Saturday, 22 June 2013

Barcelona, Spain

A four day break with my long suffering wife to celebrate our 21st Wedding Anniversary also provided a few birding opportunities. 
We departed London Heathrow at 09:32 BST on runway 9L, weather sunny & mild, wind very light noting
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Skylark, Common Starling and Carrion Crow on verges while taxing to runway. We Arrived El Pratt Airport, Barcelona 10:30 CEST and took the airport bus to our hotel, Villa Emilia noting Common Swift, Feral Rock Dove,Woodpigeon, Barn Swallow, Common Starling and Monk Parakeet. Once checked in we headed off to La Rambla and Barcelona Port area where Yellow-legged Gull, Common Swift and House Sparrow were all noted. Later at the Museum of Art House Martin, Collared Dove, Common Magpie and many Monk Parakeet were all observed plus a single Clouded Yellow Butterfly.

                                            Yellow-legged Gull (subadult) at Barcelona Port.

Off to the church of the sacred family (Sagrada familia) at 10:00 in warm sunshine. Above the working cranes busily constructing the unfinished works a pair of Peregrine Falcon displayed, briefly resting on the crane tower before moving off. While watching the resident Common Swift frolicking overhead a larger bird appeared with a white belly, my first ever Alpine Swift . Then on to the Arc de Triomf and Le Parc de La Ciutadella  where  more Common and Alpine Swifts were observed drinking on the wing as they skimmed the surface of the small boat lake, the latter coming within feet of us as we drifted about in our boat. I also noted dozens of Monk Parakeets including a single bird wearing a neck medallion (used to study the dispersal of the Monk Parakeet population and any effect on crops etc). Other species observed included Little Egrets in flight (5), Greylag Goose (15), Mallard, Muscovy Duck (2), Western Jackdaw and Common Blackbird. Then a late afternoon visit to the Olympic Stadium of 1992 provided Blackcap, White Wagtail, Barn Swallow and a singing male Serin. Returning back to our hotel via the Barcelona  Port Cable Car we briefly visited the beach where many Yellow Legged Gull were noted.

                                                                    Sagrada familia

                                                 Alpine Swift at Le Parc de La Ciutadella
A day spent visiting Gaudi's works finishing off at Parc Guell. A wonderful place despite so many people enjoying themselves in the sunshine! With hundreds of Homo sapiens in one place the birds were unperturbed and seemed to be doing well as I noted a breeding pair of Common Blackbird taking food to the nest located inside a large hanging basket! In the canopy above Monk Parakeet, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, European Goldfinch and European Serin were all noted. Nearby on lawns adjacent the main road a pair of White Wagtail fed fledged young as another pair of  Common Blackbird collected food.  Overhead Common Swift, Alpine Swift and Barn Swallow busily hunted insects while a single Swallowtail Butterfly drifted by.

                                                      Monk Parakeets at Parc Guell
Our last day in Barcelona and we decided to head off in the morning to the mountain at Tibidabo. Taking the metro, then the bus and finally the funicular railway we arrived in glorious sunshine and were rewarded with absolutely stunning views across the city. Below in the pines Coal, Crested, Great and Long-tailed Tits were all observed while overhead Common Swift and House Martin perused flying insects. At around noon we headed back down the mountain and had lunch at Las Ramblas before ending up late afternoon at Catalunya Plaza for a well earned rest! Overhead a few Alpine Swift were noted while at the plaza hundreds of Feral Rock Dove and several Monk Parakeet were fed by admiring tourists. 

                                                    Monk Parakeet at Catalunya Plaza.

Species observed:-
1. Little Egret
2. Greylag Goose
3. Muscovy Duck
4. Mallard
5. Peregrine Falcon
6.Yellow-legged Gull
7. Feral Rock Dove
8. Woodpigeon
9. Collared Dove
10. Monk Parakeet
11. Alpine Swift
12. Common Swift
13. Barn Swallow
14. House Martin
15. White Wagtail
16. Common Blackbird
17. Blackcap
18. Sardinian Warbler
19. Coal Tit
20. Great Tit
21. Crested Tit
22. Long-tailed Tit
23. Common Magpie
24. Western Jackdaw
25. Common Starling
26. House Sparrow
27. European Goldfinch
28. European Serin

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

A sunny but windy afternoon provided the following species of note:-
Little Grebe (single juvenile from Teal Hide), Great-crested Grebe (male from Shell Hide), Mute Swan (pair with 5 cygnets on Clubhouse Lake), Canada Goose (adult with 2 goslings from Long Hedge Hide), Red Kite (2), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1), Common Teal (drake from Teal Hide), Northern Shoveler (drake from Shell Hide), Black-headed Gull (pair at nest on tern raft), Common Tern (5 pairs on nests including pair with 2 small young on centre raft), Sand Martin (1), Common Whitethroat (singing male opposite clubhouse), Garden Warbler (adult with faecal sac at Long Hedge), Reed Bunting (singing male from Phragmites).
                                      Mallard (female with ducklings) at the flooded plantation.
Broad-bodied Chaser, Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Small White, Brimstone, Holly Blue.

                                                   Broad-bodied Chaser (mature male).

                                           Brimstone feeding on Red Campion at the Paddock.

                                              Hoverfly (Syrphus ribesii) on Buttercup.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

A glorious afternoon with bright, warm sunshine and a light cooling breeze. On arriving at the Clubhouse I noted the resident pair of Mute Swan present with 5 cygnets on the Clubhouse Lake.

Making my way towards Rotunda Hide a male Reed Bunting sang from a Crack Willow and was accompanied by several Reed Warbler below in the Phragmites. From Rotunda Hide an adult Canada Goose was observed with its 2 remaining goslings while dozens of drake Mallard slept among the long grass, probably exhausted from recent breeding activity. Passing the flooded plantation a single male Hairy Dragonfly patrolled its territory and paused briefly to rest on the leaf of a flowering Yellow Flag Iris.

While enjoying the peace and tranquillity from Teal Hide a marauding Lesser Black-backed Gull was mobbed by an irritated Black-headed Gull causing a commotion so I moved on.

I eventually reached Shell Hide where I noted 4 pairs of Common Tern and a single pair of Black-headed Gull that had now nested on the rafts. This is the first time that Black-headed Gull have nested at the reserve and coincides with a recent expansion of this species breeding grounds (nearby at Broadwater Gravel Pit I recently counted up to 50 occupied nests with several young already visible).
Before leaving the hide and returning home I spotted 5 Red Kite that were soaring overhead on a thermal and watched as they slowly gained altitude and eventually disappeared from view. 


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

03-06-13 Black Park Country Park, Buckinghamshire

On the lake a female Mandarin was observed with a brood of recently fledged ducklings close to the bank feeding on insects.