Overwintering Migrants

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If you read most field guides, you will learn that Hoopoes don’t winter in Spain, and neither do Booted Eagles. If you are a keen birder, and live here, you will know that both species are a common sight, around our coastal wetlands, in particular. The Costa Blanca Bird Club, however, is trying to establish the status of several more enigmatic birds, and will welcome input from readers about any midwinter sightings of these and other unexpected wintering birds.

Mary Brazier, with the help of Stephan and Els Cramer are prepared to collate information on the following species:-

  • Cory’s Shearwater, which is, of course, a seabird, and more likely to be seen from boats, islands or headlands.
  • Little Bittern and Squacco Heron, two small herons which can often skulk deep in reedbeds, and are therefore not always easy to see.
  • Quail, which is almost always invisible, in crops and grasslands.
  • Scops Owl, which again is often reluctant to show itself, and tends not to sing outside the breeding season.
  • Barn Swallow and House Martin, which tend to get mixed up with the huge numbers of wintering Crag Martins on occasion. There is, of course, the problem of early and late migration.

Scops Owls, Squacco Herons and Swallows, to name but three, can easily show up in early February, having made the journey from Africa before their colleagues, and ‘Indian Summers’ often result in species hanging on late, sometimes with second broods – this is quite frequently the case with House Martins. The species mentioned above may well, of course, not be the end of the tale, and stories of wintering Yellow Wagtails, Reed Warblers, Willow Warblers (beware misidentified Chiffchaffs!) and less-than-usual waders like Curlew Sandpipers are heard now and then.

If you have any data of interest in this direction, Mary would be pleased to have it – email us via info@costablancabirdclub.com.