Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bird life of L’Alt Empordà - North East Spain

L’Alt Empordà is the comarca or district which is situated on the alluvial plain that is formed by the basins of the Fluvià and Muga rivers. To the north are the mountains of the Pyrenees and to the east lie the Aiguamolls del Empordà, a natural parkland made up of boggy land and lakes. An Ornithologists delight. 

Those same Ornithologists or those that simply appreciate the natural world may be interested in the birds that are frequent visitors to our Mediterranean Garden. Although our planting of shrubs and trees is in its infancy we do benefit from a landscape with a variety of habitats for the birds. We are situated on the edge of a medieval village surrounded by arable farm land, rolling tree covered hills and mountain peaks. The village we reside in is bisected by a narrow stream surrounded by dense woodland. Urban gardens and a nearby golf course widen the appeal of this territory to the birds. 

We keep a pair of binoculars and a pocket sized bird identification book handy, but have little cover to enable us to get close enough to the birds for photography to be effective. As the garden develops I’m sure the numbers and variety of birds will increase and provide more opportunities to photograph them. 

Three of the most notable missed photographs were,

  • A golden eagle which drifted on a stiff breeze across the stable roof and towards me and was so close I could see the feathers around its neck moving in the wind. The camera was out of reach.
  • Having driven from the coast towards the village at dusk I had seen 43 storks in the air above the car. As I entered the village they were all standing in a field to my right and adjacent to the road. I was again camera less.
  • This time armed with the camera and having spotted Egrets on the Finca, I showed Carol how best to approach them discretely so that we would get a better picture. Having got up-close and personal we found that the Egrets were nothing more than carrier bags.

Mediterranean trees like the stone pine and oak surround our land, we also have fruit trees like, mulberry, pomegranate and cherry , bay trees and conifers amongst our shrubs.

Below is a list of the birds we have had in our garden up until now (though we are still watching) :-

  • Bee eater
  • Black cap
  • Black Kite
  • Blackbird
  • Cettis warbler
  • Collared dove
  • Cuckoo
  • Dipper
  • Egret
  • Eurasian jay
  • Eurasian scops owl
  • Golden Eagle
  • Golden oriole
  • Goldfinch
  • Greenfinch
  • Hedge sparrow
  • Honey Buzzard
  • Hoopoe
  • House martin
  • House sparrow
  • Magpie
  • Marsh harrier
  • Merops a
  • Nightingale
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Pied flycatcher
  • Red Kite
  • Robin
  • Serin
  • Spotless starling
  • Stork
  • Swallow
  • Swift
  • Turtle dove


Bird ringing in Catalonia (pdf)

Last modified: 20 September 2007

Song thrush trapped on glue stick in Spain
Song thrush trapped in glue stick in Spain - Grupo d'Estudi i Proteccio dels Ecosistemes del Camp

An outrageous proposal by the Catalan government could see British nesting birds being illegally hunted as they pass through north-east Spain during their spring and autumn migrations.

The RSPB, working with SEO - its Spanish BirdLife International partner - is fighting the regional government proposal that would permit Catalonian hunters to use the so-called traditional practice of luring songbirds, by playing their songs, to branches covered in glue.

Once caught, the birds are then 'plucked' like fruit from the trees. Many birds suffer horrific injuries, such as losing legs, before being killed.

Graham Wynne, the RSPB's chief executive, said: 'Millions of our best-loved songbirds - such as thrushes, warblers and flycatchers – pass through Spain each spring and autumn.

'For many years the RSPB has been campaigning against illegal bird killing in southern Europe, especially in both Malta and Cyprus.

Once caught, the birds are then 'plucked' like fruit from the trees.

The Catalan challenge on European bird protection laws is a serious one, and the RSPB will unite with its partners across the European Union to campaign to ensure that birds are not put under further threat in Catalonia, or elsewhere.'

What can I do?

Tell the Catalan government not to legalise trapping birds with glue

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