The April field trip was a speculative one, to the island of Tabarca. Depending upon the whims of migration, the birding can be excellent, or pretty poor. The weather was unusually fine as we left Santa Pola harbour, sunny, and practically still, but it was soon clear that birds were going to be hard to come by, as nothing more unusual than Sardinian Warblers seemed to be present. Near the lighthouse, ringers had mist-nets strung out hopefully, and one came to show us the solitary Willow Warbler he had trapped, but apart from a Woodchat Shrike no other migrants seemed to be on the island. A couple of parties of Balearic Shearwaters flew by at some distance, and Barry found two Whimbrels on the eastern rocks, as well as a few Turnstone, and some Shags. Three Black winged Stilts were unusual visitors to the island. They clearly didn’t like it very much, and left very quickly! We repaired for a surprisingly good lunch at the Restaurante Mar Azul – one always has to bear in mind that everything has to be transported at considerable cost from the mainland – then walked around the inhabited western end of the island. Discussion raged about the owner of a triangular dorsal fin which Stephan originally found and yelled ‘Dolphin.’ He then realised that it wasn’t, but what it actually was, we were unsure. A shark of some species seemed the likeliest explanation. Another Whimbrel was found, a Grey Heron fished from the rocks, as did a Little Egret, but it wasn’t until we were on the boat en route for Santa Pola that the bird of the day showed up – in the shape of a piratical Great Skua, chasing gulls right off the tip of Tabarca. Not supposed to be in the Mediterranean at all, this one, as several others I have seen, obviously didn’t read the field guide! It had not been the greatest day’s birding ever, with only some 25 species recorded, but a pleasant enough walk in the sunshine.
Species list – Balearic Shearwater, Great Cormorant, Shag, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt*, Whimbrel, Turnstone, Great Skua*, Audouin’s Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Black headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, (Rock Dove), Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Pallid Swift, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow. *denotes new for the island.