Monday, 28 December 2015
Yesterday, I discovered a Marsh Harrier harrassing the local Black-headed Gulls and Coots whilst I stood on the Roman Bridge.
Marsh Harrier - a probable 1st year female?It was always just a little too distant for decent photography but I managed to rattle off a few record shots. This bird had clearly buffy forewings and head perhaps more what that a typical female would show.
It's not the first Marsh Harrier that I have seen from the bridge because I had one in mid-October this year when I was co-leading a tour at the time. No doubt they are regular visitors.
Red KiteI also saw a couple Red Kite - a typical winter visiting raptor to the region.
Female StonechatFinally, couldn't resist snapping a Stonechat. They are such photogenic little birds!
Friday, 25 December 2015
Sunday, 20 December 2015
Whilst birding from the Roman Bridge I came across a Pied Wagtail feeding around a floating island of debris vegetation.
Saturday, 19 December 2015
The Roman Bridge at dawn (Russell F Spencer)Every day I seem to be seeing additions to my growing Mérida list. But I wasn't expecting to see a bat hunting in broad daylight
Probable Noctule BatIt was flying around the top of a riparian tree chasing after insects with extreme agility. It had the body size of a House Martin with longer wings.
Common CraneWhilst marvelling at the bat a group of cranes flew over plus I caught a glimpse of rapidly passing Crag Martin.
Red KiteA couple of Red Kites decided to appear with one choosing to dive-bomb some nearby feral cats. One of the moggies pelted up a tree!
Red Kite over Mérida
Iberian Grey ShrikeThere was plenty of calling eminating from the trees with most of the sounds coming from the throats of the abundant Serins. Many of the males were in full display mode replete with their Greenfinch- like slow flappy display flight.
I also glanced at an Iberian Grey Shrike, a bird (the same bird?) that I noticed equally briefly last week.
Friday, 18 December 2015
The view north from The Roman BridgeFor the next few weeks I have switched location from Wormwood Scrubs, West London to Mérida, the principle city of Extremadura, Spain. It's all about recharging batteries before wading back into the fray in 2016. So, seeing as I am staying in this ancient city why not study the birdlife to be found within its confines.
Currently, I have identified two potential local patches. The first is the environs around the Guadiana River that courses through the city and in particular, birding from the pedestrianised Roman bridge, literally 10 minutes walk from where I'm staying. Known simply as The Roman Bridge it straddles the Guadiana River in the heart of the city and at 790 metres, is the longest surviving Roman bridge in the world.
The habitats along the banks of the river includes roadbeds, scrub and waterside woodland. Within the river are a couple of wooded islands that are good for roosting egrets and herons. I'm familiar with the Roman Bridge and some of the riverside habitat having had led tours in the area etc for the past six years.
White Stork with Cormorants and Jackdaw on a pebble spit
White Stork circling
The same White Stork being mobbed by Jackdaws
A pair of Purple Swamphen: the local speciality birdThe other place I identified as a place to watch over is an area of brownfield land just five minutes to the west of where I am based. I have only noticed Crested Larks and sparrows there but it would interesting to see what I find there over the next few weeks.
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Long-eared Owls congregated outside the church in KikindaWhat a fantastic trip to Northern Serbia!
Everyone on the tour had an amazing time so roll on next year!
In the meantime, here's the list of species that we saw and heard.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Grey Shrike
Wild Cat - 2 seen separately but in the same general area. One was an immature female the other an adult male.
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Today was a largely grey day with a few spots of rain but that did nothing to dampen spirits. Along with a showy Great Grey Shrike we saw Great Egret, Pygmy Cormorant, Short-toed Treecreeper, Hen and Marsh Harriers, White-tailed Eagle plus the obligatory Long-eared Owls.
Short-eared OwlWe also got lucky finding three Short-eared Owls amongst a LEO roost. They were readily identifiable by their larger size, longer narrower wings and by their habit of spiralling upwards before returning to their perch. LEO's when disturbed tend to fly low and direct into a nearby tree.