Saturday, 15 January 2022

The Port of A Coruña, Galicia, Unquera on the border between Asturias and Cantabria and Santoña Area, Cantabria, Spain.

Ups and downs along the North Coast.

White-tailed Eagle (Pigargo Europeo /Haliaeetus albicilla).
I had planned to leave my accommodation early but after getting a message from Cosme about a Glaucous Gull (Gavión Hiperbóreo / Larus hyperboreus)which was seen last thing last night on one of the low concrete sea walls in the harbour.
I arrived before light and it was almost 09.00 before I could really start to pick out the birds but I found no sign of the bird, only seeing Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Great Black-backed (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
At just after 10.00 I decided to start my journey along the north coast to Santoña, as I drove I saw Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and  Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei).
On the way I turned off the motorway at Unquera and took the road to the coast and parked after a KM or so where I set up the scope and scanned the pylons looking for an immature White-tailed Eagle (Pigargo Europeo /Haliaeetus albicilla) which had been reported here, the bird was part of a contorvertial introduction project which is not suported by all the birders I have spoken to about it as they say there is no evidence that the species has ever been resident in the country.
White-tailed Eagle (Pigargo Europeo /Haliaeetus albicilla) Immature.
Anyway after a few minutes I found a bird perched on the largest of the pylons in the valley but it was still a long way off so I drove around to the far side of the river where I found two more birders sat by the railway line so I stopped for a chat. It turned out to be the coordinators for the project so I asked a few questions about what was happening and the young lady in charge was insistant that there is good evidence from bones found during excavation that the birds were here in the distant pastbut she also knew about the objections to the project. I asked her about what was going to happen in the future and she told me that so far 7 birds had been released, 6 were still in the area and one had wandered off to the Pyrenees.
The thing that surprised me most was when she said they were going to release another 100 birds in the same area at the end of the year, this sounds like one hell of a lot of birds to be competing for food in one area, I understand some will disperse but it still sounds like a lot of birds.
Anyway I continued on towards Santoña but first went to Molino de Santa Olaja and Casa de las Mareas but I did not find the hoped for Goosander (Serreta Grande / Mergus merganser) but I did add Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Eurasian Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
I drove around to the hide which over looks the estuary near Santoña where I walked along the track heading away from the town and right at the end I found 3x
Common Scoters (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra) and the target Long-tailed Duck (Pato Havelda / Clangula hyemalis) along with Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer), Black-necked (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus) and Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope).

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