Tag Archives: birds

Bird song: Cetti’s Warbler

This non-descript bird is small and difficult to see, but its pretty name commemorates the Italian zoologist Francesco Cetti. Their song is used to signal their presence, a sort of bird ‘I’m here’, and plays an important role. The Cetti repeats the same basic phrase every few minutes so once we’ve identified it, we can track its progress across the valley. Their distinct songs have a structure unique to them and allow them to be sure they are not inadvertently mating with another type of warbler.

It is an explosive, metallic call of ‘chich’ or ‘plit’, and sometimes it seems to shout ‘chee’, ‘chewee’, ‘chewechewechewechewe’. Which, though totally irrelevant, reminds me of Chewbacca.

Listen to the song of the Cetti’s Warbler at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
la cetia curruca – the cetti’s warbler
indeterminado – non-descript
un zoólogo – a zoologist
por inadvertencia – inadvertently
aparearse – to mate

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Goldfinch
Griffon Vulture
Blue Tit

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Cetti’s Warbler? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29O

Bird song: Blue Tit

We all know the Blue Tit, or think we do. Blue cap. Yellow breast. White cheeks with a Zorro-like black mask around his face. But do you know what he sounds like? Notice some cheerful singing, close to the house? Quite likely it is a Blue Tit. Its quick ‘tsee-tsee-tsee’ gets a little harder when stressed, ‘tsee-see-sit’. They sing throughout the year, mostly to defend territory or attract a mate, and call to other Blue Tits. Their favourite food is caterpillars, and the yellowness of the male’s breast indicates how many yellow-green caterpillars he has eaten.

Resident here all year round, the Blue Tit’s main rival – for nests, and food – is the Great Tit: a much bigger bird. The Blue Tit is 11.5cm long and weighs 9-12g, compared with the Great Tit at 14cm long and 16-21g. So when you hear the Blue Tit’s scolding ‘churrrrr’ perhaps a Great Tit is near, or a Buzzard, or Sparrowhawk.

Listen to the Blue Tit’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el herrerillo – the blue tit
la máscara negra – the black mask
alrededor de su cara – around his face
el amarillo – the yellowness
las orugas – the caterpillars

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cuckoo
Greenfinch
Mistle Thrush

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
You see him every day but do you know the song of the Blue Tit? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29n

Bird song: Robin

The male and female European Robins, or Robin Redbreasts as they are known in England where they are a regular feature on Christmas cards, both feature a red breast. Or more specifically, an orange breast. It is resident here, but there are robins far across the globe; east to Siberia, south to Algeria and Madeira, and north to Scandinavia.

Whereas robins in England are seen as a gardener’s friend, drawn to digging of the soil, waiting for the appearance of an earthworm, they are said to be more timid on continental Europe where songbirds are hunted. This is not our experience, however. The robins here seem happy on the terrace and display the same territorial behaviour we are used to in the UK. Male robins defend their territory fiercely against other males and other small birds. Because of this their average life expectancy is only 1.1 years, although once that age is passed they can go onto live a long life. One robin has been recorded as reaching 19 years of age.

Apart from the chattering threatening behaviour, a short sharp tik and tik-ik-ik-ik-ik, the robin sings a cheerful fluting song in breeding season. Some of its song resembles a warbler’s, with a long series of musical notes. Listen to the Robin’s song at the RSPB website.

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

5 to remember
el petirrojo – the robin
o más específicamente – or more specifically
amenazante – threatening
mientras – whereas
una larga vida – a long life

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Wren
Griffon Vulture
Mistle Thrush

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
He’s a familiar, daily sight, but do you know the song of the Robin? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2fr via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Grey Wagtail

This is a misleading name for a pretty bird which flies past with a flash of yellow. The Grey Wagtail is the slimmest of the wagtail family and is resident here all year round. The male is generally more yellow than the female, though is less obviously yellow throughout the winter months. I wonder if that is partly a natural reaction to camouflage: in the summer, yellow is an effective disguise amongst the bright green leaves but in winter a yellow bird would be easy to spot amongst the bare branches. It is a shy bird with a large voice: its call is a sharp and explosive ‘tchik’, ‘zi’ or ‘zi zi’. Its breeding season is April to July and it nests alongside fast-running streams or rivers, or on an embankment between stones and roots.

Listen to the call of the Grey Wagtail at the RSPB website.

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

5 to remember
una cigüeña gris – a grey wagtail
engañoso – misleading
el más delgado  – the slimmest
explosivo – explosive
el camuflaje – the camouflage

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Roller
Blackcap
Booted Eagle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Grey Wagtail? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29a

Bird song: Griffon Vulture

Spain has the biggest colony of Griffon Vultures in the whole of Europe, in 2008 there were 25,000 birds. We are lucky enough to see them soar over our valley, often so high they are pinpricks which disappear from sight and then reappear. They are scavengers, tidying up the campo of dead animals, mostly circling in pairs or larger groups. They can reach heights of 10,000m or higher. It is exceedingly rare to see a solitary Griffon.

The longest-lived Griffon survived in captivity to the age of 55. So the Griffons which circle above our house could have been doing so since the early Sixties… the Beatles, the Stones, the first Apollo flights to the moon.

I have been a bit cheeky to feature the Griffon in my ‘Bird Song’ series, because the bird is mostly silent apart from the odd bit of hissing when it is eating. Which I didn’t know until I started researching, and thought you might not know too.

5 to remember
la colonia – the colony
el buitre leonado – the Griffon vulture
la totalidad de – the whole of
tenemos suerte – we are lucky enough
un carroñero – a scavenger

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Green Woodpecker
Black Redstart
Hoopoe

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you know what sound the Griffon Vulture makes? #Birds in #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-28C via @Spanish_Valley

The feather of …?

Found on our terrace. One feather.

The feather is 22cm long, barred, cream and brown. My current guess is that it belongs to a male buzzard, although the white at the base of the feather could suggest a sparrowhawk. I used Raptors: a field guide for surveys and monitoring at Eurapmon, the body which researches and monitors raptors in Europe. I was surprised by the wealth of feather identification guides online, it is not something I have researched before.

Do you know which bird this feather belongs to?

Read about the song of the Sparrowhawks, here in our valley.

5 to remember
una pluma – a feather
listado/a – barred/striped
mi conjetura actual – my current guess
me sorprendió – I was surprised by
conectado/on-line – online

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
What type of bird does this feather belong to? #Birds in #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24U via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Black Redstart

The black and red of this bird’s name refer to its tail colouring. Similar in size and weight to the Common Redstart, to which it is not closely related. It likes stony ground which is probably why we see so many here, the rough rocky outcrops around the valley and the surrounding countryside are a perfect habitat. Some of its behaviour is similar to the Robin – it ducks its head and body – and flicks its tail, though it catches passing insects in flight which the Robin does not. The male has a rattling song and a tick call.

Listen to the Black Redstart’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el colorante – the colouring
similar en tamaño y peso – similar in size and weight
estrechamente relacionada – closely related
el comportamiento – the behaviour
el sitio web – the website

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Blackbird
Golden Oriole
Chaffinch

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Black Redstart? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24H