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!

Got the blues this month, but in a good way, Bluethroat and Blue Rock Thrush!

I saw 64 species in the Alcossebre area in December 2014.

No new species were added to the Alcossebre list this month.
There were first of the year sightings for Common Crane, White-spotted Bluethroat and Snow Bunting.
There were first of winter sightings for Hen Harrier, Stone Curlew, Southern Grey Shrike and Blue Rock Thrush.

A full list with comments follows:-
There was only one sighting of Little Grebe – one at Torre estate pond on the 23rd December.
Balearic Shearwaters were seen throughout, and peaked at 1,090 birds on the 25th December, a great sight.
One to five Northern Gannets were seen throughout the month.
400 Great Cormorants passed through this month.
One to five Cattle Egrets were seen in the rural farmlands, and single Little Egrets at the coast.
A single female Marsh Harrier was seen on the 10th December.
A male Hen Harrier was seen on the 27th December, was the first this winter.
Single Northern Sparrowhawks were seen, as was single Common Buzzards.
Up to three Common Kestrels were holding winter territories.

Torre estate pond held a maximum of 14 Common Moorhens.
Two Common Cranes flying south west on the 12th December were the first this year.
One to two Stone Curlews were seen in the rural farmland from the 10th, another first of winter.

There were only two species of wader seen, three Northern Lapwing on the 2nd, and a Whimbrel on the 6th December.
Gull numbers increased with maximums of 10 Black-headed Gulls, 43 Meditteranean Gulls, 28 Audouin´s Gulls, 16 Yellow-legged Gulls. Only one or two Lesser Black-back Gulls were seen.
Up to 70 Sandwich Terns were counted at the Juvenile Camp rock roost.
Wood Pigeon numbers peaked at 82 birds, with Collared Dove less at 36 birds.
One or two Little Owls were heard and seen.
Single Common Kingfishers were seen in a variety of places, the coast, Torre estate pond, and by the side of my swimming pool!
One or two Hoopoes were seen throughout the month.
The first Southern Grey Shrike this winter was seen on the 18th December.

Up to 26 Common Magpies used the Juvenile camp roost.
Crested Lark numbers were low – 13 birds, compared to the wintering Skylark numbers which peaked at 85 birds.
Crag Martins were seen most days with a peak of 130 birds flying east on the 13th December.
The mild winter has kept Warbler numbers low. Peaks of three Cetti´s Wabler, 14 Common Chiffchaff, five Zitting Cisticola, five Blackcap, two Dartford Warbler and 17 Sardinian Warbler.
Eurasian Robin numbers are still very low, with only a maximum of six birds.
Black Redstart numbers on the other hand are high with a maximum of 26 birds.
A male White-spotted Bluethroat showed well at Capycorp lagoon, the first this year.
A fine male Blue Rock Thrush is wintering in the rural farmland.

Up to 19 Common Stonechats are also wintering.
Both Common Blackbird (2 birds) and Song Thrush (3 birds) numbers are low.
While only single Grey Wagtails have been noted, up to 33 White Wagtails are seen in the ploughed fields of rural Capycorp.
Wintering Meadow Pipits peaked at 67 birds.
Five species of Bunting were seen this month, up to 57 Corn Buntings, three Rock Buntings, two Cirl Buntings, single Reed Bunting, and a fine male Snow Bunting, the first this year.

Finch numbers are still very low with a maximum of 42 Common Chaffinch, 17 Greenfinch, 82 Goldfinch, 54 Linnets and only 26 Serins
Both House and Tree Sparrows continue to thrive, with some flocks in excess of a hundred birds.
Alcossebre Weather in December 2014.

The first week in December was mainly sunny, apart from rain on the 1st.There were north westerly winds throughout, mainly gentle, but moderate to strong on the 2nd and 7th. It was 2C above the average temperature.
The second week was mainly fine and sunny, except for the 14th with an inch of rain. Winds were gentle to moderate north west or north east. Temperature was again 2C above the average.
The third week was mainly fine and sunny with gentle winds from the north west. Again 2C above the average.
The fourth week was unsettled with five days of overcast and dull conditions. Winds were light or gentle. temperatures dropped to an average 15C by day and 7C at night.
The average day temperature was 16C (60F)

The average night temperature was 9C (48F)

Highest day was on the 1st at 22C (72F)

Highest night was on the 1st at 15C (59F)

The coldest day was 14C (57F) on five days.

The coldest night was 2C (37F) on the 31st.

Total rainfall for the month was 2.5 inches (64mm), average for December.



At last Peregrine Falcon makes it on the Alcossebre list.

61 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in November 2014.

Peregrine Falcon finally made it on to the Alcossebre list – a fine male flying along the coast on the 29th November.
That gives a total of 226 species seen here in the 13 years of study.

Of the 61 species seen this month 12 species show an increase in numbers compared to the 13 year average.
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Sandwich Tern, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Cetti´s warbler, Common Magpie, Goldfinch and Corn Bunting.
On the downside 29 species show a marked decrease.
Little Egret, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Northern Lapwing, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Skylark, Crag Martin, White wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Common Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Serin, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting and Reed Bunting.
One of the main factors influencing this decrease is the continuing mild weather, with less species forced away from their breeding areas. It will be interesting to see if December brings an influx of birds, driven here by colder weather?
Balearic Shearwaters appeared for the first time since January, on the 15th November, and built up to a maximum of 110 birds.
A total of 596 Great Cormorants passed through this month.
Cattle Egrets peaked at 50 birds this month.
As well as the Peregrine Falcon mentioned above, four other birds of prey were seen. Single Northern Sparrowhawks, Booted Eagle and Common Buzzard. Up to four Common Kestrels held winter territories.

Only two species of wader were seen. Two Northern Lapwing on the 11th, and a single Whimbrel frequenting the rocky coastline from the 22nd to the 27th.
Five species of gull were seen this month. Three species already mentioned are well down in numbers – Mediterranean Gulls (3 birds), Black-headed Gulls (8 birds) and Lesser Black-back Gulls (5 birds). Again the milder weather affects these birds. More people walking along the coast, disturbing the gulls from their coastal roosts.
Both Audouin´s Gulls (80 birds) and Yellow-legged Gulls (70 birds) seem to cope better with this type of disturbance.
The only winter tern species we have here is the Sandwich Tern, which is in above average numbers with up to 60 birds seen daily.
Wood Pigeon numbers are at a 13 year high – 105 birds max. – despite the attention of the hunters.
Collared Dove numbers are down – 40 birds max. – even though the hunters do not shoot them.

Little Owl numbers are at a 13 year low, with only a single bird seen all month.
Hoopoe numbers are low, with only a maximum of four birds seen.

Two Ravens flew over the bowls club on the 2nd November, only my 6th record here.
The two lark species seen this month provide a contrast.
The resident Crested Lark is in above average numbers with a maximum of 18 birds seen.
Wintering Common Skylark numbers are way below average numbers with a maximum of 47 birds counted.
Up to 10 wintering Crag Martins were seen – more easily seen in centre of Alcossebre than in the rural farmland.
Two late Barn Swallows flew south, on the 3rd and 17th November.
Six species of warbler were seen, most struggling to reach decent numbers.
The only warbler out of the six to be in good numbers (for here) was the Cetti´s Warbler with three birds holding a winter territory.
The rest, Common Chiffchaff (12 birds), Zitting Cisticola (5 birds), Blackcap (7 birds), Dartford Warbler (1 bird) and Sardinian Warbler (12 birds) were all below the 13 year average.
Passage Eurasian Robins peaked at 21 birds on the 1st November. Thereafter a maximum of eight wintering birds were seen daily.

Wintering Black Redstart numbers were at a 13 year high with a maximum of 29 birds counted.
A maximum of 14 Common Stonechats was also well above average numbers.
The same could not be said for wintering Song Thrush numbers, with only a maximum of 12 birds counted.
Resident Common Blackbird numbers don’t seem to be increased by winter birds, only two pairs noted.

While only single wintering Grey Wagtails were seen, up to 30 White Wagtails were seen. Resident birds swelled by winter birds.

Meadow Pipits, like the Black Redstarts, were at a 13 year high in numbers, with up to a 100 birds counted.

Of the four species of bunting seen in November, only Corn Bunting were in above average numbers – max. of 20 birds. Only single Cirl Bunting and Rock Buntings were noted.
The first wintering Reed Buntings arrived on the 3rd November, thereafter one or two birds seen.
Five species of finch were seen this month.
Only Common Chaffinch (40 birds) and Goldfinch (80 birds) were in good numbers.
The other three species were well below in numbers Greenfinch (9 birds), Linnet (9 birds) and Serin (12 birds).

Alcossebre weather in November 2014.

A mixed month for weather, with some weeks feeling like summer, and some feeling like winter!
The first week was mainly fine and sunny. There was a blip on the 4th November, with some rain and moderate/strong winds through the night.

The second week was mixed, with only two days fine and sunny. Five days had variable amounts of cloud. There were two days with light showers of rain, with some heavier rain on the 11th November.
The third week was the best of the month. With six days of fine and sunny weather. Even on the 21st November, with an overcast start that cleared to sunny spells. Winds were in a settled mode too, with gentle NE winds in the morning and gentle SE in the afternoon.
The fourth week was more like winter, with six days of overcast and dull conditions. We had three days of light rain.
The last two days of the month gave us more rain than the rest of the month put together. There was moderate to strong NE winds on the 30th.

Average day temperature was 20C (68F).
Average night temperature was 12C (53F).
Highest day temperature was 24C (75F) on the 1st, 2nd and 7th.
Lowest day temperature was 12C (53F) on the 11th.
Highest night temperature was 18C (64F) on the 2nd and 24th.
Lowest night temperature was 8C (F) on the 18th and 19th.
Total rainfall was 4.7 inches (120mm) over nine days.

A good variety of birds in October.

73 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in October 2014.
Although there were no new species added to the list there were three new species for the year. Common Shelduck, Woodlark and Long-tailed Tit.
There were nine species seen for the first time this autumn. Northern Lapwing, Skylark, Crag Martin, Common Chiffchaff, Dartford Warbler, European Robin, Meadow Pipit, Rock Bunting and Common Chaffinch.

There was an almost daily passage of birds.

Highlights were as follows:- Two Common Shelduck flying east over the sea on the 27th were the first this year. Also on the 27th, 20 Greater Flamingo’s flew east.

A total of 1174 Great Cormorants flew south this month, with 267 birds through on the 27th.

10 Great Egrets flew south on the 17th October, and 11 Little Egrets on the 1st.

Resident Cattle Egrets peaked at 50 birds on the 24th October.

The only Black-crowned Night Heron was seen on the 8th, at Torre de Capycorp pond.

A high count of 120 Glossy Ibis flew south over the sea on the 26th October.

An Osprey was seen being mobbed by Magpie’s, in the rural farmland on the 13th October.

A Black Kite flew south along the coast on the 5th.

Two Short-toed Eagles were soaring together on the 16th October.

Single Northern Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard were seen sporadically throughout the month.

A Booted Eagle flew south over the bowling club on the 16th October.

Single Hobbie’s were seen on the 2nd and 16th, both inland.

Up to three Common Kestrel were seen throughtout the month.

The only wading bird seen was Northern Lapwing, one to four birds in the rural farmland from the 17th to 26th October.

Gull numbers were very low with a maximum of 48 Black-headed Gulls, 40 Audouin’s Gulls, 21 Yellow-legged Gulls and only one LesserBlack-back Gull seen.

The only species of tern seen – Sandwich Tern – peaked at 48 birds on the 28th October.

Numbers of both Wood Pigeon (130 birds), and Collared Dove (70 birds), continue to rise.

Little Owl numbers are very low, with only one or two birds seen daily.

A maximum of six Hoopoe’s were seen – average numbers.

The first Skylarks of the autumn arrived on the 17th  - 15 birds seen.

Three Woodlarks seen in the rural farmland were the first this year. 

Resident Crested Larks peaked at 20 birds on the on the 8th October.

The last Sand Martin was seen flying south on the 8th, the same day that the wintering Crag Martins arrived. 

A minimum of 914 Barn Swallows flew south, with a peak of 230 birds per hour on the 2nd October.

Unusually no House Martins were seen this month.

Four Long-tailed Tit’s seen on the 18th October, were the first this year.

Resident Great Tit’s peaked at eight birds.

So far three Cetti’s Warbler are holding winter territories.

Only single passage Willow Warbler’s were seen, up to the 17th October. 

The first of the wintering Common Chiffchaff’s were seen on the 16th, with a peak of 13 birds on the 25th.

Up to six Zitting Cisticola’s were seen, very low numbers.


Wintering Blackcap numbers peaked at 10 birds on the 25th October.

The last Spectacled Warbler – a female – was seen on the 1st October.

The first Dartford Warbler of winter arrived on the 23rd October, at the coast.

The last passage Subalpine Warbler were seen on the 2nd – a pair.

The last Spotted Flycatcher was seen on the 7th, and the last Pied Flycatcher on the 17th October.

The first winter European Robin arrived on the 17th, peaking at 18 birds on the 31st.

Wintering Black Redstarts are in very good numbers with a maximum of 33 birds counted. Females as usual outnumbering males by seven birds to one.

The last passage Common Redstart was seen on the 17th October.

Up to three Northern Wheatears were seen throughout the month.

Wintering Stonechats peaked at 13 birds.

In stark contrast, only one Common Blackbird was seen.

Passage/wintering Song Thrush peaked at 23 birds on the 24th October.

The last passage Blue-headed Wagtails were seen on the 21st October.

Only single wintering Grey Wagtails were seen.

Passage/wintering White Wagtails peaked at 42 birds, and Meadow Pipits at 51 birds.

The first wintering Rock Bunting was seen at the coast on the 16th October.

Resident Corn Buntings peaked at 16 birds on the 25th.

The first of the wintering Common Chaffinches arrived on the 17th, and peaked at 25 birds on the26th October.

Alcossebre Weather in October 2014.

The first three weeks saw above average temperatures – 36C (96F) on the 16th October e.g. and it was very dry.

The last week returned to more normal temperatures.

The average day temperature was 27C (80F)

The average night temperature was 16C (60F)

Highest day temperature was 36C (96F) on the 16th October.

Highest night temperature was 21C (70F) on the 27th october.

Coldest day temperature was 24C (75F) on five days.

Coldest night temperature was 12C (53F) on the 23rd October.

Total rainfall for the month was 0.5 inches (13mm), the avearge for October is 5.7 inches!


A good month for birds including bird of the year.

The Birdman of Alcossebre – September 2014 Bird News.
A good month for migrants, and the bird of the year turns up.

72 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in September 2014.
Two new species were added to the Alcossebre list - Dotterel and Little Stint.

Male Dotterel

There were first year records for Common Teal, Black Kite, Hobby, Green Sandpiper, Caspian Tern and Western Bonelli´s Warbler.

There were first autumn records for Osprey, Common Buzzard,Curlew, Cetti´s Warbler, Blackcap, Spectacled Warbler, Black Redstart, Stonechat and Tawny Pipit.

I had the company of Paul Harvey from Cumbria on the day the Dotterel turned up, and the company of Barbara and Derek Plummer from Wellingborough when Derek spotted an Eleonora´s Falcon.

Highlights of the month.
A Little Grebe was present throughout the month on Torre de Capycorp pond.
A total of 98 Grey Herons passed through this month.
Three species of Egret were seen.
Eight Great Egrets passed through on the 3rd and one on the 6th.
Only two Little Egrets were seen, on the 13th.
Resident Cattle Egrets were seen throughout – maximum 15 birds.
Eight species of birds of prey were seen.
An Osprey on the 18th was the first this autumn.

Two Black Kites were seen on the 14th and the 24th.
One or two Short-toed Eagles were seen up to the 7th.
Single passage Northern Sparrowhawks were seen on the 10th,14th,25th & 30th.
The first Common Buzzard of autumn was seen on the 30th Sepember.
One Booted Eagle was seen on the 10th.
One to four Common Kestrels were seen throughout the month.
A Hobby on the 24th was the first this year.
Single Eleonora´s Falcons were seen on the 7th and 16th.
The fine male Dotterel turned up in the magic field on the 5th September.
Why is it called the magic field? Because for what ever reason it keeps turning up rare birds! This was a first record for Alcossebre, and indeed the first I had seen in Spain.
One to three Common Sandpipers were seen through out the month.
A Green Sandpiper on the 6th, was the first record this year.
A Common Curlew was the first this autumn on the 18th.

A Little Stint on the 26th at Capycorp lagoon was my first record here.

Only four species of gull were seen this month. Black-headed Gulls peaked at 110 birds on the 24th, flying in one flock catching flying ants!
Numbers of both Audouin´s Gulls (max. 7 birds) and Yellow-legged Gulls (max. 13 birds) were on the low side for this time of the year.
Two Caspian Terns flying south on the 3rd were the first seen this year.
Sandwich Terns were seen through out, with a maximum of seven birds, very low numbers.
Wood Pigeon ( 70 birds max.) and Collared Doves (26 birds max.) were seen daily, but there was only two Turtle Dove seen, on the 11th and 30th.
Up to three Little Owls were seen daily.
A Pallid Swift on the 5th was the only swift species seen this month.
Single Kingfishers were seen on Torre pond on three occasions.
Up to 30 Bee-eaters were seen up to the last on 7th September.
Up to nine Hoopoe´s were seen on a daily basis, good numbers for this month.
A juvenile Woodchat Shrike was seen up to the 13th September.
The last Golden Oriole was seen on the 8th September.
Common Magpies peaked at 18 birds on the 18th.
Resident Crested Larks peaked at 19 birds on the 23rd.
A total of 42 Sand Martins passed through this month, in contrast to 1,524 Barn Swallows, they peaked at 295 birds per hour south on the 18th September.
Small numbers of Red-rumped Swallows passed through – 23 birds, with a peak of eight birds on the 1st.
A total of 220 House Martins passed through, with a peak of 54 on the 3rd.
Eight species of warbler were seen this month.
The first Cetti´s Warbler announced it´s precence at Capycorp lagoon on the
16th September.
Passage Willow Warbler numbers have been low this month, total of 13 birds. With a peak of three birds on the 8th September.
A Western Bonellí´s Warbler on the 13th, was the first this year.
Resident Zitting Cisticola´s peaked at four birds on the 11th.
The first autumn Blackcaps arrived on the 24th September, with three birds seen.
A female Spectacled Warbler on the 26th was the first this autumn, joined by a second female on the 30th.
It has been a good autumn for numbers of passage Subalpine Warblers, with a total of 23 birds seen.
Resident Sardinian Warblers peaked at nine birds on the 16th.
A total of 17 Spotted Flycatchers passed through this month, in contrast to only 10 Pied Flycatchers – normally Pied out number Spotted in the autumn.
The first Black Redstart of autumn arrived on the 21st September.
Only two passage Common Redstarts were seen.
A total of 40 Northern Wheatears passed through, with a peak of eight birds on the 25th September.
In contrast, only four Whinchats were seen.
The first Stonechat of autumn arrived on the 26th September.
There was a small passage of Blue-headed Wagtails from the 19th to the end of the month, total of 12 birds.
A total of 39 White Wagtails passed through, with a peak of five birds on the 21st.
The magic field had two Tawny Pipits on the 10th and 11th September. The first this autumn.

Alcossebre Weather in September 2014.

The first 20 days in September were mainly fine sunny and dry, with above average temperatures.
The last 10 days in September were very mixed with four thunderstorms and torrential rain. We had more rain in the four days than we have had all year!

Average day temperature was 29C (84F).
Average night temperature was 21C (70F).
Highest day temperature was 34C (93F) on the 11th.
Lowest day temperature was 24C (75F) on the 22nd,23rd and 28th.
Highest night temperature was 26C (78F) on the 3rd.
Lowest night temperature was 16C (60F) on the 26th.

Total rainfall was 11.8 inches (302 mm) over eight days.
The wettest day was the 22nd, with 3.8 inches of rain.
The average rainfall for September is 5.7 inches, so double the average.
It was 2C above the average daytime temperature and 3C above the avearge nightime temperature.

After a slow start migrants come through on a daily basis.

58 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in August 2014.
No new species were added to the Alcossebre list this month.

Movements/passage in August
Eight Black-headed Gulls and nine Sandwich Terns flew south west on the 1st.
No passage on the 2nd or the 3rd.
The first Sand Martins of autumn came through on the 4th.
No passage birds on the 5th, 6th or 7th.
One Grey Heron south west over the sea on the 8th.
One Cormorant east and five Grey Herons south west on the 9th.
One Cormorant east over the sea and a light phase Eleonora´s Falcon soaring above my Casa! On the 10th,the only record this month.

Eight Audoiun´s Gulls south west over the sea on the 11th.
One Cormorant east, one Greater Flamingo and nine Grey Herons south west over the sea, on the 12th.
No passage birds on the 13th.
A Common Kingfisher appeared in the garden today - the 14th – the first since the 12th February.
There were no passage birds on the 15th or 16th.
The first Little Grebe of the year, in an unexpected place Torre de Capycorp pond – stayed to the end of the month. First Subalpine Warblers and Common Starlings arrived. All on the 17th.

Three Little Egrets south west over the sea on the 18th.

One Grey Heron east inland, two new Subalpine Warblers, and an increase in Barn Swallows and House Martin numbers. All on the 19th.

No passage birds on the 20th, but Golden Orioles peaked at nine birds today.
One new Subalpine Warbler on the 21st, and the last Red-necked Nightjar was seen.
First Northern Wheatear of autumn on the 22nd.

A juvenile Woodchat Shrike, a female Northern Wheatear and two Subalpine Warblers new arrivals on the 23rd.

Nine Greater Flamingos south west, three Greater Flamingos south west, as were two Cormorants, one Grey Heron and 19 Black-headed Gulls. All on the 24th.
Overnight arrivals on the 25th of two Northern Wheatears, two Whinchats and one Common Redstart. A Turtle Dove was the first since the 23rd June, and Red-rumped Swallows peaked at nine birds.

The first Common Sandpiper and Pied Flycatcher of autumn, and a Kingfisher on Torre de Capycorp pond. All on the 26th.

Two Spotted Flycatchers were new arrivals on the 27th, and Bee eaters peaked at 27 birds.
Eight Black-crowned Night Herons east and the first Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat of autumn on the 28th.
One Grey Heron and nine Black-headed Gulls south west over the sea on the 29th, and a passage Common Nightingale was in sub song at the sewage pond. There was also an unusual sighting of a Little Owl catching and eating a Common Blackbird! The rest of the Blackbirds family mobbed the Owl – two adults and four juveniles.
A female Northern Sparrowhawk and two Blue-headed Wagtails were the first this autumn, plus two new Spotted Flycatchers, on the 30th.

Four Grey Herons south west inland, finished off the months passage birds on the 31st.

Alcossebre Weather for August 2014.

The weather in August this year was unusual in three respects.
One there was a lot more cloud than usual – 19 days were either overcast or sunny with cloudy spells.
Two there were moderate winds on 12 of the 31 days.
Three there were moderate seas running on 13 days.

Average day temperature was 32C (89F).
Average night temperature was 23C (73F).
Highest day temperature was 38C (100F) on the 26th.
Lowest day temperature was 29C (84F) on the 3rd.
Highest night temperature was 25C (77F) on the 29th.
Lowest night temperature was 21C (70F) on the 17th,19th and 23rd.
Total rainfall was 3.7 inches (94 mm) over seven days.
Monthly average is 2.1 inches.
Heaviest rain was on the 15th with 1.3 inches (33 mm).
It was 2C warmer by day and night, compared to the monthly average.

Still some passage birds, but time to take stock on the breeding birds.

46 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in July 2014.
No new species were added to the Alcoseebre list which stands at 223 species.
Movements/passage in July.

Three Mallard east over the sea on the 1st were the first this year!
One Great Cormorant east on the 5th.
10 Black-headed Gulls south west on the 8th.
39 Black-headed Gulls south west on the 9th, also 280 Common and Pallid Swifts per hour north west, with one Alpine Swift.
The first Woodchat Shrike since the first of June, on the 12th.
32 Glossy Ibis south west on the 15th.
Two Grey Herons east on the 18th.
One juvenile Northern Gannet and three Black-headed Gulls south west on the 19th.
10 Black-headed Gulls and 18 Sandwich Terns south west , and 300 Common and Pallid Swifts per hour north west, again with one Alpine Swift. All on the 20th.
372 Common and Pallid Swifts per hour north west on the 21st.
A dark phase Eleonora´s Falcon arrived on the 22nd.
One Great Cormorant and Grey Heron east. Three Cattle Egrets were the first this month, and the first juvenile Woodchat Shrike was seen. All on the 23rd.

Five Grey Herons south west over the sea on the 27th, and the first young Red-rumped Swallows seen.

One Curlew south west inland was the first this year on the 28th.
24 Sandwich Terns south west on the 31st.

Breeding Birds.
As in every year some breeding birds have a good year and others had a poor year. Some species still give cause for concern.
We added one species to the breeding list this year - Scops Owl.
Three species did not breed this year, Turtle Dove, Reed Warbler and Linnet.
A total of 33 species bred or attempted to breed.
The full list with comments follows :-
Short-toed Eagle. One pair held territory this year, so far no sign of young birds.
Eurasian Kestrel. They have had a good season with four pairs holding territory.

Common Moorhen. Normally this species has three places where they breed.
This year two of the places have undergone changes. Torre estate pond was drained and given a good clean out. by the time it was refilled it was too late for the Moorhens to breed. The sewage pond was also lost, because the sewage works was de commissioned, and the pond dried out.
The only place left was Capycorp lagoon which also nearly dried out.
So as a result, for the first time in 13 years, no breeding Moorhens.
Common Woodpigeon. Considering there were no breeding pairs of Wood Pigeon 13 years ago, the species has increased dramatically.
At least 18 pairs bred or attempted to breed this year.
Eurasian Collared Dove. This is another species that has had a good breeding season. With some 16 pairs bred or attempted to breed.
Great Spotted Cuckoo. Although there was only one pair of this species this spring, they managed to lay their eggs in at least three Magpie nests.
Three Great Spotted Cuckoo young hatched out. One succumbed, after wandering into another Magpies territory, and got severely attacked.

Little Owl. This species had a better breeding season that I thought, after poor winter numbers. Five pairs held territory.

Scops Owl. This species is a new addition to the breeding list of Alcossebre.
No less than three pairs were holding territory.
Unfortunately one pairs breeding area – a large suburban garden – got bulldozed, as the owners were putting the property up for sale.
I don’t know if the other two pairs were successful.
Red-necked Nightjar. This is another species that is difficult to assess their their breeding results, being nocturnal. Three displaying males were noted.
European Bee eater. this species is much easier to monitor! Two pairs nested in the dry river beds. One pair fledged two young, but the other pair failed.
Eurasian Hoopoe. This species usually does well here, and this year was no exception, with at least 11 pairs holding territory.
Woodchat Shrike. This is a species that is in decline here. This year one pair raised one young. In past years there have been three or four pairs.
Eurasian Golden Oriole. This species is on the increase here. Nine pairs held territory this year, with a good number of juvenile birds seen.

Eurasian Magpie. Apart from the three pairs that raised Great Spotted Cuckoo young, a further seven pairs raised normal young.
Crested Lark. This is the only breeding lark here. Seven or eight pairs nested in their favoured Artichoke fields.
Barn Swallow. Some 28 pairs of this species nested, an average year. The first birds to fledge were seen on the 28th May.
Red-rumped Swallow. This species first nested here in 2010. This year two pairs nested. A pair were seen mud gathering for their nest on the 26th May. By the 27th July they had fledged four young. The other pair failed to rear any.

House Martin. This species are more successful when they build their nests on public buildings. If they build on private property they are likely to get their nests knocked down, because of their droppings.
About pairs nested successfully.
Great Tit. this is the only species of tit that breed here. This year nine pairs bred. The first young were seen on the 28th May.
Common Nightingale. Some nine pairs of Nightingale were seen to hold territories, below average numbers. The first birds were heard on the 14th April.
Melodious Warbler. This species had their poorest breeding season in 13 years study. The first bird was heard on the 29th April. Out of seven pairs holding territory, Only two pairs were heard alarm calling, a sure sign they have fledged young.

Zitting Cisticola. One of the species giving cause for concern. Only seven pairs holding territory. In 2008 there were 18 pairs holding territory.
A reduction in their main breeding habitat – grassland with low growing shrubs -
due to more farmland coming under cultivation, may well be the cause.

Sardinian Warbler. As this species is less specialised in habitat preference – a frequent garden nester – it is more successful.
This year at least 15 pairs held territory.

Spotted Flycatcher. This species had an average breeding season, with three pairs nesting. Like the Sardinian Warbler a frequent garden nester.

Eurasian Blackbird. This species is not a common nesting bird here, being more frequent in the main part of Alcossebre, rather than the rural parts.
This year three pairs held territory, an average breeding year.

White Wagtail. The only species of wagtail that breeds in this area, and even at that not common. One pair bred, and brought their two young to my garden to feed.

Spotless Starling. This species breeds here in good numbers, most farms and large houses have a breeding pair. i estimated about 30 breeding pairs this year.
Corn Bunting. This species breeds some years and not in others. This year was one of the non breeding years, with just one adult seen.
European Greenfinch. About nine pairs nested this year, like all the breeding finches, this a poor total.

European Goldfinch. About 14 pairs bred this year, another poor total.

European Serin. The commonest breeding finch here, but with only 18 pairs breeding, it represents another poor total.

If the finches were in poor breeding numbers, the two breeding Sparrows – House and Tree – were in much better numbers. The two pairs of Tree Sparrows breeding in my garden had time to raise two broods each.

Alcossebre Weather in July 2014.

July was the usual hot and mainly dry month, with higher than average day temperatures.
Average day temperature was 33C (91F).
Average night temperature was 22C (72F).
Highest day temperature was 36C (96F) on the 16th.

Lowest day temperature was 27C (80F) on the 3rd.
Highest night temperature was 25C (77F) on the 20th.
Lowest night temperature was 18C (64F) on the 4th.
Total rainfall was 0.5 inches (13mm) over five days.
It was 3C higher by day and 1C higher by night than the average for July.
Rainfall was just under the average for July.
Winds were mainly light and gentle. With moderate to strong winds on 10 days.

A quiet month, but still some passage birds.

53 species were seen in the Alcossebre area in June 2014.
No new species were added to the list this month.
A Great Egret on the 6th June was a first this year.
Single Marsh Harriers on the 12th and 23rd were a first June record.
Two Common Terns on the 9th June were a first this year.

One Grey Heron south west on the 1st June.
A late Sand Martin east on the 2nd June.
11 Cattle Egrets south west on the 4th June.

One Black headed Gull east on the 5th June.
A Great Egret east over the sea on the 6th June, was the first this year.
Two Purple Herons south west over the sea, two Common Terns off shore, were a first this year, and two late Sand Martins, all on the 9th June.
Two Squacco Herons south west on the 10th June.
One female Marsh Harrier on the 12th was a first June record.

Two Glossy Ibis and one Grey Heron south west over the sea, and a Black winged Stilt at Capycorp beach, all on the 13th June.

One Black crowned Night Heron, 17 Audouins Gulls and 6 Yellow legged Gulls all east over the sea on the 15th June.
One Great Cormorant and three Grey Herons south west over the sea on the 16th June.
One Little Egret east inland on the 18th June.
A male Montagu’s Harrier inland on the 19th June was a first for the month.
One Grey Heron south west over the sea on the 21st June.
One Great Cormorant east, female Montagu’s Harrier, and the first Turtle Dove of the month, all on the 23rd June.

Two Grey Herons east over the sea, the first Short toed Eagle of the month, and 200 each per hour, Pallid and Common Swifts flying north west into the wind. All on the 25th June.

Two Grey Herons south west, and one Little Egret east on the 26th June.
18 Great Cormorants east over the sea, and two Grey Herons south west on the 27th June.
Five Black headed Gulls south west on the 28th.

Alcossebre Weather in June 2014.

Above average temperatures, windy days, and some thunderstorms.

The first week in June was mainly fine and sunny. However daily winds kept the temperatures down.

The second week started off with three days of overcast and dull conditions, clearing to fine, sunny and hot in the afternoon. The last four days were mainly fine and sunny, with light/gentle south east winds.

The third week in June was really mixed, with only two days of fine and sunny weather. A further two days were mainly cloudy. Three days had thunder storms, bringing the first rain of the month.

The fourth week was similar to the third week. Two days of fine and sunny days. The rest mixed with overcast and thundery conditions. There was torrential rain on the 24th with 1.5 inches . Four days also had moderate to strong winds.

The last two days of June had fine and sunny weather, but still with a moderate wind.

Average day temperature was 30C (86F)
Average night temperature was 20C (68F)
Highest day temperature was 34C (93F) on five days.
Lowest day temperature was 24C (75F) on the 17th.
Highest night temperature was 23C (73F) on the 19th and 29th.
Lowest night temperature was 16C (60F) on the 3rd.
Total rainfall was 1.8 inches (45mm) over five days.

It was 2C above average day and night temperatures for June.