Friday, 3 February 2017

Dársena de Raos and Airport Pools, Marismas Alday and Marismas Blancos, Santander and the drive to Bilbao, Cantabria.

A move to Bilbao via a couple of birding spots and some shops.

Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula).
Jayne and I started to make our way towards our next in Bilbao but on the way we called at a shopping centre where I dropped Jayne off and then went birding along the Northern side of the Airport. First of all I checked the pools on the side of the runway and soon found Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) heard only, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis).
I then spent some time along the sea front and port area scanning the sea and rocks, I soon found several new species including Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis),  Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Common Scoter (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra) x4, Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer) and over 300 roosting Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina).
Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
I got back to the carpark early so I went and had a look at the pools at Marismas Alday where I saw more Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Little Grebes, Eurasian Coots, Common Moorhen, Gadwall and then a bird which superficially looked like a Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) but it later turned out to be a Hybrid between a Ferruginous and a Common Pochard.
Common Scoter (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra).
In the same area I also recorded Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Just a Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) ?????????
I met Jayne and we moved on to another wetland nearby called the Marismas Blancos, I only saw a few new species along with most of the other seen earlier, the new ones for the day were Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), Eurasian Curlew (Zaoaito Real / Numenius arquata), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Group of Ducks.
We made our way to Bilbao and then spent a very nice evening wandering around the city finding the entrance of the Guggenheim Museum ready for Jayne's visit tomorrow and then the old part of the city. Later we walked back towards the main centre where we had something to eat before returning to the hotel for the night.

Ferruginous Duck X Common Pochard.

Group of Ducks.
Female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor).
The Guggenheim.
Out side the Guggenheim.
Some of the Tapas we had for our eveing meal.

Tapas selection.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Comillas, Ensenara de San Bartolomé and Santander Town, Cantabria.

A great visit to El Capricho de Gaudi in Comillas and then a look around the Santander area.

Adult Great Black-backed Gull (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus).
We returned to Comillas after remembering why we wanted to visit the town, we had a look around the town following a route given to us by the tourist office. On the beach I saw 3x Great Black-backed Gulls (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus) along with Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), 3x Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and several Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and several Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
1st winter Great Black-backed Gull (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus).
Later, once it was open we went to the very impressive El Capricho de Gaudi house. We spent nearly 3 hours there before heading towards and past Santander to a spot where due to the weather I had a walk on the estuary while Jayne read her Kindle in the car. During the hour or so I was there I saw 100s of Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor) x8, a Spanish Lifer in the shape of 3 Velvet Scoters (Negrón Especulado / Melanitta fusca), Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and 2x Great Northern Divers (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) x3.
On the mud flats there were also Eurasian Curlew (Zaoaito Real / Numenius arquata), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). On the landward side I recorded Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and as I walked back an Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) flew over carrying a very large fish.
Comillas.
Later we drove into the city of Santander where we had a very nice lunch and later a walk along the seafront where saw Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and lots of House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus). 
Later we drove back to the hotel via Suances for some food again.
Comillas.
Gaudi's Gateway.
Gaudi's sunflowers at El Capricho.
El Capricho.
Jayne sat with Gaudi.
Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia).
Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor).
Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope).

Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus).
Velvet Scoters (Negrón Especulado / Melanitta fusca) honest !!!!
A cheese board for lunch.
Art on the sea front at Santander.
Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis).

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cueva El Soplao, San Vicente de la Barquera, Near El Tejo and Comillas and Suances, Cantabria.

A morning under ground and an afternoon on the coast.

A view of the Pico's from the caves.
Jayne and I drove west along the coast and the down to Cueva el Soplao, on the way near San Vicente we saw a couple of Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and just as we arrived at the caves a male Bullfinch (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula) which flew up from the roadside. 
Another view of the Pico's from the caves.
Once at the caves we booked in and then had a walk around whilst we waited for the 11:00 tour. Around the area I found Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
The mine train.
At 11:00 we met our guide and then entered the mine / cave on an old mine train which was great but was nothing compared to the caves themselves which were amazing with the special formations called Helictites of calcite and a great many other interesting rocks.
Later we went up to the coast and had a walk along the sea front at San Vicente de la Barquera where we had a walk along the estuary and then up to the Castle above the town where we had some nice views. Later we had some lunch in a nice bar in the town before walking back to the car, I also had a look at the long bridge over the river. During the walk up to the castle and along the estuary I saw Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Curlew (Zaoaito Real / Numenius arquata), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Great Black-backed (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris).
San Vicente de la Barquera from the road to the castle.
We moved on after a nice visit to this nice town and went towards Comillas but made a stop at a spot over the river near El Tejo where I picked up Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser) and a couple of Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). Also seen here was a bird which I could not work out but it looked very like a male North American Black Duck (Ánade Sombrío / Anas rubripes ) but I will never know what it was as a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) flew in and flushed everything.
San Vicente de la Barquera again.
We moved on again to Comillas but it was getting on so we decided to head back to the hotel and return in the morning. Later in the evening we returned to Suances and had some food and a couple of drinks before turning in.
San Vicente de la Barquera.
Jayne with a glass of WATER.
San Vicente de la Barquera.
 Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor) at San Vicente de la Barquera.
Northern Pintails (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta).

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Travelling to Santillana del Mar, Playa de Tagle and Playa de Suances, Cantabria.

Travelling to the North Coast.

A sun set with the Pico's in the distance.
Jayne and I said our goodbyes to Santi and Howard and thanked them for a superb few days in Silos. We then started out for Burgos and onwards to the motorway North but it was not long before Santi and Howard passed up also heading for Burgos. On the minor roads we saw several Iberian / Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) just north of Covarrubias along with Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Green (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Near Suances.
Once we had checked in at our hotel in the village of Santillana called the Altamira before we went for a walk on the beach at Playa de Tagle where I saw Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
Playa de Tagle.
We moved a bit further along the coast looking for something for lunch and we dropped very lucky when we had a menu del dia at La Duna on the playa at Suances, one of the best I have ever had.
Rocks on Playa de Tagle.
Later we had a nice walk along the seafront where I saw Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
Jayne near Suances.
We went back to the hotel and then went for a walk around the town and eventually found a bar that was open and had a couple of drinka and some food before turning in.


A Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) on Suances sea front.

Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) in the port at Suarces.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Santa Domingo de Silos, Sad Hill Cenetrey, San Pedro de Arlanza Monastrey and Covarrubias, Burgos Province.

A day out and about in the fog, cloud and rain with Jayne, Santi and Howard.

As usual I started the day with a walk with Patch and picked up a few species including Green (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Rock (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major) as well as two very smart Roe Deer (Corzo / Capreolus capreolus) out on the fields.
After the walk we went up to the Sad Hill cemetery where 51 years ago they filmed the classic movie the Good, the Bad and the Ugly a film I have always enjoyed. The area was wet and there was lots of low cloud but it was a great spot and with all the ancient Juniper trees surround the site it was very atmospheric.
Later we went to a wood gorge where Santi showed us some cliffs with lots of Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and on the track there and back we also saw a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and a group of Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
We then went to out second Good, the Bad and the Ugly location which was at the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza but unfortunatally it was closed so we had a quick look around outside as it had started to drizzle.
Our next stop was in the village of Covarrubias, a very nice place on the river Arlanza where we had a very nice lunch, did some shopping and had a walk along the river.
Later we went back to Santi's and had a quiet afternoon and a very nice evening meal.