Some friends went on a trip to the Canary Islands a few days ago. They are from Hong Kong and keen birders. On February 8th, during a short walk around “Parque de la Luz”, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, they were surprised by something unexpected: Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). Not one, but two and possibly three individuals.
Birds from the far North, the far East, the far South, the far West… The Mediterranean basin is a crossroads for migrants, and the Ebro Delta is one of its best birding sites. In a single winter day, like yesterday, it is possible to switch from a “Sibe vibe” to an African flavour in a matter of minutes. That’s what we went for, an exceptionally diverse combination of winged creatures.
Red-necked grebe is a rare bird in Catalonia, with very few records in the last years. Not the kind of bird that your expect to find on a quick visit to Arenys de Mar harbour, a small town near Barcelona. Instead, what I had in mind today was looking for some gulls and checking the eastern beach, which recently has benefited from a vegetation restoration in some areas.
When we visited the Ebro Delta last week, we had in mind looking for the long staying rarities that have been around for some time. A very creamy looking Steppe Grey Shrike was one of them. A smew was another. Or the always interesting White-headed duck. And of course, lots of other birds. Birding very pleasant. No wind, mild temperatures. In the afternoon, the northern bay was packed with birds…
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.