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Tales of the Riverbank

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Offline Dave

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« on: November 07, 2011, 12:41 PM »
Hi All
Tales of the Riverbank
We were very lucky, when we acquired our flat on the ninth floor of a block of  flats, overlooking the river Bernesga, with its large 60m2 terrace open to the sky, it is an ideal bird observation platform. The Bernesga, flows right through the centre of Leon, and is a perfect corridor for birds flying south to North or vice versa, and every day hundreds of birds use it, as well as resident birds that base their lives around the margins. Amazingly after 9 years of observation, new species turn up regularly. The purpose of this, hopefully, is to record what has happened over previous days.
   At the moment, the river is full fast flowing and muddy, the colour of the mud depends on where the rain has fallen and ranges from dark brown to red and sometimes a rather lurid green. There used to be problems controlling the level of the water, but recently a new reservoir, in the mountains near Casares, has made flooding a thing of the past, and the weirs either end of the city centre section, have created a fairly long stretch of flat calm water, while either side the river maintains its wild nature, with rocky shallow sections which the herons love. The flat section is well used by canoeists, who practice in the evenings and weekends, before pitting their skills on the many fast flowing rivers to the north in Asturias and Cantabria.
   The bird life is amazing with over 40 species observed over the years, some regularly others only once or twice.

Mallard, White Stork, Magpie, Feral Pigeon, Cormorant, Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Cattle Egret, White Wagtail Warbler (not sure which one), Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher
Red Kite, Rooks, Starling, Serin, Herons, Great tit, Tawny Owl (heard rarely seen), Night Heron, Coal tit, Black headed Gull (immature), Carrion Crow, Bluetit, Green sandpiper Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Wren, Greenfinch, Robin, Siskin, Blackcap, Coot, Blackbird, Egyptian vulture, Black Kite, Common Swift, Kestrel, House Martin, Whiskered Tern, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush. Buzzard, Griffon Vulture.


The riverbank itself is well used by walkers and cyclists with well defined paths for each. Despite this the bank itself is tree and shrub lined for the wildlife, so herons and
kingfishers,  fishing, are seemingly well protected from the general public, and dogs. As I said before, down from the city centre, the river becomes much wilder, with a rocky bed, and fast flowing water, which tends to be too shallow for the canoes, so they are not there to disturb the wildlife. This part is also an important spawning ground for many fish including trout, hence the presence of the Cormorants, a bird so hated by fishermen. The colony is further down the river, and is there only in the winter, as these birds breed on the coast. The other important colony, are the herons, with a total of around 15 nests, the night herons colony is further away, and I have yet to find out where, although there is a mixed breeding colony of Night heron and Cattle Egrets around 15 miles away ,at Villadangos, which I will be reporting on in another post. So as you have read, I can do some serious bird observation from the comfort of my own terrace, and see a wide range of birds.
To be continued.......
Regards
Dave
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 09:36 AM by Dave »

Offline lisa

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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 09:27 AM »
Lovely description of your river Dave. I'm looking forward to hearing more. By the way, you have buzzard twice. Common? Honey? No Little egrets?
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Offline Dave

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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 12:39 PM »
Hi Lisa
Thanks, hope you are well. I have modified the post. it was a Common Buzzard, and so far only Cattle Egrets, no Little

and so to continue
…..........After an hour or so of housework, I usually go down for a coffee, in summer I sit on the terrace and throw crumbs to the sparrows, but in winter if it is a nice day, I cross the road, and sit watching the river. Today, a couple of robins were challenging each other across the river, with the most beautiful song, occasionally interrupted by the harsh, metallic call of a Black cap. the river, while still flowing fast, has become clearer, the recent fast flow has at last cleared all the rubbish from this stretch. Most of the rubbish accumulates in the summer, as every Friday, in summer the young of Leon gather for an impromptu fiesta, and most of the empty bottles end up in the river, along with plastic bags an other bits, this is a shame, and while they should take the rubbish away with them, they are usually too drunk to care. Luckily the street cleaners clear the river banks, but nobody bothers to clear the river, I often wonder whether perhaps the canoeists could be persuaded to do a bit of cleaning up, but as a foreigner, I am very reluctant to stick my nose in, where it might be not be appreciated. Anyone got any opinions about this ? To be continued...........
Regards
Dave
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 12:00 PM by Dave »

Offline Dave

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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 12:10 PM »
and so to continue
........Yesterday I went a bit further down the river and crossed the Roman bridge at San Marcos, here, just before the weir, the river is shallow and fast flowing, over the years a sand/mud bank has built up and the river has split in two, with trees gaining hold on the mudbank, the trees are quite large, and home to dozens of birds. Today a real treat, a dozen or so Long Tailed Tits, were passing through. I watched them for a while, a realized among the LTT's were a number of Great Tits, Coal Tits and Blue Tits, all busy hopping about the branches. This was the first time I had seen Long Tailed Tits in Leon, so a real red letter day. To be continued............
Regards
Dave

Offline Dave

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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 13:01 PM »
..............and so to continue
A busy river at the moment, always something to see. Yesterday walking back over the low bridge, at 8:30, we were treated to a Kingfisher flying across the river, usually that is all you see as they disappear into the shrubs, this time, however he perched on a low branch so we were able to observed him for quite some little while. The river was also alive with Mallards. At that hour of the morning the Blackcaps were calling loudly, along with the sweet song of a Robin, altogether quite enchanting, although the Blackbirds, were letting everybody know that we were about.
Later on in the evening, a flight of 6 cormorants flew over, one of the largest groups I have seen here.
Today, walking up the river, there was a Kingfisher darting in and our of some shrubs, near the weir below the roman bridge, later on I observed one returning to the bushes with a small fish in its beak, so three sightings in two days, was pretty good.
The other day I was sitting on the terrace, when a white wagtail, landed and began exploring, obviously disappointed with the artificial grass, he soon flew off, although it was the first time I had seen one, on the terrace, our usual visitors being Redstarts, Magpies and the occasional Warbler.
To be continued..................