Friday, 30 September 2011

Maple Lodge Autumn morning

Still a bit tired after Zaragoza and work but must keep birding,walked to Maple Lodge this morning
making the best of the light as I entered the reserve the light through the trees was spectacular.Moving
on to the Rotunda hide all was quiet except for the call of Green Woodpecker,retracing my steps back
to the Teal hide it proved aptly named with a number of Common Teal present. After a while a
Green Sandpiper obliged be it briefly,I was left with a few trilling Little grebes and overhead 3
Ring necked Parakeets.Moving on to Long Hedge hide a Black headed gull sat posing on a post,before
I returned along the hedge.Finally at the Sluice I had a good view of one of the two Kingfishers present on the reserve this morning,Geoff Lapworth arrived and we walked out of the reserve.
Finally while writing up this blog I hear starlings mobbing overhead a Common Buzzard garden

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Croxley common Moor

On the 28th of September Paul Lewis and I went to the moor we met Anna Marett briefly then Joan Thomson,an hour or so before we arrived Martin Parr had photographed the bird in the rivers edge
later as did I poorly.
We viewed the bird briefly as Geoff Laptop appeared then Lewis and I left.

Zaragoza birding Sunday 25th September

Got up early in Loporzano had breakfast 07.30hrs then a village walk in this small village in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Of note a Sardinian warbler obliged as did two Whitethroats,Alberto arrived and we left the village stopping briefly to observe Cirl Buntings just outside town.
Then it was on to Vadiello where at the reservoir a Pied Flycatcher showed briefly in the Pines.
I photographed the dam and the surrounding mountain side as we waited for the vultures to start
using the thermals.The Griffon vultures took off giving distant views as did a party of feral Rock Doves,Paul heard a Goldcrest and on leaving a Grey Wagtail put in an appearance.
We were now in the Parque Natural de Guarra moving on we made our way to Santa Cecillia where
there was  a vulture feeding station,food had been put out and we were soon viewingup to 5 Lammergeier and at least 200 Griffon vultures.
At one time we could see the Lammergeier at rest near a carcasse but we did not see the specialitie
of Quebrantahuesos , the breaker of bones dropping them to extract the marrow.Next port of call
was Castell de  Monte Aragon, the Castille high on a rocky promontory came in to view as we made
our way there for packed lunch. While eating lunch in temperatures of 80c we were entertained by
Blue Rock Thrush and the superb Black Wheatear,3 males paraded around us.On leaving a brief view
of Zitting Cisticola then it was down to a river tributary in search of Penduline  tit alas no but I got a view of Rufous Bushchat which is a rarity in Aragon,other birds of note here were 5 Pied Flycatchers,Cetti's Warbler,Kingfisher and possibly Golden Oriole.Also a large snake skin had been
shed possibly Montpellier's.
Next it was the Aragon rubbish dump where a single Griffon was being mobbed by a Raven and up to 44 White Storks showed in the scrub a Phylloscopus warbler was identified as Willow Warbler and up to 50 Serin fed noisly in the trees. Onwards and upwards we made our way to San Miguel de Pena on the road up we had a raptor feast overhead a single Lammergeier,2 Golden Eagle and a Sparrowhawk.

On arrival at San Miguel de Pena or Salto de Roldan this rocky point gave great views.
Here at eye level Griffon Vultures soared past ,it was a bit hairy along the rock face my dodgy knee
became a hindrance but I still managed a few good shots in the searing heat. One individual did an eyes right as Alberto and Paul returned to my niche.
Our time was running out as we returned to the car park where a Grayling butterfly was superbly camouflaged against the ground.
We left for a steppe area nearer Zaragoza too look for Pin Tailed Sandgouse a major dip ensued,we can't have everything Alberto was superb and the raptors were a significant success.
Our last bird was another raptor hunting from an out building for rabbits over the Steppe it was a
Goshawk would you believe it not many trees here.
Alberto drove us to the airport we said our farewells and so ended our weekend in Zaragoza.
Muchas gracias estependo and vaya con dios.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Birding in Zaragoza and the foothills of the Pyrenees

On Friday the23rd of September Paul Lewis and I took the late flight to Zaragoza with Ryan airways,our
fellow travellers were a rock band called A POETIC YESTERDAY and a Portugese stewardess from Lisbon, This made the packed flight bearable.
On arrival at Zaragoza airport it was raining,ironically they had not had rain for 8 months.
Got our cases met Albert Bueno our guide and drove for an hour in a thunderstorm to Lecina,
where from the outside it looked like Bate's Motel,however a swift beer and sandwich ended our day at
Saturday morning awoke 06.30hrs still raining,the Htel Rincon del Cierza was pleasant clean and staff
friendly.Around 07.00hrs Alberto Paul and I set off for the Steppe specialities,the rain had stopped when we reached El Planeron,where we heard 4  Dupont's Larks and Paul and I were certain fleeting views.Dozens of Calandra larks were flocking and a Southern Grey Shrike obliged.
Spotless Starlings were in good numbers and a few Lesser Short toed Lark flew over.
Wheatears were abundant at this passage time.Moving on we saw our only Black Kite of the trip and at Belchite we saw two Black Redstart and a host of Swallows.
At Villanueva a single Griffon Vulture on a rock and two Rock Sparrow and a Sparrowhawk on a telegraph pole.Moving on to Tosas this small village held the only breeding record of Bonelli's Eagle,
it was here we were incredibly lucky or Alberto knew his sites well . Looking at

one bird it was clearly tagged beacuse of its rarity status. this was a special moment as we watched the pair fly amongst Crag martins in there valley.
We left to the sound of Cetti's warbler as we made our way back to  Belchite here we photographed the old ruins ,then back to the Steppes again for Tawny Pipit and Short toed Lark,dozens of Stone Curlews and a pair of Raven.
Fourteen Chough put in an a appearance as did our first Black bellied Sandgouse.
It was then on to Los Monegros for Bustards on route a Short toed Eagle posed on a pylon,
Moving on after lunch to Alberto's home patch of Otininio where six Little Bustards obliged,ten more Black bellied Sandgrouse alas no Pintail,up to four Little Owls obliged only one got photographed.
On route to Loporzano and Boletas near Huesca we counted 15 Common Buzzard and 6 Cattle Egret overhead we arrived Loporzano around 19.45 hrs.
We met Estelle and were shown our room ,we had our evening meal then a few beers in the one bar town before retiring.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Woodoaks Farm mid September

Lewis and I strolled through the farm yard ,Autumn is upon us,but still warm ,the surrounding arable
fields held a few Meadow pipits as we searched for Wheatear,a lorry was dumping horse manure so it became dusty so we gave the dump a wide berth then back on track  I connected with a Whinchat.
We tried to get close but it led us a merry dance,returning down the track Lewis picked up 10 Yellow wagtails in flight.
On reaching the barn we decided to look at the orchard as the tractor had just finished cutting the grass.
Sure enough the Little Owl obliged and in the distance a variety of raptors ensued.
5 Common Buzzard 3 Red Kite 2 Sparrowhawk 1 Kestrel but no partridge in a pear tree.
Some flora showed in the Autumn sunshine notably Poppys amongst others as we made our
way back to the Cross.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

South West Spain with Ornitholidays 12th-25th Sept 1981

Venues visited = Zahara de los Atunes,Sierra de Ojen,Algeciras,Tarifa,Tahivilla,Barbate,Sierra de la Plata,Vejer,Cape Trafalgar,Sierra de Retin,San Lucar,Bonanza,Algaida forest,Arcos,Rio Guadelete,
Laguna de Arcos,Laguna de Bornos,Medinia Sidonia,Laguna de la Handa, Ronda.

Brief Diary= A new species on arrival at Seville Airport was Crested Lark,on route to Zahara a Short
toed eagle on a telegraph pole was a nice surprise.
On  arrival at the Cortijo de la Plata flocks of Spotless Starlings congregated in its grounds,
behind the hotel a single Egyptian Vulture and among the hirundines White rumped swift.
and my good friend CHARLES WADE a connesieur of fine wines and sherry as Jerez was close by.

CHECK LIST OF SPECIES= Balearic and Cory's Shearwater,Gannet,Little Egret,Egyptian Vulture,
Booted Eagle,Sparrowhawk,Marsh Harrier,Montagu's Harrier,Short toed Eagle ,Kestrel
Oystercatcher,Turnstone,Great Skua,LBBGull,H.Gull,BHGull,Sandwich Tern,Little Owl,
Tawny Owl,Swift,White rumped swift,Crested lark.Swallow,Red rumped swallow,House,Sand,Crag Martins,Golden Oriole,Blue Tit Wren,Blackbird,Blue Rock thrush,Stonechat,Whinchat,Nightingale,
Whitethroat,Garden,Sardinian,Dartford,Fan tailed warblers,Spotted Flycatcher,Tawny Pipit,White wagtail,Spotless Starling.Goldfinch,Linnet,Chaffinch,Corn bunting,House sparrow,GreyHeron ,Griffon Vulture,Common Buzzard,Black Kite,Red legged Partridge,Ringed Plover,Bar T Godwit,Redshank,Dunlin,Sanderling,Avocet,Audoin's Gull,Wood pigeon,Turtle Dove,
A;lpine,Pallid Swift,Kingfisher,Bee eater,Hoopoe,G.S,Wood,Jay,Crested tit,Short toed tree creeper,
Wheatear,Redstart,Robin,Cetti's warbler,Melodious warbler,Blackcap,Willow warbler,Chiffchaff,
Firecrest,Pied Flycatcher.
Yellow Wagtail,Greenfinch,Cirl Bunting,Cattle Egret,Honey Buzzard,Great Bustard,Calandra lark,
Thekla Lark,Great tit,Meadow and Tree pipit,Rock Bunting,White Stork,Lesser Kestrel,L.R.Plover,
Kentish Plover,Curlew,Whimbrel,Common Sand,Greenshank, Knot, Black winged Stilt,Common
Tern,Woodlark,Jackdaw,Tawny pipit,Woodchat Shrike,Serin,Osprey,Oystercatcher,Rock Thrush,
Black eared Wheatear,Subalpine and Spectacled Warbler,Little Grebe Flamingo.Shoveler,Hobby,Grey
Plover,Black T Godwit,Little Stint,Curlew Sandpiper,Slender billed gull,Little Gull,Black,Little,
Sandwich terns,Lesser Short toed Lark,Raven,Magpie,Azure winged Magpie,Golden Eagle, Coot,
Moorhen ,Wren,Grey Wagtail,Peregrine,Bonelli's Eagle,Little Bustard,Green Sandpiper,Black Wheatear,Goshawk,Short eared Owl,Woodlark,Nightingale,Turnstone,Wryneck,Bonelli's Warbler,
Tree Sparrow,Spanish Sparrow.

BUTTERFLIES= Swallowtail,Large White,Dappled White,Two tailed Pasha,Red Admiral,
Meadow and Wall Brown,Holly Blue.
MAMMALS= Rabbit and Hare

Diary of a Birder Majorca April 1981

A package tour to Majorca to go birdwatching did not seem very ornithological to your work mates who
conjour up topless beautys at Magaluf.
However on a more serious note Dave Cole and I arrived in Palma in pouring rain to be greeted by a 52 seater coach for 6 people.
It poured down as we travelled North to Puerto Pollensa,arrived 18.00hrs we explored briefly beforedinner.
The following morning the weather had not improved much as we set off for the Boquer valley,roughly a 30 minute walk,after climbing through the rocks we were rewarded with views of Peregrine and Blue Rock Thrush.
Later that afternoon we cycled to Albufereta and Albufera marsh,near Alcudia at Tucan pool we saw a pair of Garganey,further on at Albufera we imitated the calls of Hoopoes (UPPUPOOP) which is part
of their Latin name ie "Uppupa epops".
That evening  Dave and I met Ann and Bob Scott's RSPB Group and Pat Watkinson the local rep for the island,also a young American called David Rosanne.
We wangled our way on to the tour bus visiting the Northern mountains,also on board were two Maple Lodge stalwarts Gill and Greta,up through the ascending mountains and boulder strewn landscape.
The coach stopped at Torrent view,at an altitude of 664 metres we saw a pale phase Booted Eagle.
Our next stop was Lluch monastery,scenic views with Firecrest and Wryneck and in the surrounding orchards Cirl buntings and Robins.
A packed lunch at Cuber res,more raptors here including Black vulture.
That night we heard Scop's owl before going to bed,the following morning we took the bus to Albufera marsh Black winged stilts were everywhere but the real surprise was a Marsh sandpiper.
Over the next couple of days we visited Albufereta and the adjacent farmland,meeting Dave Rosanne again noting Short toed larks ,warblers and wagtails,another trip to the Ternelles produced more raptors including Black Vulture,finally a visit to Salinas de Levante with Pat Bishop,thetwo Daves and yours trulyprovided waders and terns,last call for a first year Slender billed gull at Albufereta marsh on our final day.