Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Amazing Majorcan Birding (and other interesting finds)

This is my account of my adventures in sunny Majorca as well as one day in torrential rain.

I have just returned from 10 days in Majorca, spending 4 days exploring S'Albufera Natural Park and 1 morning exploring the Salt Marshes. I spent the time at the Natural Park with my dad and my visit to the Salt Marshes with my dad and Miguel (a great guy who I met through twitter).

Day 1:
We caught the bus just outside the hotel to go to S'Albufera which only took about 5mins. We then had a 1Km walk to the info centre where we were greeted by a guy who gave us an English guide to the park. This gave an idea of the species that may be seen on the reserve and routes of the walks around the park. As we left the info centre we almost immediately spotted 2 Sardinian warblers which flew around the trees in front of us for a while until they flew into the back end of the bushes.
Sardinian Warbler
After that we walked down the path to get to the start of 1 of the walks, on the way we saw a bird fly out of a tree next to us and we saw it fly to the top of a bush as we got a better look at it we noticed that it was a shrike of some sort then after a bit we decided to creep a bit closer and then we noticed that it was a woodchat shrike.
Woodchat shrike
Before we reached the walk we had to walk across a bridge first, as we were walking across it we noticed some egrets coming up the river as they got closer they turned out to be cattle egrets, dozens of little and cattle egrets were flying up the river which was amazing to watch. Also as we looked along a bit more of the bridge we spotted some red knobbed or crested coots with there young just a couple of meters away from the bridge also there was a few purple gallenules hiding in the reeds and my dad spotted a few red eared slider turtles at the side of the river.
Cattle egret

Red knobbed coot
When we got to the start of the walk we started walking down to reach 2 hides which were at the end of the path. On the way we found a little viewing area which overlooked a little bridge and at the back of the bridge there was a few reeds, on the little bridge there was a few little egrets and red crested pochards sitting on it, after a while we noticed a heron type bird come out of the reeds at the back it was a night heron but not long after he flew away.
little egret
After that we managed to reach the 2 hides but there was not a single bird to be seen. When we got back to the start we started walking another way to some other hides but while we were walking there I noticed some birds flying around at the end of this path just behind a little gate so we decided to walk down the path to see what they were. When we reached the gate there was no sign of the birds but then after a while I spotted one flying out of a tree it was a bee eater after a bit lots more started coming out of the trees. While we were watching them I noticed a little bird fly on to a branch next to me it was a spotted flycatcher as I got better looks at him I noticed that it looked like he had a very bad leg.
Spotted flycatcher
After we left that area we headed of to another part of the reserve to some other hides on the way there we found a viewing platform which looked over a little stream with some reeds at the back of it, after about 2mins of waiting a great reed warbler landed on a branch near the reeds which after a few seconds flew straight into the reeds.
When we reached the first hide there wasn't much going on, it looked like it was a dried up lake but there was a tiny little pool of water just outside the hide there were 2 little ringed plovers feeding around it. After that we decided to go to the last hide before calling it a day. When we got there, it again looked like there has been a dried up lake in front of it but once again there was a little pool of water at the far end of the dried up lake, on it there was a common sandpiper, redshank, little ringed plovers, snipe, dunlin, little egret and a grey heron.
When we left the hide we started walking back to the bus when we saw some cattle with cattle egrets on top of them, they were picking the bugs of the cattle. While we were watching them an Osprey flew over which spooked pretty much all the birds in the area.
After a while we reached the entrance of the reserve and started walking to the bus stop and on the way we got an unexpected surprise a hoopoe flew right in front of us! it was amazing. We got the bus and made it back to the hotel.
Day 2:
Once again we caught the bus to go to S'Albufera. Today was very hot so before we left we decided to take quite a few drinks so we could cool down a bit (my dad had the pleasure of carrying these). We decided to take a path we hadn't been on so far which was quite a trek in the heat. Sadly we didn't really see much and we were both a bit disappointed. However on the way back, we checked out one of the places where we had seen the Bee eaters and were delighted to see a couple of Hoopoe's quite close by.
This was a real treat and made us feel that our earlier efforts had been rewarded. As we trudged back towards our bus stop down the long road into the reserve, we got some lovely views of a Nightingale and our day was much more complete.
Day 3:
After a couple of days break and a chance to catch up with some friends we had met around the hotel, we again set off for the Reserve. As usual, it was very warm and we made sure we had plenty of drinks to help us through.  First we decided to walk down the path again to see if any night herons were roosting on the little bridge, as we arrived we soon spotted 3 night herons sitting on the bridge with a big group of little egrets. After that we decided to have a 45min walk down to a hide where there is lots of scrapes. On the way a cracking male stonechat sat at the top of the reeds giving us superb views.

Night heron

Before we decided to go in the hide we decided to check out some scrapes just a few meters away from it, around the scrapes there was several Kentish plovers and little ringed plovers. Plus when we were looking on the scrapes a stunning Osprey flew right over our heads.

Little ringed plover
After we had left the scrapes we decided to have a quick look in the hide where once again there was lots of Kentish plovers and little ringed plovers and after a while another Osprey (or the same one - not sure) came into land on a pole in the middle of the lake.
After a while a Marsh harrier came gliding across the reeds and my dad managed to pick up an incredibly camouflaged Stone curlew.
Stone curlew
After spending around 1hr 30mins in the hide we decided to have a look in the 2 hides which didn't have much water in around them to see if anything had turned up there. When we reached them in the first hide there was quite a lot more water around the hide and feeding at the front of the first hide there was a few little ringed plovers and a Purple Gallenule. As we were watching to see if anything interesting dropped in I noticed lots and lots of plovers were dropping in near the other hide so we decided to go and have a look over there. As we walked in a couple of hundred or so plovers were feeding along the scrapes including Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers also the cattle were feeding right next to the hide so it brought the Cattle Egrets much closer. Plus a little later a superb Glossy Ibis fly over the lake! And the occasional Bee Eater flew over.
Cattle egret

Glossy ibis

Bee eater
After that we decided to go catch the bus and go back to the hotel.
Day 4:
Today instead we decided to go to the Salt Marshes with Miguel to see the flamingos what had been there recently. We got up at 5.45am and could hear the rain outside (of all days). We had to drive to the other side of the island and this was a bit scary as it was still dark and pouring with rain.When we arrived at the marshes with Miguel, almost straight away we spotted the flamingos and dozens of avocets and black winged stilts but the bad thing was the weather was still terrible, it was pouring down but as we were watching the flamingos a group of waders flew past which included a few Kentish plovers, little stints and a temmincks stint! There was around 25 flamingos in total. As the rain never showed any signs of stopping we went to a lovely little cafĂ© Miguel knew where we had a drink and watched an amazing lightening storm over the sea. We then headed back in the car, sad not to see much of the salt marshes but happy to have met Miguel (a great guy) and to have seen flamingos in the wild.
Day 5:
It was our last day in Majorca today so we decided to have a quick look around S'Albufera one last time. Our plan was to check most of the places out were we saw some good birds so first we checked the hide which took 45mins to get too. When we reached the hide there was redshanks and greenshanks feeding with little egrets along the scrapes and quite a lot of black winged stilts were feeding along them too plus a while later the Osprey dropped in. After we walked to the 2 hides which now had lots of water in from the rain from the other day, on it there was more Kentish plovers and little ringed plovers plus 2 little stints and a dunlin were feeding along the scrapes also 5 black winged stilts were at the back of the lake.
Black winged stilt

It was a great few days and something I hope to do again in the near future.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

lots and lots of waders!

Today we went to Spurn for some waders.

When we were driving down the road to get to a few of the hides there was a Stoat which ran half way across the road then back into the side, it was fantastic watching as he came out a few more times plus I hadn't seen a stoat for ages also several Kestrels were hunting over the fields which was fantastic to watch as they kept going down to go and catch something plus occasionally they sat on the lines eating whatever they caught.
When we reached the first hide there was nothing on the scrapes until we saw a bunch of waders fly over the sea and they looked like they were heading for the next hide so we decided to look in there. As we walked in we couldn't believe it! there was Thousands of waders on the scrapes, there was about 5000 Knot maybe more! 3000 Dunlin, 300 bar tailed godwits, Turnstones, oystercatchers, 50 Grey plover, 10 Golden plover, 10 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, 200 sanderling and some ringed plovers also there was around about 100 sandwich terns flying around.
Grey Plover



Sandwich tern
While we were watching them another kestrel came in front of the hide quite a few times also lots more waders kept flying in to join the roost. We had been in the hide about an hour so we decided to leave and go to another part of the reserve. We decided to walk on the beach for a bit to see if any waders were along the edge of it, While we were walking down the beach a curlew and quite a few Common Gulls flew past. As we were walking back down the beach a sanderling came into land on the beach but he flew away almost straight away and then a common gull came into land which stayed much longer than the sanderling, as we were walking up the hill to leave the beach 3 ringed plover came into land there was 2 adults and 1 Juvenile.
Common gull
After we decided to have a quick look in Kilnsea before we had to go home because it was a long drive back 1hr and 30mins, on the way as we drove past the sea there was a few scrapes with waders on them I could just make out a few dunlinringed plover and sanderling. When we arrived at Kilnsea we started walking down to the hide, on the way there was lots of butterflies and moths on the flowers also there was quite a few little egrets flying over our heads. When we got to the hide there was a few little egrets feeding at the back of the lake also there was about 10 avocets feeding along the scrapes, but we couldn't stay long so after about 10mins we left the hide but while we were walking back a very nice Wall brown posed very nicely on a flower.
Wall brown
When we got back to the car park we went home after an amazing day also we got 5 life ticks!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

North Cave

Today we went to North Cave.

When we arrived we walked round to the first hide, when we were looking I spotted a few little grebes at the far end of the lake also the occasional sedge and reed warblers kept flying about in the reeds.

After we left that hide we walked down to another hide which over looked a small lake with scrapes on it, straight away I saw a common sandpiper on one of the scrapes which soon flew away to another scrape. On one of the other scrapes there was 3 Dunlin and a little ringed plover also right at the back of the lake on the very last scrape was a green sandpiper and Right at the front of one of the scrapes there was 5 common snipe feeding.

 When we started walking down this path, on a little field next to it there was quite a few grey and pied wagtails feeding on it along with quite a few goldfinches which were sitting at the top of the gorse, after that we heard an unusual sound at the top of one of the trees so we managed to get a decent look at the bird and it turned out to be a stunning corn bunting! We watched him for while until he flew back across the field.
Best I managed of the corn bunting

After we walked down the path a little more and then we saw a bird fly around in a little bush, when it came to the front of the bush we realised that it was a willow warbler, it flew around for ages which allowed to have very good views of it. When we were watching it a bird flew past us which landed in a tree so we looked in the tree for it and eventually it came into view, it was a Grasshopper warbler.
Willow warbler
When we had finished the walk we walked up this hill to get to another hide, this one again had quite a few scrapes on it but we couldn't see much until along one of the edges we spotted a little ringed plover family there was an adult and 2 juveniles and at one time they came very close to the hide.
Juvenile little ringed plover

Juvenile little ringed plover
After when we left the hide we decided to check one last hide before we went home. When we got in the hide we saw lots of common terns flying about, a few of them were adults and a few of them were juveniles also there was a little grebe nest at the end of the lake which had 3 chicks also occasionally the adult little grebe carried one of the juveniles on its back which was great to watch.
Juvenile common tern

After that we had to go home after a very enjoyable day!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Tophill low and North Cave!

Today our plan was to get up at around 7:00am and visit Tophill Low and then on the way back visit North Cave.

When we arrived at Tophill Low, we walked through the gates to the first hide which overlooked a Lake, on the lake there was several Tufted ducks and Mute swans but at the back of some of the tufted ducks there was a Great crested grebe.

After we walked to the another hide which was round the other side of the lake, when we were walking down the path to the hide quite a few Little gulls flew over our heads and when we almost reached the hide a Common sandpiper flew over the lake which then flew over the path which we were walking on. When we got in the hide, once again this one was overlooking the same lake. straight away I picked up about 4 little gulls flying around it which kept landing on the lake.
Little Gull
After we went through the wood to reach another hide, this one was near a little scrape with a small amount of water, as we walked in straight away a Grey heron lifted off and flew to the other side of the Scrape, we scanned the scrapes for waders but we couldn't find anything. As we were walking out of the hide my dad spotted this bush with lots of butterflies, bees and a couple of moths on it, I saw a Silver Y moth come to the front of the bush, it stayed for a while then flew back round the back of the bush.
Silver Y
After we walked through another part of the wood, we heard about two different Sparrow hawks, when we were walking through we spotted another hide so we decided to have quick look in there, when we went in there was a few Female mallards sitting at the side of the river and there was several reed and sedge warblers flying around in amongst the reeds. After a little while a Juvenile moorhen came in to land on a post on the river, he soon flew of into the reeds and then him and a Adult moorhen came back out. After when we had just left the hide we once again we heard the call of a Sparrow hawk, it sounded like it was coming towards us and then a few seconds later it flew straight past us. When we walked down the Path to go to another big lake we heard another Sparrow hawk, this time I spotted it up in the trees. It was great watching this fantastic bird.
Sparrow hawk
When we were walking to the other lake, on the way there was a hide looking over a little lake we decided to have a look inside, on the lake there was around about 5 little grebes, while we were watching the grebes 2 waders flew in, they were Green sandpipers they flew around the lake for a long time, then after a while they flew away. There was a few more hides around this other lake but there wasn't much in them, on the big main lake there was a few more little gulls and tons of Tufted ducks. On the flowers at the side of the path there was lots of Small Skippers, also there was a few other different types of moths.
Small Skipper
I think this moth is a Silver ground carpet
After when we had walked round the other lake we decided to go to North Cave but we only had 30mins to spend there but we will be probably going again next week to check out more of the reserve, when we got out of the car we walked down the path and made it to the first hide, the hide overlooked a massive lake, at the front of it there was a few little grebes and a few great crested grebes also right in the middle of the lake there was a raft with some adult common terns on with a few juvenile common terns.
After we walked down to a smaller lake where there was a little grebe showing quite well on it also the occasional Common tern came in to fish.
Common tern
After that we had to go home, when we were walking back to the car we quickly had a look through a view screen which looked over a lake with a few scrapes of it, we saw an Adult little ringed plover with 2 chicks and a few avocets were wading around the edges.