Monday, 13 April 2015

Spring is Scrubbing up!

I'm back on it!

Whilst I see out the final weeks of the Vote National Bird Campaign it will mean that, by and large, I will be able to scour my beloved patch for migrants. April along with September are the months to be loitering around on The Scrubs looking for the unusual amongst the usual.

It certainly paid off today. Not only did I hear the very last quiet strains of a Nightingale coming from Chats Paddock - our first record for a couple of years - but I also bumped into a female Ring Ouzel in Central Copse.
 Female Ring Ouzel
Every year I sweat, worrying about whether or not I will see one or that the very least, someone else sees one during the year on the patch. It was a relief. It was also a magical moment as the enigmatic Ring Ouzel is also my very favourite bird and it came looking for me.
 A male Wheatear - our first of the spring seen last week
 The Wheatear
 A gorgeous Blue Tit
A drifting female Sparrowhawk

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Extremadura: The final countdown!

A lone Montagu's Harrier drifting over the Extremadura landscape
I spent a fantastic Easter period roaming the southern portion of Extremadura visiting places way off the beaten track. Some of the places I visited will feature in a forthcoming tour that I'm planning in September especially seeing that my original tour became fully booked within a couple of weeks.

Keep an eye on my website www.theurbanbirder.com for the tour details but in the meantime, I have listed the species that I saw on my trip. I was particularly happy to connect with vagrant Ring-necked Ducks and a Lesser Yellowlegs. The Garganeys were a pleasure to see, the Quail a pleasure to hear and I was delighted to self-find a day roosting Eagle Owl on a mountainside. A real needle in a haystack job!

But the 14 species of raptor (excluding Eagle and Little Owls) was something special. Extremadura truly is a birder's paradise!

Great Crested Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Dabchick
Cormorant
Little Bittern
Night Heron
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
White Stork
Glossy Ibis
Spoonbill
Greater Flamingo
Griffon Vulture
Black Vulture
Osprey
Golden Eagle
Iberian Imperial Eagle
Short-toed Eagle
Booted Eagle
Bonelli’s Eagle
Black Kite
Marsh Harrier
Montagu’s Harrier – darkish morph male seen also
Common Buzzard
Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel
Greylag
Shelduck
Mallard
Gadwall
Shoveler
Wigeon
Teal
Garganey
Pochard
Tufted Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Red-legged Partridge
((Quail))
((Pheasant))
Moorhen
Coot
Purple Swamphen
Great Bustard
Little Bustard
Avocet
Black-winged Stilt
Little Ringed Plover
Little Stint
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Redshank
Greenshank
Lesser Yellowlegs
Snipe
Black-headed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Lesser Black-back
Gull-billed Tern
Whiskered Tern
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Eagle Owl
Little Owl
Pallid Swift
Alpine Swift
Hoopoe
Kingfisher
Bee-eater
Iberian Green Woodpecker
Crested Lark
Thekla Lark
((Woodlark))
Calandra Lark
Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
House Martin
Water Pipit
Meadow Pipit
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Nightingale
Black Redstart
Whinchat
Stonechat
Blue Rock Thrush
Song Thrush
Blackbird
Blackcap
Sardinian Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti’s Warbler
((Reed Warbler))
((Great Reed Warbler))
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaff
Great Tit
Blue Tit
((Long-tailed Tit))
Penduline Tit
Iberian Grey Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Azure-winged Magpie
Magpie
Jackdaw
Chough
Raven
Spotless Starling
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Chaffinch
Linnet
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Serin
Corn Bunting

125 species
((heard))


Monday, 6 April 2015

Spring in Extremadura

 Corn Bunting
 A swarm of Alpine Swifts with Pallid Swift, House Martin & Yellow-legged Gulls
 Gull-billed Tern riding the storm
 Lesser Kestrel
 Iberian Grey Shrike
 Whinchat
 A pair of Montagu's Harriers
 Alpine Swift
 Great Crested Grebe

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Getting all rural in Extremadura

 Spanish Festoon
 A rather large grasshopper!
 Small Copper
 Peek-a-boo Little Owl
 Crested Lark
 Corn Bunting
Stonechat

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter in Extremadura, Spain

I decided to spend a few days of rest over Easter in Extremadura ahead of the massive last surge of activity with the Vote National Bird Campaign that I am spearheading.
 Birding from the back of a car (Vanesa Palacios)
I spent a great day birding with the Lonely Birders http://lonelybirder.com and Vanesa Palacios at Alange in Extremadura. It's a site consisting of a newly constructed reservoir with reed beds and marshy foreshore.
 Marc Galvez, Jose Guerra (Lonely Birders) and Vanesa Palacios
 White Stork
 Alpine Swifts
We watched Extremadura's largest Alpine Swift colony, over 300 pairs, swirl above the reservoir dam  where they nest. We clocked Bee-eater, Cetti's Warbler, Nightingale, Garganey and refound Extremadura's first Ring-necked Duck - at least 1 male and 2 females!
Pallid Swift

Friday, 3 April 2015

The Greenwich Peninsula

The other day I took a stroll around the Greenwich Peninsula in the shadow of the O2 Arena. It was a rare sunny morning albeit rather nippy.
Looking east along the Thames with the O2 Arena partially obscured on the left
Singing Wren
Coot
A pair of Magpie
Kestrel in the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park
One of a pair of Oystercatcherson the Thames foreshore
The Ecology Park visitor centre
I visited the lovely Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, a tiny urban oasis with a lake, reedbed and small woodland and registered my first spring Chiffchaff in the UK. I have since been contacted by the park because they are trying to raise money for an outdoor classroom. If you feel so inclined the please donate to http://www.spacehive.com/frog

Friday, 27 March 2015

Urban birding Malaga

After a very successful time in Extremadura attending the bird fair and taking a brief trip around the region I took a four drive south into Andalucia bound for Malaga. Now, I'm no stranger to this coastal city as I have been here several times before with my mum but never in the guise of The Urban Birder.
 A male Peregrine on the Malaga Cathedral
My hosts were Yingda Li for Malaga City Tourism and local urban birder Luis Alberto and one of the first places we visited was the roof terrace of the Molina Lario Hotel to spy on a pair of Peregrines that use the tower as a watchpoint.

We were soon watching a stunning display firstly put on by the male who was eventually joined by his larger partner.
 Male Peregrine patroling
 The female joined in
Serin 
 I won't go into the full rundown of my trip here as I am preparing an forthcoming article for Bird Watching Magazine
 Collared Dove
 Blackbird
 Yingda (Malaga City Tourism), TUB and Luis Alberto
 An immature Crane
White-headed Duck
A 'sinensis' Cormorant surveying the scene
A happy Malaga Urban Birder!