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Birds in Spain
by Ricard Gutiérrez. Descriptions by RG and Ferran López
On 22.5.2002, Ferran López was carrying out the regular count of the birds present at Filipines marsh, Remolar-Filipines reserve, Llobregat delta, Barcelona, Spain. When a phone calling from FL was received at RG mobile, something strange had to be present at the reserve. 'Ricard, Gallinago media a la maresma, corre! corre!" were enough words to know that what could be our 2nd Great Snipe in the recent times at Llobregat delta could be around. The Black-winged Stilt H.himantopus breeding count had to wait for a while. Fortune benefited a couple of visiting birders from Manchester, Kath Butterworth and Phil Palmer who also helped finding and managed of being two of the only eight observers to see the bird.
Great Snipe is one of the most difficultly accepted birds by the Spanish RC. This is not because of the bird identification problems but probably because of behaviour and difficulty in proper recording of critic characters. However, in this case, all observers had seen the species before and hence knew what to look for and besides, the skill of Rafa Armada made possible the below photographs, the only document of flying Great Snipe in Spain in recent times which add further proofs to this bird identification and we hope contributes to clarify this bird characters in flight.
Below we describe the bird characters plus feature three of the photos supplied by R.Armada.
There are two submitted descriptions of the bird to the Spanish Rarities Committee (CR/SEO). Here you can find them in pdf (acrobat) format. They are written in Spanish. Both were written before seeing the enclosed photographs.
en los enlaces de arriba para visualizar las descripciones enviadas al
CR/SEO del ave, antes de ver las fotografias de debajo. Están en
formato pdf (acrobat)
Both descriptions and photographs show the latest-ever Spring record of Great Snipe in Spain.
There are six accepted records of Great Snipe in Spain up to now (see below, source: CR/SEO files)
Eleven submitted records to the CR/SEO have been rejected. Interestingly, only one rejected record (22.3.1993) overlaps with the period covered by accepted records, all the rest being wintering claims from december (3), january (1), february (3) and march (4). Six of the eleven submitted claims belong to an author, and the other five one to each other observers. Those six claims of a single author come from N Spain where no accepted records exist, and the rest from Balearics (2), Galicia (1), Catalonia (1) and Central Spain (1). There are two more records still under discussion at the committee not counting the present one.
These figures clearly point a pattern of occurrence of the species in the NE in Spring. Might occur elsewhere in the N but the presence of good observers in the NW is behind the accepted records.
Knowing what to look for and good concentration during the brief seconds of observation is crucial to build up a good description. Obtaining photos like those presented here is exceptional in Spain. As shown above, the shape, characters and jizz of the species are unique and of a rather straightforward identification. An effort in gathering the more information the better would certainly improve the ratio of accepted records in Spain and would help to clarify the status of this species which has to be a regular albeit scarce migrant,at least in the NE.
Thanks to Rafa Armada for the excellent photos!.Gracias a Rafa Armada por las excelentes fotos.Gràcies a Rafa Armada per les excel·lents fotos!..
*The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Spanish Rarities Committee (CR/SEO) despite RG belongs to it. Las opiniones de los autores no son necesariamente las del Comité de Rarezas de SEO/Birdlife, aunque RG forme parte de éste. Les opinions dels autors no són necessàriament les del CR/SEO malgrat que RG en formi part.
Great Snipe at Llobregat Delta, Barcelona, 22.5.2002 and the problems regading acceptance of this taxon from the Spanish Rarities Committee
R.Gutiérrez, F.López & R.Armada, 2002
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