Saturday, 18 April 2015

SPAIN 2015 - PART 1: Birds

As some of you may already know, I recently joined a birding trip to the south of Spain with a bunch of Next Generation Birders from around the UK (and one from Austria). The trip was organised and coordinated by Oliver Reville, who has visited the country many times, and thus knew all the sites worth visiting, the local gen, contacts within the country etc. A total of 16 people between 18 and 26 (age) headed out to Malaga on the 5th of April, and spent a week visiting as many sites as was possible from the characterful little village of Alcala de los Gazules.

It was a fantastic trip, despite quite breezy conditions to start with, and we managed to record a grand total of 178 species. Some particular avian highlights from the week include Lesser Short-toed Lark, Black-eared and Black Wheatears, Little Swifts, male Little Bustards 'farting', plenty of stunning male Montagu's Harriers, lots of raptor passage with Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Slender-billed and Auduoin's Gulls, and Red-necked Phalarope (to name but a few). I'll try and write a bit of a trip report focussed on species in the coming weeks, but since others are getting down to that task, I though I would do a couple of photographic blog posts. This first one is focussed on most bird species excluding raptors. Part 2 and 3 will follow, and will feature raptors and then invertabrate wildlife respectively.

For some more pictures from the Spanish trip, check out my Flickr album here, and also keep an eye on my 500px page here.

These Collared Pratincoles were photographed at Barbate Salt Marshes, where we had at least 60 along the side of the road and on the gravelly partitions between salinhas. Our first visit to this location was in very windy conditions with a heavy passing shower, thus the contrast in lighting in the above images!!

Kentish Plovers were relatively common at the coastal sites we visited, including Barbate and Bonanza Salt Pans. This pair allowed a close approach in a car, which gave a nice opportunity to photograph a wader that has always been a bit distant for decent images

Avocets! A rarity for me, considering I live on Barsdey for most of the year, where there has only been one record in the last ten years. It was very nice to see these smart birds, particularly at the Bonanza Salt Pans

Black-winged Stilts were a common species all over the place

We came across several large colonies of Cattle Egrets, including one near a Bald Ibis breeding site where over 200 birds were gathered in a few small trees

We had a fantastic Slender-billed Gull gathering on our visit to Bonanza Salt Pans, where perhaps 800 birds were gathered in large flocks, including many with Darvic rings

We had several sightings of singing male Little Bustards during our travelling around the northern area of Cadiz, and this bird was one of a pair that were flushed by a Montagu's Harrier, and flew directly over the main road!

A selection of passerine images:

Corn Buntings



Little Swifts

Western Sybalpine Warbler

Crested Lark

Red-rumped Swallow

Iberian Yellow Wagtail

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