Picture a pleasant and warm summer evening in a coastal valley. Vineyards cover most of the area. Humid wind coming from the sea has brought some low clouds, but no rain is expected. Bonelli’s warblers sing from the nearby Stone pine woodlands. A pair of Red-rumped swallows circle around hunting insects. It’s getting late, soon both species of Nightjar will start singing, as well as Little and Scops Owl.
Earlier this year –it was late winter–, I happened to be birding in a pre-Pyrenean valley. Hawfinches, Redwings… It was very birdy indeed. I saw a newly built Padel court in the outskirts of a small town. Padel is a racquet sport similar to tennis that is trending in the country and rapidly expanding town to town. Anyway, I approached the court, oblivious of what I was about to find.
Open country is lark country. Leaving aside the most densely forested regions and strict wetlands, the Alaudidae family is likely to have some representatives pretty much everywhere. Usually, though, the best places to look for larks are also home to other birds, more “spectacular” and colourful birds, that understandably take much of birder’s attention.
Working in the field provides always interesting encounters with winged creatures. This week was no exception, and the flatlands were the perfect setting to witness some intense scenes. Birds trace their own path in the invisible road of the air. They go wherever they want to go, and they do it in different ways depending on their abilities and way of life. But they are not attached to the ground as we are.
An unusual sighting a few days ago when scanning a coastal cliff in a completely treeless area. This is a place where you expect to see Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, maybe a Shag or Audouin Gull… you get the idea. Surprisingly, a Short-toed Treecreeper showed up climbing the rock face just like a Wallcreeper would.
Woodpeckers in Europe tend to be quite shy, I’d say more than their relatives in North America. In Iberia, all seven species present –counting Wryneck– keep themselves concealed on tree tops most of the time, and it takes patience to be able to get good views of them. When they show up, they don’t stay exposed in the open for a long time.
Technically it’s still winter, and most migrants and summer visitors are yet to arrive. But in the Monegros steppes, a region west of Catalonia belonging to Aragon, you can feel the spring is near. The sky already filled with the songs of Calandra Larks and Lesser Short-toed Larks. And even a much rarer song to hear these days, the secretive Dupont’s Lark, can be enjoyed at some special spots. Yesterday we were lucky enough get some pretty spectacular views of them.
The day started cloudy, but not really cold, at the Empordà plains. South-westerly winds have brought mild temperatures and weather fronts bring in some rain, a sign of the spring that is just around the corner. Past week’s north-east cold irruption, boosted by strong high pressures in Scandinavia, is gone. Who would have thought that a first for Catalonia, a mega-rare winter visitor from Central Asia, would be discovered this late in the season.
As usual, it’s all about birds 🙂 Here you can watch a video we made recently: a detailed explanation of a passerine’s main body features.
It is an educational video, so it can be used as a teaching tool for beginners. Knowing these key words and the location of the different plumage features is very helpful when trying to identify a bird in the field or writing observation details on your notebook.
We hope you find it interesting!
The coastal town of Premià de Mar, very close to Barcelona, is hosting a Rosy Starling since at least February 22th, when it was initially spotted by a neighbour living in front of the old fig tree, Ficus benjamina, where a mixed flock of Common and Spotless Starlings come to roost every evening. This is certainly not the place where you would expect to find a rarity such as this one. Click to enlarge: