What birds to look for in July

binoculars in hand

What to look for in…

July is a quiet month on the birding front – if what you are looking for is thrills of new species. Here in Catalonia many birders will switch to low-maintenance opportunistic birding, family holidays, perhaps with the odd morning excursion to be back home before the heat of the day kicks in. Others will focus more on butterflies.

That’s not to say that things aren’t happening in the bird world all around us though. You just need a little more imagination and dedication to dig out the rewards. For example, postnuptial wader passage makes a discrete start, with species such as Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover making up the volume, with sprinklings from species such as Ruff, Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Little Stint, if you can find suitable habitat (read “mud”).

Wood Sandpiper

Look out for Wood Sandpipers (photo by Steve Lane)

At open-water wetland sites look out for Garganeys – however, they won’t be males in breeding plumage, so you will have to look close to avoid confusion with eclipse plumage Eurasian Teals. White storks will also be passing through in number, although these days it’s difficult to discern the abundant local birds from those just passing through.

Family groups are another key element of the month. It’s still worth the while getting out and about in the fading evening light, especially in suitable dryland areas, where you have the chance of encountering the less clued up young of Long-eared Owl, usually giving themselves away by their squeaky calls, and even Red-necked Nightjar, which will often sit on sandy tracks and let themselves be watched in your car headlights.

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl, Asio otus. Photo by Jeremy Bradshaw

Then large communal roosts of bubbling Bee-eaters will give you a taste of  the months to come.

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