Another winter waterbird count

Winter waterbirds

This has been going on for more than 20 years now…

Another winter waterbird count organized by the Agenda 21 team of the Lleida City Council. Guide: yours truly. Weather: cold! We started at around -5ºC, so it kind of felt like winter, and it was good to know that I still have all my cold weather gear under control: gloves with finger flaps, woolly hat and neck gaiter, thick socks…

counting winter waterbirds

Steve and Esther: Yeah, same as last year…

Well armed there were 10 of us who braved the cold. First stop was the little Teal haven at La Mitjana, where it seems that every winter more and more Eurasian Teal (in double figures) rub shoulders with floating plastic and reeds, together with Mallard and the odd Moorhen and Grey Wagtail.
From there we hastened to the pier by the River Segre, which is usually the tour de force of la Mitjana. This time though only a couple of Little Grebes, a few Moorhens, and 70 or so Mallards, all distant and through the telescope misting over rapidly in the combination of masks and cold air.

As we strolled through what Esther claims is the largest gallery woodland site in Catalonia it was good to hear the three local woodpeckers making themselves noted: the Iberian Green, the Great Spotted, and the now regular but still uncommon Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Winter waterbird count Lleida

Esther wins the prize for dynamic posing

The Bassa Gran was as empty as predicted, and we hastened the round past a couple of Great White Herons to reach the other wetland site, the Rufea wetlands, in good time. It was a relaxed stroll, with around 30 Grey Herons already staking out their nesting sites among the reedbed, a small number of Cormorants in the trees, 3 Marsh Harriers patrolling, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, a couple of sleepy Shoveler and 4 even sleepier (not sure they weren’t frozen!) unidentified ducks. We watched them for 15 minutes but not even a flicker from them. Shoveler! Gadwall? Teal, even? No, just couldn’t tell.

Enjoying the new observation tower at Rufea. At this stage maybe more chatting than observing. 

Then a little adventure crossing the new floating walkway, slightly frozen over. Up to the top of the new observation tower, and a good place to recap before finalizing the count with a Kingfisher calling somewhere out of view.

Leave a Reply