2011 Birding Challenge – February Update

The first couple of weeks of the year were very exciting as I ticked off all the regular birds on my local patch and saw my list start to grow! A trip down to the Ebro Delta added a few more birds and then due to a unusually long stretch of cold weather – and far too many grey days, the last few weeks haven’t been all that productive. Or at least not in terms of numbers. It has been productive in the sense that after a couple of years of “passive birding ” I feel I’m now actively getting to know my local patch. Even if I don’t see any new birds it’s kind of rewarding to be aware for example that there were no long-tailed tits around one morning but there were lots of goldfinches instead. Or to know which patch of woods to go to see treecreepers. Or to have learned to distinguish a mistle thrush from a song-thrush! Not rocket science I know but I’m enjoying it!

So how many am I up to on my 2011 birding challenge ? Well, the list stands at 62 birds so far and are as follows:

Common Name Latin Name Where seen
1 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax Carbo Local Patch
2 Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Local Patch
3 Little Egret Egretta garzetta “”
4 Great Egret Egretta alba “”
5 Grey Heron Ardea Cinerea “”
6 Coot Fulica atra “”
7 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos “”
8 Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor “”
9 Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris “”
10 Carrion Crow Corvus corone corone “”
11 Magpie Pica pica “”
12 Blackbird Turdus merula “”
13 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs “”
14 Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita “”
15 Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyls “”
16 Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti “”
17 House Sparrow Passer domesticus “”
18 Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus “”
19 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus “”
20 White Wagtail Motacilla alba “”
21 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea “”
22 Blue-tit Parus caeruleus “”
23 Great Tit Parus major “”
24 Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus “”
25 Serin Serinus serinus “”
26 Black Cap Sylvia atricapilla “”
27 Kingfisher Alcedo atthis “”
28 Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus “”
29 Song Thrush Turdus philomelos “”
30 Fieldfare Turdus viscivorus “”
31 Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto “”
32 Kestrel Falco Tinnunculus “”
33 Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus “”
34 Hoopoe Upupa epops “”
35 Siskin Carduelis spinus “”
36 Greenfinch Carduelis chloris “”
37 Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis “”
38 Sand Martin Riparia riparia “”
39 Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris mountain
40 Robin Erithacus rubcula mountain woods
41 Wren Troglodytes troglodytes mountain woods
42 Barn Owl Tyto alba Driving home from Tarragona! Flew in front of car.
43 Common Buzzard Buteo buteo Sebes Nature Reserve
44 Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus “”
45 White Stork Ciconia ciconia “”
46 Stonechat Saxicola torquata “”
47 Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus Local
48 Crested Lark Galerida cristata Ebro Delta
49 Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus graellsii “”
50 Black-headed Gull (Adult winter) Larus ridibundus “”
51 Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans “”
52 Booted Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
53 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
54 Purple Swamp Hen (Gallinule) Porphyrio porphyrio “”
55 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus “”
56 Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis “”
57 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos “”
58 Water Rail Rallus aquaticus “”
59 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus “”
60 Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber “”
61 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus “”
62 Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus Local-today from my balcony!

Any half-decent birder who has been to the Ebro Delta will no doubt be surprised that there are not many birds listed from the Delta when the place is swarming with them! There’s a good reason for that – I’m rubbish on gulls and waders! The truth is I saw a lot more birds than are recorded here and I could probably have made a stab on at least a dozen more. But why? The target of 200 birds in a year is not actually about achieving 200 ticks. It is a means to an end – the real objective is that I learn to recognise more birds. So if, after I’ve flicked through Collins I’m still saying “I think that could’ve been a …..” then it doesn’t go on the list. But I’ll have learnt a bit more for next time I hope! Well, that’s the plan anyway!

And the highlight from this first 62?  The firecrest! I was ridiculously delighted to see this beautiful tiny bird! Just the one on one occasion – haven’t seen any since.

And to finish off here are a few of my fave pics from the Ebro Delta.  The one with the tractor is the scene that greeted us within 5 minutes of driving onto the Delta – a farmer turning over the empty paddy field and in doing so providing breakfast for hundreds of gulls and egrets. The glossy ibis was the last picture of the day – we were heading off the Delta and almost whizzed past them! The others simply ones that I like of the lovely reflections in the lagoons.

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