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Showing posts from December, 2009

Winter Atlasing

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We are now in the third and final year of the Winter Atlas fieldwork in Spain (organised by SEO/BirdLife). It has been a real highlight of the winter for me. I am doing seven 10 km squares and visits to each entail about a six hour walk along paths or tracks, counting every single bird seen or heard and estimating whether it is within 25 metres of the path or not. Add to this a description of the habitat every fifteen minutes and you can imagine the amount of information that is being gathered. This then gets put on the computer and sent on-line to Madrid. I think that the results will be fascinating, giving us a picture of not just where different species occur in the winter across Spain, but also their relative abundance and habitat preferences.

The planning is quite complicated. There is no point doing this type of survey work if it is raining, very windy or foggy...because this would create bias in the detectability of birds (they will be harder to count). I also avoid going out o…

Crane Festival in Extremadura

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This weekend saw the culmination of the first Crane Festival in Extremadura, sponsored by the Extremadura Tourist Board and with support from SEO/BirdLife and other NGOs. The activities were focused around Moheda Alta, an information and visitors centre in the heart of the most important wintering area for cranes in Extremadura. According to the 2007 census, about 80,000 cranes winter in Extremadura (about 30% of the total European population) and about half of these occur in this central zone, about half an hour from where we live, attracted by the choice of rice stubble, maize stubble and the traditional acorn crop of the dehesa holm oaks on which to feed.

I was involved on both days taking coach parties of visitors from Cáceres and Trujillo to enjoy what the Festival would have to offer. First stop was the Sierra Brava reservoir. This hosts one of the largest concentrations of waterfowl in Spain (third place after the Coto Doñana and the Ebro Delta - and given its much smaller size…