Saturday, 28 January 2017

Spain 16: Wallcreeper!

One of the most sought after birds in the mountains of Europe is the Wallcreeper, Tichodroma muraria. This relative of the nuthatches has a vast range from the Pyrenees across every mountain range in Europe and Asia to Eastern China in the breeding season. Outside the breeding season they spread more widely and to lower levels, with one even wintering in the Cheddar gorge not far from Bristol here in the UK in two separate years in the 1970’s.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Spain 15: Crested Tit

Crested Tit - Spain
One of the most familiar groups of woodland birds are the tits or chickadees in the family Paridae. Various species are found from South Africa across the whole of the Old World and in North America south into Mexico. Many come to feeders and are also familiar back garden birds to people with homes within the range of the various species.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Spain 14: Bluethroat

One of the tiny gems of the European avifauna is the Bluethroat Luscinia svecica. They have a vast range, with the nominate subspecies breeding across the Old World Arctic tundra and even extending (just) into Northern Alaska. To the south other subspecies can be found in the breeding season from Spain across to western China and Southern Tibet. Outside the breeding season they winter from North Africa to India and Thailand. The Alaskan birds winter somewhere in Asia, but where is not known exactly.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Spain 13: Crag Martin

Eurasian Crag Martin
Spain in November is not a good location to go looking for hirundines, but we managed to locate a Barn Swallow on the last day of the trip at the Ebro Delta. A more expected species we found in the Pyrenees was Europe’s only resident species, Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Spain 12: An exaltation of Larks

After covering so many species on my trip to Spain we finally arrive at the passerines, starting with the larks. This is an almost entirely Old World group, with only a single species, the Shore or Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris found in North America.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Spain 11: Sandgrouse

Black-Bellied Sandgrouse
One of the odder groups of birds to be found across Eurasia and Africa are the dry country birds known as sandgrouse. Despite their name they have no relationship to gamebirds, but are much more closely related to pigeons, and in fact they do look very pigeon-like in flight. Another related group are the Mesites, also terrestrial birds but endemic to Madagascar.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Spain 10: Gulls and Tern

Yellow-Legged Gull
Although a few gulls were seen earlier in the trip, most of the gulls and terns were seen on the Ebro Delta on the last day.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Spain 9: Stone Curlew

Eurasian Stone-Curlew B.oedicnemus insularum
The largest of the world’s waders are found among the various species of Stone-curlews or Thick-knees of the family Burhinidae. These strange birds can be found worldwide, often well away from water in grassy or sandy areas, with the notable exception of most of North America. In Europe and western Asia the Eurasian Stone-Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus is the native species.