Rare Birds in Spain


The King Eider, Somateria spectabilis at Laxe, Galicia, December 2000

On 10th December 2000 a couple of ornithologists from SEO/Birdlife Madrid headquarters, José Mª Sánchez and Marga Cabrero found an unusual sea-duck off Laje (Laxe) harbour, Coruña (Corunha), Galicia (Galiza). The bird was video-taped. 

This sighting was communicated on 12.12 to Eduardo de Juana, Secretary of the Spanish Rarities Committee (CR/SEO) who immediately phoned José Luís Rabuñal Patiño, the almost legendary galician birdwatcher, member of the Committee and resident in Laxe for part of the year. However, a drunk driver crashed the car of José Luís (fortunately without further consequences for him and his wife) while driving to the twitch, so the record remained unchecked until it was released in this web site homepage banner latter the same week, thanks to an E-Mail from Eduardo. 

Having seen it, some lucky observers from Galicia (Luis José Salaverri, José Miguel Alonso, Pablo Pita, Pablo Gutiérrez, Antonio Gutiérrez, Albert Burgas, César Vidal, Tito Salvadores & Cosme Damiám Romai) managed to see the bird from 17.12 (see December news) and notes, videograbs and photos were taken.
King Eider sketch

King Eider Somateria spectabilis. Laxe, A Corunha, Galicia.17.12.2000 © César Vidal. Note diagnostic bill profile and colour pattern. 
Eider Real Somateria spectabilis Laxe, A Corunha, Galicia.17.12.2000 © César Vidal. Nótese el diseño diagnóstico del pico y el colorido característico.
Eider Reial Somateria spectabilis. Laxe, A Corunha, Galicia.17.12.2000 © César Vidal. Noteu el disseny del bec i el plomatge característic.

Download a large sketch-drawing with the description of the bird (in Spanish)

Download a 800*1074 pixels version of the above sketch-drawing with the César Vidal description of bird plumage and observation (notes in Spanish) Click on the image.
Descarga una versión en 800*1074 pixels del dibujo-descripción de César Vidal con detales del plumaje y de la observación (en castellano). Clica la imagen.
Descarrega una versió en 800*1074 pixels del dibuix-descripció de César Vidal amb detalls del plomatge i de l'observació (en castellà).Cliqueu la imatge.

When accepted, this will be the 2nd record for Spain, and the first to be certainly included in the 'A' category, as a certain true vagrant. The previous record was that of an adult male seen in the Tancada lagoon, Ebro Delta, Tarragona on 21 June 1987 (F.Llimona & A. Martínez-Vilalta in De Juana et al 1989. Observaciones homologadas de aves raras en España. Informe de 1987. Ardeola, 36(1):111-123.  The dates of this first record suggest a rather odd origin but it would be a very odd escape too (there are very few in captivity in UK at least, Steve Gantlett in litt.) and in the UK, the species show a rather long period of presence being  late june at the end of it, july having a couple of records up to 1985 (Dymond, Fraser & Gantlett, 1989. Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland). The present 1st winter bird record in a rather more vagrant-suitable location is certainly more compatible with a northern-origin vagrancy pattern. But the species is certainly rare South of its wintering grounds (e.g. 5 records involving 6 individuals in the period 1980-1996 in the Netherlands, van den Berg & Bosman 1999 Rare Birds of the Netherlands). Interestingly, however, an immature drake was reported from the Azores Islands on 3-4.11.2000 (Birding World, 13: 446)

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

Ricard Gutiérrez 21.12.2000

Thanks to all the colleagues at Galicia for the comments they sent us and for sending the materials without whose this their page could not exist. If travelling to Galicia, please send details of your sightings to the local Galicia Bird-Report Gracias a todos los compañeros de Galicia por sus comentarios y por enviar el material para efectuar ésta su página. Si vais de viaje por Galicia, enviad vuestra citas por favor al Anuario Ornitológico de Galicia. Gràcies als companys de Galicia pels seus comentaris i per enviar-nos el material per efectuar aquesta la seva plana.Si hi aneu de viatge, envieu si us plau les vostres observacions a l'Anuari Ornitològic de Galicia.

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