Spring 2023 reports 3: Citril Finches, Great Spotted Cuckoos and migrants galore

Little-Bustards-males and female, on the drylands of Lleida, by Dave Brassey

This was a Heatherlea tour led by Steve West and John Muddemann

Heatherlea-group-2023: Spain for birds and butterflies tour

Birds and butterflies was the focus

  • We got lots of birds, and some interesting butterflies too, despite the poor weather limiting “butterfly days” to a couple of mornings and an afternoon!
  • We spent 3 days near Puigcerdà, and 3 days in Birding In Spain’s home town, Lleida

Some birds from our Puigcerdà base were:

Citril Finch, Lammergeier, Ring Ouzel, Common Rock Thrush, Alpine Chough, Water Pipit, Common Crossbill, Yellowhammer, Red-backed Shrike, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Ortolan Bunting, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Grasshopper Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Quail, Common Redstart, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture …

Citril Finch in the Catalan Pyrenees, by Dave Brassey

Alpine-Chough-in the Pyrenees of Catalonia, by Dave Brassey

Despite the late dates there were tons of migrant songbirds in the gallery woodland near the first hotel: remarkable numbers of Pied Flycatchers and Spotted Flycatchers, as well as Common Redstarts, Nightingales, Common Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, and more. We had a group of 10 Whinchats in a field and a singing Grasshopper Warbler too. Great!

ON the first day the tour had started with a visit to the Llobregat Delta, and here we saw:

Balearic Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Audouin’s Gull, Kentish Plover, Common Ringed PLover, Little Ringed Plover, Collared Pratincole, Icterine Warbler, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Black-winged Stilt, Alpine Swift, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Little Tern, Greater Flamingo, Spoonbill …

Audouin’s-Gulls on the beach near Barcelona, by Dave Brassey

Of course the Icterine Warbler was a pleasant and surprising find, as in this part of Catalonia it is a scarce to rare migrant.

En-route between Puigcerdà and Lleida we tracked down Red-rumped Swallow, Bonelli’s Eagle and Western Subalpine Warbler. It needed a little patience, but was worth it.

Then the birds around Lleida were almost too many to name…

Wetlands: Penduline Tit (at nest), Little Bittern, Night Heron, Turtle Dove, Kingfisher, Melodious Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Golden Oriole …

Penduline-Tit-at nest near Lleida, by Dave Brassey

Drylands: Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Little Owl, Eagle Owl (at 2 separate locations), Little Bustard, Montagu’s Harrier, Eurasian Hobby, Cinereous Vulture, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Honey Buzzard, Osprey, European Roller, Stone Curlew, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, and … Great Spotted Cuckoo.

I’ll never forget the Great Spotted Cuckoos! We had four together at one time, just after seeing another 3 at a different location. They allowed us to get close and watch them going about their business. Wonderful!

And the folks? A really nice bunch.

More? Well, you could probably ask for more from a birds and butterflies tour to Catalonia in May, although you’d risk appearing rather greedy if you did. The best way of getting more would be to come on next year’s tour!

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