Ringing in Vietn… Ebro Delta

19 11 2012

“How many senses are needed to obtain a sense of species?”

– Anthony McGeehan, Siberian Chiffchaffs – In from the cold. Birding World 289.

The Montseny mountains were beautiful, but their effect in me has not held out more than 5 days. After all the week working in front of the computer, I still missed the fall. Fortunately, I had to ring all the weekend at Ebro Delta, maybe the best place within a 3h radius to enjoy diversity and migration.

The weather forecast predicted rain, always exciting when you are ringing, so I expected something good. However, as soon as I reached the Canal Vell Biological Station, the guy who had been ringing the previous days alerted me about the coot shooting planned in the lagoon for the day after. Bad news.

Andrea S. & Andrea G. (aka The Andreas) would came with me but Andrea S. arrived late at night, so we had to pick her up at the train station. Thanks to that, we were able to see thousands of crabs recklessly crossing the road, but specially a stunning short-eared owl ripping a mouse.

The day after, the Biological Station seemed the fucking Vietnam, with more than 200 guys armed to the teeth and shooting coots on the quiet. In the middle of that mess, we caught a few birds, most of them chiffchaffs. Among them, a nice Siberian-like with the whole set of features, including the call. All-dark bill and legs, no yellow in the upper-parts, complete white/cream eye-ring, warm cheeks, green primary edges, short wing… Interesting to see, but I would had been happier with an obvious and well-defined yellow-browed warbler.

Yesterday it was another hard day in the field, with scattered-showers all day long and a few birds in the mist-nets. The lagoon was almost empty of birds. After the hunt, some of them had gone and some of them were dead. Incredibly, today lots of coots had already come back, together with teals and wigeons. The sun appeared again and the birds started to fall into the nets. My time at Ebro Delta expired at 12AM, but I have had time enough to catch another Siberian-like with a wing length even shorter. It didn’t stop calling when I was aging it; it’s worth to underline that fact since most of putative “whatever” I had catch like to go away quietly. In opposite of the previous bird, that one had not the bill completely black. The rest of the characters matched well. Nice days, but more to come…

I missed the Fall

11 11 2012

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”

– Albert Camus

One of the few things absent in the Canaries is the deciduous forest. There is a total lack of deciduous trees and the color of the forest is always green when seen from above. As I already told in the post Leaf’s life, there is a huge variation in the yellow-red gamma present in leafs already fallen to the ground and it’s in that stage when you can notice the changes in coloration.

Last Wednesday, as soon as I landed at el Prat airport, I already thought about visiting the Montseny mountains, where the only Atlantic forest close to Barcelona grow in the high north face. The beech trees must be red and the rosebushes plenty of thrushes. After too many months missing them, it would be also nice to see bullfinches, nuthatches, marsh tits and all these northern species. Moreover, Andrea and Helena encouraged me to go out on yesterday. They wanted to see passerines and I wanted to see a beautiful place (for the first time it wasn’t the opposite!) so El Montseny was a good option.

The first views we got when we arrived early in the morning where nice, but not the bests of the day. The first redwings and siskins were feeding on rosebushes fruits but there was not much activity since it was a bit windy. The next stop was entering the Santa Fe beech forest. Here the landscape was what I was looking for. The opened areas with thistles were plenty of chaffinches, greenfinches, goldfinches an among them at least 3 marsh tits.

Then, it was the time to go up the high mountain. El Turó de l’Home is the top of the Montseny and the closest place from Barcelona to find some species from the highs. A few minutes after parking the car, we saw a bird foraging on the road side which was a nice citril finch. There was a constant flux of cyclists that flushed it, but the bird came back each time. A female alpestris ring ouzel was sat in a rock, but only for a while.

The landscape from there allowed us to compare the different chorology between the north (beech forest) and the south face (oaks mixed with some conifers). In both cases simply stunning.

Almost in the top, we saw a flock of up to 6 alpine accentors. It’s nice to see such an approachable and localized species, always grateful and cooperative! 4 more citril finches also flew over.

In that moment, we had already been in a beech wood and in a high mountain opened area, so we didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, Robert Manzano was checking the beach at Malgrat de Mar and he found a nice 1st winter male snow bunting. I turned around and set off for Malgrat. When we arrived, Robert had not seen the bird for 10 minutes, but we managed to find it in the same area. It’s a local rarity but, above all, is a beautiful bird. Many thanks Robert!

Carried by the water

2 11 2012

“If you think it’s going to rain, it will”

– Clint Eastwood

In my last 2 days at El Hierro, I found my 2nd Spotted sandpiper of the week, but I felt I needed something new. I had seen only one of that (sometimes not) Spotted beauties before that fall but I still had a lot of Nearctic waders to see so I saw the 2nd individual as a lost chance to had found something different.

The news about Sandy coming from the States made me presage some arrivals so I stepped up my efforts checking the ponds. Beneharo, a friend of mine, had found a lesser yellowlegs in southern Tenerife but, when I came late in the afternoon, the bird was not there. Beneharo came the day after, early in the morning, and it was not there too. So… if I wanted to see something interesting, I would had to find it by myself. Anyway, the wind was the right one, it was rainy and foggy and maybe it has been that weather together with the dates what have been encouraging me to go out most of days.

Today, I had planned to check most of southern ponds and shores together with Jacobo and Sara. The day started with the typical stuff: Ringed plovers, whimbrels, turnstones… but 2 dunlins and a sanderling made me dream. The beach was plenty of things carried by the water. Sea-shells, algae and even quite a lot of that nice myctophid, probably Diaphus dumerilii (thank you Rupert!).

In Las Galletas harbor, I was able to take the best pictures in history of the shy Barolo’s shearwater (Pardela chica in Spanish). Must be the best name for a research vessel!
Moreover, the color of the rocks at el Médano beach was specially stunning with a clouded sky and a storm coming from the southwest. This picture (taken by Sara) demonstrates that fact.
When I reached the place where the yellowlegs was, I was sure there must be something. The first bird I’ve seen has been a redshank, for sure the same I had seen the last day I had been there, looking for the yellowlegs. However, today the redshank had its yellow-legged partner and a White-rumped sandpiper had joined the party. It’s hard to see two species of American wader together in that side of the Atlantic and that image made me think about Ponta Delgada, in the Azores. It must be something like this, mustn’t it?

Still 3 days to go…

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