Monday, February 8, 2010

More on La Janda

So, with our work done on Saturday, Geraldine and I wasted no time and were off to La Janda on Sunday morning. It was a balmy morning, hazy light (not as good as Saturday unfortunately) and the temperature was down to 12C. The day got greyer as we went along but the temperature rose to 20C. Not much by way of migrants. Friday's mass movement of Swallows seemed over with only isolated individuals moving north here and there. We found another Hoopoe, in a different location from Friday's bird, so they are certainly moving through now. Star migrant of the day were Black-winged Stilts, now arriving from the south. Soon they'll be everywhere and some actually winter in the area but these were on the move. Two flights of White Storks, maybe 300 birds in all, were migrating north too. And we picked up a small flock of Reed Buntings, actively feeding in the Phragmites on one of the canals.

Black-winged Stilt - La Janda, 7th February, 2010
Also moving through now are Blackcaps. Males precede the females and many of these birds are coming from south of the Sahara. Years ago, when I studied them by ringing hundreds, I found that the birds arriving now were really low in reserves weighing as little as a third of the weight of fat migrants in autumn! But they feed busily and soon recover lost weight. You can pick these migrants up easily. They are much whiter in the belly, and have longer and more pointed wings, than the local residents. Some wintering species are still left, preparing to move north soon.
Male Blackcap at La Janda - 7th February, 2010 - a pale migrant refuelling on stop-over
Wintering cranes lingering in La Janda - 7th February, 2010

Meadow Pipit

White Wagtail
With few migrants we concentrated on the resident breeding birds that are now showing signs of activity. Purple Gallinules are looking very interested in some flattened reeds. Here are some of the residents we managed to photograph.
Purple Gallinule

Cattle Egrets
Corn Bunting

Thekla Lark


Fan-tailed Warbler


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