Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Spurn Weekend: May 27 - 30

Having been away for so long, it was good to finally get back to my favourite birding site.

Having arrived the following evening I was keen to get out birding. I made a large loop including the Triangle, Beacon Ponds, Kilnsea Wetlands and Sammies Point. Sadly there was fairly little on display, the whole area feeling a little quiet. I had a Long-eared Owl at Sammies, which was Spurn tick for me (I think) but that was the best of it. In the afternoon we all headed to the pub to watch the FA cup final, but sadly the game was interrupted by a Red-footed Falcon, which, to add insult to injury, we all missed!

Today was a day that will go down in Spurn history for being exceptional. Sadly I missed half of it, but still had 3 extremely good birds. I walked round the triangle first but found nothing. Upon my return to the Obs I missed Alpine Swift and TWO Red-footed Falcons. at 11.00 I'd had enough and joined the masses at Numpties. Good thing I did, as not only did I then proceed to see another TWO Red-footed Falcons, but also found my first real description species; Red-rumped Swallow. The excitement, for me, of something like that more than makes up for the birds I missed:

The morning of the 28th of May was an exceptional day for visible migration. At 11.15 I arrived at the Numpties watchpoint at Spurn having already frustratingly missed 2 Red-footed Falcons and an Alpine Swift that had already gone south. There was a small crowd of Spurn regulars present, enjoying a steady trickle of House Martins and Barn Swallows going south, which continued all day.

At 11.40 there was a noticeable lull in the number of birds moving. I happened to scan left of where I was standing and saw two swallows flying south just over the heads of the left most crowd members. Through my binoculars I noticed that the second bird clearly showed a pale rump, and this immediately set alarm bells ringing. However I was looking into the sun and I wanted to make sure that the bird was not a House Martin. The bird banked clearly showing black undertail coverts and long tail streamers. I realised that I was looking at a Red-rumped Swallow, and panic set in. My immediate response was that I could have imagined the rump, but the bird banked again clearly showing that I had not.

At this stage, still only a fraction of a second after I had picked up the bird, I shouted ‘Red-rumped Swallow’ and pointed in the direction of the bird. The bird was probably level with the observers at this point, but everyone present was able to get straight onto it and watch it continued over our heads and fly off south. The bird was picked up again about a kilometre south at the Spurn breach by Rael Butcher, who was the last person to see the bird as it flew south. The bird was photographed by Jake Gearty, but he was the only observer present to do so.

The bird had noticeable long tail streamers which would suggest that it was a male. The overall structure was almost identical to the Barn Swallow that it was adjacent to, not squat and stubby like a House Martin. I was lucky to have spent the two months prior to this weekend at Spurn birding in Spain and Portugal where I was able to watch Red-rumped Swallows daily, often in the company of Barn Swallows. That said, this was a British tick for me.

It was a truly amazing day, and one that will go down in Spurn folklore. Not only was it a record day for Red-footed Falcon (Four!) but it was also a record day for Hobby, with seven individuals flying south. There was also a good arrival of Red-veined Darters, with at least seven males. An awesome day to be a part of. 
-Red-veined Darter
-Red-footed Falcon

The morning started wet, grey and overcast, and this was the theme of the whole day. Early morning Tim caught a possible Iberian Chiffchaff. He listed all the features and made a good case but we will have to see when we get the results of the DNA test. I tried my best to find some birds around the triangle but ultimately failed. A yeartick of Cuckoo was about the best I could managed. Not quite on the same scope as the previous day.
-Possible Iberian Chiffchaff

For my final morning of the weekend I decided to try my luck at the Point. My time would have been better spent in bed, as there were not many birds to be seen down there. A couple of Spotted Flycatchers and a Wheatear were all that I could manage migrant wise, and a Peregrine was all that I could manage otherwise. A fairly steady day to be honest.

Species List:
Spurn Bird Observatory: Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Shelduck, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Hobby, Kestrel, Peregrine, Red-footed Falcon, Common Buzzard, Long-eared Owl, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Curlew, Whimbrel, Oystercatcher, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Eider, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Common Swift, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Wren, Robin, 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Portugal & Spain complete species list

Greylag Goose Anser anser
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
Common Pochard Aythya ferina              
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris*
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus               
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great White Egret Ardea alba
Little Egret Egretta garzetta      
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus*
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus*
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti*
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Bonelli's Eagle Aquila fasciata
Eurasian Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Red Kite Milvus milvus
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni*
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Great Bustard Otis tarda*
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax*
Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Eurasian Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola              
European Golden-Plover Pluvialis apricaria        
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus      
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus              
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula     
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus               
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata       
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa         
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica      
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Red Knot Calidris canutus           
Ruff Calidris pugnax      
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea    
Sanderling Calidris alba               
Dunlin Calidris alpina    
Little Stint Calidris minuta          
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago       
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus          
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus    
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola             
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Razorbill Alca torda
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Audouin's Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii*
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis    
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Little Tern Sternula albifrons
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica   
Black Tern Chlidonias niger         
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis               
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata*         
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis*
Rock Pigeon Columba livia          
Common Woodpigeon Columba palumbus        
European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Barn Owl Tyto alba
European Scops Owl Otus scops*
Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo*
Little Owl Athene noctua
Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis*
Alpine Swift Apus melba             
Common Swift Apus apus
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer*
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster   
European Roller Coracias garrulus*        
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor*        
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis meridionalis
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator             
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus 
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius             
Iberian Magpie Cyanopica cooki*  
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica          
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax     
Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula       
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow Corvus corone      
Common Raven Corvus corax
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla*     
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra*
Woodlark Lullula arborea           
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae*
Crested Lark Galerida cristata   
Sand Martin Riparia riparia        
Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris    
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica   
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica*
House Martin Delichon urbicum               
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus*    
Eurasian Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus                    
Great Tit Parus major   
Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus             
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus irbii
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea           
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla*
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti         
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Western Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli*         
Isabelline Warbler Iduna opaca*
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta*
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus   
Eurasian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus             
Great Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis*
Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis*
Western Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans cantillans*
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala*     
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis               
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata*
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes galactotes*
European Robin Erithacus rubecula        
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos   
European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus      
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros gibraltariensis
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius  
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra         
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola rubicola 
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura*
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe            
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica hispanica*
Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula           
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus               
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor*
Iberian Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus*
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia*
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus        
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs                       
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris      
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus    
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis               
Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina      
European Serin Serinus serinus*
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes           
House Sparrow Passer domesticus          
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis*
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus             
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia *
Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus*
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild*

Iberian Hare Lepus granatensis
European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
Brown rat Rattus norvegicus
Egyptian Mongoose Herpestes ichneumon
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
Wild Boar Sus scrofa scrofa
Red Deer Cervus elaphus

European Pond Terrapin Emys orbicularis
Spanish Pond Terrapin Mauremys leprosa
Red-eared Slider Trachemys scripta elegans
Moorish Gecko Tarentola mauritanica
Turkish Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus
Large Psammodromus Psammodromus algirus
Spanish Psammodromus Psammodromus hispanicus
Geniez’s Wall Lizard Podarcis virescens
Guadarrama Wall Lizard Podarcis guadarramae
Ocellated Lizard Timon lepidus
Western Montpellier Snake Malpolon monspessulanus
Iberian False Smooth Snake Macroprotodon brevis
Horseshoe Whip Snake Hemorrhois hippocrepis

Iberian Painted Frog Discoglossus galganoi
Iberian Water Frog Pelophylax perezi
Spiny Toad Bufo spinosus

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator
Violet Dropwing Trithemis annulata
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii
Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum
Scarlet Darter Crocothemis erythraea
Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa
Western Clubtail Gomphus pulchellus

Southern Emerald Damselfly Lestes barbarus
Iberian Bluetail Ischnura graellsii
Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum
Southern Damselfly Coenagrion mercurial
Dainty Damselfly Coenagrion scitulum
Common Winter Damselfly Sympecma fusca
Goblet-market Damselfly Erythromma lindenii

Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina
Clouded Yellow Colias croceus
Bergers Clouded Yellow Colias sareptensis
Black-veined White Aporia crataegi
Large White Pieris brassicae
Small White Pieris rapae
Bath White Pontia daplidice
Western Dappled White Euchloe crameri
Green-striped White Euchloe belemia
False Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium esculi
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus 
Black-eyed Blue Glaucopsyche melanops
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
Brown Argus Aricia agestis
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Queen of Spain Fritillary Issoria lathonia
Marsh Fritillary Eurodryas aurinia
Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe
Iberian Marbled White Melanargia lachesis
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina
Southern Gatekeeper Pyronia Cecilia
Spanish Gatekeeper Pyronia bathseba
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Red Underwing Skipper Spialia sertorius
Southern Marbled Skipper Carcharodus boeticus
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola
Lulworth Skipper Thymelicus acteon

Friday, 19 May 2017

Iberia: Monfrague & final days 17 - 20 May

Day 38 17.05.2015
Having finished our survey work we began a couple of days birding casually in Monfrague National Park. Even as we drove through the park there were plenty of birds; Griffon, Egyptian and Black Vultures all in abundance, as well as Black Stork. Passerines were also in good numbers; Melodious Warbler, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting plus finally connecting with Cirl Bunting, with a couple of individuals seen during the afternoon including a singing male. In the evening we headed up to the castle to watch White-rumped Swifts and they more than performed, with birds coming into the castle to their nests, providing us with brilliant fly-by. An awesome way to spend the evening!
-Cirl Bunting
-Eurasian Griffon Vulture
-White-rumped Swift

Species List:
Monfrague National Park: White Stork, Black Stork, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, European Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Feral Pigeon, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Common Swift, White-rumped Swift, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Blue Rock Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Iberian Water Frog, Iberian Painted Frog, Mediterranean Pond Terrapin, Large Psammodromus, Small White, Large White, Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, False Ilex Hairstreak, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Southern Gatekeeper, Red-veined Darter,

Day 39 18.05.2017
This was our one and only full day in Monfrague, so it was an unfortunate development that the wind picked up overnight. Despite this we made the best of it, and whilst it seemed to have reduced the abundance of Cirl Buntings, other birds were not too badly affected it seemed. We first headed just out the park to a site for the buntings and Crested Tit. The Buntings were nowhere to be seen, but we had a good session with 4 Crested Tits. Sadly they did not really sit for photos, but they were such beautiful birds I can’t say that I really minded. A Subalpine Warbler was also present, but shared the same problem as all the others we have seen in that it remained within the bushes. A stunning male Common Redstart was a surprise, as it was a trip tick, and not something we had expected for the day. A couple of butterfly lifers was also nice; Black-veined White and Spanish Gatekeeper. The former was very nice after I had been unable to clinch one earlier in the trip.
-Crested Tit
-Black-veined White
-Spanish Gatekeeper
After spending the first half of the morning in the woods, we headed off to a watchpoint for Spanish Imperial Eagle. The birds were not as regular as they had been at this site, as they had failed with their nest, but we hoped for a flyby and after a short wait we struck lucky. Sadly it was very brief and its second appearance was equally as brief so we returned in the evening. In the evening we had much better views of an adult flying near the ridge behind us. It did not fly particularly low but low enough to see detail on the wings and feathers. Obviously brilliant to see, and about time given we have been in Iberia for over 6 weeks.
-Spanish Imperial Eagle
After spending time with the eagle we continued driving slowly up the road in the hope of finding some Cirl Buntings. We initially heard them and then finally saw well a small group of around 10 buntings feeding near the road. They came fairly close and we were finally able to get some good shots. At the same spot Re’a picked out a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, which when we investigated, found a nest hole, and could clearly see the adults bringing in food. That was a pretty cool, and a lifer I did not expect for the trip. After dark we did a slow night drive along the main road, but Red Deer were all that we could manage.
-Cirl Bunting
-Lesser-spotted Woodpecker

Species List:
Monfrague National Park: White Stork, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, European Black Vulture, Black Kite, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Common Swift, House Martin, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Greater-spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Common Redstart, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Western Subalpine Warbler, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Small White, Large White, Black-veined White, Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, False Ilex Hairstreak, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Spanish Gatekeeper, Red-veined Darter,

Day 40 19.05.2017
Today is our final full day, and last day of any meaning, in Iberia. We only had the morning birding before heading back to Campo Maior as a half way stop before our trip to Lisbon tomorrow. We called off at Almarez Reservoir on the outskirts of Monfrague for some birding before we began wrapping it up. The site was pretty good, with a number of wetland birds present, especially Purple Heron and Little Bittern which we found in some number. Purple Swamphen was also present although typically skulking, and we had good views of Great Reed Warbler singing and heard several Savi’s Warblers, although we saw none. A nice end to the birding for our trip! On the way back we had a stop off at a petrol station to fill up, and here we had some nice views of Azure-winged Magpie. They were pretty upset with a Black Kite that flew over, and a posse of at least 10 Magpies followed the Kite until it had left.
-Little Bittern
-Purple Heron
-Spotless Starling
-Azure-winged Magpie

Species List:
Almarez Reservoir: Cormorant, Great-white Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Red Kite, Booted Eagle, Great-crested Grebe, Purple Swamphen, Moorhen, Little Bittern, Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Squacco Heron, Gull-billed Tern, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Greenfinch, 

Day 41 20.05.2017
Our final morning in Iberia was spent travelling to the airport at Lisbon. Once we had dropped Re'a off for his earlier flight Yoav and I found we had some time to kill so went to bird a small nature reserve consisting of salt pans on the southern side of the city. 
We were not expecting much but were pleasantly surprised by a healthy selection of waders plus a few other bits and pieces. Our final trip tick was a Little Stint on one of the ponds, and we also had views of Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Dunlin among the commoner waders that we had become accustomed to. Alongside the waders we found good numbers of Greater Flamingo, as well as a few Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Common Waxbill and for the insects finally a good view of a Swallowtail. 
-Little Stint

Species List:
Salinas do Samouco: Little Stint, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Greater Flamingo, Common Waxbill, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, House Sparrow, Collard Dove, Mallard, Shelduck, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, White Wagtail,

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Iberia: Merida & Trujillo 14 - 17 May

Day 35 14.05.2017
It’s crazy to think that we are now into the last week of working. So many birds have been seen, but there’s still so much more to see, and that was demonstrated today. We headed off La Albuera, a small town, quite close to Badajoz. Despite birding in an area of endless agriculture, I had a really sweet mornings birding. Without a doubt the highlight was a small colony of Collard Pratincoles next to the track I was walking. They showed really well, such class birds. Also showing crazy well were the areas abundant Montagu’s Harriers. I stumbled across a 2 pairs of Rollers, as well as a single Great Bustard. Perhaps the real surprise were four Lapwings in the fields, not a species I was expecting for the morning.
-Montagu's Harrier
-Collard Pratincole

Species List:
La Albuera: Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, White Stork, Montagu’s Harrier, Black-winged Kite, Black Kite, Common Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Great Bustard, Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Blackbird, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Small White, Large White, Green-striped White, False Ilex Hairstreak,

Day 36 15.05.2017
Today was our final day in Merida, although we were actually working in an area of Steppe half way between Merida and Trujillo, near Campo Lugar. Despite the habitat looking good there was a very limited array of birdlife. A few Little Bustards were a highlight, but apart from them it was a small assortment of common steppe birds. The only birds that were really different were three Roller, but sadly they were more distant than I would have liked. We also called off at a couple of the nearby reservoirs. The birdlife here was also limited, with a Red-crested Pochard probably being the best of it.
In the evening we started working near Trujillo. There was very little improvement it has to be said, although my first Red Kite for some time was nice, as was a very brief Great-spotted Cuckoo. Holly Blue was a nice butterfly trip tick, and I found an enormous Ocellated Lizard, with the individual being about 50cm long. An absolute beast!

Species List:
Campo Lugar: Little Bustard, Roller, Bee-eater, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Linnet, Goldfinch, White Stork, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Mallard, Gull-billed Tern, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, Spotless Starling, Serin, Goldfinch, Great-crested Grebe, Cormorant, Red-crested Pochard, Kingfisher, White Wagtail,
Trujillo: Red Kite, Great-spotted Cuckoo, Corn Bunting, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Black Kite, Mallard, White Stork, House Sparrow, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Thekla Lark, Western Dappled White, Holly Blue, Small Copper,

Day 37 16.05.2017
We continued working in the same area that we started the previous evening. I had a fairly pleasant morning, with double figures of both Great and Little Bustard, although seeing the latter was a completely different challenge. Distant views of Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Stone-curlew were also nice. Great-spotted Cuckoo and Red Kite were also still around, plus I had a Northern Wheatear, which is always awesome to see. There was a good selection of insects on offer, with many species of Butterfly and Dragonfly, with a lifer of Knapweed Fritillary, plus I had an Ant-lion which is only my second ever.
-Thekla Lark
-Scarlet Darter
-Knapweed Fritillary
In the evening I worked in an area of very small, very well grazed fields. Sadly this meant there were not too many birds. The highlight was a pair of young Great-spotted Cuckoo, which were being ferociously mobbed by a Magpie. Upon our return to the accommodation I found a Turkish Gecko hanging from the roof of our porch.

Species List:
Trujillo: Mallard, Great-crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, White Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-headed Gull, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Great-spotted Cuckoo, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern Wheatear, Stonechat, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Serin, Corn Bunting, Spanish Psammodromus, Spanish Pond Terrapin, Western Dappled White, Green Striped White, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Meadow Brown, Southern Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Knapweed Fritillary, Scarlet Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Red-veined Darter, Dainty Damselfly,

Day 38 17.05.2017
Today was our final working day. Unbelievable to think but our time in Iberia is almost over. It was nice to end our work with a few Great Bustards, but sadly only one Little Bustard was heard. There were good numbers of Bee-eater around, and a Booted Eagle was nice. Overall though it was a fairly steady morning! The reptiles were much better. I had a really nice Montpellier Snake slither into a wall when it saw me, plus a few Wall Lizards, Psammodromus and Ocellated Lizard. There were quite a few butterflies on the wing, but nothing really different from previous days.
-Mantis Empusa egena

Species List:
Trujillo: Trujillo: Mallard, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, White Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Great Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Great-spotted Cuckoo, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Spanish Psammodromus, Western Montpellier Snake Ocellated Lizard, Western Dappled White, Green Striped White, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Meadow Brown, Southern Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Black-tailed Skimmer, Western Clubtail, Dainty Damselfly, Southern Emerald Damselfly, 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Iberia: Extremadura Ebird big day 13 May

Day 34 13.05.2017
It’s crazy but this will be our last day off before we head for a couple of chilled out days in Monfrague. Today was the Ebird big day, so we set ourselves a target of trying to see as many species as possible throughout Extremadura. Ebird is a website for recording bird sightings all across the world, and this is an annual event. We had a local birder, Fergus, with us to help us out, plus he was a friend of Yoav’s.
First we went to Montijo Dam where we had our Herons and a few other waterbirds. Squacco Heron was the obvious highlight here, with a couple of nice birds showing fairly well. Black-crowned Night Heron was also a nice addition to the day list, and I finally trip-ticked Tree Sparrow.
Next we drove on to a vineyard near Almendralejo for Rufous Bush Robin. It took some time before we located this beautiful and charismatic bird, but we did connect with a singing male. Sadly it did not show its tail while we were watching it. Obviously a cracking lifer and a superb bird! Following our time here we continued driving towards Hornachos, and area of cork oak woodland and mountains. Along the way we picked up a few raptors; Booted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Egyptian Vulture etc. An Imperial Eagle was seen but I can’t justify ticking it on the views that I got, so I’ll wait for that one.
-Rufous Bush Robin
Once in Hornachos we searched the woodland picking up a steady trickle of species. Black Stork was nice and we also got 2 Little Terns, dunno what they were doing in a small pond in the middle of a wood but whatever. Rock Sparrow was also common here, and we had a few Waxbills too. Subalpine Warblers were fairly abundant but continued their trend of being a nightmare to photograph. Once we had scoured the woodland we continued to the mountains where we had a couple of distant Black Wheatear. I also added a butterfly lifer in the form of Marsh Fritillary, although the views were far from ideal.
-Marsh Fritillary
After lunch we continued on our way, heading towards La Serena for the steppe birds. We connected with all our targets, including both Sandgrouse, both Bustards, plus all the Larks. We finally had a Calandra Lark that decided to show well, finally allowing me to get some photos of this species that I’m pleased with.
-Calandra Lark
Once we wrapped up on the steppes we moved on to a stretch of river north of Merida. Here we hoped to wrap up the day with a few final river species. It was a really nice evening with good numbers of warblers singing, including hearing my first ever Savi’s Warbler. A Kingfisher was a nice addition to our trip list, a long overdue addition it has to be said. A couple more Little Terns, plus Little Bittern and Purple Heron made it a really nice end to our day.
-Azure-winged Magpie
For the last few hours of the day we tried to wrap up our owls and nightjars. Sadly we failed with owls, but we had a great performance from Red-necked Nightjar, including a single bird sat on the track right in front of the car, finally allowing us to get a good view of one. There was also a steady stream of herons and egrets going to roost, including Glossy Ibis and Black-crowned Night Heron.
-Red-necked Nightjar

Species List:

Extremadura, Ebird Big Day: Mallard, Gadwall, Red-legged Partridge, Quail, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Little Bittern, White Stork, Black Stork, Spoonbill, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, European Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Booted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Black-winged Kite, Montagu’s Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collard Pratincole, Black-headed Gull, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Woodpigeon, Turtle Dove, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, European Cuckoo, Red-necked Nightjar, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Wren, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Stonechat, Rufous Bush Robin, Nightingale, Blue Rock Thrush, Subalpine Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Penduline Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Chough, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Serin, Linnet, Hawfinch, Common Waxbill, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting, 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Iberia: Merida 09 - 12 May

Day 30 09.05.2017
We have been based in Merida for the last few days but have been travelling some distance to do point counts. It was a relief this morning to work just outside the city, or that’s what it felt like when I woke up, but in reality the limited birdlife made it much less enjoyable. On the walk itself I managed a single Great Bustard and a flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse, plus a single Turtle Dove and Night Heron. Once I had finished working in my box I had a bit of fun papping Black-winged Stilts on a small pond nearby, plus I got to try and photograph Azure-winged Magpies again. Once more the results are unsatisfactory, but they’re getting better and who knows, when I leave I might actually have some decent photos of them.
-Black-winged Stilt
-Azure-winged Magpie

Species List:
Merida: Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Woodpigeon, Raven, Jackdaw, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed Plover, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, European Black Vulture, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Quail, Red-legged Partridge, Serin, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Clouded Yellow, Meadow Brown, Southern Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Western Dappled White, Green-striped White, Hummingbird Hawkmoth,

Day 31 10.05.2017
For our second day working around Merida we headed up the road to an area of open montado and stubble fields. The weather was supposed to turn in the afternoon and did not start great so this was our only work for the day. There were more birds than yesterday but it was still a slow day. My first Black-winged Kite for some time was a nice surprise, and there were good numbers of both Iberian Grey and Woodchat Shrike. I got nice views of both Calandra and Thekla lark but there were no photos to be had due to the poor light conditions. Fortunately we avoided the rain, so that was a bonus!
-Calandra Lark

Species List: 
Merida: Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cattle Egret, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, European Black Vulture, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Red-legged Partridge, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Black-winged Kite, Chaffinch, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Mistle Thrush, Clouded Yellow, Meadow Brown, Southern Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Western Dappled White, Green-striped White, Hummingbird Hawkmoth,

Day 32 11.05.2017
We headed an hour away from Merida for our transects today, but the day was not ideal with strong winds and frequent rainfall. Ultimately this might have been the reason the days birding was so steady. I still had a few nice birds, notable Black-winged Kite, Turtle Dove and a few Black-bellied Sandgrouse, but the overall cold and wet very much took the edge off the day. There was one extremely satisfying silver-lining, and that being my first real mammal of the trip. Initially I was just wrapping up a point count when I heard a snuffling noise nearby and looked up to see what I presumed was a Wild Boar piglet. Clearly on its own and by weak nature of its behaviour it seems to have been that way for some time, it showed no fear before it trotted on its way. Stunned, I later came across a feeding group of 5 adults round the edge of a pond. Incredible to see these awesome wild animals, really saving what would have been a pretty poor day otherwise.
-Wild Boar
-Wild Boar

Species List:
Merida: Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cattle Egret, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Red-legged Partridge, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Black-winged Kite, Chaffinch, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove, Wild Boar,

Day 33 12.05.2017
Again in similar conditions we returned to the site we had surveyed the previous morning. This morning though the rain cut our time short, it being seemingly pointless to be out trying to survey steppe birds in such poor conditions. That being said, I had a pretty decent morning, with eleven Great Bustards and quite a few Black-bellied Sandgrouse, plus Short-toed Lark, Little Owl and then the usual Calandra and Thekla Larks. So not the worst morning I have had here by any stretch of the imagination, but hardly the greatest either.
In the evening the weather cleared up somewhat, and it turned into a pleasant evening. We decided to head into Merida, to a park near a roman bridge, that we had been recommended for a few nice birds. Our evening was slow to get going but once we started to see birds we had a great time. A large heronry (Mainly Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis) was really nice, and we got brief views of Purple Swamphen, including a chick. The birding highlight for certain was a family of Penduline Tits, which showed well, and at times quite close too. The none birding highlight was a Horseshoe Whip Snake that we found settled on one the pillars supporting the bridge. An awesome beast to see, especially since it was sat out in the open so chilled.
-Cattle Egret
-Horseshoe Whip Snake
-Penduline Tit

Species List:
Merida: Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cattle Egret, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Great Bustard, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Buzzard, Black Kite, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Red-legged Partridge, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Black-winged Kite, Chaffinch, Iberian Grey Shrike, Meadow Brown, 
Merida; Roman Bridge: Purple Swamphen, Moorhen, Mallard, Gadwall, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Penduline Tit, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Golden Oriole, European Black Vulture, Black Kite, White Stork, Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Reed Warbler, Gull-billed Tern, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Hoopoe, Grey Wagtail, Blackbird, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Raven, Horseshoe Whip Snake,