Tuesday, May 22, 2018

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ NE SPAIN 2018 ~ Days 10

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ☀️๐ŸŒฉ25C Tuesday 22nd May 2018 ~ Our second day around Aiguamolls de l'Empordร  and we began firstly by bypassing the busy main reserve and driving around to the adjacent campsite access road. Here you can enjoy close views of the Estanys del Mata without going through the main reserve trail. This, as you may remember, is where we terminated yesterdays visit. Here, in the quiet, we achieved great views of feeding Glossy Ibis and were able to spend an hour or so scanning the area.

Glossy Ibis too close to this nesting Stilt
Lots of House Sparrows along the fencing to confuse matters, but we did pick out two Tree Sparrows and a single Whinchat. Our efforts produced several nesting and protective Black-winged Stilts, their nests literally sitting on top of the water and other waders included: A single Black-tailed Godwit and various counts of Avocet, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff in breeding plumage, plus a single Little Stint. Also noted Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Little Egret, Great Egret, Greater Flamingo, White Stork and a distant Collared Pratincole. Overhead Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and Whiskered Terns.

From here a 15-minute drive out along the C-260 to the southeast corner of Castellรณ d'Empรบries. Here there are three bridges with reeds and open water that are well worth investigating. After parking along the roadside we took a short walk, a Common Buzzard overhead and within the reeds Cetti's Warbler and the grating song of Great Reed Warbler. Unfortunately, I inadvertently flushed a Purple Heron which rose over the reeds and headed off, can't quite nail a photo of one of these yet. Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Cuckoo calling, Hoopoe and plenty of White Stork. A Stonechat posed briefly and Zitting Cisticola overhead before Dazza spotted a distant Montagu's Harrier.

Serin ~ Looking smart in the blue backdrop
Nightingale ready to deliver his find
About a half mile further on there is an excellent circular walk, around 3kms offering some superb habitat with flower meadows, small copse, rocky areas and olive groves. Along the first half of the trail, there's plenty of shade and plenty to look out for among the Tamarisk. We picked out a Serin through one of the gaps perched up on a dead branch and looking pretty smart against the blue sky backdrop. In the undercover, a Nightingale was carrying food, probably to a nearby family.

Rather odd plumaged Whiskered Tern!
Dazza spotted a few raptors circling pretty high up and along with Common Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle our first Bonelli's Eagle of the whole trip! By the time we'd reached the hide overlooking L'Estany de Vilaรผt we also noted Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike and Crested Lark. We had to be very careful while in the hide due to a nesting pair of Swallows, so we didn't stay too long, although they were very confiding. From the hide Greenshank, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt and a flyby Whiskered Tern.

Roller pair (heat-haze effected)
Typically, shortly after leaving the hide, we watched six Spoonbill fly in but by this time we'd caught up with a pair of Roller. We knew from our previous visit in 2016 that this was a good spot to see them and were delighted we'd connected once again.

Dazza's best photo of Roller on the Canon SX50
The above heat-effected photos do not do justice to the wonderful time we spent watching these stunning birds.