Thursday 28 November 2013


Fernando, a Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) of French origin seen at Santa Amalia (Badajoz) in March 2013 was over 33 years old, the oldest wild bird ever recorded Extremadura, according to the SEO-Cáceres/GOCE database. Photo by Fernando Yuste

This post has been ready for publication for several weeks. However, just by chance new information about longevity in birds has been arriving, meaning that we have incorporated this to make a post a little longer than usual, and hopefully even more interesting. It is likely that our information is incomplete, representing as it does recently available information gathered by a small group of enthusiasts. If someone has sightings in Extremadura of older birds and would like to share their news, we would be delighted to publish it here. None of this information would have been available at all without the work of bird ringers and those birders who patiently read the codes on rings and send the information through. To all of those, a big thank you.

Ringing does not only help the study of the movements of birds, but also provides information of great value about various aspects of biology. How long a bird can live, in other words its longevity, is one of these. For this we have searched the modest but growing ringing database of GOCE in order to determine the oldest birds that we have seen in Extremadura, and then comparing this with data published at both a European and global scale, some of which may not be wholly reliable (EuringHAGR).

The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). Ring Y[HIF]. Named "Fernando". A male ringed in the Camargue (France) on 3rd August 1979 and seen on the rice fields of Santa Amalia (Badajoz) by Fernando Yuste and Isaac Outón on 17th March 2013, in its 35th calendar year and  33 years, 7 months and 14 days since being ringed. It is, by far, the oldest bird that has been seen in Extremadura, as far as we know. During its lifetime, it has been seen many times, so many observations in fact that it could fill four pages of notes. We know that it has bred in its place of origin in the Camargue (1987, 1991, 1992 and 2009) as well as in the colony near Malaga of Fuente de Piedra (1988, 1990, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006). It has also been seen in the Ebro Delta, Doñana and the Villacañas lagoon (Toledo). It has only been seen once in Extremadura, as recorded above [see video]. Our data also include a record of a female Greater Flamingo seen at La Albuera in September 2013 in its 18th calendar year (José A. Román). Ringing of flamingos started in France in 1977 and there are still birds alive today from that period, with 35 years of age, although the maximum age given in Euring is 27 years. Flamingos are long-lived birds, with birds in captivity easily exceeding 60 years and the author once saw in Almeria a group of five ringed flamingos with ages of 18, 18, 18, 22 and 23 years.

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia). Rings W[D] / W[S]a. This bird was marked as a nestling in Holland on 11th June 1988 and seen at Portaje Reservoir (Cáceres) by Sergio Mayordomo on 25 September 2012 in its 25th calendar year having passed 24 years and 3.5 months since being ringed. It is a male that had lost one of its rings, as can be seen in the photo, and thus could not be identified between 1994 and 2002. During its first two years there were sightings in the United Kingdom (from 12-10 to 18-11-08 and from 26-06 to 20-09-89), Algarve, Portugal (15 and 19-10-89) and Doñana (8 to 15-03-90), and in Holland on 16-07-90. Afterwards it was seen during several years in Huelva on autumn migration, once in December and in Holland during the breeding season. The only sighting in Extremadura is the Portaje Reservoir record. In our region, Spoonbills of 18 and 19 years old have been seen. We have not found information about the oldest wild Spoonbill in Europe, but in captivity one reached 30 years and in America other species of spoonbills have reached 28 years in the wild. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus). Ring B[PC]. Ringed as a nestling in Bristol (UK) on 4th  July 1989. There were no further records until October 2013 when Marc Gálvez and José Guerra saw it on Mérida refuse tip [read more]. Therefore it is a bird in its 25th calendar year, having passed 24 years and three months since being ringed. As can be seen from the photo, the ring is now in poor condition. The maximum age known for this species in the world was one of 34 years and 10 months, also from the UK.

Common Crane (Grus grus). Ring a/NYB. A bird ringed as a juvenile on passage at Gallocanta (Aragón) in 1988 and seen by Manolo Gómez Calzado in Vegas Altas del Guadiana (Extremadura) on several occasions since 2003. In January 2009 and October 2011 it was accompanied by its mate, but without young. It is therefore a bird of its 24th  calendar year  and with more than 22 years of age [read more]. This bird exceeds the record of the oldest according to Euring for Europe, which cites a Swedish bird of 20 years and three months of age, although both are far from the record achieved by a bird of the eastern race (lilfordi) which reached 41 years old in the wild. In Extremadura we have another record of a crane in its 20th calendar year, hatched in Germany and seen in Oliva de Plasencia (Javier Prieta).

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Ring G[J]. Female called Gabriela hatched in Scotland in 1991 (photo: Roy Dennis), where it has bred since1996, and has wintered, at least since 2000, at the Gabriel y Galán Reservoir (Cáceres), where it is currently present (November 2013; Jesús Montero. César Clemente, S. Mayordomo, J. Prieta). It is therefore a bird in its 23th calendar year and more than 22 years old. This bird perhaps merits its own post, since it has been tracked for three seasons by satellite, as have one of its mates and some of its young (all have wintered in Africa). One of its descendents is also part of an introduction project that has started in Urdaibai (Vizcaya). The oldest Osprey known is one of 32 years old in North America and in Europe one of 26 years and 11 months in Finland.

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). Ring W[F|FS]. Hatched in a nest in Trujillo (Cáceres), where it was ringed on 6th June 1989, and has been seen twice nesting in a clump of pines at  Monroy (Cáceres), with records almost twenty years apart: on 12th April 1992 (I. Ludwichowst) and on 1st April 2010 (Juan Manuel Domínguez –photo-). Who knows if it is still there (if anyone is encouraged to look for it, the colony is beside the Cáceres -Torrejón el Rubio-Monfragüe road). It was in its 22nd calendar year and 21 years and 10 months since being ringed. It was also seen in January 2002 at a refuse tip at Cádiz and in January 2003 en the rubbish tip at Dos Hermanas (Seville). The oldest ages published for this species are: 39 years for a wild bird in Switzerland and 48 years in captivity. In Extremadura we have two records of birds in their 18th and 16th calendar years.

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra). Ring W[C|HN]. Here we are talking about the dearly loved Choni, subject of one of the most popular posts in this blog [readmore]. Hatched in Oliva de Plasencia (Cáceres) in 1990, it occupied one of the most visible nests in Monfragüe for 18 years, successfully raising 46 young. It was seen for the last time in the summer of 2011, in its 22nd calendar year and with more 21 years and 3 months since being ringed, it could be the longest lived Black Stork in the world. There is a published record of a bird of 18 years and 7 months from Poland and one of 31 years in captivity.  In Extremadura we have records of a 15-year old bird and one in its 11th calendar year.

The seven cases above are the only ones citing birds of more than 20 years old in Extremadura.  Examples of birds of great age, but less than 20 years old we have the following:
- Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). A 17 year old bird in Badajoz (Ismael Galván). The oldest wild bird recorded in the world is 27 years old.
- Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica). In the GOCE database we only have records of four birds, with ages of 11, 11, 13 and 16 calendar years (the last has 14 years and 10 months since ringing; see the blog of Atanasio Fernández). This is a high average, given that the oldest of this species ever recorded is one of 15 years and 9 months from Denmark.
- Greylag Goose (Anser anser). Birds of more than 11 and 13 calendar years (marked as adults) have been seen on the Portaje Reservoir (S. Mayordomo) and Valdesalor Reservoir (Carlos Fernández). The oldest in captivity in the world was 31 years old, although a wild Pink-footed Goose has reached 41 years old.

 A few days ago news came out about a House Martin (Delichon urbicum) ringed in Badajoz city in 2005 and found dead in a pellet of a Tawny Owl, collected just 400 metres from the site of ringing, eight years later. The site could not have been any other since Badajoz is where House Martins have been more closely studied than almost anywhere and it is where more House Martins have been ringed and controlled than anywhere else in Spain (Florentino de Lope’s team/UEX; photo by Carlos de la Cruz). This becomes the longest-lived of this species in Spain (there are two cases of seven-year old birds); although in Sweden there is a record of 15 years. These are all extraordinary results for a species which on average will live for just two or three years.

And since we have embarked on this saga, let’s continue: what are the longest living birds in the wild? At the global level, there is a female Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), called Wisdom, which is still alive and is breeding in Midway (Hawaii, USA), where in 2013 she succeeded to raise a young, despite being 62 years old.  She was marked in 1953 when five years old.  It is said that other albatrosses have lived longer, but that this has not been confirmed with marked birds. Thus there is a female Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) called Grandma also believed to be 62 years old, with an estimated age of ten years when ringed in 1937, and seen for the last time in 1989, 52 years later.

In Europe, the longest-lived bird we have come across is a Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) of more than 50 years and 11 months old (trapped as an adult). The following is a Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) of more than 45 years and three months, a Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) of more than 43 years and 11 months and an Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) of 43 years and 4 months. As one can see, seabirds, waterfowl and waders can reach great age, but also raptors (Golden Eagle 32 years, Eagle Owl 27 years) and even smaller birds like Alpine Swift (26 years) and passerines (Raven 23 years, Common Starling 23 years).

In captivity, it is difficult to find out about  the oldest bird. We have found a scientific publication on longevity in parrots that cites a Salmon-crested Cockatoo  (Cacatua moluccensis) of no less than 92 years old. There is a Greater Flamingo in a zoo in Adelaide (Australia) which is more than 80 years old, having lived there since 1933, when it arrived as an adult. In a zoo in Chicago there is a cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri) 80 years old, called Cookie, which hatched in 1933. These figures are a long way short of the 255 years calculated by radiocarbon dating of a male Aldabran Tortoise (Geochelone gigantea), called Adwaita, captured in the Seychelles and kept in a zoo in India from 1875 to its death in 2006 (a life spanning three centuries!!). The longest-lived mammal appears to be a Bowhead Whale (Balaena mysticetus). In some specimens remains of antique harpoons have been found which date back to the end of the 19th century suggesting ages of between 115-130 years. Additional studies based on the eye structure affirm the possibility that the species could reach 150-200 years old.

Tuesday 26 November 2013


Photo Pedro Schreur y Godfried Schreur

Keeping our promise we can provide yet another year’s update on the population of the Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) in the Iberian peninsular and in Extremadura. On this occasion the official data has been published much earlier than usual and has been covered extensively in the press.

Overall, it has been yet again another excellent season for the species, with a new record of 407 pairs in the peninsular (396 in Spain and 11 in Portugal), 27 more than the previous year, an increase of 7.5%.

Apart from in Extremadura, where there has been a small decrease of three pairs, and in Castilla y León, the population of Spanish Imperial Eagle has increased in all of the other autonomous communities of Spain, especially in Castilla-La Mancha and in Andalucia. Extremadura continues to be the region with the slowest increase of Spanish Imperial Eagle, from being second position in 1999 to the penultimate in 2013. In these 15 years of exhaustive monitoring, the population has multiplied three-fold across Spain, but only by 1.5 times in Extremadura. In comparison, in Castilla – La Mancha the population has risen by more than four times, and around 3.5 times in Castilla y León and Andalucia. Madrid for its part has doubled its figures, whilst in Portugal the population has grown from a single pair in 2003 to 11 pairs ten years later. Almost certainly, the different trends shown are closely related to the conservation status of rabbit populations.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

OCTOBER 2013. Notable observations in Extremadura

Annotated list of the most interesting records in Extremadura in October 2013. Compiled and illustration by Sergio Mayordomo. Translated by Martin Kelsey

- Egyptian Goose: At Brovales reservoir, Jerez de los Caballeros (BA), three seen on 02/10, 07/10 (Francisco Montaño) and 27/10 (Genaro González). At Morante reservoir, Badajoz, one on 06/10 (Francisco Lopo) and two on 18/10 (Pablo Herrador). At Cubilar reservoir, Logrosán (CC), 20 seen on 18/10 (José Antonio Román) and eight on 27/10 (Jaime Cerezo, Jorge Ángel Herrera and Noelia Baeza).
- Garganey: A young bird at Moral reservoir, Santos de Maimona (BA), on 08/10 (F. Montaño).
- Red-crested Pochard: At Portaje reservoir (CC) a female seen on 04/10 (Sergio Mayordomo) and two females on 20/10 (Javier Prieta). At La Atalaya, Aldea del Cano (CC), six birds present on 05/10 (César Clemente and S. Mayordomo) and three on 29/10 (Marc Gálvez).
- Ferruginous Duck: Six present at Torrealba lagoon, Torremocha (CC), on 05/10 (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo). A pair at the Los Calles pool, Toril (CC), on 16/10 (J. Prieta). At La Atalaya, Aldea del Cano (CC), four seen on 28/10 (Alberto Puente de la Rosa) with a male remaining on 29/10 (M. Gálvez).
- Quail: One at Casas de Hitos, Navalvillar de Pela (BA), on 03/10 (Martin Kelsey). One heard at Charco Salado, Casatejada (CC), on 13/10 (Carlos Moreno, Natalia Franco, Óscar Llama, Rafael Vicente and Yasmina Annicharicco). Two at Cubilar reservoir, Logrosán (CC), on 27/10 (J. Cerezo, J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza).
- Great Cormorant: 827 counted at Alange reservoir (BA) on 20/10 (J. Guerra). 250 birds at the roost at Gabriel y Galán (CC) on 28/10 (J. Prieta).
- Great Bittern: One at Arrocampo (CC) on 09/10 (S. Mayordomo).
- Squacco Heron: On Guadiana River where it passes through Badajoz one seen on 05/10 (SEO-Badajoz) and another on 31/10 (Juan Carlos Salgado). One at Arrocampo (CC) on 10/10 (Jesús Sánchez and José Luis Bautista). One at Galisteo lagoon (CC) on 31/10 (J. Prieta).
- Presumed hybrid Little x Western Reef Egret: One at the heron roost at Arrocampo on 09/10 (S. Mayordomo).
- Great Egret: At last 24 entering the heron roost at Arrocampo (CC) on 09/10 (S. Mayordomo) and 16/10 (J. Prieta).
- Glossy Ibis: Observations at Galisteo lagoon (CC) of between one and 14 birds from 02/10 to 31/10 (Alberto Pacheco, Carlos Martín, C. Clemente, Javier Mahillo, J. Prieta, Jenny Viskens, Luis Miguel Parejo, Michel Viskens, Miguel Ángel Muñoz, Ricardo Montero, Keneth Sánchez and S. Mayordomo); the group of 14 was seen on 08/10 (R. Montero). On 09/10 at least ten entered the roost at Valdeobispo lagoon (CC) (J. Prieta). One at Arrocampo (CC) on 09/10 (S. Mayordomo). One at rice fields at El Batán (CC) on 20/10 (J. Prieta and R. Montero). Seven on rice fields at Santa Amalia (BA) on 30/10 (Fernando Yuste).
- Spoonbill: Post-breeding flocks: At Galisteo lagoon (CC) 20 seen on 02/10 (J. Prieta) and 05/10 (R. Montero), and between 40 to 50 on 06/10 (A. Pacheco). At Portaje reservoir 34 birds seen on 04/10 and 20 on 18/10 (S. Mayordomo). At Los Canchales reservoir (BA) 20 seen on 06/10 (Dolores Huerta, F. Lopo, José Guerra, M. Gálvez and Mariano Martínez) and on 12/10 (Antonia Cangas, Elvira del Viejo, F. Lopo, José Gómez Aparicio, J. Guerra, Lucas Gómez and M. Gálvez). At Brovales reservoir (BA), 27 birds on 11/10 (G. González). 33 flying over Azud del Guadiana, Badajoz, on 19/10 (SEO-Badajoz).

- Greater Flamingo: 43 at the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) on 03/10 (F. Montaño) and 04/10 (J. A. Román), with 11 remaining by 12/10 (Joaquín Mazón and Juan Carlos Paniagua) and only four young birds present on l21/10 (F. Montaño and Joaquín Vázquez) and 23/10 (Andrés Vega, F. Montaño and J. Guerra). Three of these birds were marked: a 3º female from Doñana, an 8º year female from the Camargue (France) and an 18-year old female from Fuente de Piedra (Málaga). At Morante reservoir, Badajoz, a young bird was present on 06/10 (F. Lopo) and 11/10 (J. L. Bautista), and two young birds on 17/10 (J. L. Bautista -photo-) and 18/10 (P. Herrador). One at Los Canchales reservoir on 12/10 (A. Cangas, E. del Viejo, J. G. Aparicio, J. Guerra, L. Gómez and M. Gálvez).
- Black Kite: One at Charco Salado, Casatejada (CC), on 13/10 (C. Moreno, N. Franco, Ó. Llama, R. Vicente and Y. Annicharicco).
- Black Vulture: 97 birds, 31 perched and 66 in flight, at the Mérida refuse dump (J. A. Román).
Goshawk: One seen in Las Hurdes (CC) on 03/10 (A. Pacheco). At Alía (CC) one seen on 05/10 and another on 06/10 (J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza). One at Valverde de Mérida (BA) on 20/10 (J. Guerra and Silvia Domínguez). One at Cubilar reservoir, Logrosán (CC), on 27/10 (J. Cerezo, J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza).
- Osprey: One at Jerte reservoir (CC) and another nearby, along the N-110 road, on 01/10 (J. Prieta). At Los Canchales reservoir (BA), one seen on 02/10 (Ada Kouri and Carlos González), 03/10 (C. González and Fernando Díez) and 06/10 (D. Huerta, J. Guerra, M. Gálvez and M. Martínez). One at Alange reservoir (BA) on 08/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez). One present at Arroyoconejos reservoir, Llerena (BA), on 12/10 (Miguel Corvillo). On Guadiana River where it passes through Badajoz one seen on 13/10 (J. Mazón) and another on 19/10 (SEO-Badajoz). At Cubilar reservoir one seen on 18/10 (J. A. Román), 27/10 (J. Cerezo, J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza) and 30/10 (Juan Pablo Prieto). One at Gabriel y Galán reservoir (CC) on 28/10 (C. Clemente, J. Montero, J. Prieta and S. Mayordomo).
- Common Coot: More than 1,000 at Orellana reservoir (BA) on 16/10 (Á. Sánchez).
- Black-winged Stilt: More than 700 present on rice fields at Santa Amalia (BA) on 30/10 (F. Yuste).
- Avocet: One at Alange reservoir (BA) on 01/10 (J. A. Román). One at Brovales reservoir (BA) on 02/10 (F. Montaño). Eight at the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) on 28/10 (Godfried Schreur).
- Stone Curlew: Roost with 150 birds at Montijo (BA) on 21/10 (P. Herrador). Roost with 100 birds at Mirandilla (BA) on 27/10 (Á. Sánchez).
- Kentish Plover: In the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) 14 seen on 05/10 (J. Muddeman), 56 on 17/10 and 35 on 23/10 (M. Kelsey).

- Red Knot: At the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) one still present on 03/10 (F. Montaño), on 12/10 three were seen (J. Mazón and J. C. Paniagua -photo-), four on 13/10 (Paco Macías) and two on 21/10 (F. Montaño, J. Vázquez and J. C. Paniagua).
- Temminck´s Stint: One at Salor reservoir, Cáceres, on 27/10 (Antonio Ceballos).
- Curlew Sandpiper: One at the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) on 12/10 (J. Mazón and J. C. Paniagua). Three at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 13/10 (José Ángel Sánchez). One at Alange reservoir (BA) on 16/10 (J. Guerra). One at Morante reservoir, Badajoz, on 18/10 (P. Herrador).
- Spotted Redshank: At the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) four seen on 03/10 (F. Montaño) and 04/10 (J. A. Román), three on 21/10 (F. Montaño, J. Vázquez and J. C. Paniagua) and one on 23/10 (A. Vega, F. Montaño and J. Guerra). On the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) 50 seen on 03/10 (M. Kelsey), more than 35 on 05/10 (J. Muddeman) and eight on 23/10 (M. Kelsey). On 05/10  one seen at Torrealba lagoon, Torremocha (CC), and three at Sotillo reservoir, Monroy (CC), (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo). Two at Morante reservoir, Badajoz, on 18/10 (P. Herrador). 18 seen on the rice fields of Santa Amalia (BA) on 30/10 (F. Yuste).
- Marsh Sandpiper: Two at the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) on 18/10 (Francisco José Medina) and one on 20/10 (F. Montaño and J. Vázquez).
- Wood Sandpiper: One at the rice fields at Riolobos (CC) on 02/10 (J. Prieta). On the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) one on 03/10 (M. Kelsey), four on 05/10 (J. Muddeman), six on 17/10 and 15 on 23/10 (M. Kelsey). One at the large lagoon at La Albuera (BA) on 23/10 (A. Vega, F. Montaño and J. Guerra).

- Audouin’s Gull: A juvenile at Mérida refuse tip (BA) on 14/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez -photo-) and on 17/10 (M. Gálvez).
- Yellow-legged Gull: At Mérida refuse tip (BA) one seen on 07/10 (M. Gálvez), two on 14/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez), one on 16/10 (Á. Sánchez and Ángel Luis Sánchez), two on 21/10 and six on 24/10 (M. Gálvez). One at Alange reservoir (BA) on 07/10 (M. Gálvez). Six seen at Valdecañas reservoir (CC) on 10/10 (Á. Sánchez, J. Guerrero and M. Flores).At least four present at Badajoz refuse tip on 19/10 (J. C. Paniagua). One on the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) on 23/10 (M. Kelsey).
- Stock Dove: 11 at El Batán (CC) on 05/10 (R. Montero). At Galisteo (CC) three seen on 06/10 (A. Pacheco and S. Mayordomo), 16 on 14/10 and two on 27/10 (R. Montero). 11 birds at Casatejada (CC) on 27/10 (Javier Briz and Vicente Risco).
- Ring-necked Parakeet: One in the Plaza de España, Mérida (BA) on 10/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez).
- Short-eared Owl: One seen at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 12/10 (A. Cangas, E. del Viejo, J. G. Aparicio, J. Guerra, L. Gómez and M. Gálvez).
- Wryneck: One at Plasencia (CC) on 17/10 and another at El Batán (CC) on 27/10 (R. Montero). At Salvatierra de los Barros (BA) one seen on 27/10 and 28/10 (F. Montaño).

- Ring Ouzel: Between two and four birds at Mérida (BA) on 14/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez -photo-). Between two and three were seen being seen on 15, 16 and 17/10 (Á. Sánchez, Á. L. Sánchez, F. Montaño, Lorenzo Alcántara and M. Gálvez).
- Iberian Chiffchaff: On 04/10 one seen at Arrocampo reservoir (CC) (J. Muddeman) and another at Santa Marta de Magasca (CC) (M. Kelsey). One at Toril (CC) on 16/10 and another at Galisteo (CC) on 31/10 (J. Prieta).
- Woodchat Shrike: An adult at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 10/10 (S. Pérez Gil) and another adult on Cáceres plains on 20/10 (Carlos Fernández).
- Common Crossbill: A group at Ladrillar, Las Hurdes (CC), on 03/10, on the border with Salamanca province (A. Pacheco).

- Greylag Goose: On 01/10 a group seen over Plasencia (CC) (Miguel Ángel Muñoz) and four over Cáceres (GIA-Extremadura). Three birds at Moral reservoir, Santos de Maimona (BA), on 08/10 (F. Montaño). 49 present at Valdecañas reservoir (CC) on 10/10 (Á. Sánchez, Javier Guerrero and Manolo Flores).
- Merlin: On 11/10 one seen at Malpartida de Plasencia (CC) (Andrés Rodríguez), and another at Torrefresneda (BA) (J. G. Aparicio), a female at Campo Lugar (CC) and another at Vegas Altas (BA) (Jesús Porras).
- Golden Plover: One at Fresnedillas, Oliva de Plasencia (CC), on 26/10 (S. Mayordomo).
- Water Pipit: Six around the upper plains of the Guadiana (BA/CC) on 05/10 (J. Muddeman). Two at Jerte reservoir, Casas del Castañar (CC), on 07/10 (J. Prieta). Two at Galisteo lagoon (CC) in 18/10 (S. Mayordomo).
- Redwing: At Mérida (BA), one on 14/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez) and two on 16/10 (F. Montaño). Two near Trujillo (CC) on 31/10 (M. Kelsey).
- Goldcrest: One at Vegas de Coria (CC) on 24/10 (A. Pacheco).
- Common Starling: One at Arrocampo reservoir (CC) on 10/10 (J. Sánchez and J. L. Bautista). One at Plasencia (CC) on 15/10 (J. Prieta). Two at Alange (BA) on 16/10 (J. Guerra).
- Bullfinch: Two at Valcorchero, Plasencia (CC), on 16/10 (S. Mayordomo). Two at Valverde de la Vera (CC) on 18/10 (D. Langlois). Three at Villanueva de la Vera (CC) on 31/10 (D. Langlois).

- Black Stork: Post-breeding flocks: 12 at Brovales reservoir (BA) on 02/10 (F. Montaño). Seven on Canal de Las Dehesas, Logrosán (CC), on 18/10 (J. A. Román). 14 at Orellana reservoir (BA) on 29/10 (Ángel Sánchez and Domingo Rivera).
- Honey Buzzard: One between Hornachos and Campillo de Llerena (BA) on 05/10 (D. Huerta, J. Guerra, M. Gálvez and M. Martínez).

- Egyptian Vulture: Two at Galisteo (CC) on 04/10 (C. Clemente and J. Mahillo). A juvenile at Monfragüe (CC) on 05/10 (M. Kelsey; M. García del Rey -photo-).
- Short-toed Eagle: One at Monfragüe (CC) on 16/10 (Inés García). One near the dam of Gabriel y Galán (CC) on 25/10 (Jesús Montero). One at El Carrascalejo (BA) on 26/10 (Jesús Solana).
- Booted Eagle: One at El Batán (CC) on 12/10 (R. Montero). A pale morph at Talavera la Real (BA) on 31/10 (J. Guerra).
- Lesser Kestrel: 12 seen at Santa Marta de Magasca (CC) on 04/10 (M. Kelsey). One at Coria (CC) on 17/10 (Juan José Chaparro). One at Almendralejo (BA) on 24/10 (J. A. Román).

- Hobby: At Villanueva de la Vera (CC) three seen on 05/10 (D. Langlois and Sammy Langlois) ans just one on 10/10 (D. Langlois). One at Alía (CC) on 06/10 (J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza). One at Jerez de los Caballeros (BA) on 07/10 (F. Montaño). One seen at Monfragüe (CC) on 08/10 (John Muddeman). One at Los Canchales (BA) on 12/10 (F. Lopo, J. G. Aparicio, J. Guerra, L. Gómez and M. Gálvez). One at Montehermoso (CC) on 13/10 (C. Clemente and Juan Carlos López Alvar). One at Navezuelas (CC) on 17/10 (Á. Sánchez).
- Gull-billed Tern: One at Arrocampo reservoir (CC) on 13/10 (C. Moreno, N. Franco, Ó. Llama, R. Vicente and Y. Annicharicco).
- Whiskered Tern: A juvenile on the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) on 23/10 (M. Kelsey).
- Scops Owl: One at Plasencia (CC) on 21/10 (J. Prieta).
- European Nightjar: Two between Riomalo de Abajo and Casares de Hurdes (CC) on 03/10 (A. Pacheco). One at Granadilla (CC) on 04/10 (José Casado).
- Red-necked Nightjar: One at Monfragüe (CC) on 03/10 (Manolo García del Rey).
- White-rumped Swift: On 05/10 one seen at Monfragüe (CC) (C. Clemente, M. Kelsey and S. Mayordomo) and another at Alange castle (BA) (D. Huerta, J. Guerra, M. Gálvez and M. Martínez). Four at Monfragüe castle (CC) on 06/10 (J. Muddeman). One at Cañamero (CC) on 09/10 (Sergio Pérez Gil).
- Short-toed Lark: One at Campo Lugar (CC) on 05/10 (J. Muddeman).
- Sand Martin: At Galisteo lagoon (CC) a group with other hirundines seen on 07/10 (C. Martín, J. Prieta and M. Á. Muñoz) and another group on 16/10 (S. Mayordomo).
- Barn Swallow: One at Rincón de Ballesteros (CC) on 25/10 (Francis Martín). One seen at Ventaquemada reservoir, Guijo de Granadilla (CC), on 26/10 (S. Mayordomo). One at Trujillo (CC) on 31/10 (M. Kelsey).
- Tawny Pipit: One at Campo Lugar (CC) on 05/10 (J. Muddeman).
- Tree Pipit: One at Galisteo (CC) on 06/10 (S. Mayordomo). In the olive groves at Montehermoso, one seen on 07/10 and 09/10 (C. Clemente).
- Yellow Wagtail: Three at Galisteo lagoon (CC) on 16/10 (S. Mayordomo). Two on rice fields at El Batán (CC) on 20/10 (J. Prieta and R. Montero). One at Alange reservoir (BA) on 22/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez).
- Rufous Bush Robin: One at Almendralejo (BA) on días 29/09 and 30/09 (L. Alcántara). One at Montehermoso (CC) on 01/10 (C. Clemente).
- Common Redstart: A female at Piornal (CC) on 04/10 (J. Prieta). One at Bonhaval stream, Alange (BA) on 15/10 (M. Gálvez).
- Whinchat: On 20/10 one seen at El Batán (CC) (J. Prieta and R. Montero) and another at La Serena (BA) (C. Clemente, Eva Palacios and S. Mayordomo). On 27/10 one seen at La Serena (BA) (Antonio Núñez and Vanessa de Alba) and another at Talaván (CC) (P. Herrador).
- Black-eared Wheatear: One at Montehermoso (CC) on 01/10 (C. Clemente).
- Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush: One at Salto del Gitano, Monfragüe (CC), on 02/10 (Hugo Sánchez).
- Sedge Warbler: Two trapped for ringing at Salor River, Cáceres, on 02/10 (GIA-Extremadura)
- Reed Warbler: On the Huertas trail, Plasencia (CC), one seen on 17/10 (R. Montero and S. Mayordomo) and another on 31/10 (S. Mayordomo).

- Subalpine Warbler: One trapped for ringing at Azud del Guadiana, Badajoz, on 19/10 (SEO-Badajoz).
- Whitethroat: On 04/10 one seen at Piornal (CC) (J. Prieta) and another at Galisteo (CC) (C. Clemente and J. Mahillo). Three at El Batán (CC) on 05/10 (R. Montero). One at Alange (BA) on 07/10 (M. Gálvez).
- Garden Warbler: On 03/10 two trapped for ringing at the Sierra de La Mosca, Cáceres (GIA-Extremadura), and at least four seen at Matachel River, Alange (BA) (M. Gálvez). One at Alía (CC) on 05/10 (J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza). Two at Barquilla de Pinares (CC) on 20/10 (D. Langlois and S. Langlois).
- Willow Warbler: At Alange (BA) at least five seen on 15/10 (M. Gálvez) and two on 22/10 (J. Guerra and M. Gálvez).
- Spotted Flycatcher: At Alange (BA) two seen on 15/10 (M. Gálvez) and another two on 16/10 (J. Guerra). One at Guijo de Granadilla (CC) on 26/10 (S. Mayordomo).
- Pied Flycatcher: At Alange (BA) at least three seen on 15/10 (M. Gálvez) and several on 16/10 (J. Guerra). At least two in Parque de Príncipe, Cáceres, on 23/10 (M. Gálvez).

Saturday 9 November 2013


“Picotin” the sole chick reared by Picoto in 2013m just days before leaving its territory.
Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), juvenile, Valle del Jerte (Cáceres), 28th August 2013

Picoto, the first Iberian Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) tracked by satellite, was the star of a popular posting in this blog which attracted even the press. On that occasion we told the story of his outward and return journeys between Spain and Liberia and of his travels in Liberia during the winter of 2012-2013. His next journey to Africa has also been the object of attention and the information obtained has been of great interest.

Covering 365 days, a complete year, from the first migration, the time spent migrating has been 33 days (9%), the time spent in Extremadura has been 111 days (30%) and the period in his winter home in the Liberia forests has been no less than 221 days (61%). In the two years of the study Picoto has occupied the same territories and the same nest, demonstrating that Honey Buzzard show a great faithfulness to both breeding and wintering areas.

Notwithstanding that the information is partial, Picoto’s movements in the Jerte valley were limited to a well-defined breeding territory, with some differences between the first part of spring (May – June, in the red circle and upper left map) compared with summer (July – August, green circle and upper right map). At the start, contact with Picoto was in the lower part of the valley, with no difference between the sunny and shady slopes. In the later months almost all of the activity was on the sunny slopes with a wider range of altitude, crossing the Jerte River towards the south on two occasions. Outside his territory, he only showed a short displacement down the valley to Rebollar and once outside the Jerte valley to Hervás.

Almost all of the contacts with Picoto were from within Pyrenean oak woodland (Quercus pyrenaica), which is a habitat under much pressure in the Jerte valley, having lost much of its area and quality over the last few decades, as a result of the unstoppable spread of cherry production. This photo of part of Picoto’s territory clearly shows the high level of fragmentation of the oak woodland. Given that Picoto spends seven months a year in the Liberian forest, his problems do not end here, as in Africa also there are threats to the forest, illegal logging for timber for example, which are even more serious.

The post-breeding migration in 2013 was very similar to that undertaken in 2012. Picoto left the Jerte valley on 29th August; in two days reached the Straits of Gibraltar and crossed to África on the morning of 31st August, crossing the 30 kms of open sea over the Atlantic and reaching the African coast next to Tangier. In 2012 he crossed the straits on the morning of 1st September, just a day later. Between the 2nd and 7th September Picoto crossed the Sahara, the second great geographic barrier that he had to encounter. After crossing the savannahs of the Sahel belt he entered more forested areas. Finally on 15th September he reached the wintering area, the jungles of eastern Liberia, after 16 days and 4,000 kms journey across Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Liberia, flying over open sea, mountains, deserts, savannahs and forests. Since then, as in 2012, the signals from Liberia have been sporadic, presumably because the deep canopy cover of the forest there impedes the correct working of the solar-powered transmitter.

The data obtained agree with other studies carried out in Europe. For example, with eleven Swedish Honey Buzzards tagged, they show that the adults maintain, as does Picoto, small permanent territories in the African forest (stars), whilst the juveniles first of all spend some time in the northern zone of the forest belt and then move in the months that follow between 2,400 and 4,000 kms, without fixed territories or fixed travel direction and without return to Europe during their second year (Strandberg et al. 2012).

All of these findings have been possible thanks to SEO/BirdLife and the Junta de Extremadura. The work forms part of the Programa Migra of SEO/BirdLife.

Strandberg R., Hake M., Klaassen R.H.G. & Alerstam T. 2012. Movements of immature European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus in tropical Africa. Ardea 100: 157–162.