2023 REVIEW PART TWO.. I spent a few days in England in mid-March before my trip to Spain. During my time there, I visited my old patch at Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve in Warwickshire catching up with a few old birding buddies before heading off for a few days in Norfolk. In total, I managed 84 species.
Highlights included a stop at Eldernell in Cambridgeshire en route to Norfolk to catch up with Long-eared Owls and Short-eared Owls and a very showy Long-billed Dowitcher at the wonderful Cley Reserve in Norfolk.
|Long-billed Dowitcher at Cley in Norfolk on March 17th.
|Short-eared Owl at Eldernell on the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire on March 16th
|One of three Long-eared Owls at Eldernell on March 16th.
Two trips to Andalusia Spain took place in 2023 recording 170 bird species. The first trip was from April 20th until May 5th, and the second trip was from October 21st to November 2nd. Last year Spain experienced its worst drought in years and during our spring visit temperatures reached highs of 35C, unprecedented for the time of year! A very different story for our autumn visit with rain & wind but unfortunately not enough rain for the lagoons and reservoirs to recover.
|A Western Olivaceous Warber at Zapata an area I visit regularly when in Andalusia.
During our trips to Spain, Dazza and I came across an +Olivaceous Warbler at Zapata on April 30th, which was a first for us in Andalusia. We also saw Red-necked Nightjars mating earlier that morning. Our other highlights included a magnificent Black-winged Kite at La Janda, Little Bustards at Huétor-Tájar in Granada Province, and a Bonelli's Eagle that drifted over the villa while we were having morning coffee. There were also many other colourful species that we saw during our stay, but it would take too long to mention them all.
|Black-winged Kite ~ Always on my wishlist when visiting La Janda.
On a beautiful early morning in April, I spent an incredible few hours simply sitting discreetly under a tree near a water font in The Sierra de las Nieves National Park near Marbella watching Firecrests, Bonelli's Warblers, Crested Tits, Cirl Buntings and Western Subalpine Warblers visiting the font for a drink & occasional bath, a simply incredible experience!
|A Crested Tit visits the water font at The Sierra de las Nieves
|Western Subalpine Warbler at the Water font.
|A Western Bonelli's Warbler having a bathe.
In 2023, I also added a new butterfly and dragonfly to my lists. It's not just about birds, after all. +Desert Orange Tip is a species of butterfly originally from North Africa that was once considered rare and sought-after. However, it has now established a small colony in the far south of Spain, although it is still a rare sight.
|A rare +Desert Orange Tip found at Guadalhorce near Malaga
My Dragonfly addition was an +Epaulet Skimmer which I came across during my regular walk at Zapata on October 24th.