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