Arxiu de la categoria: Birding in Catalonia

Pyrenees Winter Break 2023 Trip Report

Dates: February 8th to 12th, 2023

Number of participants: 6

Number of species seen: 128

All images by tour leader Carles Oliver. All rights reserved

Overview: Our 9th Pyrenees Winter Break tour started in the Pyrenees right after a strong snow fall. During the tour the weather was sunny and not especially cold in the mountains. In the plains, we had a morning with some fog, but it didn’t stop us to find all main specialties living there.

Day 1: Once all tour participants were collected from the their accommodations around the International Barcelona Airport, a short drive lead us to the Pyrenees. Only 90 minutes away from the city and we were already in a wonderful location, a mountain range hosting all high mountain birds specialties living in the Pyrenees.

It was sunny, but the day before it had been snowing so a pair of high mountain lanes were closed during the morning. Our fist stop was dedicated to explore the meadows around Bagà, where the very first birds of the day and the trip was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that was hunging around the parking place. Here we had some common birds in the area including Cirl Bunting, Black Redstart, Eurasian Blue Tit and Eurasian Nuthatch. Here, the terraced landscape is fulfilled with lines of Poplars and a fast scan produced the first Iberian Green Woodpecker of the tour while was moving high in the trees. Several Common Chaffinches were around, and they all moved down to the ground to feed, followed by the Iberian Green Woodpecker.

Other birds in this first stop included European Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Common Magpie and Eurasian Greenfinch.

After this good start we drove some miles up in a lane. Our goal was to arrive to the limit of the forest (About 1800 metres above the sea level), but we were stopped by a small flock of birds. Here we had the first Mistle Thrushes of the trip along with several Common Crossbills, Coal Tits, and Goldcrests. Still, our guests especially enjoyed the views on both Rock Buntings and European Crested Tits.

Once above the tree limit, we did another non planned stop. A gorgeous Lammergeier (aka Bearded Vulture) was sitting in the top of a rocky outcrop just beside the road, providing the group with incredible views! Common Crossbills were also around, adding with their calls a plus on the mountainous ambients of the sight. After ten minutes of observation, the Lammergeier decided to fly away, passing over the group and providing us with unforgettable memories of that moment.

Wonderful Lammergier (Gypaetos barbatus) during our exploration of the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park. Images by tour leader Carles Oliver

From here we drove higher. Beyond the tree limit there were mixed flocks of Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes feeding on the snowed slopes. The weather was stable, with only a brise and some scenic clouds, and many birds were taking advantage of the good weather to feed around. Here we saw more Rock Buntings and a flock of 11 Bramblings flew off from one of the last trees up the lane.

When we arrived to the mountain pass, we found chunky three birds feeding by the tarmac. 3 wonderful Snowfinches were right beside us, but unfortunately decided to flew off and down the slope. From here we decided to go for a short walk. Common Ravens were seen around, and a Peregrine Falcon appeared in a fast, low flight going down the slope in a mission. Up to 10 Eurasian Griffons were also seen exploring the thermals before a large flock of 60+ Snowfinches suddenly appeared in a small hillside some 150 metres away from us, and started feeding on the ground. We all enjoyed very much the finch spectacle with several calls, short flights and even fights. We waited a bit, not moving, and we were rewarded with the birds coming down the hillside just beside the tarmac. After 10 minutes of observation, the birds simply decided to go up the slope again, and disappeared beyond some large boulders!

Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) showing nicely in our first day in the mountains
SnowFinches (Montifringilla nivalis) feeding on the slopes. Image by Carles Oliver
Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) is a common bird in the broken slopes around the Pyrenees.

Really happy after such a great sight, the group came back to the van, decided to explore that lane a bit more. Only a few miles away, a stop was made. Our short walk was again successful, as we found a lovely, obliging Alpine Accentor feeding really close to the road and, with some patience, we got some great shots on it. The views on the Accentor were perturbed by a large flock of 73 Alpine Choughs that suddenly appeared in the valley, offering good but rather distant views while a Lammergeier appeared again, crossing the valley in some seconds.

Really happy after this really successful start we went all the way down and did our way for the last stop of the day in a scrub hillside not far from our accommodation. It was already early afternoon, offering a calid light for the sightings to come. Our short walk up the hill produced some interesting sights including a large flock of Cirl Buntings feeding on the ground along with 2 Woodlarks, 4 Rock Buntings, 2 Redwings, 14 Rock Sparrows and the firsts Iberian Grey Shrike of the trip. In the skies, several Red Kites were moving around and we counted 3 Griffons Vultures and 1 adult Lammergeier. Here we also had the only Citril Finch of the trip, unfortunately a flying bird that provided poor views.

After this stop we just drove the short distance to our accommodation.

Day 2. After enjoying a lovely breakfast we left our accommodation. The first stop of the day was devoted to explore a lovely corner of the Segre River that crosses the beautiful Cerdanya valley. Here we enjoyed White-throated Dippers, Cirl Buntings, many Redwings and 2 Bramblings among several Chaffinches. Here we also had an Eurasian Woodcock that flew off from a nearby meadow, an uncommon bird to have here in day light!

From here we went up in the forested slopes, to spend some time in a boreal forest. As usual, the area was quite full of activity and it didn’t take us long to enjoy good views on Short-toed Treecreeper, Goldcrest, European Crested Tit, Firecrest and Coal Tit but also Common Crossbill, Goldfinch and Greenfinches. But the most celebrated sight here was a Black Woodpecker moving really low in a pine tree that offered us lovely scope views.

Happy after this lovely views we drove up to Andorra. During the hour long drive, a pair of stops were necessary to enjoy both Lammergeier and Golden Eagle. Once in Pas de la Casa we had a stop for a coffee while enjoying the urban Alpine Choughs that live around the sky resort. By the time of our arrival it was snowing a bit, providing the sight with a wonderful alpine setting!

Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) showed very well around the accommodation
Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) under the snow fall in Andorra. Image by tour leader Carles Oliver

From here we drove back to Catalonia to have a final stop in the large fields that are the core of the Cerdanya Valley. There we enjoyed large flocks of Eurasian Skylarks, several flocks of Cirl & Rock Buntings, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Corn Buntings but also the only 2 Hen Harriers of the tour, including a lovely male.

Day 3. Transfer to a different section of the Pyrenees. We drove West for about 90 minutes before to arrive into a small gorge in a secondary road. This was our first attempt to find a Wallcreeper, and we didn’t have to wait long! We waited for the bird in a small, old bridge, and only a few minutes after we got out of the vehicle, a wonderful Wallcreeper right in front us, providing excellent views for some minutes. The bird, always in search of insects that look for shelter in the rocky crevices, started to climb up the wall and we could follow its itinerary for several minutes. It kept doing short flights, and flickering its wings to show out its wonderful red panels (a way to keep other Wallcreepers away from that cliff).

Here we also had other interesting birds living in the cliffs including Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martin. The Wallcreeper, after showing out for about 15 minutes, finally disappeared behind a rock, and this was the time for us to move to our next stop.

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), without doubt the most sought-after bird in the mountains!

Leaving the hills behind, we drove to one of the few corners around Lleida where traditional wheat farming is still dominant. These areas host an abundant birdlife, and the number and variety of birds of prey is quite stunning. It didn’t take long before we had several views on Western Marsh Harriers, Red Kites and also Common Buzzards, some Griffons, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and even 2 Goshawks. All of this before the real goal of this stop appeared in one of its preferred trees: the long-staying Long-legged Buzzard! This bird of prey, nesting from Bulgaria to the East until the Arabian Peninsula, is a huge rarity in Catalonia and always worth a visit! This time we had excellent scope views, and also the chance to compare the size of this large Buzzard with a much smaller Western Marsh Harrier that was perched in a tree next to the Buteo hawk.

A small flock of Little Bustards had been some weeks feeding in a field nearby, and we covered the short distance to enjoy lovely scope views of 7 of this endangered bird, another victim of the farming intensification in Europe.

From this place we drove East to explore some of the dry canyons immediately South of Lleida. A pair of stops here allowed us to enjoy not only Stock Doves, Red-billed Choughs and Little Owl, but also on the scarce Black Wheatear. Here, between the abandoned terraces and the small cliffs of these canyons we were lucky enough to find a female Eurasian Eagle Owl hatching on its nest! A wonderful sight to end the third day of the tour!

Iberian Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis), a lovely Iberian endemic!
Distant to don’t disturb the female Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) on its nest.

Day 4. Early start to explore the massive steppe lands South & West of Lleida. On the contrary of the previous day, the morning was foggy around the city so we decided to go up to the highlands West of Lleida to try to scape the fog. And we did it, partially.

As soon as arriving to the steppes we enjoyed large flocks of Corn Buntings but also Calandra & Mediterranean Short-toed Larks. They were feeding on the ground along with Common Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches. It was sunny, but the fog was not far away and it was moving our way, so we didn’t have a lot of time!

We were lucky and 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouses flew off from a nearby field, allowing great flight views and nice photo opportunities. We scanned in different fields looking for Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, but we were unsuccessful. Finally, we decided to move to lower area to keep scanning. A pair of stops were necessary to enjoy Iberian Grey Shrikes and Thekla’s Larks and by we arrived to the new location the fog started catching us up. It was a pity because at soon as we arrived a flock of 14 Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew off from the field, but 8 more remained. A fast scan in the place allowed us to find 12 Pin-tailed Sandgrouses, some of them really close to us and the fog allowed great scope views despite it ruined the photo chances of the moment.

Dartford Warbler (Curruca undata) can be especially common in the steppes during winter
Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra) favours both extensive crops and steppe lands.
Suddenly the fog appeared in our views on Pin-tailed Sandgrouses, even if close, were not shining.

Decided to escape the fog, we drove East to check another place in Los Monegros. There, around Bujaraloz, we went in the search of the small population of Great Bustards that subsists in the area. Here it was sunny and it only took us 5 minutes to find a lovely flock of 17 males walking around in a wonderful field full of flowers. After enjoying this great birds we took our time to check a pair of corners around, where we found more Pin-tailed Sandgrouses but also Merlin and 1 Golden Eagle.

It was already lunch time so we covered the short distance to a small lagoon. From its view point we had a good selection of waterfowl that included Little & Great Crested Grebes, Gadwall, Eurasian Teals, Common Pochards, Shovelers, 5 Red-crested Pochards and 1 male Pintails. The reedbeds around were having some Great White Egrets and Grey Herons and a short walk by reed produced Penduline Tits, ruff views on an elusive Cetti’s Warblers, several Reed Buntings and a shy Bluethroat that not allowed any photo. The fields around were having large flocks of Chaffinches and we were happy to pick up a Brambling from there as well!

From here we had a final stop in a different wetland very close to Lleida, where the fog was still persistent. Here we had short walk along the reeds. It was little movement, but finally our perseverance was rewarded with good views on 2 Bearded Tits that appeared really close in the reeds. They were really celebrated by the tour participants, and the afternoon ended with 2 Common Kingfishers chasing each other in the fog!

Great Bustards (Otis tarda) has only two small populations left in Aragon, and they can be harder than expected to find!

Day 5. Last morning of the trip before heading back to Barcelona Airport. This morning was devoted to explore the wonderful habitat of low, sparse scrubland where the poor understood Dupont’s Lark lives. This species is to be found in poor soils with a rich gradient of salt on it, resulting a landscape of low, scattered scrubs. The songs of both Calandra & Mediterranean Short-toed Larks were constant in the air. The morning was sunny, and the temperature was higher than the day before. We spend some time exploring the area by combining short walks and slow drives, and after less than hour we were enjoying a Dupont’s Lark while feeding on the ground. It was interesting to see the bird excavating the soil with powerful movements of its whole body, pushing its long bill into the soft soil to get a small prey before starting its short, fast runs between the tussocks of grass.

Dupont’s Larks (Chersophilus duponti) favour the poor soils around the Ebro basin.
Many White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) don’t nest any more so to see them in the nest in February is not rare!

This was quite a phenomenal way of ending our tour. After this we just drove back to Barcelona, where we had a final stop around the airport to enjoy Iberian Green Woodpeckers, Eurasian Hoopoes, Zitting Cisticola and a rather unexpected light form Booted Eagle!

List of birds seen:

  1. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
  2. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
  3. Gadwall (Mareca strepera)
  4. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  5. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
  6. Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
  7. Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
  8. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  9. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
  10. Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
  11. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  12. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
  13. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia sp)
  14. Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
  15. Common Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
  16. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  17. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata)
  18. Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)
  19. Great Bustard (Otis tarda)
  20. Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)
  21. Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) – heard only
  22. Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
  23. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
  24. Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
  25. European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
  26. Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
  27. Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
  28. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
  29. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
  30. Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
  31. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
  32. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  33. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  34. Great White Egret (Ardea alba)
  35. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
  36. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulbus ibis)
  37. Bearded Vulture – Lammergeier (Gypaetos barbatus)
  38. Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus)
  39. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
  40. Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)
  41. Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
  42. Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
  43. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
  44. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
  45. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
  46. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
  47. Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
  48. Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
  49. Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)
  50. Little Owl (Athene noctua)
  51. Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
  52. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
  53. Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius)
  54. Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
  55. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)
  56. Iberian Green Woodpecker (Picus sharpei)
  57. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
  58. Merlin (Falco columbarius)
  59. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  60. Iberian Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
  61. Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
  62. Common Magpie (Upupa epops)
  63. Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
  64. Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus)
  65. Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
  66. Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
  67. Common Raven (Corvus corax)
  68. Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
  69. Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti)
  70. Mediterranean Short-toed Lark (Alaudala rufescens)
  71. Woodlark (Lullula arborea)
  72. Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
  73. Thekla’s Lark (Galerida theklae)
  74. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
  75. Eurasian Crag Martin (Ptynoprogne rupestris)
  76. Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
  77. European Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus)
  78. Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
  79. Great Tit (Parus major)
  80. Eurasian Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)
  81. Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
  82. Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaeus)
  83. Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)
  84. Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
  85. Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
  86. White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
  87. Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
  88. Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus)
  89. Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
  90. Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
  91. Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
  92. Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
  93. Sardinian Warbler (Curruca melanocephala)
  94. Dartford Warbler (Curruca undata)
  95. European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
  96. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
  97. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
  98. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
  99. European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
  100. Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura)
  101. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
  102. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
  103. Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
  104. Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
  105. Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  106. Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
  107. Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris)
  108. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
  109. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
  110. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
  111. Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
  112. Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
  113. Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
  114. Eurasian Greefinch (Chloris chloris)
  115. Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina)
  116. Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
  117. Eurosasian Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
  118. Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella)
  119. European Serin (Serinus serinus)
  120. Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)
  121. Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
  122. Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)
  123. Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
  124. Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
  125. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  126. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
  127. Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia)
  128. Snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis)

OrnitoRepte calàbria agulla als Aiguamolls de l’Empordà

Una vegada més, ben d’hora al matí, un grup d’ornitòlegs es cita per tal d’encarar un OrnitoRepte. En aquest cas, als Aiguamolls de l’Empordà i amb l’objectiu de gaudir de la calàbria agulla!

Som ben bé 30 persones, amb un bon grapat de telescopis i càmeres de fotos. El dia ha sortit radiant, amb un sol que anuncia un altre dia dominat per l’anticicló que ha fet desaparèixer les precipitacions al llarg de l’hivern, deixant força ecosistemes en una situació precària. La jornada va gaudir d’un temps molt estable, amb només una mica de vent mentre estàvem a la platja. Però, comptat i debatut, no va ser res de l’altre món.

Foto del grup donant-ho tot per gaudir de les calàbries agulles als Aiguamolls. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras.

El grup comença a caminar per la zona del Mas Matà i ben d’hora apareixen els primers ocells d’interès: En la distància, un estol de capons reials (Plegadis falcinellus) fa una aparició fugaç mentre els aligots (Buteo buteo) i arpelles comunes (Circus aeruginosus) aixequen el vol dels seus posaders preferits. El grup avança per una zona de canyissar, i no triguem en sentir el reclam característic de la boscarla mostatxuda (Acrocephalus megalopogon) a les tofes de canyís. Tot amb tot, aquest esquerp ocell no es va deixar veure gaire bé, i només va aparèixer en vol un parell de vegades. Quan tornàvem al camí principal, una xivita (Tringa ochropus) va fer acte de presència a la zona.

Arpella comuna mascle en vol. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras.

Un cop als prats inundats del Mas Matà vam poder gaudir dels bons estols de territs variants (Calidris alpina) i dels molts becadells comuns (Gallinago gallinago) que s’hi alimentaven. Amb ells, fredelugues (Vanellus vanellus) i agrons blancs (Agrodiaetus albus) però també grassets de muntanya (Anthus spinolleta), xarxets (Anas crecca) ¡, cogullades comunes (Galerida cristata) i alguna simpàtica cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea). El nostre camí cap a la platja va tenir alguna parada per gaudir de la munió d’Anàtides a l’aguaït del bruel. Aquí, els estols de xarxets i ànecs cullerots (Spatula clypeata) tot just sortien dels canyissars a on havien passat la nit. Era d’hora al matí, però una parella de cabussons emplomallats (Podiceps cristatus) ja anava assajant la seva sincronització de cara a la primavera mentre els ànecs grissets (Anas strepera) s’ho miraven des dels canyissars.

Fredelugues, becadells comuns i territs variants al Mas Matà. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras.
Un dels cabussons emplomallats de l’aguaït del Bruel. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras
Ànec cullerots alimentant-se davant l’aguaït del Bruel. Imatge de Joan Oliver
Els xarxets mascles ja lluïen plomatge nupcial. Imatge de Domènec Anguera.

La resta del camí fins la platja no va tenir massa més espècies d’interès, fora de les oques comunes (Anser anser) que se sentien reclamar per les maresmes.

Un cop a la platja va arribar el moment de treure partit als telescopis. Les calàbries no ho van posar massa fàcil, però després d’uns minuts de recerca, 3 calàbries agulles (Gavia arctica) van aparèixer en la llunyania, una mica a contrallum. Mentre maldàven perquè tots els telescopis trobessin la seva calàbria, un gavot (Alca torda) també va reclamar la seva quota d’atenció, afegint una mica més de caos ornitològic al grup. Ambuna mica de sort, les calàbries agulles es van anar desplaçant cap al Nord, i la llum va millorar molt fins aconseguir unes observacions més que bones! Mentre hi gaudíem, un cabussó emplomallat i un corb marí emplomallat (Gulosus aristotelis) també van aparèixer, donant una bona oportunitat a tots per comparar formes, proporcions i comportament del corb marí, el gavot, el cabussó i les calàbries.

Aquest gavot va ser la sorpresa més celebrada al mar i va permetre bones comparatives amb les calàbries que es movien a prop. Imatge d’Enric Pàmies
Una de les 3 calàbries agulles observades al llarg de l’OrnitoRepte. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras

La platja tampoc estava lliure d’interès. Tot i que lluny, un petit estol de territs de tresdits (Calidris alba) es va deixar veure prou bé mentre un parell de pigres grisos (Pluvialis squatarola) els va passava volant per sobre. Mentrestant, unes poques baldrigues mediterrànies (Puffinus yelkouan) cavalcaven les onades mentre un estol d’unes 200 baldrigues (Puffinus sp.) descasaven a força distància. Els xatracs bec-llargs (Thalasseus sandvicensis), amb el seu característic reclam, van tancar la nostra estada a la platja!

A continuació vam desfer el camí fins a l’aparcament i, un cop als vehicles, uns vam dirigir a El Cortalet, a on vam fer una merescuda parada de servei abans d’explorar els hides més propers al Centre de Informació.

Corb marí gros poc després d’empassar l’esmorzar. Imatge de Domènec Anguera

Es podria dir que vam estar de sort, perquè des dels hides vam gaudir d’un bon estol de grues (Grus grus) que sembla haver fet hivernada a l’Empordà. Aquí hi havien força ànecs, destacant diferents ànecs blancs (Tadorna tadorna) però també una trentena d’ànecs xiuladors (Anas penelope) i fins i tot un xibec (Netta rufina) i una femella de morell cap roig (Aythya ferina). Un petit estol flamencs (Phoenicopterus roseus) posava la nota exòtica mentre una arpella comuna (Circus aeruginosus) s’alimentava d’un xarxet que havia caçat feia poc. A la maresma no es pot badar, i una cigonya blanca (Ciconia ciconia) estava ben a l’aguaït per si podia pispar-li una mica de xarxet al rapinyaire.

Algunes de les grues que vam poder gaudir al llarg de la sortida. Imatge se Josep Maria Torras
Una fotja comuna alça el vol i deixa veure els seus increïbles dits lobulats. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras
Un dels 3 pinsans mecs observats a les closes properes a El Cortalet. Imatge d’Enric Pàmies.
Grasset de muntanya en vol. Fixeu-vos en el supercili ben definit més enllà de l’ull i en le dues línies blanques al llarg de les cobertores alars. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras

Les closes que boregen l’Estany del Cortalet sempre són d’interès, i tot i que aquest cop hi havia molts pocs ocells, encara ens van oferir una última sorpresa: un mínim de 3 pinsans mecs (Fringilla montifringilla) alimentant-se al terra junt amb pinsans comuns (Fringilla coelebs). Aquesta fantàstica troballa li debem a la família Naspleda, que ens van assenyalar el primer dels mecs! Al llarg d’una bona estona tot el grup va gaudir de les anades i vingudes dels pinsans i, a la vegada, d’altres espècies com titelles (Anthus pratensis), bitxac comú (Saxicola torquata) i un mascle de tallarol capnegre (Sylvia melanocephala). Una bona forma d’acabar un altre OrnitoRepte existós, no sense abans sumar a la nostra llista un petit estol de mallarengues cuallargues (Aegithalos caudatus) acompanyades de mallarenga carbonera (Parus major) i un raspinell comú (Certhia brachydactyla).

Desitjant ja de gaudir del proper OrnitoRepte. Troba aquí el calendari complet:

Ànec cuallarg. Una de les 9 espècies d’Anàtides que vam poder observar al llarg de la sortida. Imatge de Joan Oliver

OrnitoRepte pela-roques (Tichodroma muraria), Novembre 2021

En un matí assolejat però freda, els participants en l’OrnitoRepte més agosarat ens vam trobar en un bar a prop de Balaguer per poder fer un cafè calent abans d’encetar la jornada.

Un cop en moviment, diferents rapinyaires van anar creuant la carretera, però no va ser fins arribar a prop dels espadats a on passaríem les primeres hores d’observació a on vam haver de fer una primera parada obligada. I és que una parella d’àguiles cuabarrades (Aquila fasciata) estaven volant força baix a la zona! Vam muntar telescopi i qui va voler va poder fins i tot gaudir d’una de les àguiles aturada al roquissar.

Una molt bona observació i una gran forma de començar la jornada ornitològica! Un cop vam aparcar els vehicles, el primer va ser fer un cop d’ull al riu que travessa la gorja en qüestió. Aquí un blauet (Alcedo atthis) va passsar fugiser, i una merla d’aigua (Cinclus cinclus) s’alimentava entre els còdols. Diferents voltors comuns (Gyps fulvus) volaven ja per la zona, i un xoriguer (Falco tinnunculus) va passar a tota velocitat per la cinglera, fent enmodir la corrua de pit-rojos, mallarengues, tallarols de casquest i cargolets que reclamaven als matollars i bosquines.

Part del grup gaudint del pela-roques. Imatge: Carles Oliver

Les mirades es van centrar ben d’hora en els espadats. Repassar les seves parets llises, forats, esquerdes i ondulacions a la cerca d’alguna forma o moviment sospitosos. Així vam trobar una llunyana merla blava (Monticola solitarius) que prenia els primers rajos de sol al capdamunt d’una cinglera. Passaven els minuts i el grup es disgregava per la gorja. Algun estol de mallarengues cuallargues (Aegithalos caudatus) i un parell de bruels (Regulus ignicapillus) van venir a saludar a una part del grup.

Al llarg de la propera hora van estar-nos en un parell de llocs estratègics, escorcollant les inmenses parets de roca al nostra voltants. Les àguiles cuabarrades, van tornar a aparèixer, i les seves voltes ens van fer entrar en escalfor! Al riu, una cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea) va captar la nostra atenció per un moment quant de cop i volta algú advertí: “quin és aquest ocell que vola per sobre el riu?” Tothom mirada amunt per veure un pela-roques volant per sobre el meandre del riu!!! “Pela-roques, pela-roques”, va ressonar arreu! L’ocell va anar a aturar-se a dalt de tot d’un llunyà pollegó, però amb els telescopis el vam poder veure força bé!

Un minut després d’arribar un segon pela-roques va aparèixer al cel, i el primer Tichodroma va deixar el seu pollegó per fer fora el nou ocells, que va continuar riu amunt, sense aturar-se. Va ser el moment escollit per apropar-nos. Un dels pela-roques havia tornar al mateix pollegó, però força més baix. En atansar-nos el vam perdre vista, i al llarg de deu minuts ningú no va saber més del pela-roques… Però llavors uns quants afortunats el van veure sortir d’un forat a pocs metres de distància! L’ocell va volar al nostra voltant per finalment creuar el riu i aturar-se en una gran paret a on va romandre al llarg de ben bé mitja hora!

Pela-roques (Tichodroma muraria) en plena acció. Imatge de Begonya Torres

Allà tothom el va poder observar a plaer i treure força fotos (un xic desvirtuades per la distància), i observar el curiós comportament d’aquesta espècie d’hàbits tant extrems. Fins i tot el vam poder menjar, ja que en una de les seves excursions per dins de cavitats, va aparèixer amb una Macroglossum stellatarum al bec, el que va fer pujar l’exitació del grup a nivells estratosfèrics!!

Després de ben bé 20 minuts d’observació continuada del pela-roques, vam començar a desfilar cap als vehicles. Els voltors comuns ja volaven alt, com a per a dir adéu a tot el grup. A la sortida de la gorja, però , va ser necessari una nova parada. Desenes de tords ala-rojos (Turdus iliacus) reclamaven i voleiaven pels encontorns. Vam saltar dels vehicles i vam estar una bona estona mirant d’aconseguir una observació mínimament digna d’aquesta espècie. Grives (Turdus viscivorus) i algun tord comú (Turdus philomelos) es van deixar veure bé. Alguns afortunats sí que van poder gaudir d’una bona observació de tord ala-roig, però malauradament la majoria del grup es va haver de resignar a sentir-ne els reclams.

De tornada als vehicles, vam fer via cap al Sud, a la cerca d’una petita llacuna a on de feia unes setmanes s’estaven veient unes quantes Anàtides. Després d’un cafè recostituent, vam cobrir la petita distància que ens separava de la bassa en qüestió. Al poc d’arribar ja vam poder observar el principal atractiu de la bassa, un grupet de 3 morells xocolaters (Aythya nyroca) que nedaven amb la llum del migdia, oferint molt bones observacions. Aquesta és bàsicament una espècie de l’Est de l’Europa, que té a l’Europa Occidental petites poblacions reproductores. A la Península Ibèrica es calculen menys de 20 parelles anuals!

Fotges en primer terme, i morells xocolater en segon terme. Imatge: Carles Oliver

A la llacuna també vam poder gaudir d’una bona selecció d’espècies típiques d’aquestes zones com cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis), fotja comuna (Fulica atra), ànec coll-verd (Anas platythynchos), xarxet comú (Anas crecca), ànec cullerot (Spatula clypeata) i morell de cap roig (Aythya ferina). La bassa bullia de vida, i també ho feien els camps que l’envoltaven: Hi havien estols de cruixidells (Emberiza calandra) i aloses comunes (Alauda arvensis), cogullades comunes (Galerida cristata) i passerells (Liniaria cannabina) junt amb cornelles (Corvus corone) i grans estolls d’estornells (Sturnus sp.).

Les Arpelles comunes (Circus aeruginosus) i algun aligot comú (Buteo buteo) anaven repasant els estols d’ocells a la cerca d’alguna presa fàcil mentre els insectívors més petits, com els bitxacs comuns (Saxicola rubicola) no badaben davant l’oportunitat d’enxampar algun insecte. A la llunyania, algunes fredelugues (Vanellus vanellus) van assenyalar el camí per escrutar els camps més detingudament, i el nostre esforç va trobar la recompensa en un petit estol de daurades grosses (Pluvialis apricaria) que, si bé no es van deixar veure massa estona a terra, sí que ens van deixar gaudir amb els seu vol.

Amb aquesta última observació i alguns repicatalons (Emberiza schoeniclus) que ja passaven volant cap al canyissar des dels camps a on s’havien estat alimentant, vam acabar un matí ben profitós que va deixar a tothom ben content, i amb ganes de molts més OrnitoReptes!!!

Podeu consultar els propers OrnitoReptes ací:

Pyrenees Winter Break (+ Ebro Delta), 2020 Trip Report

Number of days: 6

Tour participants: 5

Dates: February 6th to 11th, 2020

All images along the tour by Brian Buffery, Giovanni Grieco and tour leader Carles Oliver.

The tour participants to the tour flew into Barcelona prior the tour started. We met the next morning in their hotel neat the airport for an early morning transfer to the Pyrenees. Temperature was high as a result of several days of high pressures, and temperatures escalating above 20C in the days before the tour started.

Day 1. Once in the Pyrenees, we drove up until 1600 metres high and spent some time in a rocky slope with small cliffs. There, we got good views on Rock Buntings, singing and showing up really well. European Crested Tits were also noted, but we didn’t have any other good bird. From there, the lovely lane brought us throught Mountain forests with small flocks of Mistle Thruses and Common Crossbills. Once the forests end, the lane crosses some alpine meadows show. Due to the long period of high temperatures, the snow was few, and concentrated in a certain slopes. We spent some time scanning, with little success. Only a few Eurasian Griffons were moving in the sky, joined by 1 Common Raven.

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), a common but always wonderful flycatcher to see.

We spent some time scanning the snowed slopes with little luck, and we were about to leave when 3 Snowfinches flew from a spinned slope, really high up in the mountain. Despite teh birds were extremelly far away we decided to spend some time scanning the slope.  But nothing. Sowe drove half a mile, and scan again. And now we were more lucky as a nice flock of about 25 Snowfinches showed in the sky, flying from a close slope. The birds we actually doing some short flights to inmediatly reland in the slope, so we got excellent views on the birds walking on the snow, feeding and preening. Unfortunately all birds were a bit far up in the slope, so not really excellent chances for photography. We spent about half an hour waiting for the birds to eventually come down the slope and have closer views. Unfortunately the birds never came really closer.

Happy after the enjoying a species I was not expecting to find, we kept our way and came back to the mountain pass. There, there was a good number of Eurasian Griffons passing by, producing some really good views. Here we also got excellent views on a flock of Alpine Chough flying over, calling, and playing in the sky as only a Chough can do.

Only a pair of minutes after the Chough did its show, a large raptor was seen along with Eurasian Griffons. Moving slowly above the slope, an impressive adult Lammergeier was moving to our position. Everybody connected with the bird of prey way before the bird was close, so everybody enjoyed excellent views on the bird approaching us… The majestic bird just passed over us, the snow reflecting on the underwings so we all enjoyed the details of the axiles, the underwinds and its iconic moustache. The bird was around for some minutes, and we still had a second Lammergeier passing by before we moved to our accommodation for some rest.

We got our first views on Lammergeier (Gypaetos barbatus) in the first morning of the tour.

After some resting, we still had time to explore a wooded slope in search of some new species. The area was full of Common Crossbills, some of them singing. A lovely Iberian Green Woodpecker was a celebrated spot in the group. The area was full of birds: Eurasian Siskin, Mistle Thrush, Rock Bunting, Shorttoed Treecreeper and Crested Tit were also noted. Big flocks of migratory Common Chaffinches were around. We did a number of stops along the lane, and among them 2 Citril Finches passed over our heads, calling. Unfortunately only one tour participant had a view in these birds.

The afternoon was going away and as the night came we moved to a proper spot for the most difficult of the Owls in Europe. We didn’t have to wait long because soon after sunset we had a Tengmalm’s Owl singing quite close to our van! The bird started singing about 80 metres away so we just walked inside the open woodland, trying to find the small owl. We enjoyed a wonderful listening but despite our efforst, we never so this scarce owl!

Sunset is to arrive to the Pyrenean subboreal forest.

Day 2. After a good rest, we just started our second day by spending some time in the same lane where we were the last afternoon. Our goal was to have better views on Citril Finches. But that morning we were no lucky about them. After this we spent the rest of the morning in a mountain pass closeby. A huge flock of above 70 Red-billed Choughs was feeding on the greenish slopes that were supposed to be snowed. High temperatures for 15 days in a row right before the arrival of the group had been meltering the snow, and despite our efforts we were uncapable to find any Alpine Accentor, the main goal of the morning.

Crag Martin (Ptynoprogne rupestris) showinfg the tail markings.

After lunch we drove to the steppes for some afternoon birding. Our first stop was to check some corners looking for one of the most sought-after species in this habitat. Meanwhile, we enjoyed very much to find a large flock of over 150 Eurasian Tree Sparrows. Several other species were recorded around including Eurasian Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting, European Stonechat, Eurasian Skylark, Northern Lapwing, Common Kestrel, Crested Lark, Common Buzzard, Meadow Pipit and several more!

To spot Little Bustards (Tetrax tetrax) out of the nesting season can be difficult.

In our second stop we were more lucky, and after some scanning we found 12 Little Bustards in a nearby field. They were hiding in a filed with tall vegetation and we could only count them after a long wait and search of the small neck appearing above the grass. While enjoying them, we got other good birds around including 1 Great White Egret, Grey Heron , Mistle Thrush and Zitting Cisticola.

But a good surprise was to come. In a nearby field, a large flock of over 150 European Golden Plovers was resting. It look like the typcical large premigratory flock. While trying to count the Bustards, Gio was scanning the plovers and he was lucky enough to find out a 1st winter Eurasian Dotterel right in the center of the flock! What a nice spot!!!

Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) in a flock of Golden Plover close to Linyola.

After such a great spot we just moved to a nearby wetland for the last stop of the day. The large fresh water lagoon is placed in the middle of a large plain, and attracks good number os Western Marsh Harriers that roost in the reedbeds. We counted no less than 23 of them! Eurasian Teals, Northern Shovelers, Common Snipes, Reed Buntings, Water Rail, Northern Lapwings, Redcrested Pochards and big numbers of Great Cormorants and Western Jackdaws were all enjoyed, but probably the best birds for most of the tour participants were the Western Swamphens showing in the reedbeds, and noisily calling as the sunset approached. A wonderful end of the day!

During the afternoon we found this roosting place with +150 Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus).

Day 3. This day we drove up a long valley, into the a Catalan shire called Pallars, to look for some Pyrenean especialities. Our first stop was in a huge gorge. There, we hope for the most wanted bird for many birdwatchers visting the Pyrenees in winter, the Wallcreeper. During a pair of hours we walked and scouted the rocks all around, hoping for any movement in the cliffs. Whitebellied Dippers were singing, very active in the river, and we counted 4 in single corner of the river! Some Eurasian Griffons were also moving in the sky, and didn’t take long until the massive silouhette of 1 Lammergeier appeared from the massive cliffs. Red Kite and Rock Bunting were also enjoyed.

After a long search, we finally found an extremelly distant Wallcreeper in a big, plain rock face. Only 1 tour participant saw the bird, so we all spent a lot of time trying to refind the bird. Some minutes passed away, and nobody was having the Wallcreeper…but suddenly a something moved in the rocks really close to us, inmediatly at the other side of the river: Wallcreeper!

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), always a challenging bird!

We were having a Wallcreeper right there, and this time everyone in the group found the bird without difficulties! We spent a pair of minutes enjoying of the bird moving in the rock face, beside a huge cavity. As always, it was great moment for anyone in the group!! After taking photos and recording videos we were enjoying the bird until it moved away from the rock face… and then came the typical question, was that the same bird that we were looking for extremely high up, or was it a different one? Who knows…

In this stop we still enjoyed a pair of other good birds before going for a coffee stop as Shorttoed Treecreeper and Eurasian Crag Martin showed really well in our way to the car.

After our pic-nic stop, we spent a pair of hours exploring a wooded lane, a wonderful spot for Citril Finches. Again, Common Crossbills were common and active. There were flocks of Eurasian Goldfinches and Common Chaffinches and, while scanning the flocks looking for something different, we enjoyed 2 superb Lammergeiers flying ove us in beautiful light. After a long, long scanning, 2 Citril Finches were seen when driving down the lane so we inmediatly stopped, with the finches calling around and moving in the trees for a some seconds before they moved away as they seemed associated to a huge flock of Common Chaffinches. We scanned over and over the flock but we were uncapable to refind them. Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Hawfinch were noted in the while.

One of the 4 Lammergeiers (Gypaetos barbatus) seen during that day.

The last stop of the day was to look for Eurasian Black Vulture. The Catalan Pyrenees holds a small population of about 50 individuals, concentrated in a pair of valleys but expanding in range and numbers. The whole day had been poor in raptor activity and, when we did arrive to the observation place, the raptor activity was minimal. Still, there were some Eurasian Griffons flying and after some hard scanning we found at least three distant Eurasian Black Vulture circling along with them. Another Lammergeier was also found, by the way. Here we also enjoyed some small birds including Cirl Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Sardinian Warblers. After this stop we drove back to our accommodation for a good dinner and rest.

Day 4. Early morning start to explore the steppes. After a transfer we did arrive to the dry lands where most of the specialities are to be found. Unfortunately the weather was not good at all, as it was extremelly windy… Windy days can be terrible in the steppes, being quite easy to miss most (or all) the good birds in such a conditions.

But we were confident so our first stop was in a corner were Sandgrouses use to feed in early morning. A first look to the area revealed no activity at all. Only 1 or 2 Calandra Larks were flying, almost no songs in the sky. A distant Red Kite was the most notiable… We moved slowly along the lane, carefully scanning the fields that were hurt by the wind. It took us a good while until we found the first Blackbellied Sandgrouse on the ground. A male. Did an effort to get the scopes out so everybody could enjoy despite the really strong wind. Some minutes later, a small flock of 5 Pintailed Sandgrouses moved from a nearby filed, coming closer to us. It took some time to put everybody in the birds as they mild so well even if it was so few grass! Our happiness was complete when we realised that there were also some Blackbellied Sandgrouses on the ground, only few metres away from the Pintailed’s!! So, at the end, we had both species together side by side, feeding, preening and enjoying the hard morning weather!

Due to very strong winds, this is the best image we got on a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) during one of the last tours to Morocco. No images during this tour…

A short drive in the area around provided us with good views on Thekla, Calandra & Sky Larks. Also Little Owl, Iberian Grey Shrike and Redbilled Chough. Due to the wind it was again little movement of raptors in the sky, or that is what it looked like until 4 Golden Eagles appeared in the sky at the same time! Two adults and 2 juveniles playing long time with the wind at short range.

This obliging Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) was the first of the 5 seen during the day!

After a coffee stop we still had time to enjoy some good views on Lesser Shorttoed Larks before changing the habitat to explore some cliffs nearby.

The short drive to the clay cliffs produced several White Storks, some of them in their nests, Spotless Starlings, and Common Buzzards. Once arrived, we were suprised by a bird moving in the cliff.A Wallcreeper!!! Amazing. It is not normal to see a Wallcreeper so low, and it is even more strange to see it in a clay cliff which is not especially in the middle of the plains! Again everybody enjoyed the bird while moving up. Higher, a Blue Rock Thrush was also really showy. After a pair of minutes enjoying the bird we lost it and spent some time looking for the Black Wheatears living in this spot. After some minutes we had a pair of Black Wheatear moving in the broken slope. Here we also got the firsts Black Redstarts and Common Chiffchaffs of the tour.

This Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) was totally unexpected, and shared cliff with Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheatear.

After such a wonderful stop, we faced our transfer to Ebro Delta, a pair of hours of driving with several surprises in the way. The area between Lleida Steppes and Ebro Delta is a complex, hilly area crossed by Ebro river. It is good nautral border and a natural corridor that many birds use between the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. The afternoon was sunny and calm and soon we realised that it was a good number of birds of prey migrating. After a pair of stops we had 1 Short-toed Snake Eagle, 1 Black Kite, 1 Northern Goshawk, several Common Buzzards and a few Eurasian Sparrowhawks moving North.

Once in Ebro Delta, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the Northern Bay, where we enjoyed good views on a long list of species. Slender-billed & Audouin’s Gull were the most celebrated but the list also included Whiskered, Caspian & Sandwich Terns, Black-necked Greve, Red-crested Pochard, Kentish Plover, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Knot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, big flocks of Greater Flamingoes and Mediterranean Gulls plus ruff views on a female Bluethroat that showed shortly due to the strong wind! After such a great end of the day, we drove to our accommodation for a good rest and plentiful dinner. 

Day 5. After enjoying our breakfast we went out to take a fast look to a small pond just by our hotel. There, we had a good surprise as a male Little Bittern moved in the reeds providing good looks. Cetti’s Warbler and Little Egret were also seen there!

But our first serious stop of the day was by the largest fresh water lagoon in the delta, called l’Encanyissada. A pair of stops were enough to catch with some of the most sought-after species. While flocks of Greater Flamingoes were passing over, we enjoyed wonderful views on Western Swamphens. In the lagoon there were flocks of Blacknecke Grebes but out attention was focused in the reedbeds. Cetti’s Warbler was showing well in some small plants by the reeds and 2 Water Pipits were seen in a nearby channel along with Green Sandpiper. But all alarms went on when a “tak-tak” came from the reeds. There was a Moustached Warbler just along the edge of the reedbed, calling and moving really low in the brown steems. It didn’t take long until all tour participants were enjoying good views on this shy species!

But the bird spectacled kept going. A flock of 5 Wood Sandpipers flew over right at the same time that 1 Whitespotted Bluethroat male called from the reedbed. A bit of scan was required before all tour participants enjoyed excellent views on this bird. The male was actually quite showy and it was calling a pair of times as it was moving along the shore of the channel. A further scan along different channels revealed at least 5 Bluethroats, 2 of them being males in full summer plomage.

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) in typical winter habitat.

After such a successful stop we decided to move on to explore some salt marshes. The area is an important nesting place for several species, including Audouin’s Gull, and we could see that many of them were already back in the area. At least 80 Audouins’s were there along with Caspian Terns, Grey Plovers, Kentish & Common Ringed Plovers, 100s of Dunlins and at least 7 Little Stints in the middle.

Audouin’s Gulls (Ichthyaetus audouinii) already busy in their colony.

From there we end the morning by exploring a sand bar facing South. This is a good place where to enjoy waders, Terns and Gulls. Several Great Crested Grebes were on the sea, as the sand bar protects a large inner bay. Along with them, 4 Blackthroated Divers were fishing and offering great views, but the best was to discover 1 Great Skua resting on the sea, far away but still offering a god view. Closer, flocks of Dunlins & Kentish Plovers were really appreciated by the group, along with the Slenderbilled Gulls side by side to Mediterranean Gull. A good way to walk the path of telling them apart. Northern Gannet and Ruddy Turnstone were also enjoyed in this stop.

Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) has become a common view in Ebro Delta.

To enjoy our picnic we went inside a wooded hide. From the hide, it didn’t look like a lot of birds, but we were having a good fun with the nice views on Western Swamphens and Cetti’s Warbler while a Booted Eagle was circling. Suddenly, a Great Spotted Cuckoo crossed the lagoon to stop right beside the hide! Wonderful!! This species of cuckoo arrives really early in the season and by the end of February you can expect some of them moving around, but due to the few time we had in the steppes, I was not expecting to see them at all!

Slim numbers of Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata) overwinter in Ebro Delta.

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is a scarce migratory bird in Ebro Delta itself.

During the afternoon we drove up along a lane to explore a mountainous areas some 30 miles away from Ebro Delta. It is extremelly windy and we had to drive up and down the lane a pair of times before we succeed, but finally we got what we were looking for and 2 Alpine Accentors were seen in the lane, right in front of the car!!! The birds were just feeding by the lane despite the extremelly strong wind but unfortunately they flew off down the slope before we could take any image of them…

Spanish Ibex (Capra hispanica) in a typical view.

Really happy about this spot, we moved to our final stop. A lovely Mediterranean gorge hosts some really good specialities. Weather conditions were hard so bird activity was really low. Still, we got good views in a female Spanish Ibex and we were about to leave when a call came from high up the cliff and a wonderful male Bonelli’s Eagle came down to inmediatly display over the valley. It called again just when dramatically dived in the sky to come back to the cliffs in a fast movement!!! What a incredible sight to end the day!!!

Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) displaying in late afternoon.

But this was not all. After dinner we just went out to the hotel grounds, were the tour participants enjoyed wonderful vews on 1 Eurasian Scops Owl that is actually nesting in a nest box right there!!!

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops) already at nest at the end of February!

Day 6. Our last day of the tour we spent the morning in the delta. In our first stop we were scouting a large marshy area: big flocks of Blackwinged Stilts and Pied Avocets were resting there along with Northern Shovelers, Pintails, Blacktailed Godwits, Common Kingfishers, Shelducks and other goodies. Beyond this spot, the paddy fields around provided good birding and an accurate scan we enjoyed good views on 30 or more Ruffs but also Dunlins, European Golden Plovers, huge flocks of Glossy Ibises, obliging Lesser Shorttoed Larks and 1 Peregrine Falcon (probably a calidus race).

Young Greater Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus) love to feed in the paddy fields.

It was time to head back to the airport but we still had time for a pair of fast stops around Barcelona. Our picnic stop by the airport reported Water Pipit. The afternoon was rainy and cold but we still tried to get the impressive Red-billed Leiothrix, an alien species living in some well forested areas in Greater Barcelona. By the time we did arrive, the temperature was low but we still managed good views on Firecrest as well as Monk Parakeet, Coal, Longtailed and European Crested Tits.

Ans this was the end of this wonderful tour to the Pyrenees, despite the really high temperatures!! Already ready for our next adventure, happening very soon.

Do you want to join us?







Influx of Crakes (genus Porzana) in Catalonia

Late March and early April is normally one of the best moments to look for Crakes in Catalonia. Despite the migratory movements of all three species ocurring in the country (Spotted Crake, Little Crake and Baillon’s Crake) start along February and stretches well inside May, the last days of March and early April concentrates a good number of them.

This 2019 sightings of Crakes in Catalonia were low. Spring migration was rather late for some species and it looked like it was so for all Porzanas. Until the very last days of March there were only a handful of sights, mostly concentrated in typical areas for these species.

Little Crake (Porzana parva) male at Riu Besòs, Barcelona. The bird stayed some days in the same location. Seen during our tour on 29th March. Image by Carles Oliver

But this was to change fast as from March 28th there were reports some Little & Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) in diferent coastal wetlands along Catalan coastline. On March 30th-31st the increase on sights was huge, with several Spotteds reported in diferent areas, even in small ponds and other unusual locations. On March 31st up to 4 diferent Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) were seen in diferent locations (Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Aiguamolls de Pals, Riu Besòs & Pantà del Foix). All birds out of one “joined” by Little or Spotted Crakes in the same spot.

This abrupt influx could be explained by a change in the weather conditions. A low press System was affecting SW Europe and combined with Eastern winds in the Mediterranean. Enough explanation? Probably not…

On 31st March we were leading a trip to Aiguamolls and enjoyed 4 Little Crakes (Porzana parva), 2 Spotted Crakes and 1 Baillon’s Crake only in two spots, 200 metres away from each other!

Please enjoy this small selection of images from these days. Several local birdwatchers have enjoy them. Today, 4th April, there were still 2 Baillon’s & several Spotteds around!

One of the 2 obliging Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) seen in Aiguamolls de l’Empordà during our tour. Image by Carles Oliver

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) in Corncrake-like action! Image by Carles Oliver


The spots can be really efficient to make Spotted Crakes disappear in the riparian vegetation. Image by Carles Oliver

One of the Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) in Catalonia during early April 2019. This one proved to be really cooperative at Riu Besòs. Images by Carles Oliver


Here a nice comparative of Baillon’s (above) versus Little Crake (below). Differences on coloration and structure are evident. Images by Carles Oliver

Emberiza & CIA a la Marató Ornitològica 2018

Aquesta és la crònica de la participació de l’equip Emberiza & CIA a la Marató Ornitològica organitzada per SEO/Birdlife. Els integrants del grup enguany van ser en Víctor Sanz, Ramiro Aibar, Antonio Martínez i Carles Oliver. També el fill de l’Antonio, l’Oriol Martínez, que amb només 11 anys va estar sempre alerta i assenyalant rapis al cel!!

Durant tota la jornada vam gaudir de molt bon temps. Tot i la previsió de pluges disperses més o menys generalitzades, vam tenir sol quasi tot el dia, gens de vent i cap gota d’aigua. Condicions idònies, tret de la temperatura un pèl massa alta al migdia. Només una coseta abans de començar, algunes de les localitzacions les mantindrem en secret…secret professional, vaja.

La jornada comença unes hores abans que comenci el termini pròpiament dit per fer la Marató. La nostra data escollida és el dia 6 de Maig i ens trobem a les 21:00 del vespre del dia 5 a Sant Andreu de la Barca. La idea és trobar-nos abans per fer un àpat més o menys en condicions i acabar de perfilar el que serà l’itinerari i els tempos a seguir durant la marató. També és moment d’estrenar l’equipació d’enguany, disseny exclusiu de samarretes by Victor Sanz!

Ens posem en carretera direcció a Lleida i deixem enrere Sant Andreu. Aprofito aquest espai, i crec que parlo en nom de tot el grup, per mostrar tota la nostra solidaritat amb la comunitat educativa d’aquesta vila arran dels vergonyosos atacs patits al llarg de les últimes setmanes. Des d’aquestes línies us diem que no esteu sols!

De camí cap a Lleida toca fer parada per sopar. Tot va amb normalitat, més enllà de que el restaurant escollit inclou Cobaia al Forn com a segon plat del menú…estranyament ningú no escull rosegador com a plat principal de l’àpat nocturn…particularment em quedo amb ganes de veure com la serveixen…

Un cop sopats enfilem cap a la primera localització. Aquesta primera parada és molt important quan fas una cursa com aquesta. La localització nocturna (o les localitzacions nocturnes) han de permetre treure les màximes espècies de nocturnes (mussols i caprimulgus) possibles sense haver de recórrer a les últimes hores del dia per empaitar-los, quan el temps escassejarà, tots anirem molt més cansats i cada espècie pot suposar un sobre esforç.

A les 00:07 arribem a la primera localització, dins territori aragonès. Abans no baixem del cotxe ja sumem la primera espècie: Xot (Otus scops). Perfecte. Aparquem i escoltem al voltant. Un parell de rossinyols (Luscinia megarhynchos) canten a la foscor acompanyats d’un parell de xots. Deu minuts d’escolta no produeixen res més. Hi ha un punt de nerviosisme…Un torlit (Burhinus oedicnemus) reclama en la distància però no alleugera la pressió. De cop, al lluny, un siboc (Caprimulgus ruficollis) canta. Molt bé. Enguany als Caprimulgus els hi ha costat d’arribar des d’Àfrica però a nosaltres amb un ja en tenim prou. Tot seguit una cria de mussol banyut (Asio otus) reclama des d’una taca de pins llunyana. Només ens en falta un. I arriba. Una òliba (Tyto alba) fa el seu reclam característic en passar per sobre nostre. Perfecte!

Ens movem una mica. Fem una mica de prospecció per mirar de trobar uns mussols emigrants (Asio flammeus) que es mouen per la zona, sense sort. No tenim massa temps i toca parar orella en una llacuneta propera. En la distància se senten més rossinyols però també rascló (Rallus aquaticus), cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis), polla d’aigua (Gallinula chloropus) i fotja (Fulica atra) reclamant. Però se sent un altre reclam així ens movem una miqueta i escoltem millor per esclarir i si, tenim un rascletó (Porzana parva) a la llacuna. Això és excel·lent perquè és una mica inesperat. Però encara tenim més, perquè un bitó (Botaurus stellaris) canta unes quantes vegades darrera la sorollada de rossinyols que canten des dels tamarius! Anem molt i molt bé, tot i que ens queda molt per patir. Cal perseverar!

Fem un curt recorregut un cotxe per mirar de trobar un dels ducs (Bubo bubo) que viuen a la vora. Voltegem un territori. Els ducs acostumen a estar per aquí però no els podem trobar.. Decidim fer una passejada per la zona, aviam si tenim molta sort i els fem moure. Res. En comptes d’això sentim, des del turó, un altre bitó cantant en un estany diferent de l’anterior!! Plaga de bitons… Tornem tots a la furgo. Amb tot ja són quasi les dues. Toca començar a moure’s cap al Pirineu. Aquí hem fet bo i massa!

De camí cap a la Vall Ferrera fem una paradeta ràpida a prop de Tremp. En un paisatge de màquia i roureda fem una escolta ràpida que ens permet sumar gamarús (Strix aluco). De fet, en sentim 3! L’enganyapastors (Caprimulgus europaeus), l’altre objectiu de la parada, no apareix. Preocupació menor, al vespre. Seguim.



En Ramiro Aibar i en Víctor Sanz gaudint del primer escorxador (Lanius collurio) de l’any moments abans de marxar cap a Collegats.


Arribem a algun punt de la Vall Ferrera i fem escolta. Són quasi les 5:00. Deu minuts i els ding! de la becada (Scolopax rusticola) anuncia el seu vol al nostre voltant. Les llunes de Júpiter són testimonis del seu vol feixuc mentre continuem sondejant el silenci a la recerca de més espècies. Hi ha una mica de cansament però la temperatura és agradable i la nit està sent profitosa. Tot i així ja queden molt lluny les nits sense dormir de quan érem més joves.

Cap a un quart de sis comencen a cantar els Túrdids. Tord comú (Turdus philomelos), griva (Turdus viscivorus) i merla (Turdus merula) són dels primers. Una mallerenga petita (Periparus ater) molt matinera es deixa sentir i els pit-rojos (Erithacus rubecula) no fan tard a les primeres tonalitats ocres del cel. Cotxa fumada (Phoenicurus ochruros), reietó (Regulus regulus), merla de pit blanc (Turdus torquatus) i mallerenga emplomallada (Lophophanes cristatus) són detectats en un lapse de pocs minuts. Però cap espècie de pes (amb el permís de la merla de pit blanc).

Decidim fer una caminada amunt, aviam què trobem. Hi invertirem massa temps, en part perquè la foscor fa que em desorienti (…) Però tindrà els seus fruits. Caminem vessant amunt en un paisatge dominat per un bosc de pins emmoquetat per nerets i nabius així que a ningú ens estranya quan en la profunditat del bosc sentim els típics sorolls d’un gall fer (Tetrao urogallus). Excel·lent! Caminem molt poquet més i fem una mica més d’escolta. La caminada pren tot el seu sentit quan el reclam d’un mussol pirinenc (Aegolius funereus) arriba a les nostres oïdes! Perfecte! El mussol pirinenc és una de les espècies més difícils per una marató així que poder-lo incloure és sempre un luxe i un orgull.

Decidim començar a baixar i fer una petita volta. Crasso error. Perdem temps. El rellotge corre, ja és dia obert. Pardal de bardissa (Prunella collaris), picot negre (Dryocopus martius), pinsà comú (Fringilla coelebs), gaig (Garrulus glandarius), cucut (Cuculus canorus), sit negre (Emberiza cia), picot garser gros (Dendrocopos major), bruel (Regulus ignacapillus), trencapinyes (Loxia curvirostra), cargolet (Troglodytes troglodytes) i raspinell comú (Certhia brachydactyla) són agradosament afegits a la llista de la nostra marató. Però ens falla el lluer (Spinus spinus). Nidificant escàs i localitzat al Pirineu, aquesta espècie acostuma a ser fàcilment detectable a la localització on som. Però no avui, no ara.



Llucareta (Serinus citronella) mascle lluint disseny alar a la Vall Ferrera.


Arribem tardíssim al cotxe. Marxem, marxem, marxem. Són les 7:15 però no cal entrar en pànic. De baixada, quasi a la carrera, hem vist i sentit llucaretes (Serinus citrinella). Hem tret quasi totes les espècies que havíem de treure. Quasi totes. Abans de marxar, però, fem un mos al costat del cotxe. Última oportunitat per lluer i raspinell pirinenc (Certhia familiaris) per unir-se a la festa. No ho faran…Marxem, marxem, marxem!

De baixada per la pista afegim tallarol de casquet (Sylvia atricapilla) i 1 puput (Upupa epops)… una puput en un bosc dens, molt dens de pi roig a uns 1300 metres d’alçària (!!!). Puput en hàbitat de picot negre… Per a mi, l’observació més curiosa de la jornada.

Parades ràpides en diferents prats. Alguna de gens productiva. Entrem a un prat i pam! un pinsà borroner (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) marxa volant de la capçada d’un bedoll. Parem per fer un cop d’ull. El prat ha estat pres per una horda de trencapinyes que sotmeten el prat als seus designis, desfoliant les capçades de bedolls, àlbers i qualsevol arbre que hi hagi. Què fan aquí baix? Repassem el prat. Parella de mallerenga carbonera (Parus major) i alguna mallerenga blava (Cyanistes cyaneus). Res de especial. Però vet aquí que surt un bitxac rogenc (Saxícola rubetra). Serà l’únic del dia! Continuem baixant. Següent prat. Sembla que res, tret d’un fantàstic colltort (Jynx torquilla) que s’arregla el plomatge al sol… De nou, l’únic del dia! Toca paradeta al riu: cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea), picot verd (Picus sharpei), mallerenga cuallarga (Aegithalos caudatus), tudó (Columba palumbus), orenetes cuablanca i vulgar (Delichon urbicum – Hirundo rustica) i també roquerols (Ptynoprogne rupestris). On és la merla d’aigua? És tard. Marxem.

Propera parada, a prop de Sort. De camí cap allà, típiques espècies de carretera. La primera, una merla d’aigua! Tres dels cinc la veiem en una curva. Bé. Garsa (Pica pica), Cornella (Corvus corone), pardal comú (Passer domesticus), colom roquer (Columba livia), falciot comú (Apus apus) i estornell vulgar (Sturnus vulgaris) “cauen” a diferents antenes i similars de Tremp. D’aquí agafem una petita carretera que ens fa guanyar alçada (però perdre temps, Déu meu que llarga que es fa…) i arribem a localització a les 9:00 tocades. S’ensuma el desastre del timing…

Però el lloc val la pena. En 14 minuts contats d’observació sumem: tallarols emmascarat (Sylvia hortensis), de garriga (S. cantillans) i vulgar (S. communis), escorxador (Lanius collurio), còlit gris (Oenanthe oenanthe), bitxac comú (Saxícola rubicola), merla roquera (Monticola saxatilis), cotoliu (Lullula arborea), passerell comú (Carduelis cannabina), Cadernera (Carduelis carduelis), mosquiter pàl·lid (Phylloscopus bonelli), hortolà (Emberiza hortulana), perdiu roja (Alectoris rufa), gralla de bec vermell (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), capsigrany (Lanius senator) i gratapalles (Emberia cirlus) tot i que els ocells quasi no canten aquest matí. Un escaneig ràpid del cel produeix un trencalòs (Gypaetos barbatus) i un grup d’abellerols (Merops apiaster) en migració ens passen a tocar. Primer rapinyaire del dia! I just en marxar una alosa (Alauda arvensis) ve a aterrar a la nostra esquena. Tot un detall. Agraïts.

Baixem. Encara anem tard. Propera parada; Collegats. Cuereta blanca (Motacilla alba) i Corb (Corvus corax) a la carretera. Voltors comuns (Gyps fulvus) al cel. Dins la furgo discutim si parar o no a Collegats. Guanya que parem, encara bo. De camí (encara no hi som?) una parella d’àguiles calçades (Aquila pennata) ens fa mig parar un moment. Són una fase clara i una fosca. Bé. Una mica més avall un aligot comú (Buteo buteo) es creua al cel amb una àguila marcenca (Circaetus gallicus). Sembla que hi ha moviment de rapinyaires.

Collegats. Tothom fora i mirada a l’infinit. Voltors. Milans negres (Milvus migrans) en migració cap al Nord. Aufrany (Neophron percnopterus) contra els penya-segats. Bon dia maco! Algú veu un falcó peregrí (Falco peregrinus). Poc després un esparver vulgar (Accipiter nisus) remunta amb uns voltors. Una probable àguila daurada (Aquila chrysaetos) se’ns escapa per mil·lèsimes. Qui l’ha vist no pot confirmar. Com la trobarem a faltar! Llàstima! Mallarengues al nostre voltant. Res de l’altre món fins que un picot garser petit (Dendrocopos minor) tamborileja a tocar del grup. 1, 2, 3 vegades. Molt bé! No hi comptàvem. Marxem, que fem tard!

Ja són tres quarts d’once quan enfilem cap al Sud. Destinació; estepes! Tenim una tiradeta…De camí, típiques (i no tant típiques) espècies de carretera. Entre Àger i Balaguer oriol (Oriolus oriolus), tórtora turca (Streptopelia decaocto) i ballester (Apus melba). Entre Balaguer i Àger estornell negre (Sturnus unicolor), cogullada vulgar (Galerida cristata), ànec coll-verd (Anas platyrhynchos), cruixidell (Emberiza calandra), gafarró (Serinus serinus), gralles (Corvus monedula), xoriguer comú (Falco tinnunculus), arpella vulgar (Circus aeruginosus), falcó mostatxut (Falco subbuteo) i aligot vesper (Pernis apivorus). Hi ha força rapinyaire al cel, el que és d’agrair en un dia com avui. Ja a prop de la nostra destinació un fantàstic astor (Accipiter gentilis) vola a prop d’una marcenca aturada en un torre d’electricitat.

Ja passem clarament de les 100 espècies. Arribem a les estepes. Ara l’objectiu és arribar ràpid a la primera localització i, com a mínim per a mi, menjar. La bateria interna està baixa i si volem rendir a la tarda bé hauríem de menjar alguna cosa! A un parell de quilòmetres del lloc a on parem ja entrem en zona molt bona. Seguim sumant. Còlit ros (Oenanthe hispanica), Cogullada fosca (Galerida theklae), Guatlla (Coturnix coturnix), Pardal roquer (Petronia petronia), gaig blau (Coracias garrulus), tòrtora (Streptopelia turtur), trobat (Anthus campestris), calàndria (Melanocorypha calandra) i, just en aparcar, terrerola vulgar (Calandrella brachydactyla).



Merescut descans de l’equip a Monegros després d’un matí molt intens!


Fa sol i bastanta calor. Estem a uns 24ºC i, tot i que la previsió era de ruixats dispersos, només plou vitamina A. No hi ha massa activitat. Són les 13:20 quan ens aturem, no precisament la millor hora…Durant el quart que estem aturat només sumem milà reial (Milvus milvus). No són bones notícies. Les aloses becudes (Chersophilus duponti) que tenim bastant a prop no es deixaran sentir amb aquesta calor tant sobtada…

Ens movem. Tenim una llarga llista d’espècies i el temps és curt. Tombem i la perseverança ens premia amb increïbles observacions de terrerola rogenca (Calandrella rufescens). Fem unes quantes fotos. Val molt la pena. Seguim tombant però no hi ha quasi activitat. Anem a un raconet a on podem tenir sorpresa i bingo!, dues xurres (Pterocles orientalis) es mouen en un guaret. Seguim al guaret. Terreroles vulgars arreu i 3 xurres més, però sense senyals de les gangues (Pterocles alchata). No tenim més temps per a elles. Una llàstima!



Petita llicència fotogràfica el plena marató però és que aquesta terrerola rogenca (Calandrella rufescens) bé s’ho valia!


Ens movem uns quilòmetres. Una prospecció ràpida (molt ràpida) a una zona arbustiva produeix tallarol trencamates (Sylvia conspicillata). Una mica més enllà mussol comú (Athene noctua). Fem un cop d’ull a una colònia de xoriguer petit (Falco naumanni) però sense rastre d’ells. S’olora el pànic dins la furgo! Sense temps per a més baixem a uns tallats vora un riu. Última oportunitat per a un bon grapat d’espècies. El Delta de l’Ebre ens espera, ens crida! Parem al peu dels tallats i seguim afegint noves espècies. Un parell de bosquetes vulgars (Hippolais polyglotta) cantes a les bardisses vora el bosc de ribera. Verdum (Chloris chloris), rossinyol bord (Cettia cetti), tallarol capnegre (Sylvia melanocephala) i sit negre canten al voltant. A dalt del turó una tallareta cuallarga (Sylvia undata) fa un vol curt d’un arbust a un altre. Amb això n’hi ha prou. Als tallats raspem un parell de xixelles (Columba oenas) i un mascle d’esparver cendrós (Circus pygargus) ens passa per sobre. Ja són les 15:00. Hora de marxar!

Pugem a la furgo, 400 metres i hem de parar! 3 xoriguers petits volen als tallats. Així que aquí estàveu! Ara sí, marxem! Poc després un segon mascle d’esparver cendrós vola en paral·lel a la furgo. Silenci mentre tothom mira per les finestres. Quina meravella d’ocell…Anem cap al Sud. Hi ha qui aprofita per dormir. El dia està sent intens i fa estona que tenim la sensació d’anar tard. Ara és el moment de relaxar-se una mica. Uns esplugabous (Bubulcus ibis) en un lloc indeterminat ens marquen el camí a la terra baixa.



Moral alta en els trajectes. Aquí la comoditat del transport s’agraeix!


Passat Flix fem una paradeta de 3-5 minuts. Només sortir de la furgo una merla blava (Monticola solitarius) ens passa volant per sobre mentre un trist (Cisticola juncidis) va fent al cel. Repassem en busca de rapinyaires. Res. Corb marí gros (Phalacrocorax carbo) al Riu Ebre. Marxem.

-Espera.  Qué pasa?   -Rapaz en la torre de electricidad. Da la vuelta! Da la vuelta!

Tornem carretera amunt uns centenars de metres i sí, una àguila cuabarrada (Aquila fasciata) està aturada en una torre d’electricitat. Bé! De camí entre Flix i el delta no afegirem res de nou tret d’un falciot pàl·lid (Apus pallidus) que es deixa prou bé per ser identificat. Els nostres esforços (anar a 87km/hora en comptes de 95km/hora) per veure una oreneta cua-rogenca són debades…

Són les 17:35 quan arribem al Delta de l’Ebre. Aquí la desfilada d’espècies és ràpida i àmplia. Són a la zona Nord. Hem decidit que ens mourem de Nord a Sud. Martinet comú (Egretta garzetta), gavià argentat (Larus michahellis), pardal xarrec (Passer montanus), bernat pescaire (Ardea cinerea), cames llargues (Himantopus himantopus), gavina riallera (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), cabussó emplomallat (Podiceps cristatus) i capó reial (Plegadis falcinellus) són dels primers a caure.

Anem de camí a El Goleró. El nivell d’aigua està baix i està mig ennuvolat. És una bona combinació. Ens sentim contents i frescs, descansats. Hem arribat prou d’hora al Delta, el que ens garanteix temps per fer un cop d’ull a uns quants hot-spots. Tota la sensació d’estres que hem acumulat al llarg del matí es fon amb la brisa del mar per donar pas a un ritme compassat i natural d’anar sumant. El Goleró es mostra benèvol amb nosaltres però sense escarafalls. Gavines corses (Larus audouinii) i capblanques (Larus genei),  gavians foscos (Larus fuscus) i fumarells carablancs (Chlidonias hybridus) són evidents arreu. Gamba verda (Tringa nebularia), gamba roja vulgar (Tringa totanus), garsa de mar (Haematopus ostralegus), pigre gris (Pluvialis squatarola) i territ menut (Calidris minuta) són els primers limícols afegits a la llista. Al voltant nostre hi han molts xatracs comuns (Sterna hirundo), bastants de bec-llargs (Sterna sandvicensis), 2 de grossos (Hydroprogne caspia) i 1 de menut (Sternula albifrons). Als canyissars de darrera nostre canten balquers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) i boscarles de canyar (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Flamencs (Phoenicopterus ruber) i xibecs (Netta rufina) també es deixen veure. Una inspecció més detallada de la zona produeix becut (Numenius arquata), tètol cuabarrat (Limosa lapponica), corriol camanegre (Charadrius alexandrinus) i corriol gros (Charadrius hiaticula). Ens movem cap a l’Est i, en una parada per repassar limícols, ens sorprèn el cant d’un borcarler comú (Luscinia luscinioides). Una mica més enllà la sorpresa és més gran quan un blauet (Alcedo atthis) surt volant d’un pont per perdre’s en un canal. A la última parada aquí gaudirem de remena-rocs (Arenaria interpres) en lluent plomatge nupcial a més de sumar territ gros (Calidris canutus) i agró blanc (Egretta alba).



Els últims remena-rocs (Arenaria interpres) en pas són sempre els que llueixen un plomatge més espectacular. Aquest bé es va merèixer una paradeta!


Ha estat un bon començament. Bona part dels camps del Delta comencen a tenir aigua i es poden veure alguns limícols aquí i allà. La temptació de parar cada pocs camps és molt gran i de vegades no tenim més remei que fer-ho. De camí entre Goleró i Alfacada veiem valona (Tringa glareola), xivitona (Actitis hypoleucos), martinet ros (Ardeola ralloides) i curroc (Gelochelidon nilotica).

Un cop arribats a l’Alfacada ens acantonem a la torre, a on corre una brisa que ens va refredant a mesura que passen els minuts. Tots menys els més llestos baixarem gelats…El privilegiat punt d’observació ens permet sumar un bon grapat d’espècies: ànec blanc (Tadorna tadorna), ànec cullerot (Anas clypeata), griset (Anas strepera), batallaire (Philomachus pugnax), bec d’alena (Recurvirostra avosetta), mosquiter de passa (Phylloscopus troquillus), polla blava (Porphyrio porphyrio), martinet menut (Ixobrychus minutus) i martinet de nit (Nycticorax nycticorax). Des de dalt la torre repassem el mar, que se’ns mostra com un fantàstic desert blau amb alguna taqueta bec-llarga que es cabussa i torna a tirar amunt… Una potencial fotja banyuda (Fulica cristata) es deixa estimar durant quasi mig minut a Buda, davant per davant de la torre, però uns tamarius dificulten l’observació i no podem extreure una conclusió definitiva… al llarg de l’estona que estem dalt intentarem relocalitzar-la, debades. En baixar de la torre notem que les cames pesen. Estem cansats. Són més de les 18:30, no ens queda massa temps.



Últims moments de llum. Moments per comentar el dia, fer bromes, rascar alguna última espècie i menjar alguna cosa a les Salines de Sant Antoni. Feia fresca!


Tirem cap als Eucaliptus. Una ràpida inspecció dins el camping produeix xarrasclet (Anas querquedula), ànec cuallarg (Anas acuta), morell xocolater (Aythya nyroca) i ànec xiulaire (Anas penelope). Un cop fet el tràmit comentem si anar a l’arbreda de la zona d’acampada o a Riet Vell per migrants. Optem per Riet Vell i dóna un gran resultat: Papamosques gris (Muscicapa striata), mastegatatxes (Ficedula hypoleuca) i cotxa cua-roja (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) són tots afegits en 5 minuts junt amb una gavina capnegra (Larus melanocephalus) que reclama en el camp del costat. Bravo!

D’aquí volem a Sant Antoni, la nostra esperança per un grupet de limícols que semblen no voler aparèixer. De camí cap allà, ja amb el sol molt baix, apuntem un grupet de 7 tètols cuanegres (Limosa limosa). En arribats a les salines repassem bé cercant corriol petit (Charadrius dubius) o territ variant (Calidris alpina) però sense ser capaços de trobar cap d’aquestes espècies. Mentre sopem gaudint d’un màgic capvespre a les Salines de Sant Antoni encara sumem perdiu de mar (Glareola pratincola). Ens sentim genial. En part perquè un error al sumar ens fa pensar que hem superat de llarg les 200 espècies… En realitat estem una mica per sota.

Un cop acabats de sopar fem un parell de parades a la sortida del Delta, ja camí de Barcelona, per mirar de sumar l’enganyapastors. Però no surt. Al final decidim (bueno, jo ja estava bastant fora de combat) de provar sort a Sant Andreu de la Barca. Arribem justets, justets de temps. 23:47 comencem escolta…23:53 un enganyapastors canta a la vall que tenim a l’esquerra. Espècie número 196!

Tothom a dormir!


Com a resum crec que puc dir tranquil·lament en nom de tots el membres del grup que estem molt satisfets per aquesta edició, la primera en la que hem inclòs el Pirineu de Lleida en l’itinerari. De ben segur que no serà la última!

El timing se’ns ha anat una mica al Pirineu, en bona part per la passejada una mica massa llarga a primeríssima hora del matí. Això ha fet que no poguéssim tenir tot el temps que haguéssim volgut per explorar les estepes i, el que és pitjor, ens ha fet arribar a una hora que feia molt difícil sumar espècies com el sisó (Tetrax tetrax), especialment amb el sol picant tal i com ho feia al migdia! Però bueno, que consti que ja tenim la clau per superar-nos el 2019. Amb il·lusió!

En defitiva, que una cursa ornitològica pot ser molt divertida. No cal fer-se mala sang amb el que facin els altres equips (fins a cert punt) i és sempre molt millor si vas amb amics! Això sí, requisit indispensable, estar tocat de l’ala…

Com a últim apunt, un reconeixement especial a l’Oriol, un birder de només 11 anys que va gaudir com el que més, que ens va aguantar a tots 4 durant 24 hores i que de ben segur esdevindrà un naturalista de primera! Felicitats Oriol!


HORA INICI: 00:00                 HORA FINALITZACIÓ: 23:59                  INTEGRANTS EQUIP: 5


  1. Ànec blanc (Tadorna tadorna)
  2. Ànec xiulaire (Anas penelope)
  3. Ànec griset (Anas strepera)
  4. Xarxet (Anas crecca)
  5. Ànec coll-verd (Anas platyrhynchos)
  6. Ànec cuallarg (Anas acuta)
  7. Xarrasclet (Anas querquedula)
  8. Xibec (Netta furina)
  9. Morell xocolater (Aythya ferina)
  10. Gall fer (Tetrao urogallus)
  11. Guatlla (Coturnix coturnix)
  12. Perdiu roja (Alectoris rufa)
  13. Corb marí gros (Phalacrocorax carbó)
  14. Bitó (Botaurus stellaris)
  15. Martinet menut (Ixobrychus minutus)
  16. Martinet de nit (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  17. Martinet ros (Ardeola ralloides)
  18. Esplugabous (Bubulcus ibis)
  19. Martinet blanc (Egretta garzetta)
  20. Agró blanc (Ardea alba)
  21. Bernat pescaire (Ardea cinerea)
  22. Agró roig (Ardea purpurea)
  23. Cigonya blanca (Ciconia ciconia)
  24. Capó reial (Plegadis falcinellus)
  25. Flamenc (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  26. Cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  27. Cabussó emplomallat (Podiceps cristatus)
  28. Aligot vesper (Pernis apivorus)
  29. Milà negre (Milvus migrans)
  30. Milà reial (Milvus milvus)
  31. Trencalòs (Gypaetos barbatus)
  32. llistat en construcció. Us remeto al text per saber més 😉

Is April the best month for birding in North-East Spain?

Every little time we got requests of birdwatchers that, interested about coming to do some birdwatching in Catalonia, ask us about what it is the best time to come.

Well, this is always depending on what do you want to see… But it is not wrong to think on spring as being probably the best time for birdwatching. In the Mediterranean this means a combination of excellent, sunny weather with pleasant temperatures, high activity of the nesting species (resident or not) and tones of migratory birds in their way to Northernmost nesting grounds.

I personally love April. It is just because of the really good general birding. This is probably one of the best moments in the year for Crakes. And not talking about listen them, but talking on seeing them! Migration goes in excellent numbers along Mediterranean wetlands and, along with warblers, waders and raptors, it is always possible to enjoy Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) or Little Crakes (Porzana parva). Early April is also a good time to look for Iberian Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus ibericus) as they hang around in their way to their nesting grounds. Along the month waves of Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus) are to arrive to their nesting grounds. Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) are already defending their territories as they arrive as early as early-mid February.



Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) show up all along March and April in all kind of wetlands. Numbers are highly variable depending on the year. Image: Carles Olive




Egyptian Vultures keep expanding in Catalonia. They arrive as early as February. Image: Carles Oliver


By mid April Woodchat Shrikes (Lanius senator),  Spectacleds (Sylvia conspicillata), Subalpines (Sylvia cantillans) and Orphean Warblers (Sylvia hortensis) will be all at their nesting grounds, but it is mandatory to keep searching for not-that-common birds in migration that can easily include Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) along with some Balearic Flycatchers (Muscicapa tyrrhenica) to be discovered among the many Spotted Flycatchers (Muscicapa striata).



Western Subalpine Warblers (Sylvia cantillans) are a common migratory bird all along April. From 10th onwards they can also be found at their nesting grounds around. Image: Carles Oliver




Wood Warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) are exclusivelly migratory birds in Catalonia, an rather scarce! They normally are to be found in mixed migratory warblers flocks. Image: Carles Oliver


But probably the best is that all of that can be done while still enjoying on Wallcreepers (Tichodroma muraria) in the Pyrenees as they still goes up. They are not that “easy” to find as in winter but still is mandatory to check some spots! And now, while looking for them, it is likely yo see superb Common Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) or Rock Buntings (Emberiza cia) singing around!

In the wetlands, Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) keep going North and more active as never before so it gets easier to locate them, and Iberian Reed Buntings (Emberiza s. whiterby) are also showing well within its tiny range! Small flocks of waders and beautiful ducks such as Garganeys (Anas querquedula) can be seen in every wetland and you can enjoy male Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) going up with their splendid spring plomages. Few days ago we just got a mixed flock of Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) along with Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta), Ruffs and Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) only 30 minutes after enjoying a Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) singing right in front of us…



Garganeys (Anas querquedula) show up in good numbers all along April. Image: Carles Oliver




Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) in flowering steppe vegetation. April at its best. Image: Carles Oliver


No mention to the steppes… they are never as beautiful as are in April. And are really productive! Many areas are carpeted by yellow, red and white flowers and Little Bustards (Tetrax tetrax) sing in the middle of the flowers while flocks of Sandgrouses (Pterocles sp.) and Stone Curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) feed around. You will listen some 100s of Calandra Larks (Melonacorypha calandra) and Corn Buntings (Emberiza calandra)… you may think; “it would not be 100s!”. Yes, 100s

In the fields, flocks of Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava spp.) feed along with Pipits (meadow, tree, red-throated?), Great Spotted Cuckoos (Clamator glandarius) will always be really busy and noisy at this time while small parties of tiny Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanii) move up and down in the air…



Great Spotted Cuckoos (Clamator glandarius) are superb birds! Arriving along March, they are especially active in early April. Image: Carles Oliver


Yes, spring is here and, maybe is not that important whether April is the best moment to enjoy birds in Catalonia or not. It is still a wonderful time to come and enjoy!

Check out our birding trips at our contact us to design your birding adventure at

Marató Ornitològica 2016. Emberiza & cia Team

Número d’espècies: 162           Observadors: 4

Un any més ens hem animat a participar a la marató ornitològica. Amb un itinerari bastant estudiat i un equip amb molt ambient vam intentar batre el nostre propi rècord de 175 espècies, establert l’any 2015.

Els participants d’aquest any vam ser en Víctor Sanz, en Mike O´Neill, en Ramiro Aibar i un servidor, Carles Oliver. Aquest post en un resum de l’esperiència viscuda al llarg d’aquella jornada.


Els integrants d’Emberiza & cia d’enguany. D’esquerra a dreta: Victor Sanz, Carles Oliver, Mike O´Neill i Ramiro Aibar.


Vam escollir la data del dia 1 de Maig per a realitzar la marató, bàsicament perquè era la que més s’ajustava amb els nostres respectius calendaris laborals. Per segon any consecutiu visitaríem diferents localitzacions del Pirineu, Delta de l’Ebre i Franja de Ponent per tal d’aconseguir el major número d’espècies possibles.

Malauradament, la metereologia no va estar de part nostra. Al llarg de tota la jornada vam patir vent del Nord entre moderat i fort, que va fer molt incòmode l’observació d’ocells. A més a més, el fort vent va estar acompanyat, de matinada, per una intensa nevada al Pirineu, que va fer pràctimanent impossible assolir els objectius previstos a les localitzacions escollides. La neu també ens va acompanyar al Pirineu i, de fet, al llarg de tot el dia. Les temperatures van oscil·lar entre els -5ºC i els 12ºC, en un ambient més propi del mes de Febrer que no pas de començaments de Maig. 


Aquesta parella de cuabarrades ens va donar un bon espectacle i va merèixer una bona parada en el trajecte Delta de l’Ebre-Franja de Ponent. Imatge: Victor Sanz


La jornada la vam començar a la 13:44 a la Ronda de Dalt amb molta il·lusió i molt, molt orgullosos de les nostres samarretes (gràcies Víctor!). Un cop tots reunits i apilats els trastos en un dels vehicles vam fer una primera parada a peu de Ronda. Aquí ja vam poder comprovar les baixes temperatures (només 11ºC!!!) i la baixa activitat d’aus que seria la tònica general de jornada. 

Només vam poder sentir 3 Xots (Otus scops) i 1 Rossinyol comú (Luscinia megarhynchos). Malgrat els nostres esforços per sentir alguna cosa més, enguany l’Enganyapastors (Caprimulgus europaeus) va fallar a la seva cita habitual, sent la primera baixa del dia…

Una mica després de les 4:00 arribem a la nostra segona parada, a l’alt Pirineu. Aquí, sota una important nevada, vam fer diferents parades per escoltar nocturnes, amb un resultat totalment negatiu. Després d’una hora de intents sota la neu i el fort vent vam fer una petita escapada a la vall per intentar el Gamarús (Strix aluco) que sí que vam sentir (tímidament) malgrat el vent. Aquí també va cantar una Cotxa fumada (Phoenicurus ochruros).

De tornada a les alçades vam un últim intent per aquelles nocturnes més altimontanes, sense èxit. A l’albada ens van arribar els primers cants i reclams: Pit-roig (Erithacus rubecula), Griva (Turdus viscivorus), Pardal de bardissa (Prunella modularis), Pinsà comú (Fringilla coelebs), Mallarenga petita (Periparus ater), Tord comú (Turdus philomelos), Mallarenga emplollada (Lophophanes cristatus), Bruel (Regulus ignicapilla) i Raspinell comú (Certhia brachydactyla). 

Una miqueta més avançat el matí s’hi van sumar un segon grup, no tant matiner: Reietó (Regulus regulus), Picot verd (Picus sharpei), Picot garser gros (Dendrocopos major), Pica-soques blau (Sitta europea), Sit negre (Emberiza cia), Cucut (Cuculus canorus), Corb (Corvus corax), Merla (Turdus merula), Mosquiter comú (Phylloscopus collybita), Trencapinyes (Loxia curvirostra) i Llucareta (Carduelis citrinella). Van fallar algunes espècies però, tenint en compte les pèsimes condicions metereològiques, no ens podíem queixar!

De camí a la vall encara vam sumar alguna que altra espècie com la Cuereta blanca (Motacilla alba), el Tudó (Columba palumbus) o la Cornella negra (Corvus corone). Un cop arribats a la vall la nostra primera parada va ser en un petit estany que va ser molt, molt productiu. Aquí en Mike va veure una parella de Morell de plomall (Aythya fuligula) i, a prop seu, també hi havia Cigne mut (Cygnus olor), Ànec coll-verd (Anas platyrhynchos) i Ànec mandarí (Aix galericulata). Al voltant de l’estany hi havia Xivitona (Actitis hypoleucos) i Gamba verda (Tringa nebularia), una espècies gens habitual a la zona! A les arbredes del voltant hi vam afegir Gaig (Garrulus glandarius), Tallarol de casquet (Sylvia atricapilla), Verdum (Chloris chloris), Mastegatatxes (Ficedula hypoleuca), Mosquiter pàl·lid (Phylloscopus bonelli) i Mallarengues blava (Cyanistes caeruleus), carbonera (Parus major) i cuallarga (Aegithalos caudatus). 

La següent parada va ser uns quilòmetres més avall de vall. Aquí vam afegir a la llista Verderola (Emberiza citrinella), Gratapalles (Emberiza cirlus), Tallarol de garriga (Sylvia cantillans), Cargolet (Troglodytes troglodytes), Passerell comú (Carduelis cannabina) i una molt tardana Titella (Anthus pratensis). Aquí també vam veure els primers rapinyaires del dia, en concret Xoriguer comú (Falco tinnunculus), Milà negre (Milvus migrans) i Aligot comú (Buteo buteo). 

La última parada a la vall ens va reportar molts Voltors comuns (Gyps fulvus), Milà reial (Milvus milvus) a més a més de Cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea), Pardal roquer (Petronia petronia), Pardal xarrec (Passer montanus), Cadernera (Carduelis carduelis) i Roquerol (Ptynoprogne rupestris).

Martinet ros (Ardeola ralloides), un dels ardèids més comuns al Delta de l’Ebre

Squacco Heron

Abans d’enfilar fins a un coll de muntanya vam, però, decidir de fer una paradeta als afores d’un poble, en un lloc de petits camps de conreu que acostumen a ser molt productius. Va ser una de les decisions més encertades de la jornada, ja que amb prou feines bufava vent. 

Aquí vam poder afegir a llista Cotoliu (Lullula arborea), Bitxac comú (Saxicola rubicola), Bitxac rogenc (Saxicola rubetra), Garsa (Pica pica) i un molt aclamat Hortolà (Emberiza hortulana); el primer de l’any per a tots nosaltres! 

Un cop guanyada alçada vam comprovar les pèsimes condicions meterològiques, amb cops de vent molt fort que amb prou feines ens permetiren de sortir del cotxe. Malgrat això vam poder sumar alguns dels objectius principals, com Gralla de bec groc (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Gralla de bec vermell (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Còlit gris (Oenanthe oenanthe) i Merla roquera (Monticola saxatilis) amb un parell d’exemplars volant increïblement alt malgrat el vent. 

Algunes de les espècies que no van aparèixer i amb les que hi comptaven són, entre d’altres, Merla de pit blanc (Turdus torquatus), Lluer (Spinus spinus), Picot negre (Dryocopus martius), Trencalòs (Gypaetos barbatus), Grasset de muntanya (Anthus spinolleta), Pinsà borroner (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Alosa (Alauda arvensis) i Guatlla (Coturnix coturnix)…

Les últimes parades al Pirineu, abans de sortir “volant” cap al Delta, ens van reportar Tallarol gros (Sylvia borin), Esparver vulgar (Accipiter nisus) i Merla d’aigua (Cinclus cinclus), una espècie aquesta que només va poder gaudir en Víctor.

Cap al migdia vam arribar al Delta de l’Ebre. En sortir del Pirineu superàvem les 80 espècies, així que la cosa no anava tant malament… De camí cap al Delta vam sumar unes quantes espècies, pescades en vol com el Ballester (Apus melba) i la Cotorreta de pit gris (Myiopsitta monachus) a l’alçada de Sant Cugat o  les Orenetes vulgars (Hirundo rustica) i cuablanques (Delichon urbicum).

En arribar al Delta hi havia una munió de Falciots negres (Apus apus) i Orenetes de ribera (Riparia riparia) per tota la zona. En arribar allà i malgrat el vent, ràpidament vam sumar un bon grapat d’espècies com Martinet ros (Ardeola ralloides), Martinet blanc (Egretta garzetta), Esplugabous (Bubulcus ibis) i Agró roig (Ardea purpurea) així com Cames llargues (Himantopus himantopus), Fumarell carablanc (Chlidonias hybridus), Curroc (Gelochelidon nilotica), Gavià argentat (Larus michahellis), Gavina riallera (Chroicephalus ridibundus) i Gavina corsa (Larus audouinii). 

Un petit passeig al voltant d’un canyissar no va donar els fruits dessitjats però encara i així Boscarla de canyar (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Polla blava (Porphyrio porphyrio), Polla d’aigua (Gallinula chloropus), Fotja vulgar (Fulica atra), Arpella vulgar (Circus aeruginosus), Xibec (Netta rufina) i Cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis) no van fallar a la cita. 

En arribar a El Goleró vam veure un gran estol de +100 Xatrac comú (Sterna hirundo) acompanyats d’alguns Xatracs bec-llargs (Sterna sandvicensis). La zona, com és habitual, era ben plena de larolimícols. Aquí hi havien alguns exemplars de Gavina capblanca (Chroicocephalus genei) i +120 Territs becllargs (Calidris ferruginea) acompanyats de Territs variants (Calidris alpina) i Territs de tres dits (Calidris alba) junt amb alguns Territs menuts (Calidris minuta) i nombrosos Corriols grossos (Charadrius hiaticula). A la llunyania hi havien estols de Flamencs (Phoenicopterus roseus). Aquí també vam poder veure l’únic Trist (Cisticola juncidis) de la jornada a més del primer estol d’Abellerols (Merops apiaster) en migració.

Vam continuar ruta pel Delta apropant-nos a l’Aufacada per tal de mirar de sumar algunes espècies més, sobretot de limícols. Abans d’arribar vam poder veure nombrosos Capons reials (Plegadis falcinellus) i +30 Perdius de mar (Glareola pratincola) i Cueretes grogues (Motacilla flava) junt amb estols d’Estornells negres (Sturnus unicolor) i alguna Cogullada vulgar (Galerida cristata). En arribar a l’Aufacada vam poder sumar Bec d’alena (Recurvirostra avosetta), Ànec blanc (Tadorna tadorna), Papamosques gris (Muscicapa striata), Cotxa cua-roja (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Ànec griset (Anas strepera) però res més…

Una mica decebuts per la baixa tònica general de la jornada vam fer una última visita al Delta, a les Salines de Sant Antoni. Aquí vam veure les primeres Gambes rojes vulgars (Tringa totanus) de la jornada junt amb Corriol camanegre (Charadrius alexandrinus) i +15 Remena-rocs (Arenaria interpres). Aquí en Mike va localitzar el nostre únic tètol del dia, un cuabarrat (Limosa lapponica) i en Victor va localitzar al seu costat un Gamba roja pintada (Tringa erythropus) i un Xatrac gros (Sterna caspia) una mica més enllà.

Sense més temps per a dedicar-ne al Delta, vam marxar en direcció a Los Monegros. Anàvem una mica moixos ja que, també al Delta, havien fallat moltes, moltes espècies com el Martinet de nit (Nycticorax nycticorax) -tot i que ens vam aturar davant una colònia…-, Martinet menut (Ixobrychus minutus), Xatrac menut (Sternula albifrons) a més de nombroses espècies migratòries comunes com el Batallaire (Philomachus pugnax), la Valona (Tringa glareola) o el Pigre gris (Pluvialis squatarola)…

Així doncs vam enfilar carretera amunt. Durant el trajecte havíem de mirar de sumar dues espècies des del cotxe mateix, i ho vam aconseguir. Primer 1 Oreneta cua-rogenca (Cecropis daurica) ens va passar per sobre i, poc després, en Ramiro va localitzar 2 Àligues cuabarrades (Aquila fasciata) volant molt a prop de la carretera i barallant-se amb una marcena, en el que va ser un dels highlights de la jornada! Una mica més endavant de la carretera ens van passar fins a 3 Oriols (Oriolus oriolus), genial!

La moral va pujar ràpidament i encara ho va fer més quan, als voltants de Lleida, en Ramiro va fer parar el cotxe per un rapinyaire volant sobre els camps… era un Esparver d’espatlles negres (Elanus caeruleus). Fantàstic! Vam poder gaudir una miqueta del bitxo abans no marxés en direcció Sud. Ara la moral la teníem alta!


Esparver d’espatlles negres (Elanus caeruleus), un nidificant escàs a la Plana de Lleida. Imatge: Carles Oliver

Black-winged Kite

En arribar a la zona de Monegros a explorar la moral va tornar a baixar. Aquí també bufava el vent! Malgrat tot algunes espècies van començar a sortir: Cigonya blanca (Ciconia ciconia) i Rossinyol bord (Cettia cettia) van ser els primers a afegir-se a la llista a la zona. 

Una primera parada en uns tallats per cercar Merla blava (Monticola solitarius), Còlit negre (Oenanthe leucura), Tallareta cuallarga (Sylvia undata) i Xixella (Columba oenas) va ser totalment negatiu i només vam poder sumar Cogullada fosca (Galerida theklae) i Còlit ros (Oenanthe hispanica)…

Clarament desanimats vam començar a explorar l’estepa. Aquí la cosa no va estar gens facil però encara vam poder salvar Capsigrany (Lanius senator), Terrerola rogenca (Calandrella rufescens), Terrerola vulgar (Calandrella brachydactyla), Calàndria (Melanocorypha calandra), Guatlla (Coturnix coturnix), Botxí meridional (Lanius meridionalis) i Torlit (Burhinus oedicnemus). Els rapinyaires estaven desaparescuts… En Mike va localitzar un Mussol comú (Athene noctua) i va esclatar l’alegria, fins i tot patíem per aquesta espècie!!

Una mica més d’exploració va afegir Tallarol trencamates (Sylvia conspicillata), Xoriguer petit (Falco naumanii), Sisó (Tetrax tetrax) i Xixella a la nostra llista.


Estols de Capons reials (Plegadis falcinellus) són facilment observables al llarg de la carretera que mena a l’Aufacada. Imatge: Carles Oliver

Morito - Capó reial    

A última hora del vespre ens vam dirigir a un riu proper. Aquí, in extremis, vam afegir Falcó mostatxut (Falco subbuteo), Bosqueta vulgar (Hippolais polyglotta) i Tallarol capnegre (Sylvia melanocephala), del que només vam veure una femella en vol just en el moment de fer-nos la foto de grup!!!

Passat vespre ens vam apropar al mateix lloc que l’any 2015 havia produit Siboc (Caprimulgus ruficollis), Òliba (Tyto alba) i Mussol banyut (Asio otus) amb extrema facilitat però malgrat la nostra espera i esmerçar-hi molta atenció i energia, no vam aconseguir res…

El trajecte final cap a Barcelona va ser com una mena de miratge en el que quatre zombis compartien vehicle i monosíl·labs…

Així que la cursa va acabar amb 162 espècies. La conclusió final és que les dures, molt dures condicions meteorològiques (més pròpies del mes de Febrer que del Maig) van fer que no gaudissim a plaer de cap de les localitzacions i, tot i passar una bona estona, hem de tenir un pla d’emergència per a dies de vent!!

Com a highlights del dia ens queden l’Hortolà, l’Esparver d’espatlles negres i la parella de cuabarrades tenint més que paraules amb la marcenca. 

Esperem que l’any que ve la temperatura pugi fins als 20ºC en algun moment del dia 😉 Sense vent, esperem millorar, de llarg, els resultats d’enguany!!!

From Wallcreeper to Yelkouan Shearwater; amazing 2-days winter trip

This is a short trip report about a 2-days birding trip from Barcelona on 26th and 27th February, 2016. Early in the morning I picked my costumer, Jon, from his hotel close to the airport. We firstly drove North of Barcelona, to the Sant Llorenç de Munt Natural Park, a medium-size natural park protecting low bushered hills, pine woods and rocky slopes. Here we explored the area around Talamanca, where impressive conglomerate formations are a good winter ground for Wallcreepers. We started to walk the path up, crossing evergreen forests and low scrublands. Some Ravens called around while distant Long-tailed Tits were calling in the forest. We walked directly to an area where I was having a Wallcreeper with other costumers just two days ago. The planning was to arrive to a view point where one Wallcreeper was appearing these weeks early in the morning, sometimes really close. Even far before arriving to this view point qe spotted a favolous Wallcreeper really close in the conglomerate rock. The bird was not really in a cliff but in a huge rock, offering exellent chances for photograph the bird. Jon was really fast in taking his camera and got beautiful shots on the bird in the rock skyline! The bird showed up for some minutes, slowly creeping and looking for invertebrates under the small rocks in the slope and flickering the wings (but not so much). After some minutes the bird just kept walking until it was disappearing to the opposite side of the rock.


Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) showing really well in the conglomerate landscape around Barcelona. Image by Jonathan Mercer

Very happy about this first sight we kept walking up to look for the flock of Alpine Accentors overwintering there. After some minutes looking for the birds we spot a minimum of 14 of them in barren slope. As usual in this species, we enjoyed close views on them, and great shots! We were having a really productive morning so far… The dense undergrowth immediatly around gave us excellent views on Firecrest, Crested Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper. Woodlarks were singing around, really active.


Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris), the second top bird appearing in the morning, so far! Image by Jonathan Mercer

We were back in the car at 11:30 so I drove back to Barcelona. Now it was time to explore the Llobregat Delta, a small but awesome wetland immediatly around the Barcelona International Airport facilities. It was 12:30 when we get inside the Natural Reserve, expecting to have some good birds (and lunch) inside the hides. We were directly going to one of the hides where a male Moustached Warbler had been showing really well the last two weeks. After a pair of minutes scanning the reeds, we listened the calls of a Moustached and immediatly after that the warbler was appearing and started to sing. The bird was showing in a small patch of reeds showing extremelly well and being really territorial against any other birds moving in the reed; Chiffchaff, Great Tit & Reed Bunting were all chased by the warbler. A Cetti’s Warbler moving in the area ( and showing well) was surprisingly not disturbed by the Moustached.


Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) is probably one of the most tricky warblers in Europe.We enjoyed go-away views on the bird! Image by Jonathan Mercer

Well, the visit to the wetland was already a success but this was only the beginning! Just beside the patch of reeds where the Moustached Warbler was still singing and preening quite high in the reeds a Bluethroat was briefly showing in previous days so I invested some time checking this tiny spot expecting to have a Bluethroat. And we were again lucky because a wonderful male Bluethroat came out of the vegetation and showed out very well, but briefly. Other species appearing in this hide included Green Sandpiper, Common Pochard, Common Teal, Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Shoveler, Little Grebe and Water Pipit. We then tried the second hide, which provided an excellent combination of waterfowl. An amazing combination of birds at close range that included 12 Greater Flamingoes, 2 Spoonbills (1 adult + 1 immature), 1 Glossy Ibis in summer plumage and 2 drake Garganeis! Some other really good birds were present as well. A minimum of 5 Purple Swamphens were out of the reeds, 2 Ruff were feeding on the marsh along with 2 Dunlin. Several Common Snipes were testing the mud looking for food while a pair Water Pipits walked around in the shallow water. In one of the islands in the marsh a Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing mixed flock was roosting. A good variety of ducks was also noticed, this time including also Shelduck and Eurasian Wigeon. In the mud, 2 Little Ringed Plovers ran up and down, the first of the year! Up in the air, a big flock of swallows was flying over the marsh. Crag Martin was the most common but we also counted at least 7 House Martins, some Barn Swallows and at least 2 Sand Martins, not bad! A pair of Kingfishers crossed in front the hide, but didn’t stop. In the reeds, another Moustached Warbler was singing but unfortunately didn’t show at all.


Thousands of crake Mediterranean Gulls (Larus melanocephalus) like this one were showing during the weekend. Image by Jonathan Mercer

It had been a wonderful trip so far, but it was time to drive down to Ebro Delta. Our time in Llobregat Delta was longer than expected (because of the excellent birding there) but we still had time to spot a pair of interesting birds at Ebro Delta. As normally happening in Ebro Delta, birds were appearing just arriving. Cattle EgretsCommon Sandpipers and Kingfishers were everywhere. We did a first spot to check the Ebro Delta northern bay. There we enjoyed a huge flock of thousands of Mediterranean Gulls, many of them showing their lovely breeding plomage. On the sea we could see our first Balearic Shearwaters, being a good start for what it have to come the next day. About 20 Black-necked Grebe were in the bay along with several Great Crested Grebe and, among them, 1 Slavonian Grebe! a rather rare bird that South. Soon after Jon spotted 1 Razorbill, another good bonus!!! We then moved to a new location not far from there. Here we fast recorded a good number of waders: Greenshank, Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and even 2 Little Stints in only 10 minutes. Along with them in the shallow salt water there were various Slender-billed Gull and a good number of LBB Gull. Flocks of Glossy Ibises were flying over us going towards their roosting place while Greater Flamingoes (hundreds) were feeding around. Despite the poor light we still spent ten minutes in a fresh water lagoon, expecting to have a Greater Bittern flying over the reeds. Unfortunately no Bittern was appearing but tens of Purple Swamphens were seen (and heard) appearing from the reeds. In the edge of the water, really close, a pair of Bluethoats were calling and we enjoyed really close views of a female moving by the edge of the water. A wonderful end for an awesome day! When getting inside the car we still listened a distant Moustached Warbleer singing in the reeds…

The next morning we left Ebro Delta quite early in the morning. We had to be in Tarragona harbour at 9:00 in the morning since the sea trip run by GEPEC was leaving at this time. Unfortunately we had no time to enjoy a bit more the huge variety of birds living in Ebro Delta; next time! 


Once out of the harbour we soon spotted some beautiful Audouin’s Gulls along with several Lesser Black-backed Gulls (intermedia and graellsi races) as well as many Black-headed Gulls. At least 4 Atlantic Gannets were also appearing (showing a good variety of plomages, by the way!). It was not long until we saw the first of many Balearic Shearwaters flying around or flying in the back of the boat along with the tens of gulls that were following us. After some minutes we had our first Skua. A Parasitic Jaeger (dark form) that showed well but shortly in our side of the boat. Soon after a Great Skua was also showing really well, attacking Mediterranean or Audouin’s Gulls. The flocks of Balearic Shearwaters flying around the boat were also producing at least a pair of the more scarce Yelkouan Shearwaters! Also a really good bird.


Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), critically endangered, has its main winter grounds in Southern Catalonia & València. Image by Jonathan Mercer

The last part of trip was probably the best as we still enjoyed gorgeous views on all good birds plus a wonderful Pomarine Skua, a really scarce bird during winter in Catalonia (thought we already had one in January on one of our trips!). Along with the Pomarine, at least another two Great Skuas were also showing well and had really good “bonxie” fights!!


Great Skuas (Stercorarius skua) showed that well in the sea trip. Image by Jonathan Mercer

We still invested some time scanning for scarce species or early arrivals (thinking about Scolopi’s Shearwater or Mediterranean Storm Petrel). No any good bird was appearing but we were enthusiastic after a wonderful sea trip.  Not easy to have three species of Skuas in the Med, thought!! After having lunch we just enjoyed a pair of hours of birding in the Llobregat Delta, where we were having mostly the same species that we already had the day before. Well, two really close, summer plomaged, Black-tailed Godwits were also a good bonus A pair of minutes of car were invested to arrive to the airport…. and was the end of a wonderful 2-days trip!!!!


Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), a scarce bird in winter around Tarragona harbour. Image by Jonathan Mercer



This gorgeous Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus) was a good bonus in the sea trip, being a rare winter bird in Catalonia. Image by Jonathan Mercer

Just want to thank Jon for sharing some of the many, many excellent shots we had during the weekend!

Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) group display, an uncommon behaviour

The Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) is a medium size member of the Otidae family of birds. The range of this bustard in Europe is concentrated in the Iberian Peninsula and France with smaller (relictual?) populations in some areas of Italy and Macedonia. As much as half of the world’s population of this bird lives in Russia and Central Asia, wintering in large numbers in Azerbayan. In Iberia the bird nests in traditional wheat field areas and in the few remaining patches of natural steppe. In winter, most of the birds moves to crops offering them green leaves (their main food during winter) such as alfalfa.


Little Bustards (Tetrax tetrax) in a classical winter flock

  During spring, Little Bustard males display in an individual lek, defending it agaisnt other males. In the lek, the males sing and do their famous “jumps” as an exhibition to other males and females. These jumps, about one metre high, have an important rule in indicating the hierarchy of the males and, at the same time, shows out their health. Little Bustards, as an interesting point from most of their relatives, don’t display in comunal leks. This is an important behaviour difference and it is probably the result of a predation press over comunal leks (Little Bustards are sensitive to predation from Foxes). That’s why is so uncommon to see different males to display together when being in a flock. The past 25th October we could see, during one of our trips, over 12 different males displaying in an alfalfa field! Both the date and the number of males involved makes this sight simply unique. At 10:20 we located a flock of over 40 Little Bustards in the Lleida Steppes, near Balaguer. The flock contained males, females and 1st winter birds.   tmp_20151025-_MG_2851ret1844806311

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Two images showing the awesome interaction of these males. The image above shows two males displaying in a way that reminds the close related Houbara Bustard. The image below shows two males “jumping” while a third male (far left) shows a clear pre-jumping behaviour. Images by Josep Call

After 20 minutes of observation we started to see how some of the birds were taking a part from the flock. They looked like being all males. About 10:45 they started to make their typical jumps, starting the juveniles and following the adult males. It was a lot of ritualised agressivity among the males and even some fights were seen (see photos). The figths were preceded by long seconds of tension with the two males involved standing up side by side, in a typical behaviour of the males when defending their leks against an invasor male.


A fight involving two males. A quite uncommon behaviour, more likely to happen during March. Image by Josep Call

The scene was about 30 minutes long and at least 12 different males were “displaying”. See the video posted in youtube by following this link: