Friday, December 31, 2010

Year List 2010

And now that there is only a few hours left of 2010 here's the year list coming up to a total of 157, with 10 lifers (blue)and 3 Malta ticks (yellow).

1. Common Quail
2. Common Shelduck
3. Eurasian Wigeon
4. Gadwall
5. Eurasian Teal
6. Mallard
7. Pintail
8. Garganey
9. Shoveler
10. Ferruginous Duck
11. Cory's Shearwater
12. Yelkouan Shearwater
13. Little Grebe
14. Great Crested Grebe
15. Black-necked Grebe
16. Greater Flamingo
17. Black Stork
18. White Stork
19. Glossy Ibis
20. Eurasian Spoonbill

21. Little Bittern
22. Night Heron
23. Squacco Heron
24. Little Egret
25. Great White Egret
26. Grey Heron
27. Purple Heron
28. Northern Gannet
29. Great Cormorant
30. Lesser Kestrel
31. Common Kestrel
32. Red-footed Falcon
33. Merlin
34. Hobby
35. Eleonora's Falcon
36. Peregrine Falcon
37. Honey-buzzard
38. Black Kite
39. Marsh Harrier
40. Pallid Harrier
41. Montagu's Harrier
42. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
43. Osprey
44. Water Rail
45. Little Crake
46. Moorhen
47. Common Coot
48. Purple Swamphen
49. Common Crane
50. Chukar
51. Pheasant
52. Black-winged Stilt
53. Avocet
54. Little Ringed Plover
55. Ringed Plover
56. Dotterel
57. European Golden Plover
58. Northern Lapwing
59. Little Stint
60. Temminck's Stint
61. Curlew Sandpiper
62. Dunlin
63. Ruff
64. Common Snipe
65. Bar-tailed Godwit
66. Spotted Redshank
67. Common Redshank
68. Greenshank
69. Green Sandpiper
70. Wood Sandpiper
71. Common Sandpiper
72. Mediterranean Gull
73. Black-headed Gull
74. Slender-billed Gull
75. Audouin's Gull
76. Lesser Black-backed Gull
77. Yellow-legged Gull
78. Caspian Tern
79. Sandwich Tern
80. Pomarine Skua
81. Collared Dove
82. Turtle Dove
83. Common Cuckoo
84. Short-eared Owl
85. European Nightjar
86. Alpine Swift
87. Common Swift
88. Pallid Swift
89. Common Kingfisher
90. European Bee-eater
91. Hoopoe
92. Wryneck
93. Woodchat Shrike
94. Golden Oriole
95. Sand Martin
96. Barn Swallow
97. House Martin
98. Red-rumped Swallow
99. Bar-tailed Desert Lark
100. Short-toed Lark
101. Sky Lark
102. Zitting Cisticola
103. Cetti's Warbler
104. Savi's Warbler
105. Moustached Warbler
106. Sedge Warbler
107. Reed Warbler
108. Great Reed Warbler
109. Icterine Warbler
110. Blackcap
111. Garden Warbler
112. Common Whitethroat
113. Spectacled Warbler
114. Subalpine Warbler
115. Sardinian Warbler
116. Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
117. Wood Warbler
118. Common Chiffchaff
119. Willow Warbler
120. Goldcrest
121. Firecrest
122. Common Starling
123. Blackbird
124. Song Thrush
125. Robin
126. Common Nightingale
127. Bluethroat
128. Black Redstart
129. Common Redstart
130. Moussier’s Redstart
131. Whinchat
132. Common Stonechat
133. Northern Wheatear
134. Black-eared Wheatear
135. Blue Rock Thrush
136. Spotted Flycatcher
137. Semi-collared Flycatcher
138. Collared Flycatcher
139. Pied Flycatcher
140. Spanish Sparrow
141. Tree Sparrow
142. Dunnock
143. Tawny Pipit
144. Tree Pipit
145. Meadow Pipit
146. Red-throated Pipit
147. Water Pipit
148. Yellow Wagtail
149. Grey Wagtail
150. White Wagtail
151. Common Chaffinch
152. European Serin
153. Greenfinch
154. Linnet
155. Common Crossbill
156. Reed Bunting
157. Corn Bunting

A year that will be remebered for the great days on Comino on the 7th and of April and 2nd May, mega Bar-tailed lark, first record Purple Swamphen, finding birds like Snow bunting, Great snipe and Long-tailed duck in Norway, biggest number of birds of prey I have seen on 21st September as well as a flock of 21 Spoonbills, seeing the biggest flock of 28 White and a Black Stork recorded from Malta, and several other birding adventures.

The last days of 2010

The Common Crane flushed from Cuminija area behind Ghadira, taken by Nick Galea

One of the Snipes at Simar feeding below the hide

Scenery at Ta' Zuta close to Buskett

Christmas holidays at last and more time for birding! The 23rd of December started off at Gahdira nature reserve. Two female Teals feeding on one of the islands, eleven Black-necked and three Little grebes, the highest number of grebes I can remeber here, six coots, a Dunlin and two Common sandpipers were to be seen. A flock of 9 Shelduck were spotted flying over the bay and great to see. We went to check if they had settled on the water but all we saw were two Cormorants flying above us.
We continued to the garigue area behind the reserve. A few stonechats, black redstarts, meadow pipits, blue-rock thrushes as well as a Linnet and two Skylarks. It got more exciting when a sharp call alerted us to two Lapwings flying along the small valley. Even better and quite a surprise was a Common Crane that alighted on the opposite side of the valley 200 meters away. Circled around for a while before continuing down the coast it gave good views. Unfortunalty it was apparent that it had missing primaries altough it was flying well.
Christmas eve was windy and a walk through a valley dominated by farmland and a watercourse with abundant reeds and fresh water, was t say the least unproductive. At least I got my only Firecrest of the year in a public garden close to home.
The next two days seemed perfect for Cranes with low cloud cover and westerly winds but watching from Qawra and Dwejra was futile and indeed from anywhere on the island at that.
Monday we were off to Gozo, concentrating on Ta' Cenc, sea cliffs and one of the richest garigue areas of the island. Black redstarts were dominant. A few Spectacled warblers which are restricted to such areas. Two Linnets were good as were three hunting Common Kestrels. The definite highlight was a Golden Plover flushed from an unsurfaced road full of water puddles. I had missed a major passage two weeks earlier so at least cought up with this species this year too.
A penduline tit had been seen at Simar on Boxing day but weren't lucky with visiting the reserve on Tuesday. Little Grebes are in full breeding plumage and becoming territorial...soon chicks will be emerging from the reeds :). Other birds were three Water rail, two Common Snipe, a female teal, loads of Chiffchaffs and two Reed Buntings.
Next was an early morning at Buskett. As usual Robins were calling from everywhere as well as as less numbers of Blackcaps, Dunnocks and Chaffinches. Two Wrynecks heard but not seen as too often. A male Blackbird was flushed from a nearly dried up resevoir. Other birds inlcuded 12 Song Thrush making the best of ripening ivy berries and two Greenfinches a yearer for me and a Malta tick for my sister.
Walking to Laferla cross afterwards apart from the beautiful countryside gave nothing much but a flock of four Linnets were good though. Two large thrushes flying over gave too short views and from the back to confirm as Fieldfares rahter than the less likely Mistle thrush.
Twitched a Moussier's Redstart, female and 11th record for Malta in the evening. Altough less impressive as a male spending the winter of 2008 -2009 at Xaghra il-Hamra it was still nice to see this vagrant again on the island. Record shot by Ray Galea can be seen at
Last two days of the year spent inside unfortunatly trying to recover from a cold so no more last minute yearers. Still many great birding experiences this year and hopefully 2011 will be even better.
Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A couple of hours at Simar NR

One of five Snipes at Simar
Mist hanging over the Pwales valley behind Simar

Yesterday browsing through the sightings of the day, thinking about were to go today it being public holiday in Malta, the desicion was made easy for me, 1 Penduline tit male ringed at Simar NR. The last sightings of these great birds were from 2007/2008 when a few birds wintered at the reserve. It wasn't only me that was hoping for this one to stay too and me and my sister met up with a small group early this morning at Simar.
Simar early in the morning is beautiful, dew dripping from the trees, birds breaking mirror still water with ripples, the chilly air inside the hide and the general feeling that time has no effect on the place...
Looking out over the small wetland expactantly we saw the usual Coots, Moorhens, some 4 Little Grebes and a female Teal. A total of 5 Common Snipes were feeding elussively on the banks while there was larger number of Chiffchaffs flitting about. A Wryneck called from somewhere, but straining ears couldn't pick up any penduline tit calls which I remeber to give them away first two years ago. A small bird flew down on the opposite bank, but my brain told me to late that it was probably a Bluethroat as it disspaeared behind a tamarisk...frustrating! Two, three have been present the last month or so but eluded me so far. Something flew into a tre closer to the hide however turning out to be a male Bluethroat! A much brighter coloured male turned up feeding on close to the water's edge on the other side giving great views when it flew into a tamarisk singing shortly. Stunning birds!
A Moustached warbler called and was soon seen flying low over the water into a clump of reeds were it was seen feeding for a while. Yet another good bird but still no Penduline and so it was to be. Our patience only payed off with a hunting Kestrel on the Mizieb ridge and a Reed Bunting flying by. A Chaffinch called us goodbye as we finally packed our bags and left still quite happy with the outcome of the morning.

Some pics from the last weeks:

A Black-necked Grebe in Xemxija Bay fishing without a care for me on the promenade

3 of a flock of 6 Skylarks feeding in a field behind Ghadira NR

Record shot of a late male Yellow wagtail on the 27/11/10 also feeding behind Ghadira NR

A Great Crested Grebe at Ghadira NR with two Spanish Sparrows flying past

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A lifer and a couple of other good birds

The resting Spotted Redshank

WATER PIPIT, two of these scarce birds were seen!

Pintail and two Ferruginous ducks

Two of 5 immature Coots at the reserve

A Black-necked Grebe up from one of its dives right in front of the hide.

Up before sunrise yesterday morning to catch the first bus to Ghadira Nature reserve. Still a bit sleepy eyed we watched a handful of wild ducks, a male Gadwall, 2 Ferruginous ducks, a Pintail and 2 female Mallards feeding out on the water, which is quite high due to heavy rain tha last weeks. Grebes have arrived now with 3 Black-necked and 2 Little Grebes present. Too add to the variety were 5 Coots which haven't been present in more than singles for a few years. Quite a few Song thrushes and even better a male Blackbird flying into the pine grove, the first one for me this autumn. From the smaller hide at the other side of the reserve a strange pipit was spotted and when it came out in full view...Water Pipit! A lifer for me and altough a bit dull quite a nice bird. We wathched it feeding for some time when it was joined by yet another one! Spent the rest of the time trying to find a Yellow-browed warbler which had been seen earlier in the morning with no luck. However was rewarded with the longer stay by a winter plumage Spotted Redshank, a bird I hadn't seen for a while so can't complain!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Birding this weekend

Flock of 17 Grey Heron on SaturdayJuvenile Audouin's gull

Honey Buzzards...

Record shot of the highlight - Peregrine falcon

Saturday morning saw us still sleepy eyed scanning the sea with the sea spray blowing over us. At first only Yellow-legged gulls were about until a few Marsh harriers started coming in over the sea. Two Shovlers brigtened us up, being rather worthed to have got out of bed for. A Quail low over the sea heading inland was something I had never seen. So then with 17 Grey Heron and a Sandwhich tern just before we left I was quite happy.
Another seawatch Sunday morning gave 3 juvenile Audouin's gulls passing rather close to shore for gulls to be as well as my first two Black-headed gulls this autumn. Then 9 Grey Herons (2,7) and that was that, no more was to be seen.
In the afternoon the wind had weakened so we tried our luck with some raptor watching. Not much migration, 35 Marsh Harriers and 25 Honey Buzzards in all, which cannot be expected now either with the peak being over. 8 Hobbies, 2 Kestrels and a good flock of 70 Bee-eaters were flying about. A Black Kite was a good find as usual but the most interesting was to be had from the Falcon family... a male Peregrine Falcon flew by and gave good views as it perched in a large tree. What's more the first Merlin flew or better speeded by soon before dusk.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One of those days!

12 Grey Herons from Qawra, the reddish colour on some of them is due to the early morning light.

Just a very small part of the many flocks circling around over Malta this afternoon.

Honey Buzzard silhouette

Whatever amount of hours and days you spend birding there are still those days that stand out in your memory for some time. That start good and end good, with a lifer or two and leaving you with a great feeling of content forgetting all the other birdless frustrating hours. Today was just such a day and to make it better it was the end of the summer holidays!

We started off with a Hoopoe flushed on arriving at the seawatching point at Qawra. We said that this made it worth even if we would se nothing else. But soon afterwards a flock of 12 Grey heron flew right over us,soon followed by a flock of 5 Little Egret. Not long after that again a flock of 9 Grey Heron and 13 Little Egret up the coast. Four more flocks of the latter were seen, 8, 18, 11 and 20, making up a very good total. The bird or birds of the morning were 4 Avocets which flew by Qawra point, not only being beautiful birds, but also rather scarce. By 9 am birds of prey started to make a move hinting on the passage that was to come later. A total of 12 Marsh harriers, 4 Honey Buzzards, an Osprey, 4 Common, 2 Lesser and 4 unidentified Kestrels. That was it, we left Qawra with hope to come up to Buskett as quickly as possible.

It was only two hours later though thanks to unreliable maltese buses! We came panting up the hill crossing fingers that we hadn't lost any large flocks or anything rare. Luckily the other birders had just arrived and the first flock of 6 honey buzzards was still ciricling around. The next flock was larger and with them 2 Ospreys. The flocks of Honey Buzzards and Marsh harriers didn't stop coming the largest of around 50 birds like bomber planes coming in formation over the maltese islands. They seemed to be in a hurry to escape the bad weather that is forecasted and although the first flocks migrated by the evening 300 or so raptors were circling around in huge funnels were ever you set your bins and still they were coming, a spectacle I had never witnessed in such "epic"proportions! While they stayed over Malta held by the now complete cloud cover, Kestrels(30), Lesser Kestrels (7) and Hobbies (20) were also migrating. To make it even better a male Pallid harrier was sighted, another two Ospreys - one with a ring seen blinking, a Black kite, 2 Grey and 2 Purple Herons. The best of all was a flock of 22 Spoonbills, a lifer for me and the largest flock seen by many present. We had been getting reports of them from the south of Malta but hadn't managed to see them, then a report from closer to us, from Dingli...a lot of frantic scanning and finally someone, who deserves a big thanks spotted them flashing white over Verdala Palace.
Totals of Marsh hariers and Honey Buzzards by the end of the evening were 350+ and 450+ respectively. Good numbers of Yellow wagtails (500+) and Swallows (600+) were noted as well as the first Grey Wagtail.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another good day up at Buskett

Honey Buzzard

Painted Lady

At Qawra two hours of seawatching produced only two Marsh harriers, but at Buskett it was another matter. Maybe not as many as yesterday but just as fun. Arrived just in time to see a dark morph Marsh harrier. Small flocks were first found as mere specks in the sky gliding towards us stopping to soar overhead for a definite identification and continuing their migration agianst the wind. The way a good day should be. A Black Kite was seen in amongst the funneling Honey Buzzards and Marsh harriers as well as a male Montagu's harrier. 4 Hobbies were circling around attempting to catch Swallows and sending Bee-eaters into tight calling flocks. As dusk was approaching the raptors that had decided to choose our island as the stopover for the night started to drop lower in the sky stooping into the trees.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Peak :D

One of the Honey Buzzards that roosted at Buskett, Photo by Ray Galea

18 Night Heron, Photo by Ray Galea

Light southwest winds looked promising so was up at Buskett early at 11 am and it wasn't for nothing. From the first scanning of the sky 7 Marsh harriers were found, first as small dots in the clouds and then coming over against the wind. They continued coming in small flocks and totals were rising. The conditions we had been waiting for had come and the birds didn't hang around. After some soaring most continued their long journey south. The largest flock was of 48 Honey Buzzards later on in the evening. Usually good days are highlighted with an eagle or a stork but it was not to be. 3 Ospreys wasn't bad though and neither 2 Black Kites which showed well. Two Eleonora's Falcons were hunting together with 5 Hobbies, one light and one dark phase. Total numbers of Honey Buzzards was 194 and Marsh harriers 142. A flock of 18 Night heron alighted from the trees, these also continued thier migration, another 2 called after dusk circling searching for companions. Bee-eaters were again present in good numbers (170) as were Barn Swallows. Two Wheatears constantly chaced each other over the garigue. Checking the weather forecast for tomorow promises good too, maybe we'll get an eagle, who knows?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Truly Unforgetable!

Moderate to strong Northwest winds...why go up to Buskett I thought. I was going to Qawra instead but changed my mind in the last minute. Now I'm extremely happy I made that decision!
I wasn't expecting anything really but a few Marsh harriers started appearing quite quickly. They continued coming in small flocks in against the wind some continuing some circling low preparing to roost. Between around 2 pm to 4 pm over 50 Marsh harriers were seen, together with 6 Honey Buzzard, a Black Kite, Montagu's harrier and an Osprey. Already content having had no expectations at all. But that was because I wasn't aware what was flapping closer to Malta. Suddenly I saw them a small cloud of large circling birds. At first glance I called out, "look herons", it quickly changed to "WHITE STORKS" though! We were stunned! All 29 of them! We didn't enjoy them for long before phone calls were made in rapid succession and record shots taken. They were followed till they became specs in the horizon and were gone as quickly as they had come. Altough the adrenaline is still flowing and I'm overjoyed that I was one of 3 that witnessed probably the largest flock of storks recorded in Malta, have mixed feelings because of those regular birders which lost the flock just because they couldn't today....
When the commotion was over we noticed from the photos that they were infact 28 White and 1 Black Stork amongst them! We hadn't even noticed with the excitemnet!
Just to make the day even better in the late evening two large flocks of Grey and Purple herons migrated in large V formations ( 92, c50 Grey herons, 3, c20 Purple Herons). The most I have ever seen in a day. A few more Marsh harriers and Honey buzzards as well as 4 Hobbies, 3 Alpine Swifts and 120 Bee-eaters. A Crossbill was another great bonus to a day I wan't forget quickly!

A few of the Marsh harriers

Male Marsh harrier

28 White and a Black Stork! (click for a larger image)

Photo taken by Ray Galea

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Well can't grumble...

Flock of 15 Little Egrets over Qawra this morning

3 Purple Herons

Smallest of three small "funnels" seen this afternoon at Buskett, 7 Honey Buzzards and 2 Marsh harriers

An hour and a half seawatching in the late morning gave two yearers and some other good birds. The first being a Slender-billed gull and an Audoin's Gull. Also two flocks of Little Egrets, 16 and 10, then 3 Purple Herons which circled for some time above us. Scopoli's Shearwaters were as usuall seen on the horizon. To start on the note of raptors one Marsh harrier was seen.

Several more were seen in the afternoon in singles, small flocks and together with Honey Buzzards, which were the definite highlight. Although two flocks of a total of 60 birds set high hopes early on that came to nothing, they were great to watch circling around in the azure sky. Today numbers of raptors were the highest recorded yet this September (72 Honey Buzzards and 46 Marsh harrier), noting that it has been a very poor migration so far.
One has to mention an Osprey which seems always to brighten up the day as well as 3 Hobbies. Finally around 60 Bee-eaters flying about around us were fun as were a Golden Oriole and 6 Turtle Doves.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An unexpectedly good day!

Strong north west wind isn't the weather you would hope for neither for seawatching and even less for raptor watching, but it didn't turn out that bad.
Spent the morning at Qawra scanning the sea and was rewarded with relatively good views of 2 Caspian terns, it had been a year seen last. What's more 5 Sandwhich terns were hanging around the fish farms together with plentiful Yellow-legged gulls and further out Scopoli's shearwaters.
Marsh harriers appeared over the horizon in singles, seven in all. 2 Little Stints and some small flocks of Swallows were to be last birds of the day, hadn't I got a call when I got home about 23 Honey Buzzards.
Therefore it was up to Buskett, where we only got too late to see 4 Dottorels, would be lifers and not the first time I had missed them. The strong wind didn't give us the most pleasant conditions up on the exposed hill top but it was worth it. It didn't turn out to be the passage of raptors we had hoped for, a total of 11 Marsh harriers and the our first Black kite of the autumn. However suddenly there were a flock waders flying quiclky past - short but good views of 10 Dottorels! So we got our lifer all the same, great birds! To complete the day, just when we were geting quite cold and thinking about home a flock of 50 Grey herons together with 3 Little egrets flew by in formation in the distance.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's back!

Juvenile Honey Buzzard

What with a practically birdless maltese summer and 5 weeks in Norway (trip report coming soon), it;s a long time since last post but here we are again!

Raptor migration has started and up we went to Buskett, the best location to watch them. Not the best conditions though, Scicily being covered with clouds. An Osprey made up for a lot of fruitless scanning. As usaull it didn't stay long and continued till it became a dot on the horizon.

Later in the afternoon 4 Hobbies circled around and the first yearer of this autumn...a light morph Eleonora's falcon. As to often it had evident injuries caused by illegal hunting, a dangling leg and missing primaries.

Two female Montagu's harriers gave rather good views, as well as one Honey buzzard, a Marsh Harrier and a Kestrel. Around 60 Bee-eaters, 40+ swallow and two Nightingales pretty complete the picture for today.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Windy morning - Ghadira and Cumnija

Eastern Bonelli's warbler two weeks ago at Ghadira Nature reserve, ringed and then seen in the field with another one. (lifer)

Temminck's Stint at Ghadira today.

Little egrets, part of flock of 14...
Record shot of female Montagu's harrier on the garigue area behind Ghadira called ic-Cumnija

Not many passerines about this morning, the few present seeking shelter from the srong north east wind and difficult to find. A female Montagu's harrier giving good views resting on the garigue before flying off was more than a good compensation. Plus two Marsh harriers, some 7 Turlte doves and two Woodchat shrikes were the good birds to see. In Ghadira a few waders were about the best being 8 Curlew Sandpipers, some 5 Temminck's stint and a Ringed Plover. Six more Little ringed plover chicks now hatched, appart from the the oldest four around two weeks now. 14 Little egrets also present, but were quite restless flying much about.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yet another great weekend on Comino

Golden Oriole subadult male, as all the other birds caught as part of the ringing project on Comino

Collared Flycathcer

Two superb Bee-eaters and the first time apreciated in the hand (and not because of being injured) by most present

Comino is always a great place for birding and in fall conditions, quite simply: Amazing! Whinchats and Whitethroats practically everywhere, and Spotted Flycathcers flitting about in less but still good numbers. Then there was the variety, you don't get to see 50 species in a day that often in Malta. Herons represented by Grey (2), Purple (8) and Night (7), Birds of prey by Black Kite (1), Honey Buzzard (8), Marsh harrier (4), Kestrel (3), Red-footed falcon (1) and Peregrine (1), then there was Quail, Turtle Dove, Nightjar, Bee-eaters passing over all through the day, Tawny Pipits, Wheatears, Redstarts, Nightingales, warblers best being Icterines, Great Reed and albistriata Subalpine warblers, Collared and Pied Flycathcers, Golden oriole and more. Of course in addition to all the excitment created by the birds, looking up at a sky full of stars, waking up before dawn to open up the nets, the peace of a fairly undistrubed island adds to the experience.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend on Comino

Black-eared Wheatear ringed at dawn

Part of a flock of 15 Little Egrets

One of several Cory's shearwaters flying close to the ferry on leaving Comino

Male Cuckoo

Spent a great weekend on Comino Ringing Observatory. Nothing special and a bit quite with some 90 birds caught and ringed in all as part of the annual ringing scheme on the island involving a month in Spring and a few weeks in autumn. But still spending a few days on such a quite island, with barely any people and buidings is an experience!
A male Cuckoo caught early Sunday morning was the definite highlight for me. Also good were beautiful a male Black-eared wheatear, two Woodchat srikes and a Collared Flycatcher all caught. Failed to catch any Scops Owls which I had really hoped for but at least a Nightjar flew quickly by one of the mornings. The most abundant passerines caught were Whinchats, Willow Warblers, Subalpine Warblers, Whitethroats and Pied Flycatchers as well as a Wheatear, two Sedge Warblers and two Garden Warblers.
The first Purple Herons of the year, 4 in all, were sighted. Most herons have still to be seen in good numbers this spring. A total of 31 Little egrets resting on the rocks along the shore as well as a Night Heron heard at night.
Birds of Prey were represented by a few Marsh harriers, a Black Kite, some Kestrels hunting without the fear of being hunted and a Hobby. Finally three Golden oriole males were also great as were a Quail and two Hoopoes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ghadira and Cumnija area

Male Black-winged Stilt at Ghadira Nature reserve

Female Black-winged stilt and Wood sandpiper

Woodchat Shrike

Male Black-eared Wheatear

Seawatching at Cirkewwa was quickly interupted by a call about a Glossy ibis at Ghadira. So we quickly hurried off. We hadn't seen much anyway, 6 Sandwhich terns and 2 Marsh harriers were the birds of note.
At Ghadira there was no sign of the Glossy ibis, just my luck that it had left! But still some other good birds the best being the first two Golden Orioles flying over! A Hobby was also good as were a pair of Black-winged Stilts, quite a flock of Little Stints, a Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruffs and 4 Wood sandpipers. The female Garganey is still present too. Migratory warblers were well represented with a couple of Great Reed and Sedge Warblers singing, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Subalpine present and Wood warblers being quite abundant. A late White wagtail payed a visit its black chest distinctive between all the Yellow wagtails.
A walk behind the reserve produced a good number of birds too. Not less than three Woodcaht shrikes were fun as they flew down from their perches the catch some unfortunate insect. Three Wheatears and 2 Black-eared wheatears were a good addition to the list as was a Hoopoe, a Wryneck and three Spectacled warblers. A male marsh harrier and then a female flew over. Even better we spotted our first Black kite this year below Mellieha, and another great bird of prey was a female Pallid harrier soaring overhead. Another two Marsh harriers while waiting for the bus ended a satisfying morning.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Windy afternoon at Dwejra

Digiscoped pic of two female Lesser Kestrels, part of a flock of nine.

The only male Lesser Kestrel present.

A hoopoe that flew too soon...

The first two of the five Marsh harriers, were soaring above as I was climbing the hill up to Dwejra. Four House martins were to be the only hirundines of the afternoon. What's more my first Hobby this year struggled in the strong NE wind followed by another two latter on in the evening.
Not much else to see when arriving at the hill top, but a hunting Common Kestrel so decided to take a walk to Bingemma valley. Nightingales were calling, a few Tree Pipits and 4 Yellow wagtails passing overhead at first. It was only when I got to the more sheltered valley that a Hoopoe flew up to perch on a stone wall giving great views. Of course it had to fly off when I went nearer for photos but got a grainy shot of it in flight. A Northern Wheatear female, more Nightingales, Wood warblers and a Redstart were also seen. Two more Hoopoes on walking back flying up from the track. Usually they'd be long gone due to noisy picnicers but today I was alone thanks to the gloomy weather.
Then I spotted 4 Lesser Kestrels resting on some electricity lines. Occasionly flying off to hunt and also joined by 5 more. Suddenly they were all in the air. First thinking someone had passed by but it was a feathered creature that had scared them. A female Pallid harrier! And while wathcing it, another appreared. They were quiclky gone tough, one coming back just before I left only sillhouette visible against the setting sun.