During the last days one Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) continues to stay at the Laguna Gallocanta in the south-western part of Aragon, Spain. This bird is obviously only the 3rd record for Spain since 2009 although there are more observations from the northern part of the Western Palearctic. The Sandhill Crane is present at least since last Sunday, February 24th 2013 but with wintering European Cranes (Grus grus) numbering 35,000 individuals now at the site and occasionally severe snowfall to find the bird in the crowd is a real challenge for the travelling twitchers, who arrived already in good numbers. Updates and pictures from the site of the twitch you see here.
The Laguna de Gallocanta is one of the largest lakes in Spain – obviously the largest natural lake in Spain covering around 1,500 ha of open water within a total area of almost 7,000 ha. The lake is fed mainly by rainwater, giving rise to dramatic changes in water level from year to year. In wet years the lake can be vast while in dry years during the hot summers the lake dries out completely. As the lake is at an altitude of 1000 m there can be some very low temperatures in winter. The water of the lake is saline but freshwater springs allow for localized patches of reeds and reedmace.
The lake is one of the most important bird sites in Spain. Common Cranes that breed in Fennoscandia and the Baltic states take the west European migration route to their wintering grounds. lt is supposed that the total number of birds migrating along this route is now in the order of 70,000, and most of these, some 50,000-60,000, winter mainly in Spain, with smaller numbers in Portugal. Thus the lagoon is the largest wintering area of the European/ Eurasian cranes. The number of cranes showed a maximum of 35,000 in recent years. The lagoon is subject to the Ramsar Convention since 1995 and is also a National Nature Reserve.
In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 5 „Galliformes und Gruiformes “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim does not mention the Sandhill Crane for Middle Europe.
To cope with the growing demand Continue reading Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) at Laguna Gallocanta/ Spain
During the last days one adult Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) in non-breeding plumage, continues to stay near the town of Monheim in the state of North Rhine/ Westfalia in Germany at the river Rhine. The bird was first spotted on January, 09th 2013. The location “Faehre Hitdorf” is a place where a ferry crosses the river Rhine, roughly 30km south of the state capital, Dusseldorf. This gull is obviously only the 8th record for the Germany since 2002. Normally this vagrant is found not too far inland. Accordingly most records are from the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 8/I „Charadriiformes, Stercorariidae – Laridae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned 1982 only 1 record for the central part of the western palearctis from January, 13th 1968. Weather this is due to a higher observation density, due to the population growth on the eastern coast of the USA (see e.g. “Recent Changes in the Ring-Billed Gull Population and Biology in the Laurentian Great Lakes” by James P. Ludwig in “The Auk” Vol. 91, No. 3 (Jul., 1974) or due to a change in the migration pattern is not clear. Interesting is, that between 1973 (first record) and 1980 there were – in contrast – 37 recorded observations in Great Britain.
The conservation status of the Ring-billed Gull by IUCN is “Least Concern”. After having suffered heavy losses due to hunting and habitat loss, Ring-billed Gulls once again thrive across the United States and southern Canada—so numerous in some places that they are considered pests. This species was nearly wiped out by human persecution and development between 1850 and 1920. The populations fell dramatically when humans persecuted the gulls on their nesting grounds and killed them for feathers to decorate hats. By the early 1900s many breeding Continue reading Ring-billed Gull – a vagrant at the Faehre Hitdorf / Germany
According to discussion in EuroTwitch there is a good chance that twitchers of the north of Middle Europe can observe Hawk Owls (Surnia ulula) this winter/ late fall on their homegrounds. This should be not only true for Denmark but also at least for the northern part of Germany for this autumn/winter as there are very good numbers in Finland (incl. south and west coast) with, for example, 164 observations reported within last 7 days (some undoubtedly concern same individuals but gives an indication of the abundance) from the whole of Finland. At first sight, it seems that similar numbers are being reported from Sweden and last weekend two birds were observed in the extreme south (Scania). In the “Danish Bird News” they announced the first Hawk Owl for almost 7 years already. A 1st winter individual has been seen at Store Hareskov, Copenhagen during 30th September to 8th October.
From time to time there are wintering birds far inland. Last time, I remember very well, was in 2006, when Hawk Owls could be seen in the middle of Germany 100km south of Berlin. The picture shows a vagrant bird at the former lignite opencast mine Dubrau at the Spreewald near Vetschau/ Brandenburg/ Germany on march 22nd 2006.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. This nice image is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.