Another Great Day in the Pyrenees - 2020 (1 Viewer)

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
About time kicked off the new year.

Usual very late update on the recent news and sightings -

Lammergeiers - 3 nests found for 4 couples. Been high and low but can't find the 4th nest... Smacks of last year when the fourth nest was found mid March

Eagle Owl - regular views in 'nest' area. During the day as well.

Scops - two callers noted already although not by me! One in village and one down the mountain.

Tengmalms - one caller reported. We were advised that once a territory is found that frequent calling in the afternoon in or around the nest can be common. Sure enough he started tooting around 12.45 yesterday afternoon, maybe 6 bursts. Every 45 minutes thereafter. The terrain was steep, rocky, mossy, some snow, lots of dead trees but not deterred the search in earnest started. The third time he called I was close - within 50 metres having covered 250m since the initial call - at the second burst I came out into a clearing and he stopped. Waited, waited, waited. Ok 45 minutes nothing. There were no obvious cavities. I turned to leave and almost immediately back in the woods he called again - I guess he could see me! I decided that I needed to head back and not wait another 45 minutes but the search has narrowed - the end result is fairly near an accessible path 20 minutes by foot. Albeit in a normal snow year this would have been a good 2.5 hours walk in snow shoes... Great.

Had 8 Great White Egrets at the airport the other day which is a site record for me.

Usual suspects seen daily at the site including Hen Harrier and Black Shouldered Kites, occasional Dartford Warblers - I guess if I looked harder they would be more than occasional. Speaking of which rumours of a breeder last year! Could be of interest to Dragnil....

Slightly worrying is the lack of Crested Larks on previous visits or any visit this winter. Have had a couple of sightings of Woodlark though...

No Wallcreepers again this winter. This again is probably down to lack of effort. Another month or so before the annual territory search kicks off. Hope the knee is ready for a mountain bashing.

The annual prospecting for the White Backed Woody is about to kick off as well. The search at the end of the valley is changing slightly. The sites there were fairly inaccessible anyway but I can't work out if the shift helps, assuming successful that is. It will help from a parking point of view having been biffed off by the local farmer a couple of weeks ago - 'U carrrn't parrrrk therrrr' - I really can't be bothered to walk an extra 30 minutes and park where you want me to....

I have been told of a spot where Hobbys congregate in spring so looking forward to that. The high count at the end of April is 80! The other bird n’est site I want to nail this year is the Bee-eater, I tried unsuccessfully last year but 2020 is a new year. Unsuccessful did produce one Roller though!!!

Had a very early Black Stork three weeks ago. And the first few Black Kites are already back...
 
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KenM

Well-known member
An amazingly rich content of species there rosbifs, incredible to think it’s probably less than an hour away by “iron bird.” Best of luck with your quests and give my regards to Tichodroma muraria...as it’s been 42 years since last seen by moi. :t:
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Sounds as though we’ve only got two good knees between the pair of us for our mountain birding;)

We actually probably have less than that! 25 years of Rugby, a bit of squash, cricket and now skiing put paid to both of mine. That said I can still ski I just can't walk afterwards for a day or so...

An amazingly rich content of species there rosbifs, incredible to think it’s probably less than an hour away by “iron bird.” Best of luck with your quests and give my regards to Tichodroma muraria...as it’s been 42 years since last seen by moi. :t:

The ticho is always a welcome sight - even if very brief at times. They used to be regular in the village throughout the winter - if you have been following from the good old days I used to watch them on the church walls whilst eating breakfast! Anyway, I know they are not far away. There is one particular territory I wish to nail down and find the nest site - maybe this will be the year, if not there is always 2021...

As for species I think I must be getting close to 200 for the 'extended' area. I was 167 the last time I counted about 8 years ago... Daily record is 77 - maybe should go after that one some time...

I would love to add a male red footed falcon, a big eagle, Citrine Wagtail or Red Throated Pipit this year...
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Great to hear you've got Tengmalm's Owl in your area Charles, is that a newish discovery?? Intrigued to see the results of your White-backed Woodie searches this year too. Fond memory of visiting your patch :)
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Hi Larry

Its a fairly new discovery but doubtful a new bird, if that makes sense. There are occasional rumours of birds being heard - one at Gavarnie, one at Bareges etc. The nearest more 'common or known' site is Iraty. It might have a lot to do with access. This particular area would have zero birdwatchers at the right time of the year let alone the right time of the day or night. Its about 600m of vertical up hill to about 1750m and north facing. In a normal year its covered in snow until April or even May.

The birds were found following counts on Capercaillie. The Parcs guys looking for capercaillie, firstly, to know they are present and also to count them so they know how many the hunters can shoot! Anyway, it generally means camping out and trekking into the woods for a couple of nights. One said to me a couple of years ago that he had heard Tengmalms owl!

Personally, my Tengmalms prospecting generally involves driving round the fringes of likely woods round mid April beginning of May - this would generally be after service when I used to work in and run the restaurant. I suspect they are a little more common than we think due to the inaccessible areas they breed. Including the wood you camped in but a little higher up.

As for White Backed Woodpecker I still hold out hope but feel that they have all but disappeared from the southern part of our valley. At the northern end they are present and to the west. There is a new dvd on the bird made fairly locally. The range is noted as continuous from the Basque country to the woods at St Pe. A couple of isolated pockets then two smaller populations around Luchon and one near Toulouse. In the right woods above Arudy, Iraty they out number the great spotted woodpecker.

There are three woods that I think are large enough and isolated enough to still hold them without being detected so far. Higher up in the wood you were in and more on the north facing slopes (there is some pretty scary terrain), the mountain opposite and one more further back. There have been a couple of winter records again from the wood you were in but in November - perhaps birds looking for new territory or moving foraging because of weather.

Like I said each springs new hope but I feel the reason they have moved on here is that the woods have become too dry.....

Charles
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Rock Bunting - mention it because I keep forgetting to note this bird and records generally are pretty slim - in 2018 only two people submitted records. That doesn't mean I don't see them fairly regularly just that I forget to note them...

That said a couple of weeks ago whilst up the mountain I had a small flock of 7 of them - that's definitely worth submitting.

The snow has arrived and the owl watching will pause for a little while. I can't see that I have the mental, I was going to say physical, capacity to walk for 2 hours or more up hill. Will wait for a melt...

Black Kites are back and did I mention that I saw a Black Stork at the beginning of February - the earliest, at least for me, by a long stretch.

I'm thinking I might make a Zaragoza trip again this year for some larks and bustards. Sleep in the car job. Its a 30 hour round trip...
 
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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Short Toed Eagle have made an appearance> One in Argeles in the morning and if by coincidence one in the afternoon in Luz. Also, as if by coincidence, the one in Luz, which I saw off and on from 15h00 landed in a tree somewhere above the brewery (where I work)!

It went into the middle of an evergreen and then about 30 minutes later sat on top of it - could this be last years nest? Which I already know is somewhere above the brewery... Watch this space. Which reminds me I took a very distant picture of a raptor down the mountain - was it the first Egyptisn of the year? I think so...

Then in the evening, dinner at my sisters and a very vocal Scops, my first (second for the village) of the year.

Three year ticks - great...
 

dragnil

Well-known member
Charles, it's good to have you posting again. Seems like things are warming up for another good Spring. I'm expecting good views of Dartford Warbler after what you said - see you in a couple of months. We can't wait to get back to the mountains.
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
So I have managed to get myself locked down in Portugal.

I went birding a couple of times pre lock down, firstly, to look for the Pallid Harriers (one male one female) at EVOA. I'm pretty sure I clocked the female but she was distant and against the sun so really didn't get any detail. Just had a slighlty narrower and longer feel to her wings. Lots and lots of Tree Sparrows, Booted Eagle, some White Stork, a male Marsh Harrier and first House Martins and Swallows were nice sights though.

Then on Wednesday took a drive out to find the Ring Necked Duck south of Lisbon - tick. And another Booted Eagle at Sintra and the first Swift of the year - I'm sticking with Common but....

As I mentioned on another thread I completely missed the lockdown ruling. Bit silly really. If I'm honest I listened to the Presidents speech and took that as gospel so didn't catch the parliament ruling on Thursday. The President paving the way for the parliament to go into full lockdown.

Consequently, and being south of the river yesterday, headed to Cabo Espichel. Beautiful place despite the not so nice drive to get there. Three Woodchat Shrikes wow, tons of Sardys, Stonechat and three Little Owls were the highlights.

On the way back the drive towards Albufeira much nice with the bonus of repassng the Ring Necked Duck. He was quite a way to view from the road but was still there. A mega bonus was an Iberian Chiffchaff. Calling by the road but buried in the canopy. At the same time the reason we were south of the river became pressing so I didn't stay around for the photo...

Great - although don't shout too loudly
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
So being holed up on Thursday left me time to review species seen around me in the Pyrenees.

I have in the region of 192 species including an incredible 28 raptors, excluding owls!! In the region because true to form it involves cross referencing, paper and scruffy writing. I will have time next week when I’m in solitary to type up...

Highlights - all self found - pallid harriers (juv and male), red foot juv and three eleanoras... see the pattern - raptors...
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Copy from other post;

So 12 Griffon Vulures very low was my breakfast treat and then a Lammy!

Raptors
Short Toed Eagle (perched somewhere near nest plus daily overhead)
Kestrel
Black Kite
Red Kite
Griffon Vulture
Egyptian Vulture
Lammegeier
Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
9


Others
Black Redstrt
Coal Tit
Great Tit (nest box in garden)
Wren
House Sparrow
Blackcap
Swallow
Crag Martin
Carrion Crow
Raven
Collared Dove
Nuthatch
Blackbird
Meadow Pipit
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Jay
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Woodpigeon
Robin
Linnet
Grey Heron
Green Woodpecker
Firecrest (heard outside garden)
Chiffchaff
27

Total 36
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Redstart
Water Pipit
red Billed Chough
magpie
Greenfinch

Just found the Short Toed Eagle nest. My friend just called to say he had seen branch carrying and the pair together at the top of the tree...
 

rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
So this little fella at the end of March but I forgot to post up the picture or count it.

Also had a male Kestrel come to the garden today, He tried to land in the tree outside the lounge window but then flew off. Great to see these birds so close! I knew playing xbox would pay off.

Still waiting for the Booted Eagle to arrive so have the scope set up on the Short toed Eagle tree. The view of the actual nest is obscured so its only when two birds are in that you can see one of them. Half hearted attempt to find a Dipper today but did have Cirl Bunting when unloading the shopping...
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Booted Eagle yesterday - raptors now up to 10. If it nests where I think then could see that fro the garden as well as the short toed.

Thought I had a Goldie the other day but couldn't get scope in time. Plus some migration

surely too late for kites (although did look like the) and too early for honeys... Again couldn't get scope on them and they were dots
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
Two new 'lockdown' birds to day and both raptors
Goshawk
Golden Eagle

Also heavily moulting Short Toed Eagle today...
 

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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
So I have finally got round to doing a list and wow what a surprise - 220 species - can be found here

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=3983771#post3983771

I don't do lists so some of you might finds flaws - and the list was done from memory while wallowing in my pit using ebird.

The other surprise is that a large proportion of the birds are annual and in some cases regular, or more so than they should be. Only a handful are twitches and then only an hour or so from the house. So I thought 220 was pretty good, subject to comments already made about listing, for a mainly mountain area and includes a huge 28 raptors. Whilst I do go migration counting on the Soulor most of those birds have been counted elsewhere and more locally.

I feel lucky to have witnessed some of these species, their behaviour and also had the pleasure to share the local area with a number other birders over the years. Some have shared mating Lammergeiers (forgot that as a highlight), mating Black Shouldered Kites, finding a Bonellis Warbler nest and feeding, Middle Spot feeding young, Eagle Owl feeding young (thanks for the text Alan).

Funneist moment involves misidentifying a Wallcreeper! An unmistakable bird and I'm too embarrassed to recount the full story.

I think the next step is to post up some of the photos but that will take a bit more time...
 

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