Monday, May 16, 2011

Balearic Spring Day 3 - Into the Farmlands

Another day of clear blue skies dawned as we packed the kit in to the car to head south towards the centre of island. Our aim was to travel around an extensive area of farmland to see what species could be found next the tracks with the car providing us with a mobile hide. As we arrived you already feel the coolness of the morning burning away under the rapidly ascending sun.

The first species we encountered were a small streaky warbler with an impressive and very apt name, the Zitting Cisticola who seem to have adapted well to a life amongst the arable crops. These are the only representative of a group of African warbler species that are found in Europe.

We did manage a couple of closer encounters that morning. Unusually the lining of the male mouth is pitch black and they look very odd when in full song.

On our journey along another track, we located a pair of Short-toed lark gradually working their way across the sun baked soils.

Another track, another species. This time it was the Iberian race of Yellow Wagtails with their grey heads. Personally I prefer the looks of our yellow headed UK race.

By this point the light was getting harsh and the autofocus crippling heat haze was building. The last species I photographed before we left the farmlands was a Corn Bunting, my first image of this species, and one I was hoping to improve upon before the end of the week.

We decided to stop for a bit of lunch and then headed back up to S'Albufera. The daily outings were starting to take on a bit of a pattern with a trip out exploring a new area in the morning and a return to the Marsh for the mid afternoon and early evening. As I said in my first post you could easily spend a week at S'Albufera Marsh alone.

Another of the S'Albufera conservation efforts was the introduction during the 1990s of the endangered Crested Coot. I remember these birds from when I visited a few years, with each sporting a large identification neck ring. As the numbers have increased so has the chance of finding an unringed bird. A number of birds were present each day around the main bridge that crosses the central canal. Photographing from the raised position of the bridge did not offer the greatest perspective and we located a small area off one path were we could get to water level with the birds. Coots under harsh sunlight is not a photographic pursuit I would recommend for those who do not like an exposure challenge!

It is good to see these birds flourishing in their new home.

Just around the corner from the bridge, the Bishop Hide was in good form with plenty of Black-winged Stilts feeding at very close proximity.

The Stilts were occasionally joined by a Purple Gallinule that would boldly march, between the bordering reedbeds, across the front of the hide to the accompanyment of camera shutters.

The bird shown below was particularly impressive in its colours.

We decided to move to another hide for the end of the day light. Kentish and Little Ringed Plover foraged with their stop and go movements along the lagoon edge.

The only distraction being the very pleasent sight of passing Purple Herons or Marsh Harrier in the softening light. I can think of much worse ways of passing time.

The following day we would be heading to the mountains but that will have to wait until the next post.


texwisgirl said...

they're all gorgeous shots. the heron is so lovely!

Dean Eades said...

Superb m8

Mary Howell Cromer said...

The Crested Coot, Purple Gallinule, Purple Herons and Marsh Harrier, absolutely brilliant, these are just outstanding works of art and the colours show off so well in each one. Great news then about the Crested Coots~

Gone Country said...

The photos are stunning! So many bird species I have never seen before. Thanks for sharing!

Matt Latham said...

Superb set Rich

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

Stunning as always, Richard! I just received my 150-500MM Sigma lens this afternoon and can't wait to get out and put it through it's paces.....if the rain ever lets up.


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