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Autumn Passage in Catalunya

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Old Monday 1st October 2018, 09:28   #51
pandachris
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55. Common Redstart, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
56. Crested Tit, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
57. Lesser Black-back, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
58. Stonechat, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
59. Sandwich Tern, Vilanova i la Geltrù.

We had breakfast at our hotel and sat outside with a sky view. One swallow over. We kept hearing a call like Zitting Cisticola. The habitat was buildings, a swimming pool, lawns, ornamental trees and perhaps a couple of older pines. When it called it was always 3 notes. I don't think it was a starling doing a bit of mimicry. It was too quiet and lower down, the starlings here being permanently at rooftop height. Any guesses?
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Old Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 06:29   #52
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Quite a good finish to our short stay in Vilanova. We decided to take a stroll first to the Pasiphae (bull) statue that sits on an artificial headland that extends some distance into the sea from Platja d'Adarro, then continue west to the Mirador. There were lots of swallows skimming low over the same as we walked out and we soon got onto some more Sandwich Terns however checking a few terns more closely revealed that there were more Caspian Terns about, with one on nearly every buoy. Looking at the solitary gull at the end of eastern end of the platform it was clear that it was Audouin's. Looking out to sea, as well as large numbers of gulls and terns there was a constant passage of swallows - more than we had seen at any other time in the three trips.

Continuing west and passing the Mirador we reached the start of the nudist beach, Platja de l'Aguadolç. We tend to think that binoculars might not be appropriate on a naturist site so we went through the tunnel under the railway and then the unpromising looking car park thinking that we might be able to loop back into town. After a short distance we came across the entrance to a marked path, the Antic Cami d'Adarro. The first thing to mention is that this was only a couple of hundred metres long but gave access to other tracks in partly cultivated countryside and that it was alive with butterflies, in particular dozens of Cleopatras but Julie photographed a blue that we didn't recognise and a possible argus but we also saw a couple of fritillaries too. It could be some time before we have a look at the pics to ID them.

Birds included plenty of swallows and Sardinian Warblers with Crested Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper in the pine wood near the start of the path. Definitely worth a look. Time and insufficient drinking water prevented us from walking further.

More later.
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Old Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 09:39   #53
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Lunch beckoned and we found our way back into town easily, returning to the start of the path an continuing along the road and eventually under the railway, coming out by the Roman villa excavations and the Marejol restaurant where we stopped for a drink. continuing east we ended up at the untouristy Taverna del Port where the menu del dia for €11 each was a bargain. Julie had a huge plate of fresh mussels for the first course. The wine was unbranded so probably from a barrel and rather good.

We had a view east from our table and swallow passage was continuous (later, waiting for a taxi at the hotel I counted 18 over the pool area in two minutes) so there were thousands passing close to Vilanova during the day. I saw what I first took to be a light aircraft approaching but realised that it was a large bird of prey. It was going to go behind a tall building so I ran across the road and got quite a good view of a Short-toed Eagle.

Our taxi took us to Vilanova bus station and from there a coach to BCN was nice and easy. Mindful of last week's possible gallinule I was watchful as we approached T1 but didn't see anything similar, although a Marsh Harrier was no surprise at all.

Three days of work and then it's back for the main part of the Concurs de Castells followed by a couple of days of actual birdwatching on the Ebro Delta, which I am really looking forward to. Might add a few more to the list.

I've checked re Cleopatra and it seems that these are normally only seen until late August, after which they hibernate. With Common Blues and Small Coppers still being recorded in Shropshire it's perhaps not strange that butterflies elsewhere are also being seen later. The temperatures reach 28-29C whilst we were in Catalunya this weekend. If anyone is in the area then it would be interesting to hear their views. The male butterflies, which didn't settle for photographs, appeared very orange on the forewing so Cleopatra is most likely.

Other butterflies seen during these two visits included Apollo (?) and Southern Swallowtail.

Last edited by pandachris : Tuesday 2nd October 2018 at 09:48.
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Old Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 09:50   #54
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60. Caspian Tern, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
61. Auduoin's Gull, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
62. Short-toed Eagle, Vilanova i la Geltrù.
63. Marsh Harrier, Brac de la Vilarda (probably), BCN.
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Old Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 12:08   #55
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I almost forgot. At the Parc Ribes Roges where the miniature train track is, a small stream enters the sea. There wasn't much here apart from a few Mallards on my two early morning visits here but at midday there were hundreds of gulls. Could be worth a look for any gull enthusiasts. There's a small interpretive sign showing a dozen or so 'possible' bird species. One is Balearic Shearwater, which could be a bit ambitious, but who knows?

Also, one I missed earlier. Should have been #45 near Tamarit ...

64. Mallard, near Castell de Tamarit.

Last edited by pandachris : Tuesday 2nd October 2018 at 14:18.
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Old Wednesday 3rd October 2018, 09:06   #56
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Coming soon, 1 night in Valls, 2 in Tarragona and 2 in the Ebro Delta. With a car. We should get some birding done on Friday, l hope to be back on the Hotel Plaça de la Font balcony on Sunday morning and then we have two full days to devote to birds on Monday and Tuesday.
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Old Saturday 6th October 2018, 06:11   #57
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This weekend is the main part of the Concurs de Castells so at 10:30 we picked up a rental car from BCN and set off for lunch. We made a small diversion to the enigmatic and rather absurd Mazinger Z near El Pla de Santa Maria where we saw two butterflies from the car that we thought might have been Camberwell Beauties, although having looked at some online videos I'm not so sure, then went for a magnificent €12 menu del dia at the Restaurant Catalunya in Santes Creus. I saw an estimated 150 Hawfinches in the trees between this restaurant and the river last October but no sign of any today. We walked for a couple of hundred metres along the Riu Gaia and flushed at least one Green Sandpiper.

65. Jay, from the car en route to El Pla de Santa Maria.
66. Raven, close to Pont d'Armentera.
67. Green Sandpiper, Riu Gaia, Santes Creus.
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Old Saturday 6th October 2018, 07:02   #58
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Next stop after checking in to Hotel Class, Valls was the Ruta de Barraques de Pedraseca which is an interesting place for a bit of birding. It's probably no different to thousands of square kilometres of rural Spain but it has good access and the beehive huts are fascinating. I've seen plenty of evidence of passage during previous visits. Today was a slightly frustrating sequence of probables and might have beens. There were Linnets and a few Swallows over plus Crested Tits, Woodlarks and others. The most interesting area for birds was on the approach road either side of the "little cliff" that will be obvious if you go that way, but most of them were sticking to the little oak trees that had a dense covering of leave. There might have been Cirl Buntings, maybe Dartford Warblers, possibly Sub-Alpine warblers. It seems likely that the dozen or so birds that flushed when we parked were pipits. I doubt we'll get back there this holiday to check.

68. Nuthatch, Car Park, Ruta de Pedraseca.
69. Woodlark, Car Park, Ruta de Pedraseca.
70. Crested Lark, several heard but not seen, as above.

Might not see any new birds for the trip today. Castells galore in Tarragona. We'll keep looking, though.
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Old Saturday 6th October 2018, 23:21   #59
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One new species for the trips - a couple of Mistletoe Thrushes on wires not far from Tarragona on the road from Valls.

71. Mistle Thrush, near Tarragona.

The Diada Castellera Internacional was truly magnificent. You should look it up. I think I now want to do Govindas. Or maybe be a Muixeranga. Tomorrow is the big day at the Concurs.
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Old Sunday 7th October 2018, 06:43   #60
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It's 7:43, it's almost daylight and we're supposed to be at the Parc del Ciutat for 8:15. Must be time for a short spell on the balcony.
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Old Sunday 7th October 2018, 07:10   #61
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A few hundred starlings and a similar number of Alpine Swifts.

I've heard Black Redstart a couple of times but haven't seen one yet. Probably hundreds on the Delta tomorrow.

72. Black Redstart, Hotel Plaça de la Font.
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Old Sunday 7th October 2018, 17:44   #62
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A long and physically demanding day at the Concurs de Castells. The arena roof was only part open and we noticed a few swallows over. Back to the hotel and a peerless blue sky but so far nothing but pigeons.
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Old Sunday 7th October 2018, 17:46   #63
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A single Alpine Swift at just above rooftop height.
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Old Sunday 7th October 2018, 18:28   #64
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It's close to sunset. The drums and grallers of Xiquets de Tarragona are celebrating in the square and two Sparrowhawks just flew by together.
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Old Monday 8th October 2018, 07:05   #65
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A Swallow and I few Greenfinches. Off to the Ebro Delta in a short while. Rain forecast.
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Old Tuesday 9th October 2018, 06:23   #66
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Not much access to WiFi today so it might be back to England before I can make many more updates but I think the calling Scop's Owl that was outside the window of our room in the excellent Delta Hotel just before midnight was our 100th species in Catalunya this year. In a few minutes we'll be off out for some delta birding. Soon after that it should get light.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 07:03   #67
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I'll finish this off shortly. I've not had much time to listen to my field notes for the Ebro Delta since getting back to the UK.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 13:38   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pandachris View Post
Not much access to WiFi today so it might be back to England before I can make many more updates but I think the calling Scop's Owl that was outside the window of our room in the excellent Delta Hotel just before midnight was our 100th species in Catalunya this year. In a few minutes we'll be off out for some delta birding. Soon after that it should get light.
Be aware that one toad sounds like thé scops Owl
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 19:43   #69
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Which road?

We've heard a lot of Scop's Owls over the years, so I'm fairly confident. Plus it was high in a tree, though clearly some amphibians can climb.
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 12:40   #70
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I've worked out playback on the voice recorder app we were using (I'm not incompetent, we've been busy since getting home) so I'll make a start on finishing off the list. I wish I'd thought to record the Scop's Owl. It would have been easy.

I was wrong about the Black Redstarts. We saw none on the delta. On about 23rd October 2017 I saw hundreds.

73. Squacco Heron, 3 just after leaving Ampolla were the only ones we saw.
74. Great White Egret, numerous
75. Osprey, 7 sightings over two days
76. Little Grebe, Migjorn tower hide
77. Purple Heron, quite common
78. Glossy Ibis, very common
79. Redshank, quite common
80. Lapwing, quite common
81. Zitting Cisticola, several seen.
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 12:56   #71
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After an unsuccessful search for the PGP we went to Riet Vell which always seems to be worth a look. Nothing special from the car park but we did speak to some Belgian birders who recommended the drive along the sand spit to Punta de Banya. No sign of Bluethroat near the hide, either.

82. Sand Martin, lots at Riet Vell with other hirundine.
83. Avocet, 2 at Riet Vell were the only ones we saw.
84. Purple Swamphen, Riet Vell and several other locations
85. Moustached Warbler, Riet Vell, Migjorn tower hide and a few other places
86. Kingfisher, Riet Vell and perhaps 30-40 sightings over two days.
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Old Monday 15th October 2018, 09:32   #72
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Looks like the toad (not road) that sounds like Scops Owl is the Common Midwife Toad. A.o. almogavarii and A.o pertinax both look possible in the delta. There might be other species of Midwife toad as well. We're convinced that what we heard was Scops, but I'll try to find some recordings of the toad/s to listen to in the next few days, just in case. We did see quite a lot of American Crayfish which are a known predator on toad tadpoles, so it might be a good thing if it turns out to be a toad.
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Old Monday 15th October 2018, 21:19   #73
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I've listened to a few recordings of Midwife Toad calls and whilst they are quite similar to Scops Owl, I feel that I could tell the difference quite easily. What we heard was definitely a Scops Owl. I suppose there's a chance that it could have been a recording - perhaps someone from the guided group of birders that were also in the hotel - but they would still have needed to get the device they were playing it on up the tree.
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Old Monday 15th October 2018, 21:35   #74
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We had an excellent (as usual) meal at the restaurant at Casa de Fusta and then went across the road to the tower hide. The sunlight was against us, so most birds were in silhouette.

87. Great Crested Grebe, Casa de Fusta hide
88. Water Rail, Casa de Fusta hide
89. Willow Warbler, Casa de Fusta hide.

We also saw, quite close but mainly in outline, a bird that looked very like a Red-necked Grebe. I suspect that this would be very unusual here at this time of year, so it was probably a non-breeding GCG.


We moved on to the Mirador l'Embut which has been quite productive previously. There was a distant eagle that had put everything up over the lake. Ducks, herons, gulls, cormorants - I don't think there was anything on the water and there were hundreds, probably thousands of birds in the air. It was too far away to even guess at the ID, though. From the hide on Cami del Traves


90. Red-crested Pochard
91. Gadwall
92. Shoveler
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Old Monday 15th October 2018, 21:39   #75
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Our next stop was the new Observatorio de la Tancada, near Mon Natura. There was more water than we're used to here but with a little patience it was possible to find a few waders.


93. Greenshank, Observatorio de la Tancada
94. Kentish Plover, Observatorio de la Tancada
95. Mute Swan, Observatorio de la Tancada
96. Little Stint, Observatorio de la Tancada
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