Showing posts from February, 2010

Winter Atlas top ten

On Friday I completed the fieldwork for my allocated survey areas in eastern Extremadura for the Spanish Winter Bird Atlas. As I wrote in my blog of 22nd December, this has been a magnificent way over the last three winters to get know parts of the area that I had rarely visited before, or to explore beyond my regular routes in those patches which I know well. I used the internet to plan routes along little-used paths and tracks and then headed out for a good six hour hike (or slow walk actually) to record every individual of every species of bird detected in the course of 15 minute-long transects (whilst recording habitat type as well). Such were my atlasing days in the field. The areas that I was assigned to cover included pretty much a good cross-section of the local landscapes: plains, open woodland, scrub, rice fields, olive groves and orchards, uplands and a couple of small water bodies. We will have to wait for the book to be published by SEO (the Spanish Ornithological Society)

Close encounter with Bonelli's Eagles

It was half past one and I had been walking for four and half hours in a remote area of eastern Extremadura doing some fieldwork for the Winter Birds Atlas. I was in a quiet valley, quite wide, with scrub-covered slopes, some rocky outcrops and a strip of alder gallery woodland (full of Siskins) beside the river. This I thought to myself looks good eagle habitat. Just a few minutes later, I heard a loud whooooosh and an object whizzed past me at great speed just a few metres away and close to the ground. My first split-second reaction was that it was a hunting Goshawk, but as I got my binoculars on it, its true identity was obvious: a Bonelli's Eagle. It pounced onto a Red-legged Partridge on valley slope nearby. The partridge flew up, but then a second Bonelli's Eagle arrived, at the same speed as the first, and had a go at it. The eagles had appeared out of nowhere and had been completely oblivious of my presence, so focused were they on their prey. I was simply very close to