Monday, December 31, 2012

An ending means a new start

During this year 2012 I've passed hundreds (surely thousands...) of great and unforgettable moments. I decided to choose one of this moments to share in this post, but I can't. I can't choose only one, because there are lots of candidates. So I will make an effort and choose five of them.

5- Living in the Pyrenees
In August I was living there for almost a month. Working with Capercaillies, Rock Ptarmigans and Grey Partridges, enjoying Bearded, Black, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures together and discovering lots of migrant birds in every corner in the landscape.

4- Yellow-browed Warbler in l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila
I passed lots and lots of hours in this little wetland just to the side of my village, Santpedor. To see an inornatus during 10 days was a good compensation for the persistence. Let's see what I could see in 2013... a Dusky Warbler could be nice too ;-).

3- Spring campaigns
This april I stayed in three ringing stations for some days. Starting for Estany de Palau, in Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, where we caught this Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana). Then, I went to Ebre Delta and we caught a pretty Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) (and lots of other species, but I have to choose...), and later I went to Illa de l'Aire, in Menorca, where the most exciting ringing was a Mediterranean Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis).

2- Houbara Bustard
In june, I went to Canary Islands. I saw the spectacular Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea), the shy Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae), Bolli's Pigeon (Columba bollii) and the rest of endemics. I enjoyed every of these species a lot, but probably the most exciting sighting for me were 6 Houbara Bustards (Chlamydotis undulata fuerteventurae) very close to the road. I felt really excited then!

1- White-faced Storm Petrel
The trip to Canary islands had a 'second part', that consisted in a pelagic journey with Lanzarote Pelagics. After lots of Bulwer's (Bulweria bulwerii), Cory's Shearwaters (Calonectris borealis), Band-rumped Storm Petrels (Oceanodroma castro) and Wilson's (Oceanites oceanicus), we saw some Pelagodroma very close to the ship. Jumping around the waves, this was probably the best moment this 2012.

The ending of a year means that another is ready to start. Best wishes for 2013!
Happy new year!
Bon any nou!

Start ringing

These last 2012 days were so good. This year has been a great one for me, full of magic moments that I'll never forget.

This month I became a ringer, and I started my ringing sessions in the last three days.
In La Corbatera, near the river Llobregat, I caught 58 birds, the main part tits (Blue Cyanistes caeruleus, Long-tailed Aegithalos caudatus and Great Parus major). Also some Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), Cetti's Warblers (Cettia cetti) and Blackbirds (Turdus merula)

Also, in l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila, 'my other home', I trapped about 40 birds. Here you can see some photos.
Adult male Blackbird (Turdus merula)
1w male Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
Adult male Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros). I ringed
it on November, see here.
1w Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Screaming European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis)
I also had the opportunity to see some Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) before release them. any thanks to Víctor Martin for show me this nice birds!
Adult, notice the dark iris.
1cy bird, notice the pallid iris.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Snow & fog

On Friday, I went with some friends: Joan, Bernat, Guillem, Anna and Carla, to Berga. Yesterday in the morning we went to La Creueta pass, near La Molina ski station. We walked around 1900 meters all morning, in differents parts of the pass.

Joan, who drove the car, saw 5 Grey Partridges (Perdix perdix) very close to the road. Then, we saw a Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) and when he had just arrived, Carla found an adult Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). Nice start!

We walk a little bit between rocks and snow. The first Snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis), the day's target, didn't be late. I heard a bird calling, and soon they appeared in front of us. One, alone.

We continued walking and we also saw some Coal Tits (Periparus ater), Common Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra), Red-billed Choughs (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Mistle Thrushes (Turdus viscivorus)...

Pyrenean chamois' track
Later, close to a Pinus uncinata forest, we found flocks of some species. 6 Alpine Accentors (Prunella collaris), 1 Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus), 1 Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris), some Mistle Thrushes, Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinches (Carduelis chloris)... and also a group of +10 Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla). After the nice mountain morning, we had to come back home quickly. Just before leave the pass, a +20 flock of Snowfinches (Montifringilla novalis) appeared. We had a great start, a great ending.... a great morning.

Bernat, Joan, Guillem, Anna, me and Carla (left to right). Photo by Bernat.

Today, I went to Lleida with my father. Firstly, we decided to go to Utxesa, an interesting reservoir with a lot of reedbeds. The fog was the main difficulty; we couldn't see anything. So we decided to go to Fondo de Llitera ricefields, another interesting zone.
The fog was already there... what a bad day! The ricefields were full of Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), but the fog didn't allowed to found the Sociable Lapwing that had to be there!! ;-)

We decided to go to Sebes Natural Reserve, in Flix. It's a really good place to see very well (and very close...) the Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). The fog had disappeared, and we wait for a couple of hours. We met Eladi Ribes and Jaume Duaigües ringing and I joined with them for a while. We didn't see the Bittern, but I could take some Kingfisher's (Alcedo atthis) photos, and also a Great Cormoran (Phalacrocorax carbo) was so nearby.

At two o'clock, we return to Utxesa. We hoped that fog had completely disappeared...

But there it was. At least, we could see a bigger part of the pond. Minimum 3 Bearded Tits (Panurus biarmicus) called in the reedbed, and 11 Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) swam in the reservoir.
They come from an introduced population in Lleida (city) that
become grow wild. Now, it's quite abundant in the main
part of river Segre in Lleida area.
The 'star-bird' today was a totally unexpected Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer) that was found the day before for Miquel Vall-Llosera, who shared the sighting in and NoNaPo mailing group. Congratulations, Miquel, for this interesting observation!

I didn't use to see Gavias in calm waters, out of the sea...
I think it was an 1cy in winter plumage, because of the white borders in mantle and scapulars, although the dark head, the ivory beak and the contrast on the mantle. All opinions will be very welcomed! (sorry about the bad photos, combination of fog and distance)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter has arrived

Despite the fact that today was a sunny day, wintering birds are definitely here, and this is a good year for some species.
In my grantparents' garden, I saw 2 Firecrests (Regulus ignicapilla), 1 Coal Tit (Periparus ater) and 1 Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus). All species are locally scarce in Santpedor, my village.

In the afternoon, I went to Juncadella countries, a big dry-farmed land zone. I was looking 3 Yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella) when a Merlin (Falco columbarius) tried to catch some birds. All Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), Corn Buntings (Emberiza calandra), Rock Sparrows (Petronia petronia) and Cirl Buntings (Emberiza cirlus).

Later, I went to Torrent Fondo, a reedbeed and a Pinus halepensis and Pinus pinea forest place that is also a nice site for wintering birds. Two years ago, in 2010, I saw some Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) there, and there is a Yellowhammer's roost.
I saw a Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) inside a big Chaffinch flock. 2 Firecrests and 2 Yellowhammers more, just to complete a good afternoon. I didn't see any Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus), that is so abundant in winter...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Great long weekend

From last Thursday to this past Sunday, I stayed in Ebre Delta with Josep Ramoneda, Ferran Fitó, Joan Manubens and Bernat Ferrer. Last year, 2011, we passed the 'December long weekend' in Ebre Delta too. It was so great, so we decided to repeat the experience.

We slept in La Tancada campsite, that's situated in a good place, very close to the main birdwatching sites.

Because of the northen winds, we saw lots of interesting birds. On Thurday, we started having a look in some ponds. L'Encanyissada is the biggest one, nice place to see some ducks and grebes.

We saw lots of Black-necked Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis), more than 110 individuals, and some Aythya ducks too: about 300 Common Pochards (Aythya ferina), 71 Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula) and 1 Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca). Flying over the reedbeds, lots of Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) and a beautiful 1cy Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Also, we saw an unexpected group of +30 Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) in the middle of l'Encanyissada pond.

Later, we went to Salines de Sant Antoni and the large beach of Trabucador, where always you can expect lots of waders, specially Calidris.

'Wader-watching' in Sant Antoni saltpants.
There were 23 Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres), 20 Grey Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola), 1 Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), +500 Dunlins (Calidris alpina), +20 Little Stints (Calidris minuta) and 12 Sanderlings (Calidris alba). Some Greenshanks, Redshanks, Curlews and Common Sandpipers too. We went to Trabucador beach then.

2746 Dunlins, 176 Little Stints, 22 Sanderlings and 9 Common Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula). Also some Grey Plovers and Greenshanks all around the beach. Arriving in Trinitat saltpants, at the end of Trabucador sandbar, we saw 11 Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator).

Later, we went to La Tancada pond, hardly ever with lots of Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus). We did the 'traditional' count (last year 5805 birds): they were (also) 1908.

Friday was the most complete day. We started in Torre de l'Alfacada, watching Buda island. It's a really good place for birdwatching. During an hour and a half, we saw +150 Northen Pintails (Anas acuta) and big grups of other ducks, 2 Common Cranes (Grus grus), 5 Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), 72 Greylag Geese (Anser anser), 1 (1w) Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis), a nice Merlin (Falco columbarius) male and 1 dark Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) as the most interestig birds. Also, a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). It was so great!

Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia). At least 2 birds
were ringed with blue PVC rings, but we can't read them.
We went to Migjorn beach, very close to Torre de l'Alfacada. There, we saw 38 Common Scoters (Melanitta nigra).

We continued to Serrallo ricefields, where we didn't find anything. Nevertheless, on Serrallo beach we saw 3 Common Scoters more.

At the afternoon we went to Fangar sandbar, a big sand dunes zone. We didn't see lots of interesting birds, but yes some diversity. The Sanderlings (Calidris alba) are so likeable there.

This adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) was
so agreeable too.
Fangar area.
Just before the sunset, we stayed one more time in Trabucador beach. We saw 9 Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) and the bid wader groups.

Saturday was the last day for Josep, Bernat, Joan and Ferran. It was a windy day... empty ponds, empty ricefiels... it seemed that all birds had disapeared. However, we found a ricefield full of Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs). Looking carefully the flock, we saw 24 Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), a nice group. This year is very good for that species.

We saw the 1cy Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on Pont del Través, the same bird that we saw the first day. In Mas de la Comandanta ricefields we could see +700 Dunlins, +200 Little Stints, +50 Greenshanks, 41 Kentish Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) and 33 Common Ringed Plovers. On another ricefields we found some Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria) and 6 Wood Sandpipers (Tringa glareola).

Later, at the afternoon, we decided to go along the beach, trying to found some birds on the sand (and also on the sea). Near Eucaliptus urbanisation, we saw lots of Lesser Short-toed Larks (Calandrella rufescens), 3 Jack Snipes (Lymnocryptes minimus), a Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) (a little bit scarce in Delta) and a beautiful and unexpected Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris).

The team. Josep, Ferran, me and Joan (left to right), and
Bernat in front of us.
Sunday was my last day. At midday I had to go, so I passed all morning walking along beaches. I saw a Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) and an adult Audouin's Gull (Larus audouinii). This last one is scarce in winter in this region (but not rare). Later, I saw a fantastic Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus), and when I look at the sea, I found 13 Common Scoters (Melanitta nigra). I passed a lot of time watching the sea, and I also saw a Great Skua (Stercorarius skua). Nice morning, isn't it? Wait...

Coming back along the same beach, closer to the sea than before, I arrived on the 'short-something place'. Suddenly, I saw +30 Lesser Short-toed larks, and some minutes after I found, at least, 6 magnificent Short-eared Owls. I could enjoy them a lot, as ever; it was an amazing moment. I decided to leave out that part of the beach in order to not disturb the owls. Just when I had arrived very close to the seawater, I sensed a bird on the sea. It was a Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), nice bird to end my great morning and the 'magic' long weekend.

Let's see if we can do this every December!