Sheer seawatching

Balearic Shearwater, Puffinus mauretanicus

 Balearic Shearwater, Puffinus mauretanicus.

Pomarine Skua Stercoraius pomarinus in the Mediterranean Sea

Pomarine Skua, Stercorarius pomarinus. Photo by Erik. 

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus. Photo by Toni Boyer.

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus in the Mediterranean Sea

Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus. Photo by Toni Boyer. 

All of the photos here were taken on the 12th and 14th May during a training course “Identification of Marine Birds of Catalonia” for the rural agents of Catalonia. Our vessel sailed from the port of Tarragona and headed straight out to sea; on board were 17 rural agents, the skipper, first mate and myself (teacher).


  Marine birds course at Tarragona

Seawatching off Tarragona on a sunny day

We didn’t really know what to expect; some shearwaters, gulls and the odd skua or two, perhaps. In fact we had a lot more than we dared hope for, including a rarity for Catalonia in the shape of a Sooty Shearwater – up to 2008 there had only been 12 records of this species off the Catalan coast.

We also enjoyed great views of numerous Balearic and Mediterranean Shearwaters, 2 Pomarine Skuas, a Great Skua, an Arctic Skua, a single Storm Petrel, Audouin’s, Lesser Black-backed, Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls and, what for most was the star of the day, a Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus.  


Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii 

Audouin’s Gull, Larus audouinii. Photo by Erik.

Great Skua, Stercorarius skua.

Great Skua, Stercorarius skua. 

That was all on Wednesday 12th May. What would Friday 14th May bring?

Marine Birds according to José

 Artist José’s impression of Steve West during the “Marine Birds of Catalunya” course held at Vila-seca



Caricature of Steve West 


Many thanks for your drawings José! You’re an artist. I don’t know how you got my knees right without ever seeing them!

Curset: Ocells de la Franja Litoral

Els agents rurals (“forestals”) de les 4 provincies de Catalunya van assistir a un curset a Salou els dies 12, 13 i 14 d’abril. “Identificació d’aus del litoral català”.

Agents rurals “forestals” en el Delta del Llobregat

Agents forestals dins del hide a la reserva Remolar-Filipines

En total vam passar unes 20 hores junts, incloent-hi un dia sencer en el camp, tot posant en pràctica els coneixements adquirits a l’aula. La reserva de Remolar-Filipines (Delta del Llobregat) va donar molt de si (a més d’una sorpresa molt agradable en forma d’un Rascletó Porzana parva). Hi havia també un gran nombre d’ànecs i de limicoles, el Xarrasclet, un Territ de Temminck, Tètols, Becplaners, …

Desprès del nostre picnic a la platja vam pujar al massís de Garraf, on l’única cosa que es movia era una parella d’Aguila Cuabarrada. Al poble del mateix nom vam caminar al peu dels penya-segats. Aquí vam veure Merla Blava, Còlit Negre, Falcó Pelegrí, Tallareta Vulgar, Cotxa Cua-roja entre altres.

Agents rurals participants en el curset “Identificació d¡ocells de la franja litoral catalana”

Participants en el curset. Tots contents perque ningú va suspendre l’evaluació final!

Unique T-shirts available

We’ve really splashed out here at BirdinginSpain and have just had 100 unique T-shirts printed with the logo. The logo is on a white background and the size range includes S, M, L, XL and XXL. t-shirt

These T-shirts will not be available to the general public I’m afraid. Only to clients, and on request.

BirdingInSpain guide with new t-shirt

By the way, I must admit I got a bit of a shock when Florinda politely observed that my size was more of an XL than an L or even an M!

Lammergeier hides close for summer

This last season our Lammergeier hides have been used by no fewer than 33 bird and wildlife photographers. Not one of them returned home without a good number of photographs of Lammergeier, Black Vulture and Griffon Vulture. The later visitors also had Egyptian Vulture.

Access to the Lammergeier hides for photography is now closed until October. In that time we are planning to make a series of important and interesting improvements, which will mean greater comfort, more photographic possibilities and more convenient logistical arrangements for our demanding clients!

We will keep you informed. For the moment we would like to issue a huge THANK YOU to all of our clients who deposited a great deal of trust in us. And another one to all of them who graciously shared some of their hard-earned fruits with the rest of the bird photography community. One such person is Jonny Verheyden, who has kindly given us permission to reproduce one of his superb Lammergeier photos on this blog.

Lammergeier, Gypaetus barbatus. Also called the Bearded Vulture.

Lammergeier in flight by Jonny Verheyden.

2 days of spring glory

Poppies and birding in Spain. 

We can’t thank you enough for such a great trip! It was wonderful, and made us hungry for more.


John looks happy.

I’ve finally gotten my lists more or less in order and find I have more than thirty life birds, but finding new birds didn’t mean as much as the wonder of the days—clouds of swifts above and carpets of poppies below.


Looking for the Orphean Warbler.

The two days I spent with you both, showing you the birds and the landscapes around my home in Lleida were a pleasure for me too. Thank you John and Ann, and may you have many more marvellous birding experiences!

Birdtreks Spring Spain Tour Top 20

Favorite birds of the SPAIN TOUR,
conducted 15-27 April 2010, as voted upon by the 11 participants & 2 leaders.

Rank Species   Points  Votes  First place votes

1 LAMMERGEIER    105     12    7
2 Great Bustard           60      9
3 Wallcreeper               57      6     4
4 Collared Pratincole   39      8
5 Firecrest                    35      6     1
6 Ring Ouzel                 32      7     1
7 Black Wheatear        32      6
8 Dartford Warbler     28      6
9 Little Bustard           28      5
10 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse    22      5
11 Azure-winged Magpie    18      4
12 Wryneck      18      3
13 Spanish Imperial Eagle    15      3
14 Little Bittern     15      3
15 Red Kite       15      2
16 Garganey     14      2
17 Crested Tit   13      2
18 Montagu’s Harrier     9      1
19 Audouin’s Gull      8      3
20 Snowfinch      8      1

The Lammergeier strikes again!

Lammergeier, Gypaetus barbatus

Lammergeier, Gypaetus barbatus. Reproduced with kind permission of wildlife photographer Jonny Verheyden.

For tour participants there is now a story behind all of these names. And each story will have its own personal touch.

The best of Spanish greetings to Bob and Nancy at Birdtreks and to the Westchester Bird Club members who participated in this unforgettable tour!