Wonderful Winter Wallcreeper Tour and the Big Year Prize

We know, and we apologize. We haven’t appeared on the blog for months now. Now, it’s not as an excuse, but rather as information, that we can tell you we have been very busy working on a new Birding In Spain Tour brochure, and a great competition where prizes can be won every month. Additionally, there will be a Big Year Prize at the end of those 12 months, with the option of winning a place on one of our Wonderful Winter Tours Winter wallcreeper tour info (1) to take place in 2019 or 2012.

Wonderful Winter Wallcreeper Tour

Want to know more? Then get in touch via e-mail, or follow Birding In Spain on Facebook. There will be competition announcements on Twitter and Instagram, as well as on this blog.

Bonelli’s Eagle vs Lesser Kestrel

The Raptors game

If a Bonelli’s Eagle confronted a Lesser Kestrel, which one would win?

Any parent of boystrous boys would most likely be familiar with the framework of such a question. “which one is stronger”, “Which is the fastest”, “the best” etc.

Although the answer to this particular question, that of the Bonelli’s Eagle vs the Lesser Kestrel, doesn’t seem too difficult to come by.

“The Bonelli’s Eagle, of course” is what many would probably say. And it’s true, the Bonelli’s Eagle is bigger, stronger, meaner, and I can’t imagine a Lesser Kestrel being much of a match for it. Or maybe it is….

Take a look at these two cards from La Sabina’s raptor game, and tell us what conclusion you reach.

The Bonelli’s Eagle card from the Raptor game

The Lesser Kestrel card from La Sabina’s Raptor game

New bird silhouette competition

Regular visitors to the BirdingInSpain.com blog might have noticed a lull in blogging activity over the last few weeks. Well, summer’s here, it’s close to 40ºC outside, and most birds are clever enough to be keeping a very low profile in this part of northeast Spain. Not just that, but the heat sizzles the brain a little, making it hard for an amateur blogger like myself to come up with something fresh and stimulating.

Here’s the offering. I don’t know if it’s fresh, but it should be a little stimulating. So make sure you tackle this new bird silhouette competition after the sun goes down, so as not to suffer from neuron meltdown.   

Bird silhouette competition

Winners get to buy me an ice-cold drink.

Flying over the Pyrenees trivia

Flying over the Pyrenees Trivia

Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains - front cover Flying over the Pyrenees standing on the plains - back

Facts and things taken from “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains”. Do you know the answers?

Chapter 1 – the Wallcreeper

Drawing of Wallcreeper in flight

1. The world distribution of the Wallcreeper stretches from:

i) The Pyrenees in the West to the Himalayas in the east
ii) The Pyrenees in the west to Georgia in the east
iii) The Cantabrian mountains in the west to the Himalayas in the east
iv) The Alps in the west to the Balkans in the east

2. If you were to drive from Roses on the northeast coast of Catalonia to the Barranco del Infierno to look for a Wallcreeper, how long would the drive take you approximately?

3. The translation of a Chinese name for the Wallcreeper would be:

i) Rock scratcher
ii) Rock flower
iii) Rock climber
iv) Rock butterfly

4, In which European country did the Wallcreeper first appear on a stamp?

i) Romania
ii) Switzerland
iii) Austria
iv) Andorra

5. Where was the third record of Wallcreeper in Britain?

i) Cheshire Gorge
ii) St.Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight
iii) Portland Bill
iv) Winchelsea

6. What happened to the Wallcreeper recorded at Winchelsea in 1886?

i) It was observed flying away to the west
ii) It collided with the lighthouse and died
iii) It was shot
iv) It is not known

Raptor Silhouettes II solutions

Now I know there’s someone out there! I have received several requests for the solutions of the Raptor Silhouettes II poster. Should I provide them, or encourage readers to work them out themselves?


I’m thinking about it.


Ideally someone would have had a go and I could have corrected the answers, student-teacher style. It would have been more of a participative process.

Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll provide some of the answers.

1. Egyptian Vulture

2. Honey Buzzard

6. Marsh Harrier

9. Black-winged Kite

13. Lesser Kestrel

14. Goshawk

15. Osprey

16. Black Kite

17. Peregrine

19. Griffon Vulture

20. Bonelli’s Eagle

21. Merlin

First northeast Spain Hotspot Report

Purple Gallinule

Purple Swamp-hens. Photo by Jan-Michael Breider.

This is the first of what will hopefully be a monthly event throughout 2009. The Birding Hotspot Monthly Report. The first month, as expected, was January.

Below is the link to download the Pdf with the full list of species seen or heard (yes, I count both – if it was heard it was there wasn’t it?) in the hotspot centred around Balaguer. See the earlier entry if you don’t know where that is.

I’m really struggling not to make this a listing exercise. For example when I heard that we had an influx of storm-driven Kittiwakes my first thought was “Wouldn’t that be a bonus for the hotspot list!” These things have their dangers. Today I heard about a couple of Jack snipes just up the road and it was only an unscheduled phone call that prevented me from jumping into the car and off we go. Maybe I’ll check them out next week.

But no that is not the hotspot spirit. One is supposed to go about one’s normal birding activities and record the species encountered.

Back to the list: of the 113 species recorded gulls feature highly, with no less than 6 species, and not a crab or a breakwater in sight! Little Gull, Kittiwake and Common Gull were all nice surprises to add to the more regular Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Ducks also paddled into the picture, as they should do at the height of winter. A Ferruginous Duck was seen in the company of Common Pochards and a Pochard x Fudgy Duck hybrid, on the same lake as 7 Greylag Geese and a Black-necked Grebe. There are still some to get though: Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard and Tufted Duck spring to mind.

Little Bustard 

Little Bustard. Photo by Jan-Michael Breider. 

The drylands are all but hibernating for the winter. Even so, Little Bustards, Calandra Larks, Hen Harriers and Little Owls do their best to brighten them up.

A couple of morning visits to Montsec ensured winter specials like Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor, as well as the resident Bonelli’s Eagles. Winter passerines seemed to be in good supply too, with Bramblings, Redwings, Yellowhammers and good numbers of Hawfinches.

My prediction for February is little change. Perhaps a passing Crane flock or early Black Stork, a flock of Fieldfares in a fruit orchard, a couple of Black-bellied Sandgrouse on the drylands and Bullfinches near Sant Llorenç de Montgai. February is also the month when Great Spotted Cuckoos often make an appearance, so we’ll see. Ah! The joys of birding!   

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo. Photo by Jan-Michael Breider.

As mentioned above, here is the Pdf with the January hotspot list.

Northeast Spain Hotspot list January 2009

Raptor silhouettes solutions

If you have tried the Raptor Silhouettes II Challenge and have come a little unstuck then I have the solutions for you!

However, I will not release them unless somebody out there actually asks me to.

Birding through the car window

Here’s a photo I took towards the end of last winter:

birding from the car

How very uninteresting, right? However, there are birds in the photo. Take my word for it and have a closer look:

birds from the car in Spain

Now we’ve established that those dark smudges are birds, and probably of the same species, we may begin to ask ourselves: what species? You’d have to be a megacrack or just extremely fluky to correctly identify the species from this photo, so let’s get within a reasonable working distance:

Birding from the car with digital zoom

Mmm. we still haven’t got much to go on, but I’m afraid there’s no more – if I had attempted to approach the birds they would probably have flown away, or the farmer would rightly have insulted me for trampling his alfalfa. One of these days I’ll buy a decent camera. In the meantime, let’s get back to the main question:

What’s the make of the car?

Spanish bird silhouettes

Just a bit of fun. Can you identify these three bird silhouettes, all Spanish birds?

Level: easy – moderate (if you think otherwise tell me so and I’ll adjust the difficulty)

Bird number 1:

Bird silhouette 1

Bird silhouette 2

Above: Bird silhouette number 2. Below: bird silhouette number 3.

Bird silhouette 3

Look out for more coco-busters coming soon!

Birding in Spain: Spot the Red-necked Nightjar!

This photo of a Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis was taken somewhere in Spain. It doesn’t matter where right now, the job in hand is to actually spot the bird! In which square is the Red-necked Nightjar?

Spot the Red-necked Nightjar in Spain!

Good luck, because spotting a Red-necked Nightjar in such a low resoultion photo is almost as difficult as spotting the bird during the daytime in real life!

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