Saturday, 30 August 2008

Local Patching: Brockholes Quarry LWT 29th and 30th August 2008

Ecl male Drake(foreground) and juv Garganey
Juv Garganey
Ecl Drake Garganey
Juv Garganey
Juv Garganey with Ecl Drake in Foreground
Juv Garganey with Ecl Drake in Foreground

Two visits in two days to Brockholes is somewhat of a Rarity for me at the moment. A text from Bill Aspin saying Bill Gregory had an Ecl Drake Garganey on Main pool during the day prompted an evening visit on the 29th. within about 5 minutes I was on to the Teal group present and swiftly had the Drake. After another few minutes watching the Drake feed I noticed a teal with very boldly fringed tertials and and contrastingly 'black and white' head roosting. It began to feed and proved to be a Juv. Another 10 minuted passed and I again noticed an unusual teal roosting...another Juv Garganey. A great result for myself as i've never found British Garganey before to my recolection. Also onsite before I left was a 1st summer Hobby which flew over Main pool heading west.

On the 30th I made a morning visit to the site as the evening before the light was awful and my photographic efforts frankly laughable! unfortunately I was only left with the two Garganey as one of the juvs must have left overnight. I watched the two remaining birds with Allen Holmes and Mike Ainscough.

A nice way to get back into a hobby which has quite frankly flown away over the summer! (excuse the punn...)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

North East Spain - 8th-20th August 2008

As another August came, and another family holiday appeared, we decided to again travel to the North Eastern province of Spain, to Catalunya. We stay at my Uncles Brothers villa in Pau, which is between Roses(Rosas) and Figueres. It borders The Cap de Creus Natoinal Park in the Pyrenees and also the Aiguamolls de l'Emporda Nationtional Park. Therefore it is a great site for Birdwatching.
Pau, and Surrounding Area
Our villa is at the base of a hill which leads to the San Pere de Rodes. which is a large Cathedral/Monestry, however this is 10 km away from our villa which can only be reached by road, or climbing over the top of a 620 meter high Hill, which in 32oC heat, i didnt risk it.
on the first morning I woke up early and looked atthe birds from our Balcony. Crested Tit was one of the first birds to be seen which was added to my spain list, and also Black Redstarts, Sardinian Warblers, Golden Orioles, Nightingale, Spotted Flycatcher and Melodious warblers were all nice additions.

I walked up the first part of the hill on the first morning, and it was obvious i was near a colony of Bee-Eaters as there was a constant background noise of theyre simply maical call! After a certain height, you walk through a small Cork Oak Woodland. Here i managed to note loads of White Admiral, at one point there was a patch of about 10 meters x 10 meters and there were 30 white admirals!The past three visits to spain, i have always noticed a reservoir in the distance from my villa. until this trip I have never bothered trying to find it, but upon walking up the hill and seeing a road that appeared to lead to it, i thought, it was worth a look. on the road to the reservoir, i saw the only Roller of the trip, and when we finally arrived at the Reservoir, i was dissapointed that my photography side of me was taken over by shear shock as a Red Kite(new for spain list) was being mobbed my a black kite. the only picture i managed was of the distant red kite. The reservoir itself had presumably about 4000 Yellow Legged Gulls, 100 Black Headed Gulls, 1st w Med Gull, Wood Sandpiper, and several Little Grebe. Also there was a small stream/outflow pipe coming from the res and odonata seem to have taken advantage. Scarlet Darter, Red Veined darter, a violet darter sp that i havnt been able to ID, variable Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfy.

Violet Dropwing

A trip to Rosas Harbour in 2006 and 2007 revelaed c20 Med Gulls and c300 Yellow Legged Gulls. This time there were only 15 Yellow Legged Gulls(later in the trip i found several meds on a beach to the south of Rosas in Empuriabrava.
Aiguamolls De l'Emporda
Aiguamolls is an unpredictable place. the Water levels vary so much that it is impossible to rely on the site for a certain species unless ofcourse you want to see Nightingale or Fantailed Warbler(Zitting Cisticola)
This Trip I picked up 4 Lifers from the Site. My First Spanish twitch came from a first for Catalunya - ALLEN'S GALLINULE. This was a juvenille moulting into 1stw plumage. Appologies for the poor photos, they were taken in late afternoon at distance on the 14th from the tower at Mata.
My Second Lifer was Great Reed Warbler, which was seen several times at the Estanys of Europa and from Mata. Estany De Europa in a reed bed next to a sewage plant, which at 30 oC, doesnt give off the best of smells. Here I saw the most shocking bird of the Trip - Little Bittern, it flew from the first hide. I initially thought it was a great crested grebe, so as i rarely see these in flight, i thought id give it a go, as i realised what it was Im not sure ive ever been so useless, i couldnt contemplate what id seen and with regards to taking a photo, that was simply laughable! Europa produced a second lifer for me too. I noticed a brown streaky bird in the reeds below me from the second hide on the 19th which i initially thought was a juv Sedge Warbler, it flew to a reed across from the hide with a rather strange flight. Suddenly I flash of yellow darted aacross the hide and joined the bird. at this point i noticed the presumed juv sedge had a conical bill and was interacting with the yellow bird. This was possibly the scaryest point of the trip as it was the first bird for about 4 years that I didnt even have a slight clue to what it may be. Weaver/Bishop sprung to mind, as i recalled the male to be similar to a species seen on Chris Batty's Trip Report on the Fylde Bird Club Website from Andalucia. It turns out that they are Male and Female Yellow Crowned Bishops

Cap De Creus National Park
The Lighthouse at Cap de Creus is an area where I love to seawatch. This year wasnt as good as previous years, but I did get some pleasing views of Cory's Shearwaters that for me was a hightlight of the trip. on the 16th I woked up at 6.30 and walked further up the Hill behing the villa and managed to reach a site called 'Area d'Esbarjo de Mas Ventos'. when i got there, the views were stunning, there were non people, and the birds...This turned out to be the best site of the whole trip and best site ive visited off the top of my head! Species Seen here
3 Ortlotan(Lifer), 2 Wryneck, female Red Backed Shrike, 14 Golden Oriole!(family parties i think) Orphean Warbler, 3 Crested Tit, 12 Cirl Bunting, 10 Woodchat Shrikes, 4 Thekla Lark, 2 Wood Lark, 100+ Corn Bunting, 8 Great Tit, 2 Hoopoe, 8 Red Legged Partridge. The Same day, I went to the Nou Camp in Barcelona and saw Barcelona - Boca Juniors(2-1) aswell as a Lunar Eclipse! getting home at 0400 meant that i was up for 21.5 hours that day!!

On the Last full day(19th) I went around the Cap de Creus again and picked up a few decent birds for the trip - Red Rumped Swallow, Black Eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Thrush, Rock Binting, Spectacled Warbler, (along with the Bishop at Aiguamolls)

Species Seen - 120(120 was my original target too!)
Taxonomy - Collins Field Guide Taxonomy
Great Crested Grebe
Little Grebe
Cory's Shearwater
Little Bittern
Night Heron
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
White Stork
Mute Swan
Black Kite
Red Kite
Short-Toed Eagle
Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
Bonelli's Eagle
Common Kestrel
Red legged Partridge
Water Rail
Common Coot
Black Winged Stilt
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Black Tailed Godwit
Spotted Redshank
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Black Headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Yellow Legged Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Sandwich Tern
Whiskered Tern
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Monk Parakeet
Little Owl
Alpine Swift
Pallid Swift
Crested Lark
Thekla Lark
House Martin
Red Rumped Swallow
White Wagtail
Black Redstart
Black Eared Wheatear
Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Cetti's Warbler
Fan Tailed Warbler
Melodious Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Orphean Warbler
Dartford Warbler
Spectaled Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Willow Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Crested Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Red Backed Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Golden Oriole
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Yellow Crowned Bishop
Corn Bunting
Rock Bunting
Reed Bunting