Rare Birds in Spain


The Siberian Blue Robin, Luscinia cyane at Ebre Delta, Tarragona, 18.10.2000

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When you pick up the phone and hear the voice of a serious & reputated member of the Spanish Rarities Committe (CR/SEO) shouting "booooooombaaaaaa!" [bomb](like a well-known summer song title here in Spain), something rare is happening. 
The 2nd Western Palearctic Siberian Blue Robin had been trapped hardly 5 minutes ago.
Happy observers of the SBR

Left to right, Ferrán López, David Bigas with the bird and Ricard Gutiérrez 
Canal Vell, Ebre Delta 18.10.2000

David Bigas, the extremely skilled ringer of the Ebre Delta Natural Park and also member of the Spanish Rarities Committee (CR/SEO) had immediately identified the bird as he had trapped and seen about a hundred last Spring at Happy Island, China. But obviously none of the nine people who have seen the bird (nor none of you, probably) expected one individual in the mediterranean seashore of Catalonia, NE Spain. 

The bird was a 1st winter individual showing an overall brown plumage and rather bluish tail. It had a very distinctive short tail and a rather powerful flesh-coloured with darker culmen bill and  with a big eye as well. Legs were long and pale-pink coloured.

The overall tone of the plumage was domined by brown tones above and white below, with a bluish tail. The head presented a big dark eye surrounded by a pale brown orbital ring which was very distinctive. Primaries and secondaries were brown but outer webs showed a gold tinge recalling Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus design. Unmoulted greater coverts were brown showing a paler tip such as those present in 1st winter Robins Erithacus rubecula. The bird had already moulted two inner coverts. Both tail and uppertail coverts had a bluish tinge well visible under the perfect sunny weather of Ebre Delta.

Underparts were basically white but breast feathers had a brown edge which created a sort of vermiculated breast area perhaps recalling one female Rock Trush Monticola saxatilis in some way. Undertail coverts were snow-white but close examination revealed a golden tip for each feather.

A detailed paper on this sighting with notes on its identification is already (!) in due course for the birding press by David Bigas, the finder of the bird to which all of us are fully indebted. The notes above are taken from our own in-the-hand  impressions after the ringing of the bird today.

This is the 2nd Western Palearctic record (and 1st for Spain) after that of a 1st winter female ringed at Banquette Valley, Sark, Channel Islands on 27th October 1975, 25 years ago!.

We include three photos of the bird in the photo page.

All nine grateful observers were: David Bigas, Miquel Angel Franch, Sofia Rivaes, Julia Piccardo, Yolanda Bel, Antoni Curcó, Xavier Riera, Ferran López & Ricard Gutiérrez.

Ricard Gutiérrez 18.10.2000

This capture is one result of the autumn ringing campaing which is being carried out in the Canal Vell biological station, Tarragona. It is an agreement between the Ebre Delta Natural Park of the Departament de Medi Ambient de la Generalitat de Catalunya and the Grup Català d'Anellament (Catalan Ringing Group). For further information on bird-ringing in Catalonia, contact GCA

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