Saturday, February 18, 2012

Early Spring in the Marismas

We hear a lot these days about the cold conditions in Europe and how these have forced many Lapwings and other birds south to our area. But the marismas in the south-west function like an African locality more than a European one. Here, spring has been underway for close to two months now and tens of thousands of Swallows have already arrived to breed. So have good numbers of Black Kite, Great Spotted Cuckoos and other species. Today, in these marshes we saw the first Whiskered Terns, just arrived from south of the Sahara. But there were also good numbers of some special birds...

Great White Egrets have been on the increase for some years now and their presence is particularly obvious. Soon they will have to share the pools of water with Purple Herons that will arrive from the tropics.

The winter has been a dry one so many of therse birds are now concentrated on the few pools of freshwater that survive

The Penduline Tit is another reed bed speciality. For now it shares the beds with Cetti's Warblers and wintering Chiffchaffs but Reed and Great Reed Warblers will be arriving soon to establish breeding territories here.

The predators will also have to share the reed beds with newcomers. For now, Marsh Harriers rule the roost here but Black Kites are now arriving and will dominate in numbers.

With remperatures reaching 20 degrees Celsius today, it was hard to fathom that much of Europe is immersed in a cold winter...