Winter Rarities by Malcolm Palmer

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As already stated below, The Costa Blanca Bird Club is carrying out a study of winter rarities, and would like you to contact us if you see any of the species on this short list of birds we know to be occasional wintering species. They are: Cory’s Shearwater, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Quail, Whiskered Tern, Swallow and House Martin.

Other, much less frequent sightings do occur from time to time – I once saw a Common Swift on 19th January, for instance – but the birds on our list are the ones you are most likely to meet with in December and January. In February, of course, the Swallows, House Martins and Yellow Wagtails start to re-appear after spending their winters in warmer climes. As I write, Barry Chambers has logged the only sighting to date, a Little Bittern on El Hondo at the end of the first week in January. He also had the good luck to find a Jack Snipe, that most elusive little bird, nearby. Later, when I was with him, we saw a strange raptor across fields at Vistabella, and identified it as an immature Long legged Buzzard, identical to the one Jacobo Ramos and myself found in November 1995. A bird which frequents the dry, mountainous areas of North Africa and South-Eastern Europe, it is longer-winged and tailed than Common Buzzard, and has orange tints on its underside. It is extremely rare, however, in Spain.

The extreme weather which Northern Europe and North America have been having may well have upset some normal migration patterns. We urge anyone seeing any of the birds I have mentioned above to contact the Costa Blanca Bird Club.