Sunday, 25 May 2014

Some Birds from Catalonia

We're just back from our 2 weeks family holiday in the Costa Brava.
Not primarily a birding trip but whenever I got the opportunity I would get out and explore the surrounding area. This would normally be in the couple of hours before breakfast before everyone else got up.
 Our base was the Hotel San Eloy a couple of kilometres outside of the very picturesque and delightful town of Tossa de Mar. The Hotel was situated right on the edge of a vast Pine Forest that spread over some very hilly areas, a stream that went right alongside created some wonderful habitat and the range of birds seen was really impressive.
 Before I even got out of bed I could hear Nightingale, Hoopoe, Cettis Warbler and Golden Orioles.
White Wagtails and Black Redstarts were breeding on the complex.

Hoopoes

White Wagtail

Black Redstart
 
Every time I went out it seemed I would find something else; Serins, Firecrests, Melodious Warblers, Short-toed Treecreepers, Pied Flycatchers, Wood Warblers, Bonellis Warblers, Tree Sparrows Red-rumped Swallows, Crested Tits, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike, Subalpine Warbler Whinchat, Cirl Bunting and Hawfinch along with commoner species.                                                                            
 
Melodious Warbler

Golden Oriole

Nightingale
 
Birds of Prey seen were Short-toed Eagle ,Booted Eagle, Goshawk and Buzzard.
 
The castle on the cliffs or Vila Vella in Tossa was a good place to do a bit of seawatching with both Balearic and Levantine Shearwaters in reasonable numbers as well as on or two Shags a Gannet and large numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls. One morning I witnessed the marvellous sight of a straight line of 18 Greater Flamingos migrating Northwards just off the coast.
The Vila Vella itself held a good population of breeding Swifts with the odd Pallid Swift thrown in and a Blue Rock Thrush sang from the castle walls.
Yellow-legged Gull
 
 
 
On my one day devoted entirely to birding I hired a car and travelled the hundred or so kilometres North up the coast to the nature reserve  known as AIGUAMOLLS DE L'EMPORDA near Figueras.
This really was a fantastic place especially for water birds. White Storks were re-introduced here in 1987 and are doing fantastically well with nesting birds all over the place.
Glossy Ibis's, Black-winged Stilts and Squacco Herons were everywhere. Hirundines swarmed around and a man-made earth bank was home to at least a dozen Bee-eaters. A couple of Rollers were seen in the open fields along with Corn Buntings, Crested, Short-toed and Skylarks, lots of Wheatears, a couple of Stone Curlews,  Stonechats and Whinchat. The reedbeds contained Great Reed and Reed Warblers, Fan-tailed Warbler, Nightingales and Cettis Warblers 
 
A couple of Red-footed Falcon hawked over the reserve and other birds of prey included Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Buzzard and Kestrel.
 
I could have spent much longer at this place as there is so much to see - if it hadn't been so windy I'm sure I would have seen even more- but I had to get back in time for our evening meal.
White Stork

Black-winged Stilt

Glossy Ibis

Squacco Heron

Little Egret

Bee Eater

White Stork on it's nest
 
 
On another of our days out we visited Barcelona and a bird I wanted to see was Monk Parakeet. Like our own Ring-necked Parakeet it is a former escapee that has done incredibly well in the wild. I did fear that they would be difficult to find but they were everywhere with even a nest colony in the park opposite the Unfinished Church.
Monk Parakeet
 
 
Another common bird in this huge city were Alpine Swifts that massed over the main square just before dusk.
 
 
 
 
 

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