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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spanish Bird of the Week #13: White Wagtail

By James

The White Wagtail is undoubtedly one of the most common birds in Andalucia. I saw them just about everywhere. However, despite quickly becoming a bird you overlook as a result of its abundance, this bird has a special place with me. The White Wagtail was actually the first of well over 100 life birds that I got in Spain.

As a result of some delays and flight changes, I ended up getting stuck in the Barcelona Airport for a six hour layover. The airport has HD-TVs everywhere and feels more like a mall than an airport. It’s pretty nice. For the first hour. Around hour three I completely zoned out and started staring out the window a la John Dorian. Suddenly my eyes caught a small black and white bird skittering its way across the tarmac. Now, I didn’t do too much bird research prior to heading across the pond, but I had done enough to know what this bird was. I was shot the picture through a grimy window, and the bird was probably 100 feet off, but a lifer is a lifer! Thankfully that was not my final experience with these guys.

A few weeks later I finally started getting tired of the urban birding haunts of Sevilla, and found, in the top right corner of my map of the city, what appeared to be a large green area. A little Google research and I had a new birding destination: Parque Alamillo. I’ve mentioned this park several times before, but all the other species I posted about were birds I got en route. Before I got there, I was expecting another park filled with people and impressive, but not exactly bird-friendly gardens. What I found was a surprisingly American and delightfully quiet park. It was simply a green-space, and was subsequently surprisingly birdy. My Google search turned up a rather intensive 8-year ornithological study of the park, and that they’d made a park species list complete with seasonality, relative abundance, and even the best places to look!

This park, which I completely missed for the first few weeks, turned out to be a decent birding haunt, and my new Sevilla hotspot. In total, Parque Alamillo yielded me 25 lifers and over 50 species over my four month stay, including plenty of looks at White Wagtails. Among them was this absolutely incredible look, as one of these handsome birds wanted to forage, and occasionally strike a pose, right in front me!

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