is proud to have provided the guide who helped a birder with more than 60 years birding experience complete his European Raptor List.

The second bird Mark located a sub-adult (3rd winter) moved from one perch to another providing all members of the group with excellent views.   Job done - three happy guests and a very muddy guide !

With the pressure off as Jeff and Kay's' main reason for this trip was to see the Eagle, we will now spend the remaining 2 days of  their visit enjoying some more leisurely birding around the beautiful Costa Blanca with Bryan Thomas who will be providing some of the photographs for the trip report.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Costa Blanca 5 day Tour Day 1

The temperature here is pretty static at a pleasant 18 degrees at best during the day and the wind has dropped considerably.

Today we start a 5 day tour with Jeff & Kay Hazell from Bristol.  Both are experienced and well travelled birders with impressive UK and World lists.  Jeff is involved with the Somerset Ornithological Society and is a current member of their committee.  His specialist field is Raptors and although he has admitted to enjoying watching and photographing all birds, his target for this trip is Greater Spotted Eagle to complete his Eiuropean Raptor list - no pressure there then  !!

After we had picked our guests up from the airport we called in at the Salt Pans for a little taster of what this beautiful area has to offer birders and those who enjoy the outdoors.

Next stop was the hotel for a light lunch and a quick freshen up before heading out to the perimeters of El Hondo to try for the Eagle. There have been 3 birds seen from different parts of the parc at various times so we are going to do our best to fulfil Jeffs' desire to complete his impressive Raptor list over the next few days.

Full trip report will be available next week.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Costa Blanca Review

The weather here at Guardamar del Segura is pleasant at between 15 & 18 degrees during the day, although in the evening it drops into single figures. There is quite a strong Northerly wind which makes it feel a little cooler out of the sun.

On Monday we have a couple from Bristol flying out to join us for 5 days so with their target species in mind we spent today checking out some local patches in preparation for their arrival.  

There is an abundance of White Wagtails in the area and we spent some time watching them amongst the ever present Cattle Egret in a flooded field.  2 Water Pipit / Jackdaw / and Spotless Starling were also recorded noted. 

From the Vistabella Road we had good scope views of an adult Greater Spotted Eagle being mobbed by 2 Booted Eagle. Over the Marsh, Harriers were hunting continually with as many as 9 birds visible in the air at one time. 

White wagtail
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egrets
Black Redstart
Marsh Harrier

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Marshside RSPB and pre tour preview

Yesterday (Monday 18th) Dad (Mark) and I decided to check out Marshside RSPB for an hour, in the hope of getting some photographs of the recently located Ross's Goose. The bird had been associating with Pink-footed Geese, but despite seeing plenty of these, the Ross's failed to put in an appearance.

The marsh held good numbers of waders and wildfowl, including; Teal (pictured below) Wigeon, Pink-footed Geese (pictured below), Shoveler, Pintail (pictured below), Water Rail, Snipe, Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Little Egret.

On the way home we managed to get great views of a Ringtail Hen Harrier, which quartered the roadside farmland for nearly five minutes within close proximity. Some great views of some great views and great way to wet the appetite ahead of our Spanish Tour commencing next week. Please watch this space for your updates and for information on set tours or bespoke birding trips, please get in touch!

Teal (male)

Teal (female)




Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese