Monday 1 January 2024

Puerto de Santoña, Cicero, Charca de Gandarias, Polder y Ría de Escalante, Puerto de Santoña and Marismas Blancas and Ensenada de San Bartolomé in the Bahía de Santander, Cantabria, Spain.

A day looking for lots of winter visitors.
82 species seen.
Ebird List for Puerto de Santoña, 20 Species.
Ebird List for Cicero, 38 species.
Ebird List for Charca de Gandarias, 14 species.
Ebird List for Polder y Ría de Escalante, 22 species.
Ebird List for Puerto de Santoña, 17 species.
Ebird List for Marismas Blancas 24 species. 
Ebird List for Ensenada de San Bartolomé, 37 Species.

08:00 and it's still dark.
I started the day a tad earlier than I need as it was still pitch black when I arrived in Santoña and all the bars were shut so I couldn't even get a coffee, disaster.
Great Black-backed Gull (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus) and Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis).
Dark-bellied Brent Geese (Barnacla Carinegra / Branta bernicla).
As things got lighter I went for a walk along the sea wall at the Southern end of the Port near to the Bull Ring where I started the 2024 year list off with Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone).
Sun Rise, things thankfully warmed up a tad.

Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Shags (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and a Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Things got far more interesting out on the water where I guess there must have been over 700 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (Barnacla Carinegra / Branta bernicla) stretching right along the main channel of the estuary, in the same area I had the first of several Great Northern Divers (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer), Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Great Black-backed (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), the resident male Common Eider (Eider Común / Somateria mollissima),  Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor) x3, Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta).
Looking down to the far end of the board walk at Cicero.
The view from the Board Walk over to Santoña.
I decide to pop down to the board walk at Cicero where there had been reports of a
Velvet Scoter (Negrón Especulado / Melanitta fusca), I arrived and found Spanish birder Manuel Hermosilla who put me on to a mixed group of Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) in a couple of Pine Trees near the start of the Board Walk, he went for a walk along the road but returned later, by the time he returned I had found the Velvet and a decent sized flock of Common Scoters (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra) as well as Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola), Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), another Great Northern Diver and it's smaller relative a distant Red-throated Diver (Colimbo Chico / Gavia stellata), Great Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). 
Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta).
Manuel stayed at the site but I need a coffee and went into the nearby Village where I managed to get 3 Coffee's, two for my travel mug from Aus and one to drink there and then.
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer) immature.
Common Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge).
Common Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge).
Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda).
I started to make my way back to Santoña but called in at the Charca de Gandarias where I checked the pools and fields finding
Water (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), a Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) which called and showed briefly in the ditch along the side of the road, Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). 
Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) with a catch.
Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
My next stop was on the road towards Escalante at the watch point, here I spent some time chatting and birding with two very nice Spanish Ladies and also added Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser), my one and only Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) of the day, a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Eurasian Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), over the trees and crags behind us 3 Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and now that it had warmed a bit I also noticed a couple of Small Whites (Pieris rapae) and a single Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni).
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
I returned to the Port in Santoña where I got better views of a couple of Great Northern Divers and added a Common Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge), a female looking Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and whilst I was watching the Guillemot 2x Rock Pipits (Bisbita Costero / Anthus petrosus) flew out of the Bull Ring and away out onto the marshes.
Part of Santoña Port looking better once the sun came through.
Looking out onto the Estuary and marshes.
Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
I returned to the car and went for a look up the Canal de Boó but apart from a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) it was quiet so I went just down the road to the Observatorio de aves de La Arenilla where I again saw the Common Eider but it was right into the Sun and didn't make for a good picture.
Common Eider (Eider Común / Somateria mollissima).
Common Eider (Eider Común / Somateria mollissima).
At this point I decided that I would try and save myself some time tomorrow and make getting over to A Coruna a little easier by going back to Ensenada de San Bartolomé to look for the 2 Scaup species but went via the Marismas Blancas where I sat on the raised area near the road and later walked down to the hide and a bit further along the strip of Alder trees, new species included Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos).
Marismas Blancas.
Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor) arriving.
Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) through the reeds.
My final stop of the day was not far up the road at Ensenada de San Bartolomé, I parked by the Cemertey and followed the footpath along the side of the Estuary with Santander on the opposite shore, new species included Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris).
A male Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) in the Alders.
Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis).
I reached the second of the bolder jetties out into the Estuary and set up the scope and scanned the water but couldn't find the birds, I picked up an unexpected female looking Red-breasted Merganser (Serreta Mediana / Mergus serrator) but nothing else new until a Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus) flew over and flushed all the Duck out into the open water which meant they were easier to scan and on about my 4 pass I found the male Lesser (Porrón Bola / Aythya affinis) and female Greater Scaup (Porrón Bastardo / Aythya marila) mixed in with all the other duck.
The view over to Santander.

Male Lesser (Porrón Bola / Aythya affinis) and female Greater Scaup (Porrón Bastardo / Aythya marila).
Male Lesser (Porrón Bola / Aythya affinis) and female Greater Scaup (Porrón Bastardo / Aythya marila).
Very happy and as I was starting to loose the light I decide to head back to the accommodation but went across country ad it was half the distance if a little slower. 
Loosing the light.

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