Birds in Spain
compiled by Ricard Gutiérrez
with photos from Camil Albert, Àlex Ollé and Albert Cama
After at least six blank years with any claim of Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus) claims in Spain, and 13 years without any accepted or due for acceptance bird, two birds reached Catalonia, NE Spain, the winter 2010-2011. All accepted sightings come from this corner of the Iberian Peninsula and, if accepted, these two new individuals would become the 6th and 7th records for Spain. Comments and photo documentation on these birds plus a review of former sightings is included below.
News hit the birdwatching community when on 18.12.2010 morning one bird was seen and photographed at sea, off Tarragona city, heading to the coast by many observers ((Guillermo Rodríguez, Albert Cama Torrell, Manolo García Tarrasón, Sylvia Ortega, Joan Ferrer Obiol, Toni Alonso Jardí, Dani Roca et al, see December 2010 chronicle). Several thumbnails of that bird could be taken (see right column) and ID was straightforward. This sighting, the 6th for Spain, was considered to be exceptional not only because of the record but for the site (at sea!) where the bird was surprisingly seen.
After many weeks, surprise arose when Camil Albert, a Tarragona birdwatcher found a Rough-legged Buzzard N of Cambrils, in a mixed farmland- agricultural land area within Vinyols i els Arcs municipality on 10.2.2011. The author, photos included below could take excellent proof-quality records of the species showing well its structure and plumage main features as tail bands, underwing pattern and structure. This bird was seen by other authors and reported to ornitho.cat website database too. Last reported sighting in Februay was of 14.2.2011 (A.Cama, C.Albert et al). Some attempts to relocate the bird failed but, to the surprise of the author, on 9.3.2011 it was seen again at the same site (R.Gutiérrez, G.Gutiérrez, A.Gutiérrez & H.Arbonés, see March 2011 news page and thumbnails here). This bird is believed to be the same seen at sea last December. If so, at least it could have overwintered in the Baix Camp area of Tarragona from December to March at least. If it was not, it was indeed present in the area for a month. See photos below.
Photos below: © Camil Albert, 10-14 February 2011
The Pedret i Marzà area, N of Figueres, has gained some reputation for the records of Caspian Gulls and interesting ducks such as Goldeneye in the past. On 19.2.2011 however, a White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilal appeared and brought more attention to this part of N Catalonia. Perhaps as a consequence of more intensive birdwatching or by chance, on 4-5.3.2011, a Rough-legged Buzzard, different from the Tarragona bird, was found there (Àlex Ollé, see photos below). Sightings were gathered by frontera.cat team and was last reported, so far, on 8.3 (E.Capalleras).
Photos below: © Àlex Ollé, 4-5.3.2011
There are five previous accepted records in Spain, all of them in Catalonia coastal area, see map above and many of them lasting until march of every year:
Third record marked with an asterisk (*) is considered by the authors to be the same individual homologated the year before as it used the same tree to roost during its staying (Gutiérrez et al 1995, Birds of the Llobregat delta Lynx Eds.).
Four further claims in 2005, two of them featured elsewhere in this website, were rejected by the Rarities Committee on the bassis of insuficient information that did not previent clear separation from pallid forms of Common Buzzard, lack of structure assessment or insuficient documentation (Ardeola 54(2): 405-446), this species being needed of good documentation to avoid confusion with atypical Common Buzzards, but, as shown, being straightforward once it's seen in proper conditions
Situation in Spain matches a logical trend if analyzing the French data for winter 2010-2011 at www.ornitho.fr website (see map below, and click it to visit the map site) showing it has been a very good winter for the species. According to Benoit Paepegaey, chairman of the French Rarities Committee to AERC members: The total number of birds involved [in the winter 2010-2011] may have reached 200 birds, when we usually get less than 10 birds in mild winters and rarely up to a few dozens during harsh winters in northern Europe. The Eastern pattern of occurrence shown in France is mirrored by the scant, but also Eastern pattern of ocurrence registered in Spain (see above).
Thanks to Camil Albert, Albert Cama and Àlex Ollé for collaborating with this website. And to Albert Cama for the site directions!
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The Rough-legged Buzzards in Catalonia in February-March 2011 and a review of Spanish records.
The Tarragona 'offshore' bird as on 18.12.2010 (Albert Cama).
The Baix Camp bird as on 9.3.2011 (Ricard Gutiérrez).
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