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Rare Birds in Spain

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Pygmy Cormorant at PN Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, Girona on December 2014: 1st for Catalonia and Spain

Gerard Dalmau and Elisabet Tetas.

Photos by Quim Martínez.

Introduction
Photos
Citation


Introduction

On 13.12.2014 an adult was found at La Massona, PN Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, Girona, on a Cormorant roost (Gerard Dalmau, Elisabet Tetas). News were spread through mobile-phone networks and the bird was seen later by more authors, when properly photographed after an initial record-shot (e.g. see below, Quim Martínez). The photos show the same-age feathered wings of the bird and the Pygmy Cormorant preying on a Cyprinidae fish, presumably a small carp Cyprinus carpio.

On 14.12 it rested in the area where seen intermitently (José Portillo, José Gómez Aparicio, Toni Alonso, Dani Roca, Àlex Ollé, Grabi de Jesús, Joan Goy; Ferran López). This is the 1st record for Catalonia and Spain since a former B-list considered to be Pygmy Cormorant was indeed an African Reed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus). There are 12 accepted records in France up to 2012. And one bird was seen in the Roussillon county from 28.12.2011 to 24.3.2012, only 70 km to the N of Aiguamolls.

Gerard explains (in Spanish below) how they found the Cormorant, translation below the photo:

El sábado no había de ser un día muy intenso en cuanto a pájaros se refiere, pero en pocos minutos la cosa cambió por completo.

Nos levantamos tarde de la cama, y ya era mediodía cuando llegamos a los Aiguamolls, así que decidimos acortar la ruta que habíamos de hacer por la zona. Al llegar al aparcamiento del camping Almata primero probamos suerte con unos bigotudos que se habían visto la semana anterior por la zona. Vimos un macho de nutria cruzar por el camino tan tranquilamente como si de un gato se tratase. Pero la observación fue breve, y los bigotudos no aparecieron, así que fuimos dirección a la playa y paramos en el primer observatorio que hay.

Al entrar en el observatorio del Bruel, la cosa parecía tranquila, dentro había una pareja de fotógrafos franceses y en el agua, poco bicho, como últimamente... algunas cercetas comunes, ánades frisos, patos cuchara, y algún cormorán grande en el dormidero de enfrente, pero nada de especial. No hacia ni 3 minutos que estábamos en el observatorio cuando algunas aves de detrás del dormidero salieron volando asustadas, y fue entonces cuando lo vi volar!!! Solo verle la silueta, el pequeño tamaño y la cola larga ya me temblaban las manos. Cogí los prismáticos y si si, lo era: un cormorán pigmeo (Phalacrocorax pygmeus)!!. Lo reconocí al acto. Fue entonces cuando le dije a Elisabet : “L’hem liada parda!!! És un corb marí pigmeu i és la primera vegada que es veu a Catalunya i a Espanya!!!” El pájaro hizo un pequeño vuelo, giró y se posó en el agua, justo en medio de dos taráis y lo vi perfectamente, pero yo ya estaba de los nervios de contento. Elisabet hizo un par de fotos testimoniales de lejos y el ave se sumergió y desapareció un buen rato. Entonces aproveche para llamar a un par de amigos para avisarles de la observación y envié unos “whatsapps” a un par de grupos ornitologicos de la zona, y la noticia corrió como la pólvora...

Mi teléfono parecía que iba a explotar. Al cabo de nada ya había unos cuantos birders y fotógrafos en el observatorio. Por suerte, lo vimos nadar un par de veces más, muy brevemente entre el carrizo, pero al cabo de nada se posó en la rama trasera de un árbol y solo se veía de vez en cuando, hasta que decidió marcharse volando al fondo de la laguna. Como ya había mucha gente en la zona, y sabía que si aparecía le harían buenas fotos, decidimos irnos a celebrarlo con un buen refrigerio!!!!

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Original record shot from © Elisabet Tetas and Gerard Dalmau, 13.12.2014

'Saturday was not aimed to be a very intense day in terms of birding, but in a few minutes everything changed at all.

We woke up late from bed, and it was about noon when we reached Aiguamolls, so we decided to shorten the planneed route within the area. Once we arrived to Camping Almata car park first we gave a try to a place where some Bearded Tits had been seen during the week. We saw an Otter male crossing the track very confident, in a sort of feral cat mood. But the sighting was brief and there was no sign of any Bearded Tit around, so we took the beach track and we stopped by the first hide on the way.

Once inside the Bruel hide, everything seemed quiet. There was a couple of French photographers and, on the water few birds there were, as it was happening in recent times there... A few teals, gadwalls, shovelers and a few cormorants on the roost in front of the hide. Nothing special. Shortly after having arrived, c. 3 minutes or less, some birds that were behind the roost were flushed and begun flying. And then was when I saw it in flight!. Only noticing its silhouette, its small size and the long tail my hands begun shivering. I took the bins and, yes, yes, it was indeed!: a Pygmy Cormorant!. I instantly got it. In that moment I told Elisabet: 'We've messed it up! It's a Pygmy Cormorant and it's the first time it's recorded in Catalonia and Spain!!!. The bird flew a bit, then turned and landed on the water, between two tamariscs, and I perfectly saw it, despite the excitement of the moment. Elisabet took a couple of record shots from the distance and the bird went underwater dissappearing for a while. I took profit of the underwater moment to call some friends and advertise the record, sending some whattsapps to a couple of local birding groups. No doubt, news spreaded like powder...

My mobile phone was about to explode. In a few minutes there was a number of birders and photographers in the hide. Thankfully, we saw it swimming a couple more times, quite briefly within the flooded reedbed, but shortly after it perched on a tree quite out of sight and it remained there until it decided to leave flying towards the far end of the lagoon. As there was quite a crowd in the area, and I was confident that good photos will be taken once the bird was returning, we left the hide to celebrate the record with a good drink!'

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Photos

All photos below: © Quim Martínez

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Citation
Dalmau, G., Tetas, E.,2014. Pygmy Cormorant at PN Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, Girona on December 2014: 1st for Catalonia and Spain. Retrieved from http://www.rarebirdspain.net/arbsf075.htm 

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Pygmy Cormorant at PN Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, Girona on December 2014: 1st for Catalonia and Spain

Summary:

Introduction
Photos



 


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