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Marian's bird "illustrated diary" 2010 (Spain, mainly) (1 Viewer)

madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Hi, Folks! :hi:

Here I am again to do once more my sort of "illustrated diary" to keep updated my year list. I have no particular aims this year, just to enjoy finding as many different birds as I can, watching and snapping them. I'll bird mainly in Spain, but I plan to pay a couple of visits to England (on bussiness and for family reasons, hope to have the chance for a bit of birdwatching then though).

In the first day of the year, I visited Gijón... many birds seen and photographed. But I'm in Madrid now and I don’t have my pics available. So here it is a first post just with the birds seen from the train to Gijón. I'll add the rest of the stuff when I'm back at home in a few days.

This gives a taste of the common birds seen in the coastal countryside of my area.

1 January 2010: from the train Avilés-Gijón, Asturias, N Spain

1. Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michaelis)
2. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
3. Magpie (Pica pica)
4. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
5. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
6. European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
7. Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
8. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
9. Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
10. Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
11. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
12. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
 

madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Back home, finally! |=)|

I chose Gijón for my first outing of the year because the local park is a fantastic place in winter to take pictures of birds… great variety of species and quite cooperative. This is how my year list follows:

1 January 2010: Isabel La Católica Park, Gijón, Asturias, N Spain

13. Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
14. Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus)
15. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
16. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
17. Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
18. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

And my first pics of the year are:
a) Black-headed Gull, plenty of them in winter.
b) My neatest pic of a Grey Wagtail to date (still must be improved though, ;))
c) Oddly, all the big gulls in the park were Lesser Black-backed, couldn't spot any Yellow-legged. :eek!:
d) The bunch of wintering Red-crested Pochards that arrived last December was still there, so tried hard to get a pic of male and female together. I'm happy with this! o:)

More stuff in a next post when I process the rest of the pictures taken.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
The morning walk through the park of Gijón follows so:

1 January 2010: Isabel La Católica Park, Gijón, Asturias, N Spain

19. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
20. Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
21. Common Pochard (Aythia ferina) (pic a, again a pair of the species, but this time making the girl the main character, ;))
22. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) (pic b, caught sunk in sweet dreams, :gn:)
23. Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) (pic c, one speaking volumes, :king:)
24. Tufted Duck (Aythia fuligula) (pic d, failed to get male and female together but caught this boy preening)
25. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
26. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
After the walk through the park, a visit to the near beach provided:

1 January 2010: from the beach promenade of Gijón, Asturias, N Spain

27. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
28. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo athis)
29. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) (pic a, an assortment of poses, |:D|)
30. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) (pic b, a ruffled one, it was quite windy)
31. Common Gull (Larus canus)
32. Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
And to finish this first day of the year, I came back to the park to catch up with some species I had not photographed during the day, and so I got:

a) Magpie
b) A Blackbird trying to make friends with a preening Muscovy Duck (o:D)
c) A lovely pair of Mallards
d) A Coot, always a nighmare to get right, but I like this one with open bill and showing a bit of its magnificent feet.

And thanks to this new visit to the park, I could tick for the year list:

1 January 2010: Isabel La Católica Park, Gijón, Asturias, N Spain

33. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
34. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
I had to spend a few days in Madrid and, obviously, I did my best to find some time to do birdwatching in the area. The weather was dreadful, cold and rainy :)storm:). Still, I risked to get drenched and there I went hoping to see many birds (I had no hopes about taking pictures in such a dim day). In my first attempt birding in the area, on Sunday, I only managed 3 hours outside before it started to pour with rain but it was quite productive:

3 January 2010: El Pardo, outskirts of Madrid, C Spain

35. Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
36. Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
37. Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) (pic a, a crop from a pic of the bunch of nearly 40 present)
38. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
39. Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus)
40. Great-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
41. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
42. Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)
43. Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus)
44. Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
45. Chiffchaff (Philloscopus collybita)
46. Great Tit (Parus major)
47. Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
48. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
49. Stock Dove (Columba oenas) (pic b, a surprise, it's the first time I see this species in this area, o:))
50. Hoopoe (Upupa epops) (pic c, my closest Hoopoe pictures ever, chuffed with this encounter, more pics in my gallery soon)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
The only sunny morning during my stay in Madrid, I went to my other favorite spot in the area along with El Pardo, Rivas-Vaciamadrid. As expected, loads of stuff to see there:

6 January 2010: Rivas-Vaciamadrid, outskirts of Madrid, C Spain

51. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
52. Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
53. Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)
54. Raven (Corvus corax)
55. Stonechat (Saxicola rubecula)
56. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
57. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
58. Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
59. Purple Swamp-hen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
60. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
61. Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalus caudatus)
62. Common Teal (Anas crecca)
63. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
64. Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Quite a good bunch of ticks for my year list!!! o:) But I wasn't very successful at snapping, I only managed too nice shots of birds, a pair of cheerful Spotless Starlings singing and fluttering (pic a), and a happy couple of White Storks already occupied in nesting activities (pic b).
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
The gales of snow and cold wind that England and central Europe suffered in middle January reached my area as well. We had 4 days of snow but sadly I had a cold and couldn't go out to look for the goodies the bad weather brought us (sniff, :-C). I only could pay a very brief visit to a local park of my city, which allowed me to catch up with two common birds that managed to miss so far:

8 January 2010: Oviedo, Asturias, N Spain

65. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
66. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

There I got a picture of a White Wagtail enjoying the snow (pic a). Meadow Pipits doubted if staying in the snow or clearer areas (pib c) but Song Thrushes definitively prefered the fresh grass to the white stuff (pic c). o:D
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
In middle January I received the visit again of my buddy and BF member Scottishdude, to look for the Wallcreeper in Picos de Europa National Park during the weekend. We stayed in a little village, Arriondas, and there we did some birding before the great adventure started next day. Several common birds in the surroundings (White Wagtail, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Grey Heron, Common Buzzard, Red-billed Chough…) and another tick for the year list:

15 January 2010: Arriondas, near Picos de Europa N. P., Asturias, N Spain

67. Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)

And here you have images of some of the birds in Arriondas that I could photograph and still are not shown in this thread: Goldfinch (pic a), Grey Heron (pic b) and the Crag Martin, the best I've managed so far (o:)) (pic c)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Oh, wow, I'm just back from my first intended visit to England for this year and I find this thread rated. Thanks a million. I'll do my best to keep it worthy of it. o:)

I can't express with words my satisfaction to have helped to make true my buddy's dream of photographing the Wallcreeper!!! :bounce: (For some superb pictures of it, please check Scottishdude gallery ;)) The day was very gloomy and I doubted of the success but after a couple of hours looking for it the jewel appeared:

16 January 2010: Covadonga, Picos de Europa N. P., Asturias, N Spain

68. Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)

We spent loads of time enjoying its views… we might look silly to others birders, “wasting” the time just with one bird instead of trying to find more but that's the way we like to do our birding, pleasing our senses with what we find. We had great views of Griffon Vultures soaring quite low over ours heads too, and had the chances of snapping other birds (I got a Firecrest (pic a) and a Carrion Crow in the forest (pic b) among others) but nothing compares with the little red-winged star (pic c)!!! |=)|
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
In the afternoon of the same day, I took my buddy to a very reliable spot to see and photograph the Dipper… interestingly, our subspecies is different to the British one (it has completely dark belly, in contrast with the brown band the UK variety shows under the white breast). As expected, the little demon was there. ;) But the light was so dismal that I had to struggle to get a decent picture of it… pic a was the best I could obtain. Other small birds were moving around as well (Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail,…) but the birding was slower than I would have expected in this cold and dark afternoon. Still, a beautiful Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared at close distance too, and here you have it (pic b)

16 January 2010: Mestas de Con, Asturias, N Spain

69. Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
70. Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
In the second and last day in the Wallcreeper area, we paid a new visit to the bird to get better pictures and to look for other goodies in this special spot. The other star bird here is the very local but common Alpine Chough. Very confiding bird, it gave us great views (pic a). Red-billed Choughs were foraging in their company (pic b). Little birds were more active than the previous day: Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Short-toed Treecreeper… It was too dark for photographs but still I could save a male Chaffinch (pic c) and a Raven that flied by calling (pic d).

17 January 2010: Covadonga, Picos de Europa N. P., Asturias, N Spain

71. Coal Tit (Parus ater)
72. Alpine Chough (Phyrrocorax graculus)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Our last chance of birding during this weekend was spent again in the surroundings of Covadonga, just wandering to enjoy what we could find. A cold and dark afternoon again, with low bird activity, but always something appears to make the attempt worthwhile. |=)| This time a Jay showed up (not close enough for a good picture) along with many Long-tailed Tits, Meadow Pipits, several Thrushes… and the best were the two birds of the pictures attached: a beautiful Buzzard (pic a) who gave my buddy Scottishdude a super photographic session and a lovely Great Tit (pic b) somehow demure among the twigs... but I got it in the end! o:)

17 January 2010: Covadonga surroundings, Asturias, N Spain

73. Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
The end of January arriving soon and I still had not visited my favourite spot for wintering birds, Villaviciosa!!! :eek!: So there I went this Saturday for a couple of free hours I had, not expecting to do much in such short time but counted with finding new birds and taking a few pictures. I didn't complain, the mudflats and marshes were covered with Lapwings, Teals, Shovelers, Mallards, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Black-headed Gulls,... and the list grew a bit more:

23 January 2010: Villaviciosa, Asturias, N Spain

74. Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
75. Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
76. Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
77. Greylag (Anser anser)

And took plenty of pics of the Common Teals (I've selected for this thread a flapping male, pic a) and even succeeded photographing a distant Kingfisher (pic b).

Oddly, didn't see or heard the Fan-tailed Warbler!!! :eek!: Hope the cold winter we are having didn't kill them all!
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
In order to catch up with waders, most of them still absent from my year list) I went to another good spot, one of my favourites during migration for them (but where there are some wintering too) in the mouth of a river by Avilés. It didn't disappoint me, plenty of stuff around, and ticked for the list:

24 January 2010: Zeluán, by Avilés, Asturias, N Spain

78. European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
79. Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
80. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
81. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
82. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
83. Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
84. Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

They were far away for pictures, but I counted on that.

This place is in fact protected, and there are signs asking the people to respect the resting bird. But loads of people just ignore the signals and use the beach for they own pleasure. :storm: While I was there, a bunch of canoeists passed by the roosting birds in a tiny rocky island in the inlet frightening away all the waders. And then somebody jogging along the beach did the same thing with the remaining birds on the shore. :C Poor things!!! They passed over my head while fleeing away and captured Golden Plovers (pic a) and Lapwings (pic b) in that moment. And later got a Gadwall (pic c) that was swimming with a bunch of Mallards in the inlet.

As not much remained there to be seen after the injurious events, and with my face still red with anger, I decided to pay a visit to a nice spot by the coast for Black Redstart, thinking of taking pictures of it. Didn't see any (strange, they are always there!) but got too more birds for the list:

24 January 2010: Cabo Peñas, Asturias, N Spain

85. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
86. Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)

And chuffed to have photographed the Peregrine!!! o:) (pic d, and I uploaded a different view in my gallery).
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Well, here starts the report of my first visit to England this year. It was a visit "in business", that's to say, to buy a second hand camera and lens to my birding buddy and BF member Scottishdude! And of course, even if I had used that gear before in his visits to my area, I had to try it now in his country! o:D

So, we made up a plan to visit Norfolk for this long weekend. I flied from Asturias to Standsted and in just in a couple of hours of road birding near the airport before sunset I ticked several common British birds for my year list:

28 January 2010: Standsted Airport surroundings, SE England

87. Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
88. Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
89. Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
90. Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
91. Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
92. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

And here you have a taste of what I photographed in my first attempt ever in England:
a) a very unpolite Fieldfare: not only it didn't wipe its bill before having its picture taken, but refused to pose without showing me its back! :-O
b) of course, the abundant and ubiquitous Wood Pigeon had to be one in the list. Here there is one stepping forwards…
c) my first picture of a male Pheasant ever!!! o:)
d) another emblematic bird I remember of my previous visits to England several years ago, before I took pictures: the Canada Goose.

More exciting stuff in the next episode... personally I don't complain at all on these finding though! ;) Everything is relative in this life! :-O
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
The first whole day birding in England was very harsh, we had a bit of sunshine from time to time but most of the day it was bitterly cold and windy with rain, sleet or snow. But still we managed to see a good number of birds in spite of the bad conditions.

Our first aim was the famous Titchwell RSPB, which resulted to be very disappointing, almost nothing was around, except for my first lifer of the weekend and the year, a solitary Brent Goose among a bunch of Greylags! :bounce: Added the Dunnock to my year list, a little bird much more common in England than in Spain.

29 January 2010: Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk, SE England

93. Brent Goose (Branta bernicla) :cool:
94. Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Birding in Titchwell was so slow that we moved to Brancaster Staithe. There things improved remarkably, from the car we spotted several waders and had a great photographic session comfortably from the car windows. |=)| There I added to the list:

29 Juanuary 2010: Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, SE England

95. Redshank (Tringa totanus)
96. Common Gull (Larus canus)
97. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
98. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

but there were too Teals, Oystercatchers, Dunlins, Turnstones, Bar-tailed Godwits, one Curlew, Black-headed Gulls….

The light was too dim for snapping but still here you have a few images of birds not added to this thread yet:

a) It was great to have Oystercatchers at close range, something I can't enjoy often! o:)
b) It might sound strange, but Herring Gull is a very uncommon wintering bird in my area… so chuffed to have this chappie posing for me so close!
c) One of the several Bar-tailed Godwits decorating the mud with their footprints. |:D|
d) The same can be said about this Redshank.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Next stop in our Norfolk tour was Hoolkham. I will always remember this place for the amounts of Geese in the fields around the reserve… a show I only witnessed once before, in Spain. And in this case, half the Geese present were a lifer, Pink-footed Geese!!! o:) Along with it, I could tick a few more birds:

29 January 2010: Holkham area, Norfolk, SE England

99. Pink-footed Goose (Anser erythropus) :cool:
100. Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
101. Wigeon (Anas penelope)
102. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

And took pictures (in spite of the dreadful light) of several birds. This is what I've selected for this post:

a) the fields had good amounts of Curlews feeding compulsively.
b) a lovely group of Red-legged Partridges was at the entrance with the Geese, but closer. I captured one of them "retreating", before it was too late! ;)
c) Greylags posed perfectly for me… but I like better this in a less conventional stylish pose…
d) Of course, the Pink-footed Geese has to be one of the birds selected to illustrate this post! ;)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
And the last spot to visit in this productive day was the famous Salthouse, to look for (of course) the Snow Buntings. ;) In the way from Holkham to Salhouse we found a big flock of Brent Goose (pic a)… not very close and with a quite dark sky “speaking volumes” about the gale that was about to arrive but I'm happy to have immortalized somehow this lifer of the weekend.

In Salthouse we had sunshine, rain, sleet, snow,… and Snow Buntings!!! o:)

29 January 2010: Salthouse, Norfolk, SE England

103. Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) :cool:

Just for fun, I've prepared a monography of “birds in the gale” to illustrate some of the species found there and the “not precisely nice weather” we had most of the time :)-O): a Wigeon in the fields at the entrance (pic b), a Common Gull (pic c) and one of the about 30 Snow Buntings present at the moment (pic d).
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Next day, we found out it had been snowing during the night and all was white and frozen!!! :eek!: For security reasons, we decided to start birding later in the morning, driving on the ice was not a very wise thing to do! Fortunately, the day remained clear and sunny, so it was a short but beautiful day of birding in the end! o:)

After some road birding we arrived to Cley Marshes in bitter cold. There was nothing exciting around, and most of the stuff was birds already seen, but added to the list:

30 January 2010: Cley Marshes, Norfolk, SE England

104. Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
105. Marsh Harrier (Circus aeroginosus)
106. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Wigeon must have been the more numerous bird around, but there were as well the classic Mallards, Teals, Mute Swans, Shelducks, Lapwings, Coots, Black-headed Gulls... The birds were relatively cooperative for pictures but most of them are already added to this thread. The only new ones are:

a) This Greenfinch was captured before arriving to Cley Marshes… a nice poser though.
b) An obliging Moorhen was there enjoying the sunshine pleasantly… I couldn't do but to take its picture! ;)
c) A not so obliging Little Grebe, but we spotted it very close and I managed 3-4 pics before it disappeared leaving no trace of its presence. :eek!:
 

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