Monday 27 January 2014



From the beginning of this blog, since May 2010, the only section that has remained unchanged has been the monthly summaries of the most interesting sightings of birds in Extremadura. This compilation of records did not arise from the blog, rather it had been taking place from much earlier, indeed since the mid 1990s. The purpose was to publish them in a book, an annual report called “Aves de Extremadura”. Up to now, four reports have been published, covering the period 1998 to 2008. Given that the information flow is, thanks to new technology, much greater now than in those first years, it is also much easier to disseminate it, so that these monthly summaries have become the priority, appearing each month, regularly and on time. All of this is possible thanks to the enormous efforts of Sergio Mayordomo, who has been compiling all of the observations that meet certain criteria for each species (see vol IV de Aves de Extremadura). Given the large number of records, not all necessarily appear in the summaries; although as many as possible do. 

To the end of 2013, some graphs have been prepared to show the amount of information that has been received to date (taking into account all data received, not just that given in the summaries). There are more than 10,000 records between May 2010 and December 2013, that together with the information gathered between 1998 and 2008 in the reports, provide the biggest database on birds in Extremadura. The main source is the Goce Forum. There are also records submitted directly. The information shown in the graphs is so clear that it barely requires comment. From the first year, people have been encouraged to submit records and there is now an average of 3,200 annual records. By month, the pattern is the same as bird activity, with maxima coinciding with migration peaks in April and September/October (there is great interest in phenological patterns) and lowest at the start of summer in June and July, when there is less bird movement and people may spend less time in the field because of the heat.

As well as providing information of use for our birding and for those visiting Extremadura, a lot of this information has been made available also for particular studies of species and sites, when required. Always we have in mind the understanding that we can only conserve what we know! Of course, this database has only been possible thanks to the incalculable collaboration of hundreds of birders who pass on their records. A thousand thanks to you all!!

Wednesday 22 January 2014



Despite being a very attractive species for birdwatchers, the unusual and isolated Iberian population of Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) continues to be poorly known. Indeed, the only national census carried out in Spain took place way back in 1987. Since then, there have only been some compilations of information from varied sources. From these early estimates, the population in Extremadura (161-219 pairs over the period 1995-2013) has always been the largest. Portugal follows, with between 97-115 pairs in a national census carried out in 2004, and Andalucía, with 87 pairs in 2009, all of them in the Sierra Morena. With pre-2003 figures, we have Castilla y León (61 pairs), Castilla-La Mancha (24) and Madrid (12). Adding this all together, admittedly over a long time frame, produces 470 pairs for certain in the Iberian Peninsular, although it is likely that the real figure exceeds, probably by a margin, 500 pairs. If one takes into account published data, the Iberian population has apparently increased (Cano y Hernández, 2003, cited 405 certain pairs). If there had been a better coverage, it is probably wiser to consider the population as stable. For example, in the case of Andalucía, where a figure of 54 pairs (2006) and 52 pairs (1999, 2005, 2007) rose to 89 pairs (2009), an increase of no less than 70% in two years, which seems improbable under natural circumstances. 
Focusing on the population in Extremadura, the graph below shows the values obtained in 17 regional censuses that we have been able to compile. Two phases can be seen, the first between 1973 and 1989, when ornithology in Extremadura was in its infancy and the data are partial, mainly anecdotal. And the second phase from 1993m the government of Extremadura started annual counts. The studies undertaken by Adenex (José Luis Pérez-Chiscano, Víctor Pizarro, José A. Román, Juan J. Ferrero and others) have also helped. The information of these last twenty years shows a stable trend, with peaks and troughs most likely because of differences in effort and coverage (there are variations of up to 21% between consecutive years). The maximum figure was 219 pairs in 1995, followed by 195 pairs in 2011. In 2013, the census recently made public reached 189 certain pairs , 30 less than the maximum twenty years ago. By province, 116 pairs were found in Cáceres and 73 in Badajoz (in 2003 there were 101 and 82, respectively). Taking into account that censuses almost always underestimate real populations, it us very likely that there are more than 200 pairs in Extremadura, perhaps even 220.

The map shows the breeding distribution of Black Stork in Extremadura. The areas of highest breeding density are shown in red: the dehesas of south-west Badajoz, Monfragüe, Alagón, the Tiétar pinewoods and areas in along the Tajo and Guadiana rivers. This area of occupation remains practically the same since the first censuses, being centred along the Tajo river and its tributaries, and in some areas of dehesa and mountains.
With respect to breeding, we have information from 2002 and 2013. In 2013, 147 nests were monitored, from which 290 young fledged. The reproductive indices are very similar in both years:
- productivity (fledged young per occupied nest): 1.97 in 2013, 2.05 in 2002.
- fledging success (fledged young per successful nest): 2.45 in 2013 and 2002.
- Percentage of pairs which raise young successfully: 82% en 2013.
These figures for Extremadura are very similar to the average for Spain as whole (1.94) and elsewhere in Europe (1.81 in Latvia, 1.96 in Lithuania) (Cano, 2012).

An interesting aspect of the Iberian population of Black Stork is the high proportion of nests built on rock. The Black Stork normally nests in trees across its wide range across Europe, although there are countries where use of rocky sites is significant (Austria 28%, Bulgaria 52%). The distant population in southern Africa nests exclusively on rock and the isolated Iberian population has a figure of 55%, with 75% in the case of Portugal. For Extremadura detailed information of nest substrate use is given for the years 2003 and 2013 (table). Nests on rock reach 55%, the same as the Iberian population as a whole, with somewhat more use of this substrate in 2003 than in 2013. It is noteworthy that whilst the population, distribution and breeding success has remained stable over the last decade, there are important changes in best sites. There has been a drop in the number of nests in cork oak by a third, compensated by an increase in tree nests in general, especially in holm oak and pine. With respect to rock sites, there has been an increase in use of rocky valleys, now the habitat most often used, with a decrease in sites in mountain ranges.

These changes in nest sites deserve a more detailed analysis to determine the conservation impact of the Black Stork as well as the Cork Oaks themselves (are there fewer Cork Oaks of sufficient size? Has their management changed? Is there more disturbance?). Over the last decade there at least has been more information on the conservation of Black Stork. Some of us remember that in 2003, at a regional congress, Pizarro et al. cited seven nests that were destroyed by fire that year (three in the dehesas of Jerez, two in the Tiétar pines, one in Cañaveral and one in Sierra de San Pedro) or how the construction of the Alqueva dam apparently caused the loss of ten active nests; also they stated that half the nests in cork oak suffered disturbance during the cork harvest and during pruning; and how sensitive nests were to boat traffic on rivers, indeed that there were no nests on navigable stretches. And not forgetting the damage caused by changing water levels on reservoirs, with 23 nests and 25 chicks lost in 1994.

Acknowledgements: This post is based on information published in the sources cited below. The 2013 data come from a press release from DGMA-Junta de Extremadura, apart from the nest site data which have been provided Ángel Sánchez/DGMA (in litt.). The censuses in Extremadura are carried out every year by some 250 rangers and other staff of the Environment Directorate. We also would like to extend our thanks to personnel in Portugal and other parts of Spain, as well as to other fieldworkers and volunteers who have collaborated.

  • Anuarios Ornitológicos de Extremadura. 1998-2008.
  • Informes de Medio Ambiente en Extremadura. 2006-2012.
  • Censos oficiales de la CMA-Junta de Andalucía.
  • Cano, L. S. 2012. Biología y conservación de la cigüeña negra en la península Ibérica. Tesis Doctoral. Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
  • Cano, L. S. y Hernández, J. M. 2003. Cigüeña negra Ciconia nigra. En Martí, R, y del Moral, J.C. (Eds.).Atlas de las aves reproductoras de España. MMA y SEO/BirdLife. Madrid.
  • DGMA. 2004. The black stork in Extremadura, Southwest Spain. IV Conferencia Internacional de cigüeña negra. Dávod-Püspökpuszta. Hungría. Abril 2004.
  • Ferrero, J.J. y Pizarro, V. M. 2003. La cigüeña negra en Extremadura. Cuadernos Populares 61. Consejería de Cultura. Junta de Extremadura. Mérida.
  • Pizarro, V. M., Fererro, J. J. y Gil, A. 2003. Conservación de la cigüeña negra en Extremadura. II Congreso de especies protegidas de Extremadura. 19-21 noviembre 2003. Cáceres. DGMA. Junta de Extremadura.

Saturday 18 January 2014



After the successful experience of last winter 2012/2013 (see link) the Extremaduran crane enthusiasts have started a new census programme for the 2013/2014 season. Indeed, this time round, they have succeeded in promoting a national crane census, which took place in December 2013, the results of which have not yet been fully compiled. As a starter, we can provide briefly the figures for Extremadura. The second regional census results from 23-27 January are still pending, which will give us an overall more complete picture. Once the data are ready, we will publish a more detailed posting about the wintering crane population in Extremadura in 2013/2014.

Each cenus brings new record figures for this species. The final result for December 2013 was 128, 820 cranes counted, 29,515 in the provincia de Cáceres-Tajo basin, 82,532 in the Central Zone (see link) and 16,773 in the rest of Badajoz province. It is worth noting that within the Cáceres province census figures there are three roosts with about 7,500 birds that lie inside the territory of Toledo. In the national survey results, they will be treated as such, but given that these counts are undertaken in a coordinated way by observers from Cáceres, at the regional scale they are considered as part of the Extremadura total (as has been the case previously). Indeed, cranes have no borders. Compared with the previous census of December 2012, using the same methodology and similar effort, the result is 29,000 more cranes. In the Tajo basin of Cáceres the population has risen by 8,000 birds, despite the Brozas sector (with 1,500 more cranes) only getting partially surveyed, in the Central Zone there were some 20,000 more, and in Badajoz province about a thousand more cranes.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

DECEMBER 2013. Notable observations in Extremadura

Annotated list of the most interesting records in Extremadura in October 2013. Compiled and illustration (Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) by Sergio Mayordomo. Translated by Martin Kelsey


- White-fronted Goose: One at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 07/12, 08/12 (Antonia Cangas) and 30/12 (Rosa Cano).
- Egyptian Goose: One at Morante reservoir, Badajoz, on 19/12 (Pablo Herrador).

- Ruddy Shelduck: Two at Valdecañas reservoir (CC) on 01/12 (Javier Briz and Vicente Risco). Twp at Sierra Brava reservoir, Zorita (CC), (César Clemente, Martin Kelsey and Sergio Mayordomo) and another at Galisteo rice fields and later at El Batán (CC) (Javier Prieta -photo- and Luis Miguel Parejo) on 15/12.
- Common Shelduck: One at Ahigal reservoir (CC) on 03/12 (Alberto Pacheco). Two at Valdecañas reservoir (CC) on 08/12 (J. Briz and V. Risco). One at Sierra Brava reservoir, Zorita (CC), on 08/12 (M. Kelsey) and three present on 15/12 (C. Clemente, M. Kelsey and S. Mayordomo). A pair at Villalba de los Barros reservoir (BA) on 13/02 (José Antonio Leal). One at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 14/12 (Antonio Núñez, Jesús Solana and Vanessa de Alba). Two at Tozo reservoir, Torrecillas de la Tiesa (CC), on 17/12 (M. Kelsey).
- Red-crested Pochard: Two males at Sierra Brava reservoir, Zorita (CC), on 08/12 (M. Kelsey) and a male and two females there on 15/12 (C. Clemente, M. Kelsey and S. Mayordomo). A female at La Atalaya gravel pits, Aldea del Cano (CC), on 15/12 (J. Solana). More than ten amongst 106 other duck on Orellana reservoir (BA) on 20/12 (Juan Antonio Barquero).
- Ferruginous Duck: 10 on the Los Calles pools, Toril (CC), on 09/12 (Antolín Redondo and Javier G. Labrador). Three on the La Atalaya gravel pits, Aldea del Cano (CC) on 15/12 (J. Solana).
Black-necked Grebe: Two at Sierra Brava reservoir, Zorita (CC), on 15/12 (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo).

- Squacco Heron: One at Arrocampo reservoir (CC) on 09/12 (A. Redondo and J. G. Labrador). Two at Puente Viejo, Badajoz, on 15/12 (Juan Carlos Paniagua -photo, with Little Bittern-) and one there on 27/12 (José Guerra). One at Brovales reservoir, Jerez de los Caballeros (BA), on 17/12 and on 23/12 (Francisco Montaño). One at Quebrada de las Palomeras reservoir, Navalmoral de la Mata (CC), on 22/12 (J. Briz and V. Risco).
- Black Stork: Five at Fresnedillas, Oliva de Plasencia (CC), on 13/12 (Jesús Montero), three on 15/12 (L. M. Parejo) and one there on 22/12 (Chema Diu). This individual was ringed in the Czech Republic as a nestling (W[61JJ]) and regularly winters at this site. One at Brovales reservoir, Jerez de los Caballeros (BA), on 17/12 (F. Montaño). One at Valuebo reservoir (BA), on 29/12 (Adolfo García).
- Glossy Ibis: Six at Santa Amalia (BA) on 02/12 (José Antonio Román) and four on 09/12 (Juan Pablo Prieto and Rafael Serra). Two at Yelbes (BA) on 18/12 (Fernando Yuste). Three at Madrigalejo (CC) on 20/12 (Jesús Porras). 13 at Toconal, Don Benito (BA), on 20/12 (J. A. Leal). One at the Lugar pool, Malpartida de Cáceres (CC), on 23/12 (Manuel Iglesias). One at El Batán rice fields (CC) on 28/12 (S. Mayordomo).

- Spoonbill: One at Valhondo stream, Cáceres on 08/12 (Pablo Ramiro). 14 at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 09/12 (Toribio Álvarez), three there on 14/12 (A. Núñez, J. Solana and V. de Alba), 18 on 16/12 (J. A. Román), six on 20/12 (Francisco Lopo) and 37 there on 21/12 (Elvira del Viejo, F. Lopo and Losé Luis Bautista). One at Vega del Haza, Malpartida de Plasencia (CC), on 09/12 (Raúl Sancho) and on 22/12 (Eva Palacios, Francis Martín and Miguel Ángel Muñoz). One at Villalba de los Barros (BA) on 12/12 (Hugo Gómez-Tejedor). Six in flight over Azud del Guadiana, Badajoz, on 15/12 (SEO-Badajoz). 14 at the Pizarrilla pool, Villanueva del Fresno (BA), on 15/12 and three there on 16/12 (Alfonso Pérez del Barco -photo; This birds was seen at Los Canchales on 21/12-). One at Tozo reservoir, Torrecillas de la Tiesa (CC), on 14/12 (J. Porras) and on 17/12 (M. Kelsey). One at Sierra Brava reservoir, Zorita (CC), on 19/12 (J. Porras). One at Portaje reservoir (CC) on 20/12 (Raúl Granados). Nine at Morante reservoir, Badajoz, on 20/12 (J. L. Bautista) and 20 there on 22/12 (T. Álvarez). One between La Nava de Santiago and Aljucén (BA) on 22/12 (F. Lopo). One at Brovales reservoir, Jerez de los Caballeros (BA), on 23/12 (F. Montaño).
- Greater Flamingo: A juvenile at Santa Amalia (BA) on 06/12 (J. P. Prieto and R. Serra).
- Black Kite: One at Guadiana del Caudillo (BA) on 22/12 (P. Herrador).
- Egyptian Vulture: Four at Portaje (CC) on 07/12 (Manuela Rodríguez). One at La Roca de la Sierra (BA) on 09/12 (T. Álvarez).
- Goshawk: One at Palacio Quemado, Alange (BA), on 02/12 (J. A. Román).
- Osprey: One at Los Canchales reservoir (BA) on 07/12, 08/12 (A. Cangas) and 09/12 (T. Álvarez). One at Rivera de Fresnedosa, between Ceclavín and Acehúche (CC), on 07/12 (M. Rodríguez).
- Common Crane: 82,197 in the Central Zone Zona Centro (BA/CC) on 20/12 (Emilio Peña, F. Yuste, Francisco Borja Maldonado, José Ángel Sánchez, J. A. Román, J. P. Prieto and Manuel Gómez Calzado).
- Avocet: Five on rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) on 06/12 (J. P. Prieto and R. Serra), eight there on 15/12 (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo) and 25 on 21/12 (Antonio Calvo).
- Kentish Plover: On the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC), one on 01/12 (A. Núñez), 12 on 06/12 (J. P. Prieto and R. Serra) and seven on 15/12 (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo). 11 at Santa Amalia (BA) on 06/12 (J. P. Prieto y R. Serra). Three at Guadiana del Caudillo (BA) on 22/12 (P. Herrador).

- Dotterel: Five at Castuera (BA) on 06/12 (J. Guerra) and right there on 08/12 (William Haworth -photo-). Six remaining at Hinojal (CC) on 10/12 (J. Porras) and on 20/12 (C. Clemente, J. Porras and S. Mayordomo). 11 at Cabeza del Buey (BA) on 11/12 (J. Guerra and Marc Gálvez).
- Curlew Sandpiper: One at Guadiana del Caudillo (BA) on 22/12 (P. Herrador).
- Jack Snipe: Two on Guadalupejo river, Alía (CC), on 03/12 (Jorge Ángel Herrera and Noelia Baeza). One at El Batán (CC) on 06/12 (S. Mayordomo) and another there on 09/12 (J. Prieta).
- Woodcock: One at Guadalupejo river, Alía (CC), on 04/12 (Jaime Cerezo, J. Á. Herrera and N. Baeza). Two at Parque Natural de Cornalvo (BA) on 09/12 (J. Guerra). One photo-trapped at Parque Natural del Tajo Internacional (CC) on 11/12 and on 13/12 (Paco García).
- Curlew: Two at Galisteo (CC) on 15/12 (J. Prieta) and one on 22/12 (S. Mayordomo).
- Spotted Redshank: On the rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC), ten on 01/12 (A. Núñez), ten on 06/12 (J. P. Prieto and R. Serra) and five on 15/12 (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo). 20 on the rice fields at Fernando V, Madrigalejo (CC), on 15/12 (M. Kelsey). One at Toconal, Don Benito (BA), on 20/12 (J. A. Leal).
- Lesser Yellowlegs: One at the rice fields at Puebla de Alcollarín, Villar de Rena (BA), on 30/12 (Fergus Crystal, José G. Aparicio, J. Guerra and M. Gálvez).
- Wood Sandpiper: Two on rice fields between Palazuelo (BA) and Campo Lugar (CC) on 06/12 (J. P. Prieto and R. Serra) and another on the rice fields of Guadiana del Caudillo (P. Herrador).
- Turnstone: One at Arroyoconejos reservoir, Llerena (BA), on 02/12 (F. Montaño and Joaquín Vázquez).
- Yellow-legged Gull: There at Mérida landfill (BA) on 01/12 (J. Guerra).
- Stock Dove: Three at Fresnedillas. Oliva de Plasencia (CC), on 30/12 (S. Mayordomo).
- Ring-necked Parakeet: One at Plasencia (CC) on 03/12 (Ricardo Montero). Two at Mérida (BA) on 20/12 (Hugo Sánchez).
- Short-eared Owl: One at Valdeherrero, La Roca de la Sierra (BA), on 20/12 (F. Lopo). One at Alvarado, Badajoz, on 23/12 (J. Guerra).
- House Martin: At last three regularly present at Alange (BA) until 15/12 (J. Solana, J. Guerra and M. Gálvez). Five present in Badajoz city on 26/12 (Atanasio Fernández).
- Pied Wagtail M. a. yarrellii: Four at Moraleja (CC) on 01/12 (C. Clemente and S. Mayordomo) and another at Mérida landfill (BA) (J. Guerra). One at Mérida (BA) on 18/12 (F. Lopo). One at Valdefuentes gravel pits, Galisteo (CC), on 22/12 (S. Mayordomo).
- Ring Ouzel: Two at Hornachos castle (BA) on 29/11 and one at San Bernabé, Don Álvaro (BA), on 23/12 (F. Crystal).
- Goldcrest: One at Sierra del Ladrillar (CC) on 02/12 (A. Pacheco).

- Red Avadavat: Records at Jerez de los Caballeros (BA), three birds: a male, female and possible juvenile in the irrigated land of Valuengo on 07/12 (Juan Carlos Delgado) and six adults at Brovales reservoir on 23/12 (Francisco Montaño -photo, male-).
- Brambling: One at Parque Natural de Cornalvo (BA) on 09/12 (M. Gálvez).
- Common Crossbill: About 15 in the Sierra del Ladrillar (CC) on 02/12 (A. Pacheco).