Friday, 19 April 2013

Llobregat and Garraf, Catalonia.......

19 Apr - A full day's birding with Carles from Barcelona birding point. The weather was better than forecast, sunny in the morning, and a cloudy afternoon with only a few spots of rain. A very successful day bird-wise, with 112 species seen....we started at the River Llobregat, where birds on the tide included Greater Flamingoes, Audouin's and a Med Gull, Avocet and a Spoonbill, and flyover Night and Purple Herons. We then moved on, via an obliging pair of nest-building Penduline Tits, to the Garraf mountain range (4)above Barcelona, excellent for a different range of species - Dartford Warblers were numerous, Black-eared Wheatear and Cirl Bunting were also seen (alas no Rock Thrush despite searching). Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes were singing, and highlights were a Bonellis's Eagle returning to its nesting site, and a pair of displaying Short-toed Eagles, newly arrived from Africa. Bonelli's Warblers, Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts were seen on passage here. As the day warmed up, we moved on via a breeding site for Red-rumped Swallows (5-6) and Rock Bunting (on the coast road) to the Llobregat reserve (1-3), being greeted down the approach road by several superb Bee-Eaters (7-8) on migration. Despite being adjacent to Barcelona airport, the reedbeds and lagoons here held an amazing variety of birds, including Purple (15) and Squacco Herons, and a Little Bittern was glimpsed in flight - also a small colony of Black-winged Stilts (12-14) and Collared Pratincoles (9-11), migrating waders including both Little and Temminck's Stints, and 2 Curlew Sandpipers in summer plumage - and singing Great Reed and Reed Warblers, plus numerous Cetti's Warblers. A flock a Swifts moving in front of a thundercloud held 4-5 Hobby-like Alpine Swifts, en route to a final stop at a seawatch and coastal birding tower that gave us Balearic Shearwaters, close Audouin's Gulls (16-17) and Med Gulls, and more migrant waders including Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit. The days total was an outstanding 112 species.

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