Autumn and winter rains can produce stands of still waters preferred by birds for bathing and drinking. These large ‘puddles’ can be especially productive when located near to our river systems. Of course our rivers attract many birds, but when you get the still waters of puddles forming adjacent to them they prove irresistible sources for smaller birds to bath and drink.
I am fortunate to have an area prone to shallow flooding next to the Rio Guadiaro. The two small lagoons form after rainfall and can stand for days after rains have stopped, they can attract several species of birds and during winter are visited by huge numbers of White Wagtail as they prepare to roost. These large flocks of White Wagtail have been accompanied on 2 occasions by the northern subspecies Pied Wagtail and I am ever hopeful of finding the Moroccan subspecies Motacilla alba subpersonata.
Common visitors to the ‘puddles’ are flocks of finches, mostly Linnet and Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit and the rarer Water Pipit. Both Crested and Thekla Lark are regular and more recently I had a small flock of Skylark. Black Redstart are common in winter, along with a lone male Blue Rock Thrush, with odd sightings of Siskin and Brambling. The large number of smaller birds visiting these waters attract both Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel, with Booted Eagle also a frequent sight in the Spring.
If the area remains flooded during early spring, Little Ringed Plover will choose this site for breeding and their presence enhances an already diverse and impressive list of bird species seen in and around the lagoons. I try to visit as often as possible and just now and again can be surprised by an unexpected avian treat, Bluethroat and Ortolan Bunting come to mind as birds I hadn’t really anticipated! And so I will continue with my ‘Great Puddle Watch’, enjoying a few hours being entertained by my birds.
Birding Notes from Peter Jones
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