The change

11 03 2012

Nice day at the ponds. A bit of seawatching at Punta del Hidalgo to take off: an adult Audouin’s gull (rare in the Canaries), about 100 Cory’s seharwaters and 1 gannet. Plenty of turnstones feeding in the rocks together with some common sandpipers and 3 whimbrels. I still miss a Barolo’s…

Later in the afternoon, during the typical tour-of-the-ponds at Tejina, I felt maybe the most noticeable change since I’m there, of course due to migration.

In the first pond, sleapy herons and egrets started to congregate around, while night herons were waking up. I had not seen catle egrets yet, and the roost was plenty of them. Where do they pass the day? The only surprise here apart from the catle egrets was a purple heron that flew over, in that case closer to us. It landed around another pond, but it was not here when we went there. Instead of the heron, there were my firsts little ringed plovers of the year. In the last pond, the 3 wintering spoonbills, one of them ringed in Germany, a greenshank and 3 coots. The last day there was only one.


Encouraged by that new arrivals, we went to Valle Molina. The pond is almost dry and looks good for waders. There was a dunlin, a ringed plover (both my first), 3 little ringed plovers and the typical flock of grey herons. It’s nice to see all that birds from the car…


Two seawatching points

28 02 2012

Everytime I’ve been living in the same place for more than a month, I’ve needed a place to seawatch. When I choose the Canary Islands, I thought this would not be a problem, since this is an island and the sea is everywhere. However, not all the capes or breakwaters are the same. 

Looking at the shape of Tenerife island and bearing in mind birds are going northwards in this season, the southern coast must be better than the northern one, but the Kittiwakes I saw the first day at Punta del Hidalgo made me think that maybe birds are passing all around. I was not convinced at all, so I went to Playa de las Teresitas on saturday and did an hour of seawatching that produced what follows:

  • Gannet: 28
  • Cory’s shearwater: 12
  • Manx shearwater: 2
  • Leach’s storm petrel: 1
  • Sandwich tern: 2
  • Bar-tailed godwit: 23 (in one flock)

In comparison, one hour at Punta del Hidalgo on yesterday morning:

  • Cory’s shearwater: 79
  • Manx shearwater: 1

So it seems Punta del Hidalgo is a good place for birds breeding here, but not to see spring  migration. Having checked that, I still don’t know which of them would be better for a Barolo’s shearwater…

Some gulls from Barcelona harbour

14 02 2012

There is a 1st winter Herring gull wintering in Barcelona harbour, close to Maremagnum shopping centre. Image

Moreover, a caspian-like gull which definetely it’s not.

All of them, just before moving south, heading for some Macaronesian stuff…

The shearwater problem in the Mediterranean (II)

8 01 2012

The other species of shearwater breeding in the Mediterranean is the Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea), formerly known as Cory’s shearwater. The split between Cory’s (nowadays the name of the atlantic subspecies borealis) and Scopoli’s is close to be admited by all the taxonomic comitees. The morphologycal differences are quite visible in the field and some catalan observers are already waiting for the first Cory’s for Catalonia.

However, Martínez-Abrain et al 2002 suggested that there are some Cory’s shearwater breeding in the Columbretes islands, in the Mediterranean sea, although there is not data enough to evaluate the genetic flow between both subspecies. As in the case of the Mediterranean shearwaters of Menorca, that rebel birds can explain the intergrades easyly observed when looking for a pure Cory’s in the Mediterranean or a pure Scopoli’s in the Atlantic. The first 4 pictures have been taken in the Mediterranean, in front of Valencia and show the diversity among mediterranean birds. The other pictures are from the Atlantic

Picture 1: This bird must be a pure Cory’s in my opinion. All the primaries are black in the underwing and the bill looks so thick, despite that character is difficult to judge in the field.Picture 2: Another pure bird in my opinion. The dark in the underwing coverts points to Cory’s. The primaries are completely dark again.Picture 3: Unidetified shearwater. The is a long white tongue in p4 and a short one in p5.Picture 4: Another individual with mixed characters. It has a long tongue in p4 again, and 3 short tongues in p3 and p5. Note the dark marking in underwing coverts, good for Cory’s.Picture 5: A pure Scopoli’s outside the Mediterranean. Some of them were leaving it during november and the Gulf of Cádiz is a good stopover to take profit of the fishery.Picture 6: Another pure Scopoli’s in the Gulf od Cádiz. Note that, apart from the white tongues of the primaries, there is no dark marking in the underwing (also in picture 5).Picture 7: The opposite from pictures 5 and 6. A pure Cory’s in the Galicia Bank (120 mn off Galicia) with extremely dark marking in the axillaries. Of course primaries are all black.

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