The central regions of Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast hold the attractive holiday regions generally referred to as Costa Blanca, Costa del Azabar and Costa Cálida. They draw millions of tourists annually, many of whom are avid birders. Murcia province offers some of the most productive of Southern Spain, holding vast orange, lemon and pomegranate groves interspersed with fields of garlic, maze, vines and olives. Although dry for eight months of the year, the landscape manages to seem full and fragrant even in June. A major river, the Segura reaches the sea at Guardamar just below Elche and must be a good source of birdlife. Prosperity is booming and new major roads are a boon to travelers.

Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Montagues Harrier, Black Winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Terns, Hoopoo, Pallid Swift, Black Kite, Serin, Spanish Sparrow, Swallow, Martin and Crossbill abound. A determined day out in true birding style would no doubt satisfy any avid birder.

THE EUROPEAN BEE EATER – Merops apiaster.

This little bird breeds in southern Europe in open countryside in warmer climates and is migratory, wintering in Africa, India and Sri Lanka. They eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. Before eating its meal, a European Bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. It eats some 250 bees daily, nesting colonially in sandy banks preferably near river shores All are colourful and have long down-turned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar.

The call is a pleasant distinctive trill. It has been classically described as afraid of man, thus tending to avoid him, but recent observations record that it is often seen apparently playing with cars, sometimes following them The Bee-eater is obviously resented by bee keepers, but is reputed an important component in balancing local bio-systems.

The Bee-eater family consists of two subfamilies – the bearded bee-eaters Nyctyornithinae (raised to family level as Nyctyornithidae by Charles Sibley in later versions of his computerised world list), and Meropinae, the typical bee-eater.

The Bee-eater is similar in sound and appearance to the Sun Bird found in Africa. The bright plumage and voice is a common ground….and makes these two specimens highly sought after by bird watchers and photographers. The Bee-eater however, with its shy nature, is rather hard to find, and so extreme caution when approaching this swift-winged little bird should be adhered to. Long lenses on cameras are an advantage when taking pictures for the album and a painter or artist would be well advised to take a good digital camera along to catalogue as many pictures as time with the bird will allow, to give you an option of poses for the pictures that you print for the album or decide to paint. Once a picture is selected for a painting, the idea of setting up the easel in the territory that the bird was spotted in to get the ambience for the end resultant painting is a very good idea. There is just nothing like being on the spot to improve the feel of a painting. The air, the sounds and the life around you will not necessarily be evident in reality, but when you paint, your senses are taken to another level and this comes over in the picture that ends up on the wall

Where to Watch Birds in Southern Spain

Ernest Garcia & Andrew Paterson Helm (1994)

ISBN: 0713638591

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Bird watching in Southern Spain

Coto Doñana in Huelva province – this is a prime wild life sanctuary mostly consisting of mud-flooded terrain, big reed beds and pools. The area is wooded with eucalyptus and pines as well as cork oaks, which are important for nesting birds. A beach flanks the southern part of the park….

BLOG -Pajaricos de Murcia

blog informing about the birds that live in the city of Murcia (Spain)…