Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Okay, where is 'my' spring migration??

Whilst raptors and even a few Bee eaters poured into the coastal areas yesterday, up here in my mountains remains fairly slow for migration. Occasional highlights ignite the flame of hope, but apart from small numbers of Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite and a few Booted Eagles, the season is slow getting underway. Of course hirundines are already well established and nesting, together with large flocks passing northwards, I even managed Alpine Swift this week at their breeding sites in Ronda and Cueva de Gato, but generally speaking things are slow. Our Lesser Kestrel are back and in good numbers seemingly having enjoyed a successful winter, certainly numbers appear up on last year at both Setenil and Zahara, principally insectivores, they obviously enjoyed a drier winter than us! Our Northern Wheatears are on their territories, but Black-eared Wheatears are conspicuous by their absence, although I have seen a few migrant males.

In desperation for migration I have made forays to areas on the periphery of my patch and although not producing anything like ‘spring migration’ I did manage a single Lesser Flamingo, Gull-billed Tern and 15+ White-headed Duck at Laguna Dolce, while thousands of Greater Flamingo were brought to the shoreline by high waters at Fuente de Piedra. During the visit to Fuente de Piedra it made my day to see large numbers of Pallid Swift (here since the backend of February) joined by reasonable numbers of Common Swift. Red-rumped Swallows glided among the many other hirundines and a few waders, including a staggering 7 Spotted Redshank, kept me amused.

So while I wait for spring to happen, never complete without iconic species such as Bee eater and Nightingale, I will content myself with watching such sights as Bonelli Eagle males bringing food for brooding females and male Golden Eagle calling females away from their labour to enjoy the day’s up draughts and thermals.

Oh and is it just me, but is there a big drop in Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler numbers this spring?