FriendsZone Newsletters Birding News - August 2011

Worldwide Birding Tours

plus latest News from Spanish Nature


WBT & Spanish Nature E-news
August 2011 - Volume 3, Issue 3

Lesser Flamingo Lake Nakuru
For Quality Birding Holidays!
Dear Pieter,


It has been a hot summer here at our headquarters in southern Spain, but forecasts give a cooler time ahead and we are looking forward to a more comfortable temperature for our local autumn programme of tours and day excursions. We have again been busy and our tailor-made tours in Spain have yet again proved popular not only for birding, but also with friends visiting for nature photography, we already have enquiries to tailor tours for private individuals and parties for next spring and amongst these are tour requests for flowers in Andalusia as well as a combined nature and culture visit to Morocco. So if you need help organising your private holidays to any of our destinations do please get in touch, we are able to offer a first class service and provide local expertise to your planning.

Our recent tour to China was a resounding success, so much so we are organising 2 tours for 2012, with an April tour focusing on the wonderful plantlife of this great destination. Hopefully we will have finalised details in time to include a full description in our next newsletter. For more tour news and updates see 'Finale' news roundup at the end of this newsletter.

We returned from this year's international bird fair having met so many of you and enjoyed our chats and discussions on future tours. Thank you to the many that made the time to visit us and apologies to all those we missed! It is always so difficult with so many people around to see everyone.

Keep well and in touch,

Pieter and Peter

Spain News - an update on our own backyard....

Systematic ListMany of you will know we support the Andalucia Bird Society here in the most southerly area of Spain. During recent months the society has been busy with producing the very first and most complete systematic list and checklist for the birds of Andalusia. The final booklet has been produced as a small pocket-sized publication, although the hours of research and work involved with this checklist are belied by its small size! We hope you will consider purchasing this guide if planning a trip to the area, at 2 Euro including post and packaging it is a real bargain, plus you will be helping to support this progressive society.

ABS MagazineAnother exciting project recently embarked upon by the society is the plan to produce a quarterly news magazine. The magazine will be packed with articles and have regular features including some stunning images of the local birds found here. The magazine will be free to members, but also available by subscription at 12 Euro a year including postage and packaging, yet again a real bargain product from the society. Please do consider joining the society or subscribing to the future publication of their magazine, by so doing you will be helping the birds of this most important region of Europe.

For further information on the Andalucia Bird Society

Of course don't forget we also offer some great birding days here in 'our' part of Spain! If you plan a visit, then be sure to include a day tour near you, see below:

Birds and more of Almería with Jesus Contreras

Mountains/Steppe & Wetlands (Málaga/Cadiz/Sevilla) with Peter Jones

Fauna and Flora (Granada) with Mick Richardson

Walking in Flowers (Malaga/Cadiz) with Brenda Jones

Migration here had been memorable this spring and the spectacle will be repeated this autumn, so we have designed a special Raptor Migration Tour which will be from 15 to 21st September 2011, it promises to be an experience not to be missed. Why not consider joining us? To see details read more here.

Birds of Thailand

Our NEW Recce Tour 29th January to 19th February 2012

White-capped Water RedstartWe are to run a Recce Tour to Thailand during February 2012 and invite friends to join us, if you are serious about birds, then this destination really is a must visit area. Thailand is amongst the very best birding destinations in Asia and for a long time now, we have wanted to include it in our expanding list of prime nature holiday destinations. Situated in the Indo-Chinese peninsula of the Oriental Region, Thailand boasts well over 900 species of birds. Around one third of the birds are migrants, although certain species such as Swallow, that are largely migrant, are also resident. Consider the fact that this country boasts almost 10% of the world's total bird species, then it is very easy to understand why we will be touring to this great destination!

White-throated RedstartIt may surprise you to learn there are well over 100 protected areas in the country and they are categorised as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries or non-hunting areas. Some of these have breeding programmes which include the breeding of species on the endangered list. The infrastructure is such that most of these places are easily accessible by road, train or plane. Some are closed to the public, which to our mind is good as it means that Thailand is taking its conservation of wildlife seriously. The main ones, though, are open to the public and very well run with the welfare of the fauna uppermost in the minds of the national park officials.

Golden Bush RobinAmong target birds for us will be Cireat Hornbill (Buceros bicorm's, 122 cm.), the Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus, 100 cm.), the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris, 70 em.) and the Brown Hornbill (Ptilolaemus tickelli, 74 cm.), several different species of Barbets (Megalaima) with their brightly coloured plumage, of course an endemic in the form of the Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis), also hunting for the skulking Pygmy Wren-Babbler (Pnoepyga pusilla) and the Slaty-bellied Tesia (Tesia olivea) and so our list goes on, so many great birds to see and to discover for the first time. Oh, we almost forgot one of the most unforgettable birds of all the Long-tailed Broadbill (Psarisomus dalhousiae), it has finely delineated multi-coloured markings the colours of which include black, yellow, light green, dark green and blue, working from head to tail!

Our Recce tour promises so much for the keen nature lover and those with a particular interest in birds, we have no hesitation in recommending this superb tour to our many friends and hope you will join us. Please see our tour details here
The Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

Alpine AccentorThe Alpine Accentor, Prunella collaris, is a small passerine bird found throughout the mountains of southern temperate Europe and Asia at heights above 2000 m (breeding). It is mainly resident, wintering more widely at lower latitudes, but some birds wander during winter months as rare vagrants even as far as Great Britain. This is a small-sized bird at 15-17.5 cm in length, slightly larger than its relative, the Dunnock Prunella modulari. It has a streaked brown back, adults have a grey head and red-brown spotting on the underparts. It has an insectivore's fine pointed bill, but as with all accentors it will also feed on seeds. Sexes are similar, although the male may be contrasted in appearance. Young birds have browner heads and underparts.

Alpine Accentor distributionOutside of the related Dunnock P.modulari, this species has the most widespread, if somewhat fragmented, distribution of the accentors, although much more limited by available habitat and altitudinal range. These birds are found in mountainous areas, from the Iberian Peninsula and northwest Africa, through France and Italy and Slovenia and into the Balkans, Bulgaria and Greece. They are also found in northern and eastern Turkey, through the Caucasus and Iran and east to Turkmenistan, China, Korea and Japan. They are also found in Taiwan.

Alpine AccentorDuring the breeding season it is a bird of bare mountain areas with some low vegetation. It builds a neat nest low in a bush or rock crevice, laying 3-5 unspotted sky-blue eggs. It is Polygyandrous in its relationships and has a very interesting strategy. Home ranges are occupied by breeding groups of 3 or 4 males with 3 or 4 females. These are unrelated birds which have a socially polygynandrous mating system. Males have a dominance hierarchy, with the alpha males being generally older than subordinates. Females seek matings with all the males, although the alpha male may defend her against matings from lower ranking males. In turn, males seek matings with all the females. DNA fingerprinting has been used to show that, within broods, there is often mixed paternity, although the female is always the true mother of the nestlings raised within her nest. Males will provide food to chicks at several nests within the group, depending on whether they have mated with the female or not, males only provide care when they are likely to be the true fathers of the chicks.


Relaxing Moroccan Safari

Lanner FalconSafari Dates: March 19th to 29th 2012

Serious birding, great accommodation, time to relax by the poolside, superb cuisine and a great holiday, we cannot recommend highly enough our Spring Safari in Morocco during March 2012. It has proved an extremely popular tour and is always well subscribed, so what better time to consider this holiday and be sure of booking your place? Our journey across the beautiful High Atlas Mountains, descending into the green fingers of the Draa Valley as it stretches into the Sahara Desert is in itself a reason for joining this tour. It is not just about the wide variety of bird species we will see, but as much about the scenery, life and people that are Morocco. For a relaxed and no pressure bird tour this is a must join holiday. Read more >>

Main Tour Date: 19 to 29th March 2012

'Finale'.... news round-up
Our upcoming tours have a few opportunities for the late booking fraternity. October sees 2 tours scheduled Brazil and Botswana. There is room, subject to internal flight and accommodation spaces, for 2 persons on the tour to Brazil, please contact us for main tour description and details. On the Botswana safari we also have places for 2 more persons, subject only to internal flight confirmations, see full tour details here. These two tours are a real opportunity for those finding themselves with time for a holiday in October 2011. Both tours offer great wildlife and of course birding to really enjoy and savour.

A highlight for those wishing to see the birds and wildflowers of Africa is our tour to Morocco which will take place between the 19th and 29th of March 2012, we really recommend booking early for this popular tour, we have already taken bookings and only a limited number of places remain. For more details see our tour description here.

For those subscribers who wish to take advantage of our Friend's Zone offers and also be the 1st to know of any special offers, please visit our main tour website and create your new account, see

register as a friend


Please keep well and in touch.

Contact Info

For friendly and expert advice on any of our tours please telephone Pieter Verheij on +34 636 291 714 or email us using contact us

For full tour itineraries and tour listings please see

In This Issue
Spain News
Thailand - Main Tour
Feature - Alpine Accentor
Morocco - Relaxed Safari
News Roundup
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Featured Article

Alpine Accentor Leader
In this issue our feature article focuses on the amazing Alpine Accentor, not just a resident here in our local area Andalucia Spain, but also a resident species in so many high altitude zones including Africa and stretching as far east as Japan! Apart from the familiar accentor in Europe, the Dunnock, the Alpine Accentor has the widest distribution of any accentor and an extremely interesting breeding strategy, which certainly makes them one of the most promiscuous of all birds. We hope you enjoy this issue's feature article and do please let us know if you have a favourite bird or family that you would like us to feature in future issues.
Quick Links

Tours in Spain

Day Tours


Walking in Flowers

Granada Area

Jaen Province


Other Tours

3 Day Short Breaks

Nature Photography

Spring Migration

Mountains to Donana

Raptor Migration

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You can view our tour calendar for dates by clicking Calendar

Friend's Zone

Birds of Southern Spain

It's arrived on a website near you!

The Member's Area (Friend's Zone) is for you. We have created pages that are dedicated on our main site for all our friends/members, that's everyone who subscribes to our E-newsletter. Just go to the link below & sign-up as a friend of ours!

Create an account with our Friend's Zone here

Book Store
Whether you are planning to go on a wildlife tour with us,
some other company or just doing your own thing, then bird books, such as field guides, can be an essential item. Take a look on the following link, buy your books and benefit our local bird club, at absolutely no extra cost to you.

Buy your books here



Introduce a Friend and get 10% OFF!

If you are a friend who has travelled with us before, why not introduce a friend to either accompany you on your next tour or to come on their own? For each introduction we will give you 10% off your next tour with us! See coupon at the bottom of this newsletter for more details.

Free Desktop ImagePurple-throated Woodstar
With each edition of our newsletter we will be giving you a link where those signed-up for our Friend's Zone can download a new Desktop Image for their computer. The images will be top quality and grace any computer screen. The August image is a Purple-throated Woodstar / Ecuador.

August Desktop Image

Bird Check Lists

We will be providing free bird check lists for each of our destinations and these will be available only for members and friends to download from our main website. We have already started uploading some of our checklists so get signed-up for our Friend's Zone here

Social Media

We are just a click away! Keep up to date and interact with our activities by following us on:

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Some great photos & news on facebook, plus you can post your own comments and interact with us.

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Visit my blog

Lavishly illustrated blogs, including trip reports, species specific articles, identification aids, articles on our destinations and of course some useful blogs on Andalucia and its abundant birdlife, we think this blog is really worth a visit......


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Nature Photography Tours

All tours offer time for photos but...


Ecuador a Natural Wonder

Birding at its very best ...


India the Ultimate Destination

Choose from 2 different tours


Andalusia's Wilderness

The place in Spain for the perfect holiday


Moroccan Education Project

Can you help our ‘For the Birds’ education project for schools in southern Morocco?
for-the-birds_moroccoA very important aspect of our education programme is the provision of new or used binoculars. If you are buying a new pair, please consider donating your old ones to our project. We are also assisting some local wildlife guides who are desperate for used telescopes, so again if you are buying a new scope, please do consider donating your old one.
Any quantity of good quality children’s clothing, notebooks, drawing and or colouring books, pen sets, crayons and pencils (plus sharpeners) are all very welcome. If you would like to donate any of the afore mentioned items or wish to make a monetary donation, please do contact us for further details.

Wheatears (Genus Oenanthe)

Article written by: Peter Jones


Butterflies of Andalucía

See our list of Butterflies


Mammals of Andalucía

See our list of Mammals


Reptiles and Amphibians

From southern spain


Birding in Morocco

Read about this beautiful Country


Birding in Spain

Spain has it all


Galapagos Islands Cruises

Combine a cruise with an Ecuador Tour

Birding in Ecuador
A dream for nature lover's
Crested Quetzal and
many other fine species
Find out everything
about our next birding tour
Birding in Morocco
We run two birding tours a year
March and September
Stunning scenery
and Moroccan food
Many bird specialties