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Post Info TOPIC: The view from Madrid


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RE: The view from Madrid


Today we return home after enjoying a family Christmas with Warren and Anne (now aged 11), with birding very much sidelined, in part due to poor weather over the last week, and as I couldnt find room in our luggage for our bins, due to top priority given over to Barb bringing out Christmas cake and Christmas pudding and brandy sauce mix ( seemingly not obtainable in Madrid?)

Annes birding phase over recent years has for the present at least been superceded by fascination with modern dance, and I wont overface her with birds in the meantime. A future project may well be to visit the Prado (which Anne enjoys) and compile a list of as many bird species as we might find in many of the paintings there; for example a good start is to be had in The garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronimus Bosch (El Bosco), - one of the great works on show.

I accidentally did note both Black Redstart, and sharpei Green Woodpeckers, confiding as usual, in Parke Sur, and if it is at all possible, even greater numbers than ever of wretched Monk Parakeets bombing over all areas of the city. 

We are back at Easter and my Madrid Year list will effectively start then?

Regards,

Mike P.



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Another morning, another venue;- this time at Casa de Campo, the former royal hunting park of the Spanish kings which forms a sudden mass of forest to the west of the city just 15 mins on line 5 of the metro.

The first notable species I heard, then saw, within 10 mins of the start of my walk comprised a loose party of some 7/8 Crested Tits in the pine scrub,- always a welcome sight as it is many years since I last saw them in Scotland. A Short-toed Treecreeper (common here) promptly appeared, duller than its U.K. counterpart, longer billed and with its supercilium mainly obvious only behind the eye. I have never seen one in the U.K., and wonder,  having seen so many over a fair period in Madrid's parks, if I could have as much confidence with the i/d of a silent vagrant at say Dungeness?

Other significant year ticks were Green Woodpecker and a scatter of White Storks which here are all year residents,

Oddly, there was not a note from the usually common Cetti's Warblers.



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As we are now in 2017, I galvanised myself to emerged out of a warm bed (albeit after 9am) and had a stroll down by the Manzanares river, having borrowed my granddaughter's binoculars.

There was little of note in birding terms, only 17 species, the pick of which being a single Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff, one Little Egret, a couple of underwhelming Spotless Starlings and the ubiquitous Monk Parakeets. I did hear several yaffles from a Green Woodpecker (here the sharpei sub sp.) but failed to see it.

A group of 4 young ladies (who turned out to be visitors from Venezuela) stopped me to ask for directions regarding a good place to walk in the area. After setting them on a good interesting route to take in the Puente de Toledo, (about a km upstream), I explained that the binoculars which I was cupping closely in my gloved hands belonged to my young granddaughter;- these happen to be bright pink in colour, hence my need to explain, somewhat to their amusement.

Happy New Year to all.

Mike P.



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-Playing kickabout football with Anne and a couple of little mexican kids and their dad in Parque Sur on Sunday when Anne stopped playing, pointing skyward to a raptor with a forked tail, - a Black Kite, and our first for Madrid City. With no prompting from me she remarked on its odd tail, - pretty good for a 7 year old.

The kids beat the oldies 8-5.

Cheers,
Mike P.

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I noted the first Swifts of the year on 15th, screaming high overhead, preceding a thunderstorm which cut short our visit to the park with our 7 year old granddaughter Anne.

- Not done any birding thus far, the main highlight last night being Gareth Bale with his amazing 60 yard sprint culminating in a precision finish and solo winning goal to vanquish Barcelona in the prestigious Copa Del Rey final; a great night to be a Madrid fan.

Itīll take a bloody good bird to top that!!!!

In the meantime, Iīm keeping a watchful eye on Manchester Birding....

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With better weather over the last few days I spent several hours this morning at Casa de Campo, sauntering about 6 miles along the creeks and woodland trails.

A noticeable feature was the unwelcome increase in the packs of feral cats which can hardly be of benefit to the bird population. The birding was rather steady but patience was the order of the day. My usual banker spots for Cettiīs Warblers produced none and the best of these was occupied by a couple of gross looking filthy cats.

I then heard a Cettiīs a good 100 metres away from itīs usual site (the one where the cats were), where I have managed to obtain "record shots" in the past.

I tracked the song bursts to a 20 x 30ft patch of dense bramble and crept quietly to within 30 ft, then stood dead still for 30 mins. I generally quite like to pit myself against the bird at each encounter with Cettiīs to see if I can see it, (I normally win, but by no means not every time).

They are normally easier to see in Phragmites by looking for movement of the reed stems, but this is harder in bramble. Either way, a Cettiīs is best searched for by a lone observer, when the option to "squeak" it out is more readily available, and often works straight away in the right setting.

This morning I decided just to wait quietly to see just how long and difficult it might be. The bird was giving typical song bursts but then repeating the final "PENT" several times, and on one rendering repeating the final note 8 times, (which I have never heard before), and also a very subdued low key version of song, before reverting back to its typical burst. 

It was a typical impressive performance that the bird sang from different sections of bramble without the slightest movement of vegetation, and I suspect it was moving either on the ground below deep cover or very nearly on the ground. I finally spotted it in deep cover from scanning low down over the area of its latest vocalisation;-a lousy view, back on, but unmistakable in that its tail was typically held high, waying laterally (as if top heavy).

Pleased to have won my game, my attention was drawn to a couple of short monotone notes high above, and glassing almost vertically I noted the rather dowdy brown tones of a Short-toed Treecreeper, another bird I like to test myself on, - (no identification problem here as its the only certhia present). The Madrid birds seem always to be short in the supercilium and really unmistakeably duller browner beasts and the call is stronger and not as high pitched as that of its UK cousin.

Iīve never seen "Short-toed" in Britain as I ve never fancied the arduous twitch from Durham to Dungeness,-( in fact Iīd prefer a short term prison sentence if given the choice).

best Wishes,

Mike P. 

 



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After some 3 months of birding inactivity on my part, interest was rekindled on 31st August by a noticeable influx of Pied Flycatchers in Parque Sur (probably into 3 figures), with a single Melodious Warbler to add spice, -both Madrid local patch ticks.
Temperatures are a little more bearable now after the early August peak of 42 degrees.

Regards,
Mike P.

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