Wallcreeper ~ Alquezar, Spain - 28.12.17

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

This trip was based on finding Wallcreeper in the Spanish Pyrenees and whilst doing so some good alpine birds along the way.

Flight in to Zaragoza on the 27th December and back on the 31st with the Hotel in Plasencia Del Monte on the A-132 about 25km from Riglos ..

The Sierra de Guara was the target area for the 28th working from the Gosney guide and as time was limited choose to concentrate on the easy access sites rather than the ones which required walks out through gorges etc ..

With so much potentially good rock faces literally everywhere the chances of finding a Wallcreeper anywhere and on any surface seemed a bit of a needle in a haystack .. 

So I tried Vadiello Dam, Calcon Dam, The bridge between Morrano and Bierge then mid-afternoon at Alquezar with all the sites its about luck finding a Wallcreeper ..
The scenery was stunning whilst driving around the Sierra de Guara with at one point 72 Griffon Vultures circling but it wasn't until I got to the medieval town of Alquezar that I struck lucky ..

I decided to leave the camera behind (bad decision) and have a look around the town first, I got to the castle-like Collegiata 
42.1720N, 0.0276E
and started scanning the rock face then OMFGG there it was a Wallcreeper, constantly active coming towards me and wing flicking showing off its colours. I watched it for about five minutes as it was distant but coming closer, now I had to go get the camera which was ten minutes away, when I got back a lady had pointed to where the bird had come to I would of had to step back to get it in the frame !!

But had to settle for big crops ..

I tried a couple of sites in the Hecho Valley the following day without success.
Then another afternoon visit to Alquezar but this time it was a saturday with a few climbers scaling the rock face probably had the birds feeding elsewhere as I didn't see one ..

Medievel town of Alquezar with the Collegiata on the left

Really easy trip and enjoyed the area must do a summer visit ...


3 Caspian Gulls ~ Dungeness, Kent - 23.12.17

Monday, 25 December 2017

With the gull numbers building nicely it seemed like more birds were possible but you cannot complain at 3 Casps, 2x 2nd.Winter and a 1st.Winter, 2nd.Winter Yellow-legged and a 1st.Winter and the brute of a juvenile Glaucous Gull ..

Poor light resulted in iso 6400

2nd. W. Caspian Gull #12

2nd. W. Caspian Gull #13

And then this now the regular 1st. Winter Caspian which has been present at least from the 30.09.17

Same bird 28.10.17

Same bird 30.09.17

Glaucous Gull ~ Juvenile ~ Dungeness, Kent - 23.12.17

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Late afternoon at the fishing boats, Dungeness and after about an hour the big brute of a juvenile Glaucous Gull cruised in and clumsily fed in the melee ..

All shots were taken at iso 6400

Capped Wheatear ~ De Hoop NR ~ Overberg, South Africa - Dec '17

Monday, 18 December 2017

A three hour drive to De Hoop nature reserve, Overberg from Kirstenbosch at the base of Table mountain, Cape Town, Jono drove and I was look out ..
The drive once off the main road was through continuous rolling plains we were on high alert for Bustards but the harder we tried the worst it became with everything seemingly looking like our target of bustard, bush bird, rock bird even geese became bustards ..
After many stops for fake birds we eventually arrived late afternoon and checked in, the car was then abandoned at reception and off I went for the many Capped Wheatear which were on the short grazed grass amougst the Bontebok and Zebra at this point I had a mini-meltdown the strong wind and sun were the same direction meaning the birds are looking away from the sun so instantly gave up and Left Jono with them, I went towards the trees and had some success with Shrikes and Bokmakierie ..
Later that evening we exchanged what we had achieved, Jono had persevered with the Wheatear and done well ..
The alarm was set for 05:00am but  for me there was only one target bird. I tried quite a few different individuals trying to find a confiding one ..

Capped Wheatear


I hardly ever carry binoculars and camera at the same time for me they are one less thing to hold but today I did have both and found a much better use for them than looking through them, if you stand them up with the big front lenses in the dirt you can balance the camera on top as a great support for low level shooting !!

I watched this juvenile for about an hour at first it would sit and wait either in the tunnel chamber entrance or a small scrap just outside patiently out of sight.
The adult must of called although I never heard it and the juvenile would rush out to be fed each time staying out a little longer to the point that it fledged as it never returned to the chamber preferring to move around with its other siblings ..

The feeding of the juvenile by the adult was fascinating so set about photographing it, the adult was quickly in and gone again off catching more insects for the other siblings and not knowing what direction the juvenile would rush out the chamber from made it most challenging but the satifaction of getting the image was wonderful ...

My Image of the Trip