Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel PNat area, Santoña and Santander area, Cantabria, Spain.

Three Spanish Lifers in the worst birding weather conditions I have encountered so far in Spain, even I put a coat on and wished I had got some gloves with me.
Ebird list for the Hide.
 
The next band of rain coming across the estuary, pleased I was in the hide.
I left Silos early and drove North through Rain and heavy Snow but as the Spanish road network people are on the ball and there were loads of Snowploughs out I made good time and I was sat in the Observatorio de La Arenilla on the outskirts of Santoña at just after 09.00.
Red-breasted Merganser (Serreta Mediana / Mergus serrator).
Red-breasted Merganser (Serreta Mediana / Mergus serrator).
Red-breasted Merganser (Serreta Mediana / Mergus serrator).
As I got out of the car I was very pleased to see only my third Red-breasted Merganser (Serreta Mediana / Mergus serrator) in Spain within seconds, it was on the water right next to the Hide with the long staying Common Eider (Eider Común / Somateria mollissima), I took a few shots but the rain just got heavier and heavier so I retreated to the Hide and scanned the estuary seeing Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), some very distant Dark-bellied Brent Geese (Barnacla Carinegra / Branta bernicla) way over on the far side of the estuary, Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), a good sized flock of Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta) which flew over with a few Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) in the mix, Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), a distant Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis).
Common Eider (Eider Común / Somateria mollissima) male.
As the tide dropped a group of Spanish Birders arrived as did several species of wader including 
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) along with Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Great Black-backed (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus) and Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Eurasian Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia) and out in the channel nearest to the hide the main target here, a Red-necked Grebe (Somormujo Cuellirrojo / Podiceps grisegena) which showed up as the weather was at it's worst.
Distant Red-necked Grebe (Somormujo Cuellirrojo / Podiceps grisegena) with the rain bounching off the water.

Red-necked Grebe (Somormujo Cuellirrojo / Podiceps grisegena).

Before I moved on I also saw a female type
Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which whizzed over my head as I was getting into the car to head for my next stop which was just down the road at Polder y Ría de Escalante Where a smart Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado /Bucephala clangula), my second Spanish Lifer of the morning was soon in the scope.
Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado /Bucephala clangula).

Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado /Bucephala clangula).

Very pleased with this bird and not wanting to get too wet I jumped back into the car and headed for Molino de Santa Olaja, a few KMs up the coast, where I was looking for a Goosander (Serreta Grande / Mergus merganser) which had been around for a few days. Once there I first of all checked the pool near to Casa de las mareas where I saw good numbers of wilfowl including Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mute Swan, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and a single Great Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba).
The Goosander (Serreta Grande / Mergus merganser) as it flew up the channel.
I drove around to the car park which over looks the
Marisma de Joyel and then walked out to the Molino de Santa Olaja to check the tidal area of the reserve, on the way I met another birder so we walked out together and after just a few minute we were watching the Goosander up the main tidal channel but it ws being hassled by a Little Egret and before we could get any closer it took off and flew to the far end of the creek where it continued to feed hassle free but we still had good views in the scope until the heavens opened again and it absolutly hammered it down for another 30 minute but when It eased of I made a run for the car and almost made it before the next down pour.
I decided to start to head back via a couple of spots in the Santander area, first site was Marismas Blancas where I saw a lot of the same wildfowl as earlier, a few Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) but dipped on a Greater Scaup (Porrón Bastardo / Aythya marila) that had been seen there.
Tundra Bean Goose (Ánsar Campestre / Anser fabalis fabalis).
My final stop of the trip was on the Ría de San Martín where it was again raining heavily so I parked and scanned the marsh finding the flock of wintering
Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser) and the single Tundra Bean Goose (Ánsar Campestre / Anser fabalis fabalis) which had been with them for a while and was only the second I had seen in Spain.
I then gave in to the weather and drove back to Silos, on the way adding Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus) and Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus).

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