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

madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
And the only other place we had time to visit in my second whole day in Norfolk was the incredible Snettisham RSPB! o:) Wow, what a place! Right as we arrived got another lifer, the Egyptian Goose (pic a). I loved the views in the beach with the mudflats in the late afternoon light, the harsh walk through the slippery muddy trails to reach the area was really worthwhile. The birds present there were mainly in backlight (as the Knot in pic b) but still got the target bird there, the Shore Lark! :bounce: Chuffed to have immortalized it in a few pics (pic c plus another in my gallery for example).

30 January 2010: Snettisham RSPB, Norfolk, SE England

107. Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) :cool:
108. Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris) :cool:

I doubted if adding the Dunnock in pic d but it's the souvenir I have of playing "hide-and-seak" with it and should be in this diary. |=)|

And later, at dust, we went to try to find some Barn Owls. We didn't find any… but found something even better for me, another lifer, and a very unexpected one (I never thought I'd see this bird)!!!

30 January 2010: area of Holkham, Norfolk, SE England

109. Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) :cool:

Really, the day couldn't finish in a more exciting way!!! :bounce:
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
And my last day in England was spent in Frampton Marsh RSPB. Here Scottishdude and I met Mike & Carol Powell (Sandpiper & Damselfly in BF), who I had already met when they came to my area to look for Butterflies a couple of years ago. Oh, what a wonderful day we had the four of us!!! o:) And the variety of birds was a bonus!!! I have to do two post because I took too many pictures in this spot.

Our aims here were the Lapland Bunting and the Twite. Sadly, I failed to see the Twite. :-C Oh, well, next time! ;) Among the goodies found just during the morning my highlights were:

31 January 2010: Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire, SE England

110. Wooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
111. Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
112. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
113. Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
114. Lappland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) :cool:

And my usual sample of illustrated species is like follows this time (;)):
a) My first pic of a Rook ever!!! o:) (They are very local and quite scarce in Spain, so don't be surprised! ;))
b) I caught this Wren in the open like admiring the crystals of frost on the post... I decided to add it, I like it (not conventional)!
c) The Lapland Longspurs were not close at all, so I consider me lucky to come back home with this souvenir of this special lifer! :bounce:
d) Reed Buntings were quite common and more cooperative than the Snow Buntings and the Lappand Longspurs, took many pics of them (more in my gallery).

(To continue… ;))
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
And to finish with the report of my English adventures, here you have what happened in the afternoon spent in Frampton Marsh RSPB.

We had a long but very enjoyable walk in the reserve, where we had a terrific encounter with a Barn Owl (pic a, only my third time in my life and my best view ever, :bounce:). Another interesting surprise was a distant flock of Whooper Swans that held a couple of Bewick's Swans… another lifer!!! o:) I took a picture of the flock expecting nothing but both species are recognizable in spite of the lack of quality, so I'm adding them to this thread, as I won't have chances of seeing these birds again this year (pics b and c). Yellowhammers were quite more cooperative (;), pic d). Of course there were plenty of the usual waterfowl, with another tick for my year-list, the Pintail (too far away for pics though). I'm adding a picture of a Mute Swan too (pic e) because I like the pose in a ":hi:-fashion" (o:D)

31 January 2010: Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire, SE England

115. Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
116. Bewick's Swan (Cygnus columbianus) :cool:
117. Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
118. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

In summary, my first winter visit to England was a most successful experience, great birds to see and spent in great company... I can't ask for anything more!!! o:)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Once the Norfolk adventure was over, back to my usual stuff! ;)

The weather forecast for this weekend was far from nice. Still, during the Saturday morning I joined the local Birding Club guys for the monthly census of Seabirds in Faro Vidío, in spite of the horrible clouds threatening to spoil the fun. Variety was very low (as expected here at this time of the year) but there were good numbers of wintering Gannets. Yellow-legged Gulls and Great Cormorants were there as usual… and the best was the presence of several Great Skuas who gave lovely views. A couple of Shags appeared as well among the Cormorants and a couple of Red-billed Chough was a very welcome sighting too:

6 February 2010: Faro Vidío, Asturias, N Spain

119. Great Skua (Catharacta skua)
120. Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

I had taken my faithful Leica with me just in case something wanted to collaborate for a portrait… of course, nothing did! :-C So, I had a try on the flying Yellow-legged Gulls, to have something to "decorate" this post with. ;) And here you have the best result…
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Almost two weeks without birding at all because of the awful weather and I had already serious withdrawal symptoms. For this Saturday was announced rain in bucketfuls but the morning started with a clean and bright sky!!! :eek!: So there I rushed to my closest patch with no more expectations that taking pictures of some common birds I still had not added to this thread. But… wow, not only found very good variety of species (Bullfinch, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest, Jay, Blackcap… along with the always present Blackbirds, Song Thruses, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Robins, Magpies, Wood Pigeons, Chaffinches, Buzzards, Carrion Crows,…) but caught up with the Siskin and come across a new bird for this patch, the Rock Bunting! :bounce:

20 February 2010: Las Caldas, outskirts of Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

121. Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
122. Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)

Many of these were photographed, and this is what I've selected for this post:
a) Bullfinches were very close and I took my first proper pictures of them!!! :bounce: More and different ones in my gallery…
b) I was lucky to have the Long-tailed Tits at eye level and moving less quick than usual.
c) another I've snapped at close range for the first time, the Siskin. o:) How difficult are these restless demons to photograph, I took plenty of pics and only an extremely low numbers were keepers! :eek!:
d) the star of the day, my unexpected Rock Bunting.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Next Sunday was not a birding day, but finally I managed to pay a new quick visit to Zeluán… and I'm glad I did because along with the usual wintering stuff new visitors had arrived during the last days:

21 February 2010: Zeluán, by Avilés, Asturias, N Spain

122. Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
123. Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
124. Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

The Little Stint is not an usual wintering bird here (mostly seen only during migration) so I regret I couldn't take pictures of it... all birds were too far away with the low tide. But I photographed a bunch of distant Great Cormorants in assorted plumages and in the company of a couple of "snowy" pals (;)) and I quite like this view so decided to add it here.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
In an act of desperation after several days without birding at all, I took my binoculars and camera to work and during my lunch break I visited one of my local patches. Not the best time of the day to go to see birds but that's better than nothing! ;) Loads of Iberian Chiffchaffs and Robins singing, and other of the typical small birds (Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Chaffinch,…) were around too along with a bonus:

2 March 2010: Las Caldas, outskirts of Oviedo, Asturias, N Spain

125. Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)

Cetti's Warblers are common and very noisy in this spot, but very hard to see.

And these are the birds pics selected this time:
a) I don't think I've photographed so many Blue Tits ever in my life! A pity the light wasn't very good.
b) A very cooperative Robin (this is a full frame), sadly in the shade (we can't have it all!)
c) One of the numerous Iberian Chiffchaffs, here in the catkins.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
At last a weekend when I could meet my birding team again!!! o:) In my opinion, birding is an activity to do in company to better enjoy it, sharing the experiences. When I do it on my own (which is most of the times) I feel I lack something… my friends!

The weather was utterly unfriendly: cold, wet, windy… We went to Laguna de la Nava because of the hides in the area, which would make a bit easier to see something. The place had loads of feathered visitors, most of the wintering Geese had left but still there was plenty of stuff to enjoy. My year list grew healthy this day (|=)|):

6 & 7 March 2010: Laguna de la Nava, Palencia Province, N Spain

126. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
127. Great Egret (Casmerodius albus)
128. Great Bustard (Otis tarda)
129. Linnet (Acanthis cannabina)
130. Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
131. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecina)
132. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
133. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

I took pictures of many of these birds but because of the distance and the dreadful light most of them are cringe-worthy and I'm ashamed of showing them!!! :eek!: :-O But I've selected a few of the remarkable species to illustrate the birds from this super place:
a) The unexpected Bluethroat, a male (a bit too early for them to appear in the area but there he was!)
b) The Short-eared Owl, I couldn't find any last year so I'm over the Moon with this view! o:)
c) My first pic ever of a male Hen Harrier! :bounce:
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
This working day I had to go to the other University Campus in my area, and as it's a great place for birds I took my binoculars and camera with me just in case I had a little opportunity to do some birding… and I had! (|=)|) Little birds were singing everywhere under the sunshine… even an early Butterfly made a star appearance (a Specked Wood, uploaded to my gallery). One of the birds I expected to hear and see singing was:

26 March 2010: Viesques University Campus, outskirts of Gijón, Asturias, N Spain

134. Serin (Serinus serinus)

Several pairs of Blackcaps gave me superb views (usually they are shier than this, pic a) and while I was trying to photograph them a Cetti's Warbler came out of the bushes and stayed in the open for a couple of seconds, WOW!!! (pic b, just can't believe I got it like that, :bounce:) And the last pic is the Serin. I had heard them during this last couple of weeks in my University Campus but always singing very high in the trees and I was always in a hurry and couldn't stop to look for them. Better late than never! (|:D|)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
After the promising ambience at the University Campus my previous birding day, I went back there and the surroundings areas in a couple of days. I spent there almost all Sunday, as it was sunny and I was free of duties. Long walks along the trails, snapping away and visiting all sort of habitats provided me with more birds for this thread:

28 March 2010: Gijón and surroundings, Asturias, N Spain

135. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
136. Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
137. Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

I had had glimpses of Hirundines a couple of weeks before, I assumed they were Swallows but as I had no proper views I didn't count it. As I don't count the Willow Warblers I was in Viesques, as I had not proper views of them… I was expecting them to be there at this time of the year though. Both the Water Rail and the Rose-ringed Parakeet were very welcome surprises, as I never know if I'll see them or not! Along with these, I saw more or less the same species seen a couple of days before in the area.

As for the pics, here you have:
a) Short-toed Treecreeper, finally I managed to capture it! (a couple of previous attempts in the year yielded mega-rubbish shots! ;))
b) The Water Rail, which appeared suddenly at my feet and disappeared in no time… just can't believe I got this full frame! :bounce:
c) I visited the beach of Gijón at the end of the day and found out with joy that the Purple Sandpipers were still in the area! o:)

In the next episode I'll start with my adventures during my Easter holiday... still hundreds of pictures to sort out! :eek!:
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
First day of Easter holidays at last!!! o:) The plan was going to Burgos City and from there doing trips in different directions during the following days, depending on the weather forecast, as it was announced to be cold, wet and windy… and sadly it was right! :-C Still, we did the most of our chances.

In the few hours available for birding after my arrival to Burgos in the afternoon, I visited La Quinta, in the outskirts of the city, as it's a great place with plenty of variety of birds. My aim was to see the Wryneck, quite reliable there… but not traces of it, not even heard! The cold weather of this Spring was affecting the migrants, no doubt. But I caught up with some shameful lacks in my year list (;)) and even found a new bird for this patch, Hawfinch, wow!!! o:)

31 March 2010: Outskirts of Burgos, Burgos Province, N Spain

138. Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
139. Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
140. Hawkfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
141. House Martin (Delichon urbica)

It was so dark and miserable that I failed to photograph anything decently! :-C But a kind House Sparrow posed for me for one minute and thanks to him I can show a picture of a new snapped bird in this post! ;)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
First proper birding day of my Easter holiday, time spent with my birding team and BF member Nigel Kiteley. We all had a great time, plenty of fun and laughs and good birds!!! o:) The aim was to look for Butterflies to photograph but the cold and windy weather made us all to change the plans.

So this first day the new aim was to find Larks. The place to go was, no doubt, Sepúlveda (quite good place for Dupont's Lark and not so far from Burgos). The problem was again the cold and gloomy day, the Larks were not singing and they are very difficult to spot under these conditions. Still, we managed to find them all except Dupont's and Thekla. And some more new birds for the year list, specially migrants:

1 April 2010: Sepúlveda, Segovia Province, C Spain

142. Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)
143. Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
144. Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
145. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
146. Greater Short-toed Lark (Carandrella brachydactyla)
147. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
148. Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
149. Wood lark (Lullula arborea)

Due to the bad light (I seem to be cursed lately, sniff, :-C) my photography was very disappointing, but managed to save a few. Corn Buntings (pic a) didn't care about the wintry ambience and were singing nicely. The attempts to snap the Larks were a waste of time, except for the Calandra Lark (pic b, which shows the bird decently). And the last pic is a Griffron Vulture, almost full frame, to show how close they can fly over your head in this place… really a breathtaken experience!!! o:)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Well, it seems the time I spent trying to photograph Larks wasn't such a waste of time: I've checked them and at least they are perfectly recognizable! o:) So, I decided to add a post with them, as I don't think I'll have another chance this year to have them at a decent distance for pics.

These are:

a) Skylark
b) Greater Short-toed Lark
c) Wood Lark

The only one I'm not adding is the Crested Lark, as that's very common and hope to do a better job with it sometime soon.

And to finish this post, here they go a couple of additions to the year list found in the way back to Burgos from Sepúlveda:

1 April 2010: Hoces del Río Riaza, Segovia Province, C Spain

150. Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
151. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
I don't think I've ever suffered a more unpleasant, cold and windy 2nd of April in my whole life!!! The temperature almost spoils this day for me… but the great company and the birds saved it!!! ;) This bunch of intrepid birders visited the Laguna de La Nava, because the hides in the area would allow deal easier with the unfriendly conditions. It was worth the visit, as there were plenty of birds around and several new migrants had arrived:

2 April 2010: Laguna de La Nava, Palencia Province, N Spain

152. Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)
153. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) (pic a, iberiae race, of course (;))… but flava and flavissima were around too)
154. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
155. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)

I had my first serious attempt at photographing Swallows in flight… here you have a sample of what I managed to get (pic b) and I'll upload another one in my gallery as soon as I can.

And with this I've reached 100 different birds snapped so far!!! :loveme: Let's see if I manage to photograph 100 more! ;)
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Continuing with my Easter holiday adventures with my birding team and Nigel Kiteley, next day we headed to the famous Villafáfila, the Paradise of Great Bustards, as we wanted to see and photograph the displaying males. Well, we saw them displaying but too far away for the cameras and it was impossible to get close. :-C Another little disappointment was that the lagoons were almost empty, again the migrants had not arrived while the wintering birds had already left, so there was little stuff around. Still, some early migrants were present:

3 April 2010: Villafáfila, Zamora Province, NW Spain

156. Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) (pic a)
157. Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) (pic b, plenty of these around)
158. Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)

As the weather was very unpleasant during the morning and we couldn't reach our aim, we left to spend the afternoon somewhere else. And when we left Villafáfila, Nigel spotted a beautiful bunch of Great Bustards by the road and not so far away (pic c, a crop of the whole group). And at the same spot, a female Montagu's Harrier visited us and was flying over the Bustards… I liked the view of her in pic d, with the Bustards in the background, and felt like adding it here too.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
I continue with the second part of the previous post. After leaving Villafáfila, we headed to Laguna de la Nava again, as it was in our way to Burgos… in migration you never know what can appear! ;) There was more or less the same stuff than two days ago but we were delighted to see some new visitors had arrived there:

3 April 2010: Laguna de La Nava, Palencia Province, N Spain

159. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) (pic a)
160. Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans)
161. Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) (pic b)
162. Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)

The Subalpine Warbler was a really unexpected surprise! o:) Sadly, the pics I took were rubbish. But the Marsh Harriers were showing very well and close, so it was my opportunity to immortalize it for this thread (pic c).
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
Last day of the Easter holiday. We only could bird in the morning before the holiday was over, so just stayed in Burgos and visited the Park of Fuentes Blancas in the outskirts of the city. It was still quite cold and the bird activity was quite low but at noon sun showed up and life started to bubble all around (even a Peacock Butterfly dared to come out and enjoy the slight warmth, ;)). Only one new bird seen and photographed in a flock of Warblers:

4 April 2010: Burgos outskirts, Burgos Province, N Spain

163. Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli)

I think there were Willow Warblers as well with the Iberian Chiffchaffs and the Bonelli's Warbler but I'm not counting it as I'm not 100% sure.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
In my next birding day, I joined the guys of the local birding club again during the morning for the monthly census of migrating Seabirds. The main character in this day were the Gannets, by far the most numerous bird, along with a few Mediterranean Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, Great Cormorants, Shags, Common Scoters, and a few more new birds to tick in my year list:

10 April 2010: Cabo Vidio, Asturias, N Spain

164. Sandwitch Tern (Sterna sandwicensis)
165. Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
166. Razorbill (Alca torda)

The Yellow-legged Gulls were already breeding and we had some visits of the local Black Redstarts and Red-billed Choughs as well. But the top moment was the sight of a group of 13 Long-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas), WOW (not a bird but I had to mention them here, that's a lifer mammal, ;))

I took some pics of the Gannets and the Black-backed Gulls, but they are not good enough to post them here. So I'm illustrating the birds of this post with a pic of a Black Redstart taken at the end of March in my neighbourhood and that I had no chance to add here then…
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
And in the afternoon of this same Saturday, I took out a friend of mine to look for Butterflies, as the morning had been lovely and I expected some to be fluttering around. But the temperature dropped and we saw almost none. :-C Surprisingly, even if we walked through relatively urban areas, we found many birds, with migration being very obvious. A pity I wasn't equipped for shooting birds but butterflies, missed the chance to immortalize the Sparrowhawk, and the most important one, the unexpected lifer we came across, the Grasshopper Warbler!!! :bounce: I had heard it several times in my life but never seen it:

10 April 2010: Avilés outskirts, Asturias N Spain

167. Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
168. Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
169. Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
170. Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) :cool:

At least Willow Warblers were everywhere and some very close, so after some effort I got a pic of one to post here. We heard Tree Pipit in migration too, but couldn't see it so I'm not counting it for the list.
 

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madamcoolpix

a.k.a. Madam Butterfly
On Sunday that same weekend, I went to the local spot for waders to check how migration was doing there, and to my surprise, it was flooded with waders!!! WOW!!! It was too soon in the season to have so many (the pick of migration here is in middle may) but there they were!!! :bounce: Obviously, my list grew a bit more:

11 April 2010: Zeluán, by Avilés, Asturias, N Spain

171. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
172. Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
173. Grey Plover (Charadrius squatarola)
174. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
175. Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)

But there were as well Dunlins, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Whimbrels, Great Ringed Plovers, Turnstones,… even a Peregrine appeared and gave them the fright of their lifes! ;)

Zeluán is a great place during migration but I don't usually take decent pics of migrants there because the hides are too far from the places were the birds feed and rest, and I refuse to go closer to them. So I did what I could: took this pic of an adult and a juvie Shag in the company of Yellow-legged Gulls… they are far away but at least these are big! ;)
 

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