24 September 2015

Trumpeter Finches in Galera, North-east Granada

As far as I knew Trumpeter Finches couldonly be found in Spain in Almeria Province. I've seen them on the coast at the Cabo da Gata in the past. Imagine then my surprise when Kathy and I came across a couple along the road at the old town dump. What's more there was clearly a breeding colony since at least one juvenile was present with a couple of adults. The old road is cut through rock here and the pock-marked profile here looks good for the breeding site.

The breeding site?

The original sightings

And again
There needed to be a water source nearby and I couldn't figure out where it might be then I remembered the leak at the Water Tower which is only about 300 metres away on the ridge. A check next morning turned up trumps - a significant colony of more than a dozen birds!

Male Trumpeter Finch

A wary group

Trumpeter Finches

A bit of checking (with Mick Richardson - Granada Wildlife in Loja) found that Trumpeter Finches were known to be moving into North-east Granada including a colony at Gorafe, about 45 minutes away from us in Galera. Nevertheless it was exciting to find them and just wonderful that they are in our village. We'll be able to follow their progress or otherwise in the future.
Male again


A belated write-up of our first trip to Lesvos, which turned out to be an amazing experience full of new birds and photographic opportunities, I'm sure we'll be going again. We stayed at the Kalloni Bay Hotel and had lots of help from regulars Lee and Andy Amery. The view from the hotel balcony was our first birding experience with 11 Glossy Ibises dropping in immediately. There were always good birds on the Pool, since water levels were pretty ideal. A Great Bittern, seen a number of times was a particular surprise.

Balcony view

Great Egret

Glossy Ibises

Purple Heron

Little Egrets

Squacco Heron

There were always herons and ibises here and at the nearby salt pans and at both sites Wood Sandpipers were ridiculously common and there were large numbers of Ruff, Little Stints and Black-winged Stilts along with smaller numbers of Temminck's Stints and Curlew Sandpiper, We also saw Little Ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plovers though the star wader was definitely the Spur-winged Plover which was around the first few days but elusive and when eventually seen well I didn't have a camera with me. The other early rarity was a smashing male Citrine Wagtail at the Salt Pans, though Kathy and I found a mre exciting, for us, female on East River a day or two later.

male Citrine Wagtail

female Citrine Wagtail

Little Ringed Plover

Ruddy Shelduck

Temminck's Stint

Wood Sandpiper

Curlew Sandiper and Ruff
There were always Black-headed Wagtails around, looking stunning, and later on the Romanian race 'dombrowski'

Black-headed Wagtail
Other common birds in the general area included Olivaceous nd Cetti's Warblers, Nightingales and out on the Sheep Fields Short-toed Larks and Red-throated Pipits.

Short-toed Lark

Cetti's Warbler - atypical view

Nightingale - typical view

Olivaceous Warbler

Spanish Sparrows
We did well this trip for rarities but one stands alone and that was the Demoiselle Crane which hung around for a week or so - first record for Lesvos and an incredibly attractive and impressive bird. Don't think this one had come across a paper bag before, as the sequence below indicates!

There were special birds all around and we set about getting to see some of the specialities of the Island, and since this was our first real Eastern Med experience, a lot were lifers. Apologies for the Olive-tree Warbler shot but they are a nightmare to get to grips with.

Kruper's Nuthatch

Little Crake

Masked Shrike

Middle-spotted Woodpecker

Scops Owl

Western Rock Nuthatch

Olive-tree Warbler

Red-rumped Swallows
Exploration further afield brought more specialities and more experience of the flora and fauna of the Island, we discovered some amazing places such as Petra and Sigri and Ipsolou Monastery where we found a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, rare enough to be a description species for Lesvos.

Black-headed Bunting

Black-eared Wheatear

Balkan Green Lizard

Eastern Festoon


Ruppell's Warbler

Rufous Bush Robin


Cretzchmar's Bunting

Cinereous Bunting

Spur-thighed Tortoise

Starred Aguama

Turtle Dove
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush - Lesvos rarity
Collared Flycatcher was a lifer, we caught up with three including a female but this male, in the Sanatorium, Sigri was our favourite. What a cracker it was!

Collared Flycatcher

Collared Flycatcher

There were lots more birds but just a tern to finish, the terns at the Kalloni Salt  Pans were one of the most amazing things about the trip. And we've already booked for the last week of April next year.

Whiskered Tern