Spring Migrants and Winter Sightings

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A few year’s ago committee members, Stefan and Els considered the issue of species seen in winter which we would normally expect to be summer migrants on the Costa Blanca. They identified five relevant species namely – Cory’s Shearwater, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Quail and Scops Owl. Malcolm and Barry have added House Martin, Barn Swallow, Whiskered Tern and Night Heron to the list.

An issue arises when someone sees one of these species in the early spring, and it is not clear whether the bird should be included on the Spring Migration List or not, as the bird may have been here all winter. For a while we collected information about these species but this was discontinued due to the fact that there were not enough people out and about seeing and reporting the sightings. This note is provided now solely for your information.

From more recent discussions (March 2022) Malcolm has given these additional comments. Distinctions between migrant and resident are becoming increasingly blurred. Marbled Duck is further complicated by introduced birds which are reluctant to move very far. There are recent overwintering records (from Elche) of Spotted Flycatcher, and Stephan has recently had an unseasonal visit from a Woodchat Shrike. Even before global warming became ‘fashionable’ I once had a January Common Swift over Hondo. It is true that some of the more colonial species are less apt to stray from their traditions – I don’t recall seeing a winter record of Bee Eater, for instance. If you look at an old field guide, like first edition of Peterson, you will see that Hoopoe and Booted Eagle are summer visitors here!!

The relevant months are December, January and February

The Species concerned are – Cory’s Shearwater, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Quail, Scops Owl, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Whiskered Tern and Night Heron.