Wednesday, March 31, 2010

31st March - THE day for birding?

It seems that through the years this day, strange as it may be, has got the reputation to always produce something rare or a good amount of birds. Even to the extent that some maltese birders can recount a good number of lifers they got on this date.

Altough a bit sceptical, especially as not having had much luck on this day as yet, I made sure I got out birding, the destination being Cirkewwa.

On arriving the first of over 200 Tree pipits were spotted flying over, heading North. Even better quite a few small flocks of Garganeys were crossing through the channel, the pale wings flashing in the morning sun. Common Swifts were also migrating this rather windy morning and with them a Pallid Swift which together with a Short-toed lark were yearers.

One or two Kestrels hovering over the surrounding garigue, a Hoopoe flew by and Blue rock Thrushes, Malta's national bird were singing.

With 8 Garganeys a flock of 49 waders flew quickly through the channel, a bit too quickly for immeadiate identification. But from a few rapid shots: Bar-tailed Godwits. A very rare species and the first I've seen in Malta. The 31st was coming up to its reputation!

As the wind increased the small garganey passage ceased, but small flocks of Sandwhich terns appeared flying above the horizon. Then a long time with nothing and just when i was getting bored the cherry on the cake. A dark bird with white belly flying swiftly over the waves puzzled me at first not resembling any bird families I had seen, but suddenly it went up for me that it must be a skua! It was an adult Pomarine and my first identified skua :)

The evening wasn't bad either with around 16 Marsh harriers spotted from Mosta, and even better a male Pallid harrier flying over, being my sixth this spring.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A bit late up, but still a good morning out

Feldegg male Yellow wagtail posing in front of the hide

Woke up at 5.30 in the morning, only to see the rain pouring down...crept into bed again and slept for two more hours. Shouldn't have tough, lost a small passage of Grey herons which stopped soon before I finally got to Ghadira nature reserve.
Also a few Marsh harriers were passing by, one as soon as I stepped down from the bus, and five more latter. As well as a small number Lesser Kestrels came in over the Marfa ridge in singles and small groups.
The highlight of the day was definetly an Osprey which passed overhead quite high but as always very happy to see this magnificent bird.
Down in the reserve a Black-winged Stilt was feeding, together with 3 Little-ringed Plovers, 2 Common and 2 Green sandpipers completing the wader list which is rather lacking so far this year.
Barn Swallows and House Martins were plentiful as well as a few Sand martins, giving that special feeling of spring as they fly all over the place low over the water. Also fun was a foraging flock of some 30 Yellow wagtails giving the reserve a lot of colour and life with their flurry of activity. Various sub-species present; feldegg, flava, dombrowskii, thunbergi and superciliaris all there.
A Kingfisher giving good views was yet another colourful addition to the day's list. A Coot was a good sighting not being that usual a visitor at the reserve any longer. To finish off one or two Subalpine warbers in the bushes, Chiffchaffs busy feeding and 3 Reed Buntings flying up from the side of the track.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring feeling

Two of the Lesser kestrels

The sun was shining, Sardinian and Fan-tailed warblers singing...spring is here or just round the corner anyway. So were the spring migrants as I walked through a valley close to home. A male Yellow wagtail feldegg drying himself after bathing in the watercourse. An old male Marsh harrier crossing low over the valley followed by a female. Two Swallows crisscrossing low over the meadows. Further on 6 Lesser Kestrels busy hunting not disturbed by my presence. A Green sandpiper flew up from the muddy water edge always reminding me of a oversized House martin in flight. Talking of them a small flock was flittering about too.

Well can't forget to mention the remaining overwintering birds some staying to accompaning us a bit longer. The last White Wagtails, Meadow pipits, a pair of Stonecahts, Robins Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thumbs up to the bad weather!

Just after clearing

Finally Malta got some much needed rain, and with it came a fair share of birds too...

Was just cycling up the steep Dwejra hill when a flock of 15 Grey herons passed over, heading North. Another flock of around 40 was spotted far away a little before visibilty went from bad to zero and it started to drizzle for earnest. I gave up whipping bins and glasses, and scanning into the wall of took a walk producing my first Hoopoe of the year.

Altough we needed the rain I i wished it wouldn't rain that much just when i was out birding. Anyway when after an hour it cleared two Marsh harriers came in over the hill giving quite good views. Another 3 Grey herons and a further Marsh harrier as I was cycling back .

Went up to the roof at home to get 2 more Grey herons and even better 3 Common cranes (yearer) at dusk. They were joined by 11 Grey herons and headed all roughly eastward. The local pair of Tree sparrows ended a great afternoon.