Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rainham Marshes

I realised that at least three hours is what is needed for a decent walk round Rainham Marshes, including an excursion to the Serin mound.

Was a bit pushed for time but did pick up Dartford Warbler in its usual place near the Ken Barrett hide, Water Pipit from the Butts hide, and the usual selection of wildfowl, Marsh Harrier, and common waders.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Catalunya - Ebro Delta

The Ebro Delta covers a significant area but the birding spots aren't particular easy to find.  The day was a little hurried, it was a fleeting visit before the flight home and the weather wasn't particularly typical of Catalunya.

I tried to make the most of it there and decided to drive around in search of whatever February could offer.

The beach was a desolate place as the cool wind skipped off the sand with just a Little Egret and a Sanderling there dancing along the shore as the sea lapped against the rocks.

Skirting round the edges of the agricultural fields, a group of Purple-Swamphen were present, and nearby, an impressive flock of around 250 Glossy Ibis took flight as I attempted to quietly creep up for a closer look.  Also there were a few Green Sandpiper, and a single Wood Sandpiper that was frustratingly flighty.

The inlet at El Garxel held a few interesting birds including a gathering of Mediterranean Gull, Greater Flamingo, a couple of Whiskered Tern, and a Dartford Warbler on the walk up to the viewing screens.

A fluffy first-year Black Redstart was picking off insects along the edge of the estuary.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Catalunya - Coll de Pal

It's just as quick to get to the Pyrenees (and arguably cheaper) as it is to get to the Highlands in Scotland.  I just find the Pyrenees much more accessible, and of course it's in Spain, a country that I love.

The scenery is breath-taking, the drive from Barcleona relaxing, and the birdlife keeps your interest in by the minute.

Coll de Pal is around half an hour north of the small mountain town of Baga.  It was cold when I arrived, the car thermometer measuring -6C, but it was clear and still and didn't at all feel like there was a harsh chill in the air.

The road up to the top was favourable, with a few icy patches here and there but the vista that welcomes you is one where sight alone cannot behold.

Parking the car, I walked along a snow covered track opposite the ski runs on the far side of the valley.  It all appeared very calm with little bird-life.  A noisy group of birds flew over the ridge and settled nervously on the slope.  I counted around 60 Alpine Accentor in total, as small groups continued to flock together before heading further along the mountain-side.  

It seemed incredible that there was any food available to them here, but these hardy mountain dwellers are well adapted to these bleak environments.

The pine woodland held plenty of Crested Tit, which are a common site in this area.  Another bird which were common and singing from the pines were Common Crossbill, with many in song and very vocal as they flew across the tops of the tree-line.  Small groups of Fieldfare were present here as well as common finches.  Sadly no sign of any Citril Finch at this favourable site.

A couple of Raven flew over as did individuals of Griffon Vulture scanning the vast areas for carrion.  A Golden Eagle then passed through the valley as did a Sparrowhawk dashing low over the pines before heading into the valley.

Around mid-afternoon, a cloud of Alpine Chough congregated high over the mountain-top wheeling round the escarpment. 

A couple of Rock Bunting ended a really superb day.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Local Stuff

A quick look round the local area.  Highlights were the continuing female Brambling seen on the rear paddocks with a flock of Chaffinch.

Attempting to kick up a Jack Snipe in the 'Cow field' a sole female Stonechat was as much as I could prize out there.

A couple of Common Snipe were flushed on the north marsh, but all in all, it was actually quite a fruitful morning.  I still failed to see a House Sparrow.