Friday, May 22, 2015

Birding Come Rain Or Shine

Well what do you know? the morning was grey, gloomy and drizzly! Just as well I completed a short trip out on Thursday morning although there’s very little to report from yet another cool, blowy and truncated session. I fear Spring migration has ended before it began and that soon it will be time to hang up the bins and let the birds get on with whatever they do in the summer. 

Conder Green proved very uninspiring, the high water levels giving little in the way of birds except for several Reed Buntings, two each of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler and an unseasonal Goosnader. Glasson Dock was marginally better with a good selection of singing warblers as in 4 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff and singles of both Common and Lesser Whitethroat. 

Whitethroat

Fortunately, and for regular blog readers who expect more than a couple of lines of prose and one picture from Another Bird Blog, there are more birds from Menorca 1st to 15th May. 

When exploring the area around Cap de Cavallaria in the north of Menorca I came across a very pale looking hedgehog. I managed to take one picture before the animal scuttled off into the undergrowth. By searching the Internet later I discovered the animal to be the North African or Algerian Hedgehog Atelerix algirus

North African or Algerian Hedgehog Atelerix algirus

The hedgehog is found in Algeria, France, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia and Spain. Because this hedgehog is native to Africa, it has been suggested that it was introduced by humans to the other countries where it is now found, including France, Spain and the island of Menorca. Specimens found inside a Bronze Age grave at the site of Biniai Nou in Menorca dated from the 13th century and indicated a rather recent arrival of the species on the island, probably via the Almohad invaders of that period. 

The North African Hedgehog closely resembles the European Hedgehog; however, there are several distinct differences between the two species. The North African Hedgehog tends to be smaller than its European counterpart. Its face is light in colour, usually appearing to be white, and the legs and head are brown. The underbelly varies in colour, and is often either brown or white. Its ears are highly visible on the head of the animal and are large in size. The body is covered in soft spines that are primarily white with darker banding. It was an interesting mammal find and a new one to add to my Menorca mammal list alongside the common and easily seen Hermann’s Tortoise and the less easily seen Stoat. 

Hermann's Tortoise

During the second week of our holiday there seemed to be a small influx of Red-footed Falcons, raptors which are late migrants and birds of open countryside, seen by us on overhead wires or circling recently cut fields in the areas of Cavallaria, Addaia and Es Grau. The largest group we saw was of 4 birds circling over Es Grau but a fellow hotel guest saw 10 red-foots together near Addaia just a day or two later. 

Red-footed Falcon

Red-footed Falcon

Red Kites seemed pretty plentiful this year while the normally common Booted Eagles proved scarce. Perhaps the endless sunny day kept the eagles soaring on high from where their binocular vision could easily locate prey without the birds lowering themselves to our level? 

Red Kite

Stonechats and Tawny Pipits were as common as ever alongside most highways, byways and the “camis”, the ancient bridleways and footpaths of Menorca. It’s along these routes that the three most common birds of Menorca are frequently heard but not necessarily seen - Nightingale, Cetti’s Warbler and Sardinian Warbler. The adjoining fields hold good numbers of unseen but vocal Quail.

Cami de Addaia

Stonechat

Tawny Pipit

Nightingale-Photo credit: chapmankj75 / Foter / CC BY
 
Menorca farm

Menorca gate made from Wild Olive Tree (acebush) wood

This Menorcan boy and girl I met in Alaior were sheltering from the fierce sun. Either that or there’s rain on the way. 

 Alaior - Menorca

Rain or Shine there will be more birds soon with Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Anni's blog and Eileen's Saturday Blog.

21 comments:

Linda said...

So beautiful, Phil, I love all the birds and animals in this series...and I love the "come rain or shine", too! :)

TexWisGirl said...

sweet gate! :) lovely songbirds and raptors, too.

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful images Phil, the Red-footed Falcon is excellent.

Silver Parrot said...

Beautiful bird photos - love the birds in mid-song and the raptors!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful collection of images, Phil! Beautiful birds, I like the Red-footed Falcon and the Stone chat. But, they are all awesome birds and photos. The farm is pretty too. Happy Birding!

David Gascoigne said...

The information you provide about the Hedgehog is really interesting and the picture shows a creature which looks quite different from the one I am accustomed to seeing. This creature is high on my wife's wish list for our visit to the UK in just two months.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, just stopping back to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a great weekend!

sandyland said...

Stonechat and lane walking my favorites took me there I am seriously ill at present ..Could you send me a pic of the 2 garbage cans on Facebook Sandy Kessler would love to share with my friends Thanks

Snap said...

Wonderful and fun post. It's always fun to see what feathered critter you've found for us to see. Happy Critter Day!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful tour and you have spotted so many birds.

Lea said...

Love the birds and the tortoise, too!
The flower pots with umbrellas are great!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I wonder if the Almohad invaders brought those hedgehogs along as pets?

Lovely pics, the Red-footed Falcon is tremendous.
~

Margaret Adamson said...

Loved the last shot as it made me laugh but certainly a wonderful selection of great birds in this post. Have a wonderful weekend.

Adam Jones said...

That is one cute hedgehog, but I love the stonechat.

Mama Zen said...

Splendid shots!

Anni said...

If this is a quiet time of the season...and migrating birds are nearly nil....I'd beg to differ for now....

You saw and photographed some mighty GOOD birds. Ones I'll never see but only by you sharing. I love the colors/markings/and songsters today. Beautiful...all of them.

Including the darling hedgehog!!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

If only there were unlimited dollars ans unlimited years,I'd be on my magic carpet. What great birding place to visit.

And animals. Why did I think there are hedgehogs in Great Britain?

Marie C said...

What a wonderful post! Loved learning about the differences in the hedgehog there & the European one, and also the tortoise. Loved seeing the beautiful raptors as well as the songbird photos. My goodness, what a beautiful place! I adored the shot of the wooden gate. Just amazing captures of it all!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Great birds and I love the hedgehog.

Stewart M said...

Great set of pictures - I assumed that the hedgehog was 'just' a young one until I read the text.

The Australasian Grebe is normally pretty hard to photograph - but my birds are just a bit more cooperative - still flighty, but at least possible.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Wally Jones said...

Well, that was fun!

I just caught up on your postings from sunny Menorca. Thank you for the "virtual vacation"! What a beautiful spot you've found to escape to - no wonder you keep returning to it.

Apologies for not commenting lately. Life events have been a bit disruptive.

It sounds as though your local spring migration has been similar to ours with not many migrants stopping by. In our case, the weather has been "too good" and the birds just flew right by us in the dark of the nights.

Wonderful new header picture! Hard to believe how good looking a vulture can be!

Hope you've recovered from your sunburn and I will try to be better about keeping up with your adventures!

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