A trickle of migrants, with some exceptions.

66 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in September 2015.
No new species were added to the list, which remains at 226 species.

I had the company of Gordon Cox from Middlesex on the 19th September and Derek and Barbara Plummer from Northampton on the 20th September.

There were first of the year records for Shag, Northern Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Hobby, Arctic Skua, Wryneck and Greater Whitethroat.


There were first autumn records for Purple Heron, Osprey, Black Kite, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Buzzard, Sand Martin, Cetti´s Warbler, Blackcap, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Blue-headed Wagtail and Meadow Pipit.

A list of species with comments follows:-
Great Cormorant. With the tourist season ending, one to four Cormorants were roosting on the Moor´s Rock again. Apart from that a total of 51 birds passed through.
A Shag fishing off Capycorp lagoon on the 9th September, was the first seen this year.
Herons and Egrets. One to two Grey Herons passed through this month, and one Purple Heron.
Apart from the odd Little Egret fishing at Torre de Capycorp pond there were two passage flocks, on the 6th and 16th, total of 16 birds.
Cattle Egret numbers in the Rural farmland were at the highest in 14 years, with a maximum of 63 birds seen on the 26th September.

Birds of Prey. It was a disappointing month in terms of numbers for passage birds of prey.
A single Osprey flew along the coast on the 12th September.
A single Black Kite flew south on the 13th.
There was only one record of Short-toed Eagle , normally there are half a dozen records in September.
There were first autumn records for Eurasian Marsh Harrier and Eurasian Buzzard on the 27th September.
A Hobby seen on the 20th September was the first record this year.
At least the resident Eurasian Kestrel was in good numbers with up to six birds seen daily.


The only species of wader seen this month was Northern Lapwing, with one bird seen on the 26th and four birds on the 29th September.
Sandwich Tern numbers were at there lowest in September since 2005. With only a maximum of 14 birds seen.
An Arctic Skua chasing Sandwich Terns on the 3rd September was the first this year.
Wood Pigeon (90 Birds) and Collared Dove´s (85 birds) numbers were continuing at a high level .
After a successful breeding season European Turtle Dove´s were seen in their highest September numbers, with up to 13 birds counted.

Little Owl numbers were still very low with only one to two birds seen.
The last Common Swift´s were seen flying south on the 17th, and the last Pallid Swift´s on the 25th September.
Single Common Kingfisher´s were seen at Torre de Capycorp pond and Capycorp lagoon.
There were four passage flocks of Eurasian Bee eaters totalling 134 birds, the last on the 20th September.
A maximum of five resident Hoopoe´s were seen this month.

A Wryneck seen briefly in the Rural farmlands on the 27th September, was the first since 19th February, 2009!
The last juvenile Woodchat Shrike was seen on the 11th September.
The last Golden Oriole was seen on the 10th September.
September is the peak month for passage Swallows and Martins here.
The month totals were 63 Sand Martins, 1020 House Martins, 3900 Barn Swallows and 85 Red-rumped Swallows. This was the highest number of the latter recorded to date.

The first Cetti´s Warbler of autumn arrived at Capycorp lagoon on the 16th September.
It was the best September for Willow Warbler passage since 2010, with up to 11 birds seen daily.
The last summering Melodious Warbler was seen on the 21st September.
Up tp seven resident Zitting Cisticola´s were counted.
The first Blackcap of autumn was seen on the 14th September.

A Greater Whitethroat on the 1st September, was the first record this year.
There was a good passage of Subalpine Warbler´s, with up to five birds daily. Mainly juvenile or female birds.
The last summering Common Nightingale was seen at the sewage pond on the 10th September.
16 Spotted Flycatcher´s and 36 Pied Flycatcher´s passed through this month
The first Common Redstart and Whinchat of autumn turned up on the 17th September.

Only five Northern Wheatear´s passed through this month, quite low numbers.
The first passage Blue-headed Wagtails appeared in the rural farmland on the 28th September – seven birds.

A Meadow Pipit on the 21st , was only the second September record.


Alcossebre Weather in September 2015.
September is usually a mixed month for weather here, and this year was no exception.
The first two weeks were a mixture of sunshine and showers, with some heavy rain thrown in.
There was a dry spell from the 13th to the 26th September.
We had several days of thunderstroms with torrential rain from the 27th to the end of the month.
The average day temperature was 27C (80F).
The average night temperature was 19C (66F).
The highest day temperature was 33C (91F) on the 16th September.
The lowest day temperature was 20C (68F) on the 29th September.
The highest night temperature was 23C (73F) on the 4th and 17th September.
The lowest night temperature was 15C (59F) on the 25th and 29th September.
Total rainfall for the month was 5 inches (128mm) over 10 days.
Heavist rainfall was on the 28th with over 2 inches of rain.
Winds were mainly from the north east in the morning and east or south east in the afternoon. Wind strengths were mainly light or gentle over 20 days, and moderate to strong over 10 days.

More autumn migrants arrive.

55 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in August 2015.
The star bird of the month was a Grey Plover on the 19th August, only the second record here in 15 years!

There were first of the year records for Red-backed Shrike and Black-eared Wheatear.

juv red backed shrike
There were first of the autumn records for Willow Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear and Common Starling.

The months list of birds were as follows :-

Three sightings of Greater Flamingos. eight flew east on the 12th, one flew east on the 24th , unsually inland, 18 birds flew south- west on the 29th.
Very few Great Cormorants seen – one on the 13th and three south-west on the 21st.
There were two flocks of Grey Herons through, 14 birds south west on the 15th,
and 18 birds south west on the 24th August.
Three species of Egret seen this month.
One Great Egret flew east over the sea on the 2nd August.
One or two Little Egrets were seen at Torre pond on and off all month, and four flew east on the 19th August.
Cattle Egrets were seen most days in the rural farmlands – max. 26 birds.
34 birds flew south west over the sea on the 24th August.
A Squacco Heron was at Torre pond from the 5th to the 9th August.

squacco heron 0408064#001
One or two Short-toed Eagles were seen on electric pylons during the month.
Up to three local Common Kestrels noted. No migrants yet.
One to two Common Moorhens seen at Torre pond.
The bird of the month was a Grey Plover that arrived in the rural farmlands on the 19th August – only the second record here in 15 years!
The only other wader was a Little Ringed Plover on the 9th August at Capycorb
Gull numbers were very low this month, which isn´t surprising given the number of people on the beaches/coast, so no place to rest and preen.
Most Black-headed Gulls were passage birds. A total of 42 birds passed through this month.
The most Audouin´s Gulls seen were 13 birds on the 3rd August.
The only other gull seen this month was Yellow-legged Gull with a max. of five birds on the 30th August.
Sandwich Tern numbers were well down for the same reasons as the gulls.
A maximum of seven birds seen on the 5th August.
If ever there was an illustration of the impact of hunting/shooting on birds it´s the data for Wood Pigeon this month. The shooting season begins on the 14th August. Up to then Wood Pigeon numbers were averaging 30 birds per day,
since then the daily average is two birds!

It´s strange, but they don´t seem to target Collared Doves to the same extent.
Up to 54 birds were seen throughout the month.
Up to three Turtle Doves were seen throughout the month low numbers for this species. Another species shot here.
Only one species of owl seen, the resident Little Owl, one or two seen sporadically.
The last big Swift movement was seen on the 9th August, when 480 birds, a mix of Pallid and Common Swifts, flew north west ahead of thunderstorm.
A Common Kingfisher at Torre pond on the 30th and 31st August, was the first since the 12th January !
After the local bred Bee eaters had moved on there was an almost daily passage of other birds. By the end of the month a total 224 birds had past through.
Hoopoe´s peaked at 16 birds on the 27th August, the best total since 2007.

A juvenile Red-backed Shrike on the 21st August was the first record this year.
In contrast up to three juvenile Woodchat Shrikes were seen throughout the month.

Golden Orioles continue to exceed expections, up to 12 birds seen this month.
Photo opportunities still very difficult.
Barn Swallow numbers continue to build up with local birds added in numbers by passage birds. maximum count was 80 birds on the 30th.
Red-rumped Swallows joined the Barn Swallows form time to time with a mximum of six birds noted.
Like the Barn Swallows House Martin numbers increased throughout the month, peaking at 56 birds on the 31st August.
The first Willow Warbler of autumn turned up on the 23rd August.
Single Melodious Warblers were seen throughout the month.
The first Subalpine Warbler arrived on the 21st August.
Up to five Spotted Flycatchers were seen during the month, good numbers.

The first Pied Flycatcher of autumn arrived on the 27th August.
Single Common Nightingales were seen throughout the month.
The first Northern Wheatear of autumn arrived on the 26th August.
A Black-eared Wheatear was the first this year on the 24th August.

Finch numbers were low this month. 23 Greenfinches, 8 Goldfinch, 5 Linnets and 10 Serin.
Alcossebre weather for August 2015.

The August weather in Alcossebre was normal day and night temperatures, but some thunderstorms at the beginning and end of the month gave us higher than usual rainfall.

Average day temperature was 30C (86F).
Average night temperature was 22C (72F).
Highest day temperature was 35C (95F) on the 23rd.
Lowest day temperature was 26C (78F) on the 18th.
Highest night temperature was 27C (80F) on the 8th.
Lowest night temperature was 18C (64F) on the 16th.

Total rainfall was 4.7 inches (13mm) over days.
Heaviest rainfall was on the 1st with 4 inches (102 mm)
Average rainfall for August is 2.3 inches.

Winds were mainly light and gentle. With moderate to strong winds on 11 days.

A new breeding species and autumn migration begins.

52 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in July 2015.
No new species were added to the list.
Highlight of the month was a new breeding record – a pair of Little Ringed Plovers were seen with a chick at Capycorp lagoon.

little ringed plovers 100408

There were first of the year records for Glossy Ibis, Whimbrel and Dunlin, and first July record for Whiskered Terns.

I had the company of Barbara and Derek Plummer from Northampton on the
3rd and 7th July.

There was only one record each of Northern Gannet and Great Cormorant.
A total of 15 Grey Herons passed through this month, maximum five birds of the 30th July.
Only single Little Egrets were seen, and one record of Cattle Egret – 4 birds on the 1st.

The first Glossy Ibis of the year flew east inland on the 12th July, thereafter flocks of 24, 40, 20 and 5 birds passed through.
The most recorded in one month here.
There was only two records of Short-toed Eagle this month a single on the 15th, and a pair seen by Paul Harvey on the 13th July.
Common Kestrels after their successful breeding season were showing in good numbers with up to seven birds seen daily.
A juvenile Eleonora´s Falcon turned up on a local pylon, no doubt from the Columbrettes Islands, the nearest breeding place. It stayed long enough for me to photograph it.

The big news of the month was the Little Ringed Plovers breeding at Capycorp lagoon, a first for Alcossebre. Unfortunately because of the disturbance by holidaymakers neither the adults of chick were seen after the 14th July.
Single Common Sandpipers were seen on the 7th and 27th July, the first this autumn.
A Whimbrel on the 7th July was the first this year, followed by another on the 24th July.
Five Dunlin disturbed from Capycorp lagoon on the 31st July, were the first this year, and only my second record here.
Gull numbers were very low due to disturbance by tourists up and down the beaches. Most Black-headed Gulls seen were passage birds – a total of 71 birds for the month.
There were only two records of Mediterranean Gulls, one east on the 11th, and one at Capycorp lagoon 17th July.
10 Audouin´s Gulls were the most seen this month.
12 Yellow-legged Gulls seen on the 3rd July was the peak number this month.
Three Whiskered Terns flying east inland on the 2nd July were a first record for July.
Although Sandwich Terns were seen daily the most seen were 23 birds on the 15th July.
A family part of two adults and three juveniles Turtle Doves on the 22nd July confirmed breeding this year.
The last juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo was seen on the 5th July, and by now most of the species will be on their way to central Africa.

great spotted cuckoo 040308
Little Owl numbers continue to be very low, with only one or two birds seen intermittently throughout the month.

Single Red-necked Nightjars were seen at dusk most nights, harder to detect now that they have stopped churring.
Common and Pallid Swifts peaked in numbers during the thunderstorms we had at the end of the month. Hundreds flying to avoid the torrential rain.
Six Bee eaters were the maximum seen up to 17th July – local breeding birds. Thereafter small flocks passed the through. The biggest flock I saw was 25 birds, but an e mail from Paul Harvey recounts that he saw a flock in excess of 150 birds soaring above Marcolina!
After their successful breeding season Hoopoes obviously dispersed elsewhere because the most I saw was four birds.

hoopoe 070606
The first juvenile Woodchat Shrike showed up on the 17th July, with an adult seen on the 24th July.

woodchat shrike juv 040807 copy
July is one of the best months to see Golden Oriole here, why? well the young males gather together to perfect their whistles. So if you don’t hear them you need a hearing aid!
Common Magpies continue to thrive, with up to 18 birds seen daily.
Crested Larks numbers are well down in numbers with five birds the most seen.
Barn Swallows and House Martin numbers are building up, with local birds being supplemented by birds from elsewhere.
Red-rumped Swallows bred somewhere in the area, as I saw a family party of two adults and five juveniles on the 13th July, and daily thereafter.

Only three species of warbler was seen this month, the resident Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler, and the summer visitor Melodious Warbler.

Two pairs of Spotted Flycatchers showed off their young this month.
A pair seen with young Tropicana camp site and Torre De Capycorp estate.

Alcossebre Weather in July 2015

After a hot and dry month with temperatures above the average by day and night ,we were heading for record low rainfall.
That was until the last two days of the month when we were struck by three successive thunderstorms, which ended up giving us record high rainfall!
A total of 11.2 inches fell over the two days.
The July average rainfall here is only 0.9 inches!

The average day temperature was 32C (89F).
The highest day temperature was 36C (96F) on the 7th and the 24th.
The lowest day temperature was 29C (84F) on the 30th.
The average night temperature was 24C (75F).
The highest night temperature was 27C (80F) on the 30th.
The lowest night temperature was 22C (72F) on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 10th.
Total rainfall was 11.2 inches ( 284 mm) over two days.
Last Julys total was 0.4 inches (13mm)!

With migration all but finished time to look at the breeding birds.

53 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in June 2015.

No new species were added to the Alcossebre list this month.

There were some interesting arrivals and passage birds, mainly post breeding movements.

Three Common Shelduck flew east over the sea on the 11th June, only my second June record here. Six juvenile Northern Gannets were seen fishing offshore on the 14th June, a good number for June. Two Black-crowned Night Herons flew east over the sea on the 16th June. The only sighting this month of Short-toed Eagle was one bird on a distant pylon on the 26th June. There was also only one sighting of Eleonora´s Falcon this month, a bird flew in from the sea and headed north on the 19th June. Only two species of wading bird was seen the month. Three Kentish Plovers on the 24th June, and two Little Ringed Plovers on the 4th June, both seen at Capycorp lagoon. Seven Whiskered Terns flew east inland on the 11th June. A late passage Reed Warbler was seen at Capycorp lagoon on the 16th June.

The list of breeding birds in Alcossebre is small (29 species) but an interesting mixture.

Common Kestrels have had their best breeding season in 14 years. four pairs held territory, and two pairs had four young – one brood at the Capycorp apartments.


With the sewage pond dried up there was only one place that Common Moorhens bred this year Torre estate pond. Only one pair bred.

Common Woodpigeon had a good season with at least 12 pairs breeding.


Collared Dove numbers continue to increase with a minimum of 20 pairs breeding.

It’s always more difficult to estimate Turtle Dove numbers, but two pairs remained after the spring passage.

Common Magpie’s raised three Great Spotted Cuckoo’s this year, a good year for that species. As usual the adult Cuckoo’s have left already, leaving the young Cuckoos to find their own way to Africa!

Little Owl breeding numbers continue to decline, from a peak of ten pairs in 2005, to only one or two pairs now.


One pair of Scops Owl held territory – at the sewage works, but so far no sign of any young.

Red-necked Nightjar numbers seem to be normal, with two or three male birds calling in different places. Another hard species to monitor.

Two pairs of Bee eater are nesting in different dry river beds. Like the Nightjars normal breeding numbers, but a lot easier to monitor.

Hoopoe breeding numbers have declined by about a third. This year about six to eight pairs are holding territory.


Woodchat Shrikes do not breed every year, but one pair have stayed on after the spring migration – no sign of young yet.


Golden Oriole breeding numbers have remained steady for the last eight years with seven to nine pairs nesting.

Common Magpie numbers have dropped this year, manly due to some hunters and farmers trapping them. So instead of 10 to 15 pairs breeding there are only six to eight pairs.



Crested Lark breeding numbers have also fallen, from a peak of 22 pairs in 2007 to only five or six pairs this year. A change in farming practice with different crops seem to be to blame. I.E. Artichoke fields are their favoured breeding area, but there are less field being planted now.

After a very poor spring passage I thought that Barn Swallows would be struggling to keep up breeding numbers, but they seem to be at normal breeding levels. With some 20 plus pairs nesting. A good number have fledged already.

Only one pair of Red-rumped Swallows seem to nesting, down from three pairs last year. However that is still good considering that they only started nesting here in 2011.



House Martin breeding numbers are at there lowest for 14 years with only three pairs nesting. After a boom in breeding numbers (five to seven pairs) from 2008 to 2012, Great Tit numbers have returned to pre 2008 I.E. three or four pairs.

Melodious Warbler numbers are at their lowest in 14 years with only one pair nesting. This compares to seven to nine pairs from 2007 to 2011!



Zitting Cisticola´s numbers have fallen year by year, this year three or four pairs, compared to a peak of nine pairs in 2008. The cause of the decline is more apparent than the Melodious Warbler. The Cisticlola.s preferred nesting areas – grassland, are gradually being returned to farmland.

Sardinian Warbler breeding numbers are near normal, with some seven to nine pairs nesting. They nest in a wider variety of habitat from the other more specialised birds.


Two pairs of Spotted Flycatcher are nesting, again like the sardinian warblers, normal breeding numbers.

Another species struggling in breeding numbers this year is the Common Nightingale. Only two pairs holding territory. There have been up to seven pairs nesting in previous years.

Common Blackbird breeding numbers are normal – for here – with three or four pairs nesting.


The only Bunting nesting this year is Corn Bunting with one or two pairs in the rural farmlands. A normal level.

Both House and Tree Sparrows continue to nest in good numbers. For the second year in a row I still have two pairs of Tree Sparrows nesting in the metal pipes on my conservatory!


Alcossebre Weather in June 2015.

A hotter than usual June which triggered a few thunderstorms, bringing much more rain than normal. Average day temperature was 29C 84F. Average night temperature was 19C 66F Highest day temperature was 34C 93F on the 26th and 30th June. Highest night temperature was 24C 75F on the 11th June. Lowest day temperature was 25C 77F on the 16th and 17th June. Lowest night temperature was 15C 59F on the 5th June. Total rainfall was 5.6 inches 140mm over four days . The heaviest rainfall was on the 15th June with 4 inches (102mm) of rain. Average rainfall for June here is 1.8 inches.

Migration slows down to a trickle, but still some interesting birds.

62 species were seen in the Alcossebre in May 2015. No new species were added to the Alcossebre list. There were first spring records for the following species.:- European Honey Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Whiskered Tern, Melodious Warbler, Garden Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, Bird of the month was Red-footed Falcon with two birds turning up within days of each other. Previous to this there was only two records in 14 years. IMG_6376 Turtle Doves reached a record high in numbers with 51 birds counted on the 1st May. IMG_7776 Also on the 1st May a female Common Redstart, and three Blue-headed Wagtails were new arrivals. IMG_4624 The only migrant on the 2nd May was a Northern Wheatear. IMG_4345   On the 3rd May two Red-rumped Swallows flew east along the coast, and the first Melodious Warbler of spring arrived. IMG_6228   The 5th May provided three overnight arrivals, one Woodchat Shrike, a new Melodious Warbler and two Pied Flycatchers. A singing Cirl Bunting on the 7th May was the first since the 9th March, it remains to be seen if it stays to breed? IMG_7918   A bit more activity on the 8th May. Two Cattle Egrets flew east over the sea. Overnight arrivals included one Common Sandpiper, one Woodchat Shrike, two Whinchats and one Melodious Warbler. IMG_5599   Two new arrivals on the 9th May, two Pied Flycatchers and 14 Blue-headed Wagtails.



The only migrant on the 11th May was a new Melodious Warbler. I had the company of Robin Saxby on my walk this morning, when two Great Spotted Cuckoo’s provided some excellent photo opportunities A Spotted Flycatcher on the 13th May was a first record this spring.



Some movements on the 16th May. Single Marsh Harrier and Booted Eagle flew east. Two new Spotted Flycatchers arrived.

Three Spotted Flycatchers and one Whinchat were new arrivals on the 17th May. The only new bird on the 18th May was one Northern Wheatear.

A good bit of activity on the 20th May. Only the third record of Red-footed Falcon – one flew in off the sea. A big feeding movement of Pallid and Common Swifts with at least 3000 birds counted!

Overnight arrivals included two Woodchat Shrikes, two Spotted Flycatchers, one Reed Warbler and one Whinchat.



The 21st May saw the first Honey Buzzard of spring, also on the move was two Little Egrets and a Marsh Harrier. Overnight arrivals included one Common Sandpiper and two Woodchat Shrikes.



The 22nd May saw yet another Red-footed Falcon arrive – this one flew NE along the coast. Overnight arrivals included the first Garden Warbler of spring, and two more Spotted Flycatchers.

Two late Barn Swallows and two Sand Martins flew NE on the 23rd May, new arrivals were two Melodious Warblers and four Spotted Flycatchers.

12 Greater Flamingo´s flew east over the sea on the 25th May.

Things were quiet until the 30th May. A Great Egret and the first Whiskered Tern of spring flew east . A late Pied Flycatcher was a new arrival.



The first Northern Gannet of the month, and a new Woodchat Shrike and Spotted Flycatcher appeared on the 31st May.

Alcossebre weather in May 2015.

May was a dry and sunny month.

The average rainfall for May is 3.5 inches, this year we had one inch of rain. Average day and night temperatures were 3C above the day and 1C above the night.

The average day temperature was 27C (80F).

Highest day temperature was 30C (86F) on the 8th, 14th and 27th.

Lowest day temperature was 21C (70F) on the 19th.

The average night temperature was 16C (60F).

Highest night temperature was 20C (68F) on the 4th.

Lowest night temperature was 13C (55F) on the 20th.

Total rainfall was 1 inch 25mm. Over two days.











A strange spring, with some birds in record low numbers and some birds in record high numbers!

This has been a strange spring with some birds in record high numbers and some in record low numbers – for example, Barn Swallow and House Martin are at a record low, while Turtle Doves and Alpine Swifts are at a record high!

78 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in April 2015, and although no new species were added to the list, there were plenty of interesting birds to be seen.

There were firsts of the year for :- Greater Flamingo, Spoonbill, Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper.

and firsts of spring for :- Common Quail, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, Caspian Tern, Turtle Dove, Red-necked Nightjar, Scops Owl, Common Swift, Bee eater, Woodchat Shrike, Golden Oriole, Red-rumped Swallow, Wood Warbler, Reed Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear and Whinchat.

Nearly every day in April brought something of interest.
1st April. First Scops Owl of spring. Five Marsh Harriers east and three Stock Doves north west ( only the second record here).

2nd April. One Grey Heron and seven Barn Swallows east and a new Subalpine Warbler.

3rd April. First Common Quail and Northern Wheatear of spring. One Purple Heron and one Marsh Harrier east.

4th April. 20 Black-winged Stilts and three Caspian Terns east were first for spring. One Common Redstart was new.

5th April. Male Pied Flycatcher was a first for spring. Other overnight arrivals were 13 Willow Warblers, three Subalpine Warblers and four Blue-headed Wagtails. Passage birds- one Purple Heron, one Marsh Harrier, three Pallid Swifts and 16 Barn Swallows.

6th April. First Woodchat Shrike of spring. 14 Great Cormorants and two Sand Martins east.

7th April. Two Red-rumped Swallows were the first this spring. One Marsh Harrier and 10 Pallid Swifts flew east. Overnight arrivals – two Northern Wheatears and two Sublalpine Warblers.

9th April. 15 Great Egrets east over the sea, and the first Whinchat of spring.

10th April. Six Cattle Egrets, two Marsh Harriers, 44 Barn Swallows and nine House Martins all east.

11th April. 18 Greater Flamingos east were the first this year. Four Marsh Harriers and 15 Barn Swallows east. Overnight arrivals – one Green Sandpiper (also a year first), three Northern Wheatears, one Whinchat, one Nightingale and four Willow Warblers.

12th April. One Spoonbill east over the sea was a first of the year. One Short-toed Eagle was a first of spring. One Marsh Harrier, 20 Barn Swallows, eight House Martins and two Sand Martins all east.

13th April. Five Common Swifts were a first of spring. Other passage birds – 11 Great Cormorants and four House Martins. Overnight arrivals – two Woodchat Shrikes and one Whinchat.

14th April. One Bee eater east and one Black-crowned Night Heron were the first this spring. One new Nightingale arrived.

15th April. 28 Great Cormorants east was the only passage.

16th April. Three Bee eaters, 13 Barn Swallows and seven House Martins east. Overnight arrivals of two Woodchat Shrikes and two Northern Wheatears.

17th April. A Common Sandpiper was a first this year, one Turtle Dove was a first this spring. Other passage birds – three Squacco Herons, one Red-rumped Swallow, one Northern Wheatear, one Whinchat and one Pied Flycatcher.

18th April. A Wood Warbler was a spring first. Passage birds – seven Turtle Doves, three Bee eaters, and 30 Common Swifts,

19th April. Passage birds – three Northern Gannets, 42 Pallid Swifts, 4 Common Swifts, 42 Barn Swallows, one Red-rumped Swallow, 6 Sand Martins, two House Martins. Overnight arrivals – one Northern Wheatear and two Willow Warblers.

21st April. One Little Egret east.

22nd April. Five Black-headed Gulls south west. Overnight arrivals – three Red-rumped Swallows, one Woodchat Shrike, one Pied Flycatcher and one Willow Warbler.

23rd April. 26 Greater Flamingos, eight Great Cormorants, and one Marsh Harrier east. Overnight arrivals one Woodchat Shrike and 12 Northern Wheatears.

24th April. A Kentish Plover was a first this year. Two Golden Orioles were a first this spring. Three Black-winged Stilts flew east.

25th April. One Squacco Heron and one Red-rumped Swallow flew east.

26th April. The first Red-necked Nightjar of spring. Overnight arrivals of eight Turtle Doves, one Nightingale and one Common Redstart.

29th April. The first of spring Reed Warbler at the sewage pond.
Turtle Dove numbers had increased to 27 birds.

30th April. Turtle Dove numbers inceased to a 13 year high of 44 birds!

Alcossebre Weather in April 2014.
This was the driest April in 20 years here.
The total rainfall for the month was 0.1 inch – the average for April is 4.2 inches.

The average day temperature was 23C (76F) – 2 C above the average.
The average night temperature was 12C (53F) – 1 C above the average.

The highest day temperature was 28C (82F) on the 27th April.
The coldest day temperature was 17C (62F) on the 11th April.

The highest night temperature was 18C (64F) on the 26th April.
The coldest night temperature was 9C (48F) on the 2nd,3rd,7th and 9th April.

Bad weather but good birds.

March 2015 gave us the wettest March since 2002 –see weather report at the end – but then bad weather usually means good birds to be seen, and this March was no exception.
78 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in March 2015.
No new species were added to the Alcossebre list this March.

There were first of the year records for three species Common Shelduck,  Short-eared Owl and Common Raven.
There were first spring records for 19 species Purple Heron, Great White Egret, White Stork, Osprey, Black Kite, Montagu´s Harrier, Common Crane, Little Ringed Plover, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Subalpine Warbler, Common Nightingale, Common Redstart, and Blue-headed Wagtail.
Highlights of the month.
Three Common Shelduck flying south west over the sea on the 30th March was the 12th record for Alcossebre.
Apart from a few local birds a total of 1576 Great Cormorants passed through this month.
In stark contrast only one Northern Gannet was seen!
A total of 67 Grey Herons passed through with a peak of 20 birds on the 13th March.
The first Purple Heron of spring flew east over the sea on the 16th March.
The first Great White Egret flew east over the sea on the 20th March.
The first White Stork of spring was seen on the 28th March, followed by 32 flying NE on the 29th March.
The first Osprey was seen on the 30th March, flying east inland.
Six Black Kites flying east inland on the 28th March were the first this spring.
The first Montagu´s Harrier of spring was seen on the 3rd, an early date for here.
A total of 22 Marsh Harriers passed through this month with a maximum of six birds on the 26th March.
That was the same day the only Booted Eagle of the month was seen.
90 Common Cranes flying NE on the 4th March were the first this spring, always a great sight. 
Two Stone Curlews appeared in the ´magic field´on the 28th March, the only record this month.
The first spring Little Ringed Plover popped up at the coast on the 23rd March.
Black-headed Gulls turn up here all the year round in quite small numbers, so I was surprised to count a total of 223 birds flying SW on the 30th March!
Another surprise on the 26th March occurred when I was scanning the sea and a bird being mobbed by gulls, as it got closer to the coast I saw it was a Short-eared Owl! Only my third record here.
The first Pallid Swift of spring appeared on the 22nd March.
Alpine Swifts are usually the first Swifts to appear in spring, so I was pleased to see three flew east on the 24th March. Two days later on the 26th a total of 49 birds flew east the highest total in 13 years!
Four Common Ravens flying east on the 28th March were the first this year.
Nine Sand Martins flew east on the 14th March were the first this spring.
A total of 230 Barn Swallows passed through this month, after the first appeared on the 8th March. 
The first House Martins appeared on the 10th March.
Penduline Tits passed through on the 9th (4 birds) and the 12th (one bird) all in Capycorp lagoon.
The last of the wintering Cetti´s Warbler was seen on the 12th March.
The first Willow Warbler of spring arrived on the 16th March, with a peak of 9 birds on the 31st March.
Wintering Blackcaps numbers were averaged about five birds, so 36 birds on the 28th March meant they were passage birds. 
The first Common Whitethroat of spring arrived on the 28th March.
The last of the wintering Dartford Warblers were seen on the 8th March.
The first Subalpine Warbler of spring – a fine male – turned up at the sewage pond on the 26th March.
I had the earliest spring record of Common Nightingale at the sewage pond on the 31st March.
The first Common Redstart of spring appeared on the 24th March.
The first Blue-headed Wagtails of spring appeared on the 29th March. 
The last of the wintering Grey Wagtails were seen on the 10th March in my garden.
Only single Cirl and Rock Buntings were seen this month.
The last wintering Reed Bunting was seen on the 26th March.
As well as wintering Corn Buntings – peak of 22 birds – up to four were declaring intent to breed by singing? Their unique song.
The last of the wintering Common Chaffinches were seen on the 29th March.
Resident Greenfinches,

Goldfinches and Serins were all singing and displaying as the wintering birds had moved on.
However wintering Linnets were still showing good numbers – with up to 83 birds counted.

Alcossebre weather in March 2015.

March 2015 will be long remembered for the winds and the amount of rain we got – the most rain since March 2002!
We had almost a years rain in one month – who said Monsoon!
Temperature wise it was not too bad, as long as you were out of the wind.
Average day temperature was 19C 66F.
Highest day temperature was 28 C ( 82F) on the 31st.
Lowest day temperature was 12 C (53F) on the 22nd.
Average night temperature was 11c (51F).
Highest night temperature was 18C (64F) on the 31st.
Lowest night temperature was 5C (41F) on the 17th.
Total rainfall was 9.6 inches ( 245 mm) over 8 days.
Heaviest rainfall on the 22nd with 4.5 inches (116 mm).

February a poor month for coverage but still some good birds seen.

56 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in February 2015.
My coverage was poor this month due to the flu and days of strong northerly winds. With only 12 days out of 28 covered.
No new species were added to the Alcossebre list which remains at 226 species.

The first spring migrant appeared on the 15th February – a Great Spotted Cuckoo.
A list of the birds seen this month with comments follows.
Although only a single Northern Gannet was seen, a total of 420 Great Cormorants passed through, with 266 birds flying east on the 23rd February.
Only two Grey Herons were noted fling east.
While one or two Little Egrets were seen along the coast most days, a flock of 240 birds flew east on the 28th February, no doubt Ebro Delta bound.
One to three Cattle Egrets were seen in the rural farmlands, normal numbers for this month.
Only four birds of prey were seen this month.
A female Marsh Harrier flew east inland on the 21st.
One to two wintering Common Buzzards were seen up to the 21st February.
Up to three resident Common Kestrels were seen this month.
A Merlin – the first this winter – was seen on the 20th, flying east inland.
Up to 13 Common Moorhens continue to winter at Torre estate pond, good numbers.
Although Gull numbers were low, up to 60 Sandwich Terns roosted at the coast most days.
Both Common Woodpigeon (max. 100 birds) and Collared Doves (max. 47 birds) are in very healthy numbers.
The first Great Spotted Cuckoo of spring was seen on the 15th, with another bird seen on the 28th February.
Only single Little Owls were seen, a continuing decrease in numbers.

Up to three Hoopoe´s were seen daily, normal numbers for this month.
Common Magpie´s were setting about nesting now, ever watchful for the Great Spotted Cuckoo´s.

Up to 10 resident Crested Larks were noted, outnumbered by the wintering Common Skylark with 44 birds max.
Wintering Crag Martins peaked at 104 birds on the 23rd February
Two Penduline Tits appeared at Capycorp lagoon on the 28th February, my 17th record here.
Upto four pairs of resident Great Tit´s were preparing to nest.
Strangely we do not get Blue Tit´s here.
Single Cetti´s Warblers continue to winter at Capycorp lagoon.
Two wintering warbler´s and one resident warbler are at a 13 year low in number´s, with only nine Common Chiffchaff, six Blackcap and single Zitting Cisticola´s counted.
Single wintering Dartford Warbler´s were seen in the coastal scrub up to the 23rd February.
Resident Sardinian Warblers were in healthy numbers at 14 birds maximum.
It´s hard to understand why the Eurasian Robin is at a 13 year low in numbers – max. of five birds, when the Black Redstart which occupies exactly the same type of habitat, is at a 13 year high with a maximum of 24 birds?

Wintering Common Stonechats are also in good numbers with up to 14 birds wintering.
The wintering male Blue Rock Thrush was last seen on the 3rd February.

Only single Common Blackbirds were seen, being more common in the town area´s.
Song Thrush numbers continue to decrease, with only six birds counted, compare that with 2004 with a count of 94 birds!
Single Grey Wagtail´s continue to winter, outnumbered by resident (and passage) White Wagtail´s at a maximum of 21 birds.

Wintering Meadow Pipit´s are in healthy numbers with up to 16 birds noted.
Five species of Bunting were seen. The last sighting of the female Snow Bunting was on the 2nd February. Single Rock and Cirl Bunting´s were seen along the coastal srcublands. One or two Reed Bunting´s continue to winter in the reedbeds at Capycorp lagoon.
Up to 30 Corn Bunting´s continue to winter in the rural farmlands.
With the relatively mild winter Finch numbers have been much lower than normal, with the exception of the Linnet – peak of 78 birds.

In a continuing mild winter, two star birds remain.

The continuing mild winter has had an impact on the variety and numbers of wintering birds in Alcossebre. The two star birds of the winter – so far – remain and continue to show well, A fine male Blue Rock Thrush and a female Snow Bunting.

59 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in January 2015.
No new species were added to the list this month. The female Snow Bunting was a first January record.
Three species of seabird were seen regularly this month – up to 112 Balearic Shearwaters, one to four Northern Gannets, and a total of 126 Great Cormorants passed through.
Single Little Egret’s were seen along the coast, and up to six Cattle Egret’s in the rural farmlands.

Five species of bird of prey were seen. A male Hen Harrier hunted over the rural farmland on the 18th January. Single Northern Sparrowhawks were seen after the flocks of small birds feeding in the rural farmlands. Up to two Common Buzzard continue to winter. A single Booted Eagle flew east along the coast on the 2nd January. Up to four Common Kestrels continue to hold winter territories.

A maximum of 11 Common Moorhen’s are still wintering at Torre estate pond.
Four Stone Curlew were seen on the 13th January in the rural farmland, small numbers for this time of the year.
Two flocks of Northern Lapwing ( 18 and 27 birds) were seen in the rural farmland.
Gull numbers continue to be very low. Maximums of 12 Black-headed Gulls, 40 Mediterranean Gulls, 50 Audouin´s Gulls, 18 Yellow-legged Gull’s and only two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
The only wintering tern – Sandwich was seen in good numbers – up to 84 birds.
Wood Pigeon (max. 138 birds) and Collared Dove (max. 44 birds) numbers continue to increase year on year.
Little Owl numbers, on the other hand continue to decrease, with only four single birds seen all month.
Two sightings of Common Kingfisher were seen, both at Torre estate pond.
Up to six Hoopoe’s were seen daily – getting vocal now, and hoop -hooping from various perches.
Like the Pigeon’s, Common Magpie’s continue to increase, despite attempt’s by the local farmers to trap them.
Resident Crested Larks (max. 8 birds), were outnumbered by wintering Skylarks (max. 35 birds).
Crag Martin numbers were very low this month with only 12 birds maximum.
A very early Barn Swallow seen by Dave Williams flew over the bowling club in the 17th January.
Six species of warbler were seen this month. One or two Cetti´s Warbler were wintering. A maximum of nine Common Chiffchaff was very low numbers, usually 30 or more are seen. While four Zitting Cisticloa´s were usual winter numbers, a similar number of Blackcap’s was the lowest in 12 years!

Single wintering Dartford Warbler, were well outnumbered by the resident Sardinian Warbler at 17 birds maximum.
A maximum of seven Eurasian Robins was also very low, and yet, Black Redstarts in the same sort of habitat were in record winter numbers – 22 birds.
Wintering Common Stonechats were also in good numbers with a maximum of 17 birds counted.

As stated already, the male Blue Rock Thrush was showing well, seeing off all intruders to it’s winter refuge, a stone farm building.
While only single Common Blackbirds were seen – normal for here.
A maximum of four wintering Song Thrush was a 12 year low.
Single wintering Grey Wagtails were outnumbered by White Wagtails, max. of 12 birds.

Meadow Pipits continued to winter in above average numbers, with up to 50 birds seen.
Five species of Bunting could be seen on some days. Single Cirl and Rock Buntings,

up to four Reed Buntings and a maximum of 30 Corn Buntings, but the star of the show was the female Snow Bunting present since the 22nd December.

Finch numbers well done, with fewer wintering birds. Maximum numbers were 25 Common Chaffinch, 15 Greenfinch, 80 Goldfinch, 60 Linnet and 30 Serin.
The latter species was singing and displaying already.

Alcossebre Weather in January 2015.

The first 17 days of January were fine, sunny, mild and dry. With above average temperatures.
The rest of the month saw a mixture of weather with moderate to strong NW winds reducing the temperatures by day and night. temperatures dropped down to average or below.
The average day temperature was 17C(62F)
The average night temperature was 7C (44F)
Highest day was  20C (68F) on four days.
Highest night was on the 29th at 19C (66F)
The coldest day was 11C (51F) on the 19th.
The coldest night was 3C (37F) on the 2nd.
Total rainfall for the month was 0.3 inches (8mm).
Average for January is 4.3 inches.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!

When I heard way back in December that an Isabelline Shrike had turned up
at a place called Marjal de Alnamara, I was very interested. First of all, in all
my travels I had not seen one, and secondly it was only an hour and a half south of Alcossebre. Not only that, it was a first record for Spain!
The local Spanish birdwatcher’s had posted some excellent photograph’s of it.
Which meant it was not averse to being photographed, always a good sign.

I asked a bird watching friend – Dave Williams – if he was interested in driving down to see the bird? He was all for it, a good thing, because I don’t drive!
So on the 19th December we made our way down to see it.
We spent two or three hours familiarising our self with the reserve, and checking all the bare leafed tree’s – it had been photographed on such a tree.
We saw a good variety of birds, but nothing that resembled a Shrike.
Not only did we not see the Shrike, but there were no other birdwatchers looking for it? Not a good sign.

I checked the website that the bird had been reported on – Reservoir Birds –
but no reports. Two days later it was reported and phographed again.

So a second trip was in order.
We went back down on the 23rd December.
As we we walked through the reserve, we saw a Shrike, Yes, we said.
It was against the light. So we slowly approached it. It flew further on.
No problem, with a bit of luck it will turn back and show it’s full plumage.
So camera at the ready. What we saw was a disappointment. Yes it was a Shrike, but not the Isabelline. It was a Southern Grey Shrike, a regular winter visitor. That was not the only one we saw that day. We saw another one too.
Would the two species of Shrike winter together? I doubted that?

But then what do I know. So another day, and another disappointment.
No word of it over Christmas, so did the other Shrikes see it off?
Then, a few days into the New Year, more superb photo’s appeared on Reservoir Birds, and also on Rare Birds in Spain. We have to have another
go, Dave and I both agreed.
Our third trip was on the 7th January – New Year, New Luck? No chance!
We spent a determined five hours going round in what seemed like endless
circles. Even met one of the Spanish birdwatchers who had seen and photographed the very bird.
He showed us it’s favoured stretch, and even it’s favourite tree, but nothing.
The two Southern Grey Shrikes were still showing well. As were three fine Booted Eagles. We returned home disappointed again.
We thought if there is another photo on the bird sites tomorrow we will not be amused. Guess what? There was.

After a fortnight of yet more records and photo’s, we came to the conclusion that the Shrike was definitely wintering. So with that thought, we made our way back down on the 19th January.
By this time we were beginning to know every tree and bush where the bird had been photographed. There is no way that we can miss out this time, after all it’s our fourth visit, and about twenty other people have seen it already.
By now there were three Southern Grey Shrikes in the area. Surely we will see it this time? Yet again we drew a blank. My reputation as Hawk Aye the Noo, was fast diminishing! As was my will to live! Just a fleeting glimpse, not much to ask, but no.
Is that it, were we going to give up?
No we have got to have one more crack at it.
So seven days later with our disappointments behind us we set off with new found optimism.
We are not leaving this place until we see this B….. Shrike! We thought.
The first hour of observation revealed very little, not even a Southern Grey Shrike was seen. We met a Spanish birdwatcher. he had his camera at the ready. He had been here from first light, but seen nothing. Not looking good.
We parked the car near where the last sighting of the Shrike was seen.
We decided to go to the reserve cafe/bar and have a coffee.
Good idea as it turned out, because looking over one of the many small lakes, we saw a flock of about a hundred Common Coots. In amongst them?
A winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe, a new bird for Dave.
So that lifted our spirits.
After a coffee, we set off again with a spring in our step.
Dave investigated a path that had a no entry sign on it? He shouted me over.
Look at this – there was a big expanse of former rice fields, and better still, hundreds of birds in the distance. Dave spotted a small bird on the muddy edge of a ditch – a White Spotted Bluethroat! Another new one for him!
We both agreed the area would be worth exploring, but only after we had another look for the Shrike.
We walked back to the car, and drove a short way down the road. A bird suddenly appeared on a tall weed. After all these visits The Isabelline Shrike was there in front of us!! My hand was shaking as I looked at it through the telescope. Would it stay there long enough for a photograph – Yes.

The Isabelline Shrike showed well for the next ten minutes of or so, then disappeared.

We drove next to the abandoned rice fields, adding more species to our days list. 50 + Great Cormorants, 30+ Grey Herons, one Great Egret, 200+ Little Egrets, 60+ Cattle Egrets, 180 Glossy Ibis, one Eurasian Spoonbill, 200+ Northern Lapwing, 50+ Golden Plover, 60+ Black-winged Stilts, four Common Sandpipers, 12 Green Sandpipers, 20+ Common Snipe and 1500 Black-headed Gulls. Yet another new species for Dave five Water Pipits, in amongst 200+White Wagtails.
A great way to round off a great day!