Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Bottle-nose Dolphins 25/05/2022

Bottle-nose Dolphins around the Marine Drive in Scarborough, North Yorkshire this evening. Around 6 may 7 or 8 travelling south, with out playing and breaching, but always a pleasure to see.

Seemingly now becoming a regular site of the North Yorkshire Coast.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Zamora - Spain - April 2022

Zamora - Spain -  April 2022

A family visit with some great birding on a few days in between sightseeing, drinking and eating!!!

Zamora is a City of some 75,000 people, set in the west of the country, high up on the plains, near the border with Portugal, surrounded by farmland, valleys, lakes, reservoirs and is by the River Duero that runs all the way to the Atlantic coast at Porto in Portugal.

Zamora, highlighted in yellow, sited north west of Madrid, we reached the same by high speed train, from Madrid which takes just over an hour at speeds in excess of 300 km/ph.
The city is relatively unknown for birding and wildlife and most visitors go to Extremadura , some 250 km south of Zamora, but the local council is starting to realize there is tourism potential and have created 'Birds and Nature' walks and handbooks (available in English) for both the City and the Surrounding areas.

The Author of the books and a driving force for nature in the area, was indeed our guide for a days expedition around the area, which is detailed later. 

Birds and Nature Booklet (there are 2 available, walks in the city and drives around the local area).

Map exert showing driving routes available.

Most birding was done really within the city and on the banks of the Duero, where within 10 minutes walk of my step daughters apartment were amazing sites of White Storks on every Church (there are a lot of Churches), Black Redstarts in every park, Booted Eagles on the river, Night Heron from the Cities ring road bridge and Nightingales and Cetti's Warblers in seemingly every bush and tree, along with an abundance of Black and Red Kites or possibly a mixture of the 2. 

My favorite walk was through the City, up to the Castle and Cathedral and down to the river to a park, then across the ring rod bridge along the bank and back across the historic bridge.

Generally birds seen were as follows;

White Stork

Black Redstart


Red Kite

Black Kite

Tree Sparrows
House Sparrows
Cetti's Warblers


Hose Martins
Sand Martins
Great and Blue Tits
Penduline Tits
Spotless Starling (strangely a bit of a favourite)

Grey Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron

The Heronry from the ring road bridge

Mallard (hardly any other duck species)
White Wagtails (mating)

Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Common Sandpiper
Black Headed Gulls

Little Bitten (seen once 3 years ago)
Booted Eagle (nesting site visible from the river path)

Short-Toed Tree Creeper (nesting next to a favourite bar)
Black Winged Stilts (7 flew up the river one morning)

We did have a full days birding trip with a local guides on Monday the 18/04/2022, which was great, (thanks to Google Translate, as we speak little Spanish and the Guides spoke little English) but nearly 100 species on the day including 17 species of Raptor, the 200 Euro was worth every Cent. Lunch with Spanish Sparrows, Hoopoe and Cetti's Warblers singing away was an added bonus.
The rough diary of the day was as follows; Fifteen minutes in north of Zamora on rough track roads, we drove a short way over open arable farmland and saw the following in pretty damned good first hour; 

Typical arable farmland and rough tracks
Marsh Harrier 

Red Kite 
Black Kite 
Montagues Harrier

Hen Harrier 
Black Winged Kite

Spanish Sparrow

 Rock Sparrow 
Southern Grey Shrike 
Woodchat Shrike 

Egyptian Vulture 
Griffon Vulture 

Corn Bunting

We then drove towards the river Duero, towards Portugal, but higher in the mountains, again over mountain roads, but over rough ground to where the River Duero and River Esla meet

The River Duero and River Esla
In addition to the previous sightings we saw; 
Crested Lark 

Thekla Lark 
Calandra Lark 
Black Eared Wheatear 

Short Toed Eagle 

Bonelli's Eagle 
Lesser Kestrel 

Common Kestrel 
Common Buzzard 
Black Stork 

Rock Bunting 

Gull Billed Tern

Red Legged Partridge 
Sky Lark

Following lunch we drove over the fields and down by the river back towards Zamora and on tip the cities tip, a good old fashioned landfill site and saw again in addition to the above; 
Spanish Sparrow

Cettis Warbler 
Goldfinches Hobby (actually seen on a later day out in the same location) 
Great Reed Warbler 
Bee Eaters 
Ravens (over 100) 
Common Swifts 
Alpine Swift 
Hobby (seen in the same place 2 days later)
Black Vulture

The River Duero, just 8 km north west of the City
The day was drawing to a close and our final search for Golden Eagle and Spanish Imperial Eagle came to no avail, though near the nest sites, quite rightly we kept well away so as not to disturb. A cracking day out and looking forward to our next trip out with the team!!!

Myself and Adele also a couple of days later borrowed the car off Fiona and Marcos and had a trip out to the Nature Reserve at Villafafila, around 30 km north east of the City to see the Lagoons and and Nature Reserve, but the main reserve was closed except for weekends!!! 

Lagunas De Villafafila (highlighted in yellow)

Around the area of Las Lagunas de Villafafilla, are many Pigeon Houses, all in varying condition from new to completely dilapidated, these were and are still built to breed and house Pigeons for food.

Pigeon Houses

The area where the Great Bustards were situated on were east of the reserve compound and main areas and on massive wide open plains of both waste and arable farmland. The pictures don't really do justice to the extent and massive size of the open plateau.

We did see though the main target bird the Great Bustard along with the following;

Great Bustards

Black Winged Stilts
Montagues Harriers
White Storks
Ringed Plover
Lesser Kestrel
Iberian Wagtail

Black Redstart
Norther Wheatear

Meadow Pipit
Spoonbill (3 years ago)

In conclusion of our trip after all the Covid-19 lock downs, isolation and staying at home it was fantastic to see Fiona and Marcos, visit their home and City, along with seeing so many birds. 

Zamora, Night and Day from one of my favourite watering holes.

Wine tasting, while Nightingales and Cuckoos called, a treat from Fiona and Marcos.

Churros a breakfast treat.

Cheers and thanks to anyone who has bothered to read this blog, from a new bar found on the River Duero at the end of the holiday, can't get better than beers with Black and Red Kites, along with White Storks on nests in the background and also a Booted Eagle flyby with the nest a 3 minute walk away.

Zamora we will be back!!!