Sunday 24 January 2016

Around Oliva

Last week I birded in and around Oliva Spain where I have my winter house. Pego marshes is near-by and has a good reputation for passage birds and also red-necked nightjar in summer. Indeed I saw several of the nightjars in July 2015.


I am not sure I tackled Pego marshes correctly but the results weren't that good. Perhaps I was in the wrong part. Hopefully I have years in the future to discover a better way.

Even the way I tackled it, I couldn't miss the fact the place is home to numerous chiffchaff in winter.

pego marshes

For a while I struggled to see much else. Collared dove adorned the gardens at the edge that was obvious.

European collared dove

Eventually I started to pick things up. The odd reed bunting exposed itself.

reed bunting perched

Sometimes they were in the reeds and occasionally in bushes or on near-by ground. A bearded tit was probably the best bird seen in the reeds and perhaps during the session.

reed bunting on the ground

My first Spanish chaffinch was observed next to two grounded reed bunting.

robin from the rear

Several robin were behaving like their bluethroat cousins I see in the reeds of Oman in winter.


Indeed I glimpsed a bluethroat there too. Pego is at the extreme north of their wintering range.

A meadow pipit was another single bird seen.


Of the larger water birds a grey heron and three great cormorant indicated the potential of the site yet overall I was a little disappointed.

While the marshes may have been a disappointment, two walks on other days within the town towards the beach were better than I had expected. I was joined on one of these walks my local expat Viv Carlson and I am grateful for her directional guidance and company.


Both walks followed water channels through the orange groves that separate much of the town from the sea.

Goldfinch and greenfinch are readily picked up. Kestrel can be observed on the wires.

booted eagle 1

A pair of adult pale morph booted eagle were not expected though. I hadn't realised this was a winter possibility in Oliva at all. I wonder if this is global warming playing a part. The vast majority of booted eagle winter south of the Sahara.

booted eagle 2

Strangely, I saw more water birds here than at Pego marshes. Little egret peppered the water ways.

little egret

Mallard was common and most birds were paired off. I assume the breeding season is not long away for them.


Mallard was very tame and the local moorhen were also.


Black redstart is clearly a common winterer and was seen in a variety of habitats on these walks even including gardens.

black redstart taking off

Spotless startling is a local resident bird and easily observed. I was much more pleased to come across a flock of European starling which is only found in Spain in winter.

European starling

Gardens and park areas on the walk yielded other birds I typically associate with northern Europe though each one is a potential resident in this part of Spain too.


Blackbird is one of these birds and it is also found in the orange groves.

female chaffinch

I got better and longer looks at the local chaffinch than I had at Pego.

male chaffinch

Another bird which is resident in both northern and southern Europe is great tit. Seeing one on my walk madeit species number 72 on my slowly growing Spanish list which so far has all come from the Oliva area.

great tit

Sardinian warbler is an old friend from Oliva last summer, Libya's Mediterranean coast all year round and in far north west Saudi Arabia in winter.

Sardinian warbler

In spring in Libya it was easily seen in the breeding season when the males get brave on exposed perches. Otherwise its very tricky to get good views. I finally managed good views in Oliva on the second walk.


The last addition to my Spanish list was European stonechat with both a male and a female flitting around bushes next to the dunes on the coast.

European serin 1

On the way back from that sighting, I finally came up close to a few European serin which had been dodging me throughout.

European serin 2

The last new bird for the walk  however was a cattle egret perched in a stream in exactly the same place as a little egret had been earlier. 

cattle egret

I am back in Oman now and hope to resume birding here very soon after my interlude in Spain.

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