Total Pageviews

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pelagic trip out of Half Moon Bay, CA

        Sharon and I went on a three week long trip to California to visit my son Chris at Edwards Air Force Base in late August and early September. Our first full day there, we headed for Bonelli Lake Park in San Dimas (of Bill and Ted fame). My objective was to find the Arctic Loon that had been present for at least four months. We arrived at the park and I dropped off the family at the swim beach and went in search of my quarry. Well after a 45 minute search of the lake and almost giving up the hunt, I spotted the loon. It was hiding in a small corner, out of sight from the main lake. Although not in breeding plumage I was thrilled with my first life bird of the trip.
Arctic Loon at Bonelli Lake Park
     After staying two weeks with Chris and the gang, Sharon and I drove seven hours north to Half Moon Bay which is south of San Francisco. The temperature there was 69 degrees which was awesome after 102 degrees at Edwards AFB. We made the trip here because I had scheduled a pelagic trip with Debi Shearwater of Shearwater Journeys. 
My new home for the day
       I boarded the boat at 7am and we were off on our adventure. The boat pulled away from the docks and navigated out to the jetties around the harbor where we picked up Whimbrel, Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, Brandt's and Double-crested Cormorants, and Wandering Tattler plus a Common Murre.
Poor photo of Black Turnstones
      Once we cleared the harbor, the Western & Heerman's Gulls started to follow the boat. 
Western Gull with Half Moon Bay in background
      As we got further away from shore we ran into a fog bank which helped in viewing, as it eliminated the glare from the sun off of the water. The fog eventually cleared but a haze remained all day enabling great viewing conditions. Soon we started finding the Pacific coast alcids, some really cool looking birds. Common Murres were seen by the hundreds and Rhinocheros Auklets were common.
Rhinocheros Auklet transforming to winter plumage
Common Murre

       Of course everyone's favorite alcid is the puffin and we got to view the Pacific Ocean version when a Tufted Puffin came into view off the starboard bow.
Tufted Puffin
        It didn't take long after leaving the dock until we reached the offshore waters where the true pelagics are found. 

About 30 minutes after leaving the harbor we started seeing Sooty Shearwaters. These were the most common shearwaters that we would see today, probably around a thousand birds were seen. Well this got everyone's adrenaline rushing. I started thinking about the one bird that I wanted the most and that was the Flesh-footed Shearwater, a rare visitor from Australia and New Zealand. Although I never got a photo of the bird it was one of the last birds we saw on the trip. Usually a deep, warm water bird we found one on the way back to the harbor as we were finishing up the trip. The guides were shouting when they spotted it and I ran to the stern to get a good but fleeting look at the bird as it flew off into the haze.

      Past the Sooty Shearwaters we started running into other species. We found a flock of birds on the water that contained Sooty's but in among them was my first lifer of the trip, a Buller's Shearwater, actually three of them. This was my first lifer of the trip. We would find more of them as the trip progressed.

Buller's Shearwater (Photo from Internet)

       Among the participants on the trip was a husband and wife from England who came to find one bird in particular and that one bird was any species of Albatross. Well their wish was granted many times over when he spotted a Black-footed Albatross flying in from the port side. These birds are just magnificent flyers as they glide over the water with amazing agility and ease. Then they land right next to the boat. Very cooperative birds making for good photos. Although I only had a point and shoot camera I was able to capture a few images.
Black-footed Albatross

Black-footed Albatross, Western Gull and Steller's Sea Lion
       Next we encountered a very large raft of petrels on the ocean about a mile ahead of us. We slowly drifted towards them so as not to flush them and started laying out an oil slick behind the boat. As we approached the flock was very nervous and began to flush.    

Mixed Flock of Petrels
       The flock contained about 1200 birds and were mostly Ashy Storm-Petrels and about 30 Black Storm-Petrels, both of which were lifers. 
Ashy-Storm-Petrel (Internet Photo)

Black Storm-Petrel - larger than Ashy (Internet Photo)
       We eventually got to study these birds quite well and than moved on and were encountering small rafts of shearwaters lingering on the water. The guides spotted a Manx Shearwater but lost it in a crowd of other birds and I never saw that guy. 
      We had spotted a small raft of Sooty's and Pink-footed Shearwaters in the distance when someone shouted out "Skuas". Almost right in front of the bow were two South Polar Skuas resting on the water and than they took off so we could get good looks at the large white wing patches and very short tails.
South Polar Skua (not my photo)
        This was my fourth lifer on this pelagic trip and as stated earlier we lucked out and had a quick fly by of a Flesh-footed Shearwater on the way back to shore. Before the trip, I was hoping for five lifers but was thinking I would be happy with three, but as luck would have it I did get my five life birds. This will always be a trip to remember, my first Pacific coast pelagic. It was great fun and I got to meet a lot of great folks also.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bugling Bull Elk In Pennsylvania

                                   Elk Herd Makes Fall Special in Central PA.
                                                               by John McGonigle
Elk Visitor Center
          There is little more special in nature than to be in Central Pennsylvania during September and October and seeing Pennsylvania’s largest mammal, the elk.
          Many state residents do not realize Pennsylvania has wild, free ranging elk, yet we have 800 – 900 of the massive animals. We have the largest elk herd in the East.  
          Pennsylvania originally had eastern elk scattered across the state, but between man’s land use and hunting, eastern elk were extirpated by the late 1870s. There were some early elk reintroductions from western elk stock, but they were not overly successful. Elk did not get serious attention until the early 1970s when farmers were complaining of crop damage and the Pennsylvania Game Commission had Penn State start a major elk study. The study was dropped in 1974 because of lack of funds, but the fire was lit – something good was going to happen with elk in the Keystone state.
          Penn State’s initial elk census in ’71 showed 65 elk, by 1981 there were 135. Ups and downs continued, but in ’93 we had 224 elk and by 2000 there were 566. At one point there was talk of an open elk season but locals killed so many elk that the commission felt a hunt could not be held.
          The first modern-day elk hunt was in 2001 when the elk population was about 800 animals. Fifty thousand hunters applied for a license – that’s a lot of interest. Just 30 licenses were sold and 27 elk were bagged. From 2001 to 2012 hunters took 527 elk. During the last decade 66 to 113 elk have died annually from all known causes. Eighty-six elk licenses will be offered this year in what appears to be a healthy, ongoing elk management program.
          Hunters are not the only ones with an interest in elk. Nature and wildlife lovers from across the state and surrounding states have taken a huge interest in them. They spend both time and money to view the magnificent animals, especially the huge bull elk. 
Elk Herd

          During September and October multiple thousands of nature lovers travel to our primary elk range: Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton and Potter counties. The most well-known elk viewing location is near the Elk County Visitor Center, 134 Homestead Drive, Benezette, PA; 15821 (814 -787-5167.) In addition to the outstanding visitor center with its exhibits, informational programs and interactive exhibits, there is plenty of adjacent viewing area where elk can often be seen, especially at dawn and dusk.
          The first thing to know about elk is they are huge. Adult cow elk weigh 400 - 600 pounds and adult bulls weigh between 600 – 1,000 pounds. It is not unusual when visiting to spot an 800 pound bull with an outstanding set of antlers. Elk lose their antlers in late winter the same as whitetail deer do.  
          Cows hang around together except during breeding season in September and October. During breeding season they form harems of up to 20 cows that are serviced by one bull. Calves are born in late May and early June.
          Unlike deer, elk are grazers, feeding on forbs, legumes, grasses and grains found in natural and man-made openings and fields. Restored strip mines provide food for elk, as do areas cleared of trees strictly for elk habitat. There is over 2,000 acres of managed open land for elk planted with myriad grasses, clovers and grains. While those areas are planted for elk, many wildlife species benefit from it.
          A major reason for man-made food plots for elk is to keep them on public land and away from unwanted human interactions, especially from agricultural crops and angry farmers.
          Pennsylvania Game Commission manages elk, and research is an ongoing part of their program.
          The elk’s successful return to Pennsylvania has required many hands. In addition to PGC, other partners include the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Bureau of State Parks, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, International Safari Club, local sportsmen’s clubs, and more.
          The area holding most of our elk is referred to as the Pennsylvania Wilds. It is desolate but beautiful, which is why I like it and why soon I’ll be watching elk with friends from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writer’s Association.
          Check several websites, make a few phone calls and gather family or friends into the family SUV and head for the Pennsylvania Wilds.
          Note: The address of the Visitor Center is provided above for those that wish to use Map Quest or a GPS for directions.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sunday Rick and I went to Governor Printz park and sat and ate lunch, saw Osprey, cormorants, Canada's and immature Eagle, then decided to go see what if anything was at the retaining ponds by the new FEDEX bldg there in Tinicum. FEDEX isn't up and running yet, so it was rather quiet, which will change when the facility opens up shortly but for now it was peaceful. The ponds were rather shallow so there was quite a selection - Canada's, mallards, yellow legs, plover (semipalmated I believe) and killdeer to name a few. 


Monday after the downpour we wanted to go back to see how much water was there and what birds had stayed. The ponds were full and only the killdeer, Canada's and mallards had stayed. We proceeded to drive around to view the Delaware River by UPS but ended up seeing Terns and Gulls sunning in the UPS parking lot. Think they were Caspian Terns(adults and immature), a couple immature Herring Gulls and of course, Ring billed. After we got home and downloaded the pictures we realized one of the terns had a leg band with the letters 'ACY' on it. I tried looking up to report the band but the Fed site says their bands are all numbers and that it probably is an auxiliary marker. It suggests just sending an email to ''  with the info, so I will.

                                                                   Sharon West

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Beauty and Marvel of Bird Migration

                The Birds Enthrall and their Journey Amazes

                                    by John McGonigle

        “Waterfowl and passerines and raptors, oh my.” With apologies to the Wizard’s Dorothy, fall migration is underway and as mysterious and wonderful as anything Oz had to offer.

Fall migration of waterfowl, passerines and diurnal raptors (will be covered today, and each genre has its aficionados.

Holly Merker, of Downingtown, is Chester County Compiler for Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology and a Regional E-Bird editor. Merker graciously offered her assistance, and her knowledge of birds is comprehensive, dependable and welcome.

        “Some waterfowl species will start migrating very soon,” said Merker excitedly, “and some aspects of waterfowl migration can last until April in Chester County”. Most species of waterfowl, though, will not cross our borders until November, she said.

        For waterfowl Merker suggested Marsh Creek Lake in Marsh Creek State Park, Chambers Lake in Hibernia County Park and Struble Lake, off Route 322, owned by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “These are the three county spots where I do best, though there are some other spots for waterfowl”, she said” She related that Teal will arrive very soon, and later Ruddy ducks, Ring Neck ducks and Buffle-Head ducks, as well as myriad others.

        With little space it is impossible to go into detail, but some waterfowl, especially Canada geese will be around for much of autumn and winter. Some ducks will linger longer than others to refuel and rest, and still others will stop for food and rest on their way when returning north. The good news is waterfowl lovers have a lot of time to view their favorites. Canada geese can be confusing because different sub-species vary widely in size.    .

        Merker likes looking for waterfowl at Wastewater Treatment Impoundments in winter. When I said, “Yuk”, she said, “I know, I know, but the impoundments are so small it makes it easy to see the ducks well.”
American Wigeon & Gadwall

        Merker said, “We don’t have too much waterfowl on our streams, the streams tend to be too small.” She did, though, say, “Don’t forget to try the Black Rock Sanctuary and trail (ChesCo Parks) along the Schuylkill River near Phoenixville. Also visit Struble Lake, I do well there”.

        The primary reason birds migrate is to obtain food, which is why Merker suggests, “Walk along Riparian corridors, or buffers, such as those found at Hibernia County Park and Struble Trail, managed by the county.” Riparian corridors, or stream-sides, offer food for birds two ways, according to Merker. “There are always more insects along streams or waterways than dry areas, and many passerine species feed heavily on insects. Additionally”, she said, “multiple tree species line waterways, and they drawl numerous insect species”. Some passerines will eat any remaining seeds or fruit from trees.

        “Look for passerines early, since they often migrate in huge flocks at night, in large part to avoid predators,” said Merker. “Passerines feed in the morning and rest and sleep later in the day while waiting for nightfall to resume their journey,” she said. 
Indigo Bunting

        Merker said, “It is critical that passerines, primarily small birds, not only rest, but also replenish their fat supply for their often long migration. They will remain in an area as long as necessary to regain fuel for their body.”

        “Exton County Park is another excellent spot to bird during the migration season,” said Merker, “be sure to look around the pond area. Look for passerines (especially sparrows), wading birds and waterfowl.

        Almost forgetting, Merker said, “Oh, and don’t forget the relatively new Wolf’s Hollow County Park near Atglen.” The 569-acre park has nearly eight miles of hiking trails for birding and is bounded on two sides by Octoraro Creek, a riparian border that should attract birds.

                Major eastern raptor migrations occur between mid-September and mid-November, and it is exciting. Locally, Rose Tree Park (Delco) near Media and Militia Hill at Fort Washington State Park (Montco) offer 10 – 15,000 raptors during the time referenced. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary (Berks County) and Second Mountain Hawkwatch (Lebanon County) are major hawk migration sights along the ridgeline to our north. See for full info and directions on hawkwatch sites.

        I go regularly to numerous sites during the fall migration and find hawk watchers helpful with information and assistance with identifying hawks. Remember, everyone started as a newbie sometime.

        Favored raptors in our region include Bald eagles, Northern Harriers and Red-shouldered hawks. Fairly common in mid-September are Broad-wing hawks, October brings Sharp-shinned hawks and Coopers hawks and November offers Red-tailed hawks. Take your binoculars and have fun. 


Hawk Migration Association of North America’s website has info and identifying features on hawks:

Monday, September 2, 2013


THE WARBLER GUIDE by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
Princeton University Press 2013
560 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-691-15482-4
also available as ebook

I want to alert you to an excellent new resource as we head into fall migration. THE WARBLER GUIDE may very well become the go-to reference for identifying warblers, no matter what the season. 

Readers of this blog tend to have much more experience birding than my few years, so I will speak to the benefits of this resource for novice-to-intermediate skilled birders. But I would guess this book will prove valuable to any birder, regardless of experience.

Most field guides, whether organized around photos or (the preferred) artist's rendering, show you a side view of the bird. That's fine, except how often have I encountered, say, a Northern Parula from the side? How about from underneath? How about from an angle? Stephenson and Whittle have felt my pain and have endeavored to show each species, via photographs, from the side, at an angle, and from below. And how often have I been puzzled on the identification of a bird? Often! A good field guide will reference similar species, but then you have to fumble around the book to find those other possibilities. And then flip back and forth to try to compare and contrast. But with THE WARBLER GUIDE, the authors have included photographs of those similar species right in the main account of each species. Either this will solve the identification problem, or at least it will serve to narrow the possibilities, making for a faster identification. 

Each species description begins with a series of helpful icons that help the birder quickly learn the silhouette of the bird, its overall color pattern, its undertail pattern, its general range, where it can be found (in the top, middle, or lower portion of trees, for instance), and how it feeds or whether, for instance, it pumps its tail

In addition, there is a series of additional photos and close-up shots of distinctive aspects of each species, along with helpful explanatory text. 

To get the birder started, THE WARBLER GUIDE has a number of "quick finder" charts: a Face Finder (showing the heads of all species), a Side Finder, a 45 degree Finder, and an Underview Finder, all of which include photos showing all species with sex/seasonal differences when necessary. In addition, there are East-Spring and East-Fall and West-Spring and West-Fall quick finders, showing the plumage for the time and region of the country you care about.

In the beginning of the book there is the usual "topography" of a bird (an atlas of bird parts/anatomy) and a very helpful primer, "What to Notice on a Warbler," that includes discussion on noticing contrast (using grayscale pictures to illustrate), overall coloration, wing bars and facial markings, and even a section on subtle color variations.

The main species accounts are organized alphabetically. Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett's comprehensive WARBLERS (Peterson Field Guide) is organized, on the other hand, taxonomically. Donald and Lillian Stokes' FIELD GUIDE TO WARBLERS, a much thinner volume than the aforementioned, organizes the species accounts more or less by the color of the birds. An argument can be made for each way of putting together a guide. The Dunn and Garrett is too thick and a bit unwieldy in its own way to be carried in the field (although it would be possible). Having carried the Stokes with me from time to time, I can say the color-organizing can be helpful - especially for beginners. In general, however, when a question about a species comes up I don't really want to hunt in the index for it, and with THE WARBLER GUIDE I can go easily to the pages that interest me. But as I will mention, you will not want to carry this book with you as it is too large for a pocket.

But there is much more. We all know one of the best ways to identify a bird is by its song, call, or chip. In most field guides, there is a verbal description or mnemonic that purports to help the birder learn to recognize the calls. But just how helpful is "Krreeet" vs. "Krraat"? Or "tea-kettle, tea-kettle"? Maybe a little helpful. But what if there were a different way, a systematic way to describe and recognize bird sounds? THE WARBLER GUIDE includes a very sophisticated (but fairly easily understandable) system for identifying and learning bird vocalizations. The idea of sonograms, pictorial representations of bird vocalizations, is not new. You might remember them from the old Golden Guide Birds of North America field guide. But THE WARBLER GUIDE has completely re-thought how to use sonograms for learning bird vocalizations. In it, you will find a 37 page detailed explanation on how to read and interpret the sonograms, and by practicing with them you can slowly learn to think of songs in their sonographic "image."

But just as seeing a bird (or a picture of one) might be worth a thousand words of description, so hearing the birds is more powerful than any verbal or sonographic representation of their music. And with THE WARBLER GUIDE, you not only can read about - with the goal of systematizing your learning - bird vocalizations (via sonograms), but the Macaulay Library offers a companion set of audio files that corresponds page by page, indeed line by line, to THE WARBLER GUIDE (You can download the audio files for an additional $5.99 here:

What more could you ask?

Nothing's perfect, of course. As I mentioned, the book is too large physically to work as a field guide, but when you're in the field is often just the moment you'd love to consult it. But there is a kind of work-around. THE WARBLER GUIDE is available as a Amazon Kindle e-book. It is not as handy or as functional as an app (e.g., iBird, Sibley, etc.), but with a free download of the Kindle app for your iPhone or Android device, you can purchase the ebook to have with you in the field. [And, hey, Tom and Scott: It would be a great idea to develop this guide into an app and include the Macaulay audio files!] 

One hates to quibble (said just before he quibbles...) with a resource this valuable, but there may be a few tweaks worth considering for any future edition. I'll give a few examples that matter in particular to those of us who are not yet at the expert level (but who hope one day to attain that level thanks, in part, to the education imparted in books like this one). Note, for instance, in the Topographic tour, the face described on p. 15. On p. 19, the term "auriculars" is used, but it wasn't in face topography that was explained on p. 15. The term can be found in the glossary, but it would have been better to include it on the "map" of the face. Page 24 describes the Chat's "culmen," a term also not in the Topography (but in glossary). This is not the only book imperfect in these matters. Dunn and Garrett's WARBLERS does not illustrate culmen in its "topography" illustrations (pp. 40-42), but lists it in the glossary of "Parts of a Warbler" in the back of the book. Again, this is more problematic for those of us who have not learned our bird parts vocabulary yet but who want to. Those already in the know will have no problems, of course.

Again, on p. 20, a caption for a Blackburnian reads: "Flame-orange face unmistakable." And yet the particular photo does not show off the bird's orange plumage, which might prove confusing to neophytes (and perhaps others).

But these are small things, indeed. THE WARBLER GUIDE is a treasure for anyone interested in these beautiful creatures. My wife and I actually met Scott Whittle when he was photographing a particular plumage of Mourning Warbler at Higbee Beach in Cape May for inclusion in the book. I tried to take pictures of the bird at the same time (which I might never have seen if it weren't for Scott!) When the book came out, we flipped right to that species description to see "our" bird (well, maybe "our" bird is pictured in the book; perhaps it is on the cutting room floor...). It did not take long, however, to recognize the magnificent achievement of Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle.

You can get a feel for the book by following the links below:

Princeton University Press (publisher) page for THE WARBLER GUIDE:

Sample of American Redstart pages: (PDF)

Table of Contents of THE WARBLER GUIDE:

Informative videos that introduce the book, its methodology, and the sonograms:

The authors also have a website for the book with lots more informative material:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Spanish birding on the run – Part One Gibraltar to Seville.

Spanish birding on the run – Part One Gibraltar to Seville.

Gibraltar to Granada to Seville

From March 23-30, 2013 I had the pleasure of chaperoning 20 students from Henderson High School in West Chester, PA on a tour of Spain, along with my wife Sharon and my stepson Dan. This would be my second trip to Spain but radically different than my first. In June 2004, Sharon and I, along with our friend Bettina did a ten day birding tour starting in the mountains northwest of Madrid and working our way south through extensive grasslands and wetlands. We stayed mostly in rural areas, but did spend time in Toledo and Seville visiting cathedrals, mosques, and art museums and taking in the city life. 

This trip would be different, being educationally and culturally directed with a dedicated guide and being on the go from morning to night. I was also serving as the tour’s medical escort so I had a cool shoulder bag full of the students’ prescription meds as well as a small collection of wound care supplies, tons of Motrin and even a small extremity splint. I figured any birding that could be done would be either through a speeding tour bus window or during the times we visited some of the converted Moorish palaces that contained many native plantings.

Our itinerary began with an evening flight out of Philadelphia that connected with another through Heathrow Airport in London. We finally landed in Gibraltar on a very cool runway bordered on both sides by water with the city’s main highway passing through it. 

Figure 1 View of Gibraltar Airport with landing strip extending out into the water and main highway in the city crossing the runway. (Photo from Wikipedia).

While standing outside the terminal awaiting our tour bus, I had some good looks at numerous Yellow-legged Gulls (a life bird) that were continually passing by. The only other species I saw here was House Sparrow.

Figure 2 View of the Rock of Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory 2.6 square miles with a population of about 30,000. The Rock is the main tourist attraction with cable car transit to the top.  A colony of about 300 Barbary Macaques (a small monkey) inhabit the summit. (Nick Pulcinella).

From Gibraltar we drove northeast along the Mediterranean coast to the town of Torremolinos, where we spent our first night.

Figure 3. View of "downtown" Torremolinos. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 4. Student Group in Torremolinos. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 5. Pallid Swift (left) and Common Swift (right) over Torremolinos. Notice the size difference especially in the wings. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 6. Gull-billed Tern feeding offshore Torremolinos. (Nick Pulcinella).

The following day took us north and inland to Granada. Here we visited the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex originally constructed as a fortress in 889 and later converted into a royal palace in 1333. The Alhambra is an extraordinary example of Arab-Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The park is overgrown with wildflowers, roses, oranges and myrtles planted by the Moors. There is also a dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park is filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades and nearly continuous birdsong.

Figure 7. The Alhambra (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 8. The Alhambra's Court of Lions. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 9. One of the many buildings on the grounds. The row of eight arched brown windows served as harem rooms during Moorish times. The structures did not allow in any light so that the Muslim women could not be seen in public. Today, the rooms serve as reading rooms for monks. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 10. One of the many fountains interspersed throughout the Alhambra. The constant sound of flowing water together with the varied bird songs made this one of my favorite places. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 11. More of the Alhambra's plantings. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 12. Male Eurasian Blackbird. Not a blackbird but one of the Turdus thrushes similar to our American Robin. (Nick Pulcinella). 

Figure 13. Wood Pigeon. These were common throughout Granada. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 14. This is a road leading from the Alhambra down to the city of Granada. There was birdsong all through these woods. (Nick Pulcinella).

Granada was a fairly typical Spanish city with many outdoor cafes, the clash of old and new architecture and great people-watching opportunities. 

Figure 15. Street side Cafes, Granada. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 16. Eating on the go. Granada. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 17. Alleyway shopping, Granada. (Nick Pulcinella).

From Granada we trekked westward to Seville where we would spend two nights. 

On the way we drove through some nice wetlands, open fields and countless olive farms. I was able to identify a few species but I missed many, especially the raptors which seemed to be everywhere. Here are a few of the scenes taken through the bus window heading toward Seville.

Figure 18. There were many areas of old towns and open fields along the route. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 19. One of the many olive farms. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 20. Black Kites were frequently seen along this highway. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 21.  Hen Harrier cruising a field. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 22. White Storks were common both in these open areas and in the towns, especially nesting on church steeples. (Nick Pulcinella).

Figure 23.  Monk Vulture (Other names: Black or Cinereous Vulture). This is a huge unmistakable bird.  The adults are completely black, the wingspan is enormous and it holds the wings flat much like an eagle. (Nick Pulcinella).

A few of the other species I saw along this route were Cattle Egret, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-winged Stilt, Common Kestrel, Red-backed Shrike and a fly-by Cuckoo.