Saturday 18 November 2023

Valencia: bird ringing sheds light on wetland warbler survival

For many Honeyguiders, one of the highlights of our March Valencia trip is to attend a bird ringing session at Pego Marshes Natural Park. Our local guide, Pau Lucio, and colleagues from Grupo de Anillamiento Pit-Roig (also on Facebook) have been managing a constant effort ringing site since 2004.

Bluethroat at Pego Marshes, with local Honeyguide leader Pau Lucio.

The site provides much information to study the reedbed passerine community, which includes some lovely wintering species: bluethroat, reed bunting, penduline tit and Cetti’s warbler, among others.


Reed bunting.
Cetti's warbler.

However, stealing the spotlight is the moustached warbler, for which Pego Marshes has the second largest Spanish breeding population. Numbers increase in winter with the arrival of many French breeding birds.

Pau and colleagues are about to publish a scientific paper comparing how climate change affects the breeding population of the moustached warbler and the reed warbler across Spain. To do that, they used thousands of bird ringing data from 51 ringing sites across Spain.

They found that the number of moustached warbler offspring is negatively affected by the rise in temperatures and late winter/early spring storms that affect incubation and chick rearing. In contrast, the reed warbler appears resilient to the negative impacts of precipitation, while an increase in temperatures seems to have a positive effect on the reproductive success, leading to a higher number of offspring.

Moustached warbler.
These results align with other papers that show that climate change affects more specialist species – ones that need a more specific habitat – with a fragmented distribution, in this case the moustached warbler, and affects less the generalist bird with a wide distribution, here reed warblers.

During the ringing session on the holiday, Pau will explain the research he is involved with. The photos of birds were all ringed during previous Honeyguide visits.

Honeyguide’s wildlife holiday in Valencia in 2024 runs from 15 to 24 March. More information on

Information provided by Pau Lucio. Photos by Pau, except Pau with bluethroat by Chris Durdin. More ringing photos from a previous trip here on Facebook, including penduline tit, sedge warbler and chiffchaff.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Conservation donations from Honeyguide in 2023

Honeyguide’s conservation donations in 2023 totalled £4515. This blog is mostly to give news on the most recent donations, in autumn 2023, as well as the running total.

Cove at Binidali, Menorca, October 2023 (Chris Gibson).

Our October holiday on Menorca – as for all our Menorca holidays over nearly 30 years – supported The Grup Balear d'Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa (the Balearic Ornithological Group) – GOB Menorca for short. Our donation was £610, which includes Gift Aid and an additional donation.

A nice element while we are on Menorca is direct contact with GOB Menorca. I saw this at first hand in October 2023, and it was the same for the group with Chris Gibson in October 2023. Carlos Coll, President of GOB Menorca, came to our base Matxani Gran along with Charlotte from GOB’s Farm Stewardship programme.

Carlos wrote to me to say:

“We had a wonderful evening with a really interesting group of Honeyguiders. Charlotte spoke about the team she forms part of and explained our Farm Stewardship programme which is growing every year.

At present this programme has become a bit of a flag-ship and has created interest in many areas in and out of Spain. This time last year we were invited to visit a NGO in Libano who are developing a land stewardship programme and we came home filled with enthusiasm and very impressed with how they are making such a difference both agriculturally and socially. Sharing good practice is so important. 

Thank you so much for Honeyguide’s very generous gift to GOB. Donations enable us to continue with our all important work in creating opportunities and balancing progress with sustainability. We are enormously grateful.

I do hope you will be able to visit Menorca again and allow us to show you how GOB is making a difference.

Also in October, we sent also £100 to Norfolk Wildlife Trust after our North Norfolk break with Rob Lucking.

Wells Harbour, north Norfolk, October 2023.

Usually, donations are sent after holidays have run, just in case something happens Рlearnt from the experience of air traffic control issues in France. However, for Algarve and Alentejo in Portugal this November, we made an exception. In Portugal we lean on the advice of Domingos Leiṭo for the choice of project to support: Domingos is both Executive Director of SPEA (BirdLife Portugal) and our guide this year.

In 2023 we will be a sponsor of the 11th Congress of Ornithology of SPEA, 22-26 November, in Ponta Delgada University (Azores). This is a major science and conservation event that SPEA used to organise every third year. The last time, the 10th, was in 2018, and because of the pandemic, the 11th was postponed to this year. More on: In view of the dates, it made sense to commit early to this, and the sponsorship – with others – shows on the website of the congress. With the benefit some unrestricted funds in hand as well as knowing what November’s group will contribute, the trustees of the Honeyguide Charitable Trust agreed to send €1000 (£886) to SPEA.

Honeyguide donation to SPEA for 11th Congress of Ornithology.

Other donations in 2023:

February: £175 to Norfolk Wildlife Trust, linked to Honeyguide local walks.

March: £630 to GREPOM (BirdLife Morocco) linked to our Morocco holiday and £290 to SEO (BirdLife Spain) linked to our Extremadura holiday.

April: £430 to the Hellenic Ornithological Group (BirdLife Greece) linked to our Crete holiday.

May: £290 to BirdLife Salamanca for harrier protection, linked to our South of Salamance holiday.

June: £820 to Zerynthia, an NGO working to conserve butterflies in Spain, linked to our Picos de Europa holiday.

July: £190 to the RSPB on Mull, from our Mull group.

August: £94 to Norfolk Wildlife Trust, from a Honeyguide local walk at Hickling nature reserve.

Part of the ethos of Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays has always been to contribute to the protection of the wildlife that we enjoy, put into effect by donations to conservation projects and organisations linked to our activities. These donations are usually via the Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust, through which we can claim Gift Aid and increase our charitable activity.

Adding this year’s donations of £4515 to the previous total gives a running total of £149,797 donated to nature conservation since Honeyguide started in 1991.

Chris Durdin

Valencia: bird ringing sheds light on wetland warbler survival

For many Honeyguiders, one of the highlights of our March Valencia trip is to attend a bird ringing session at Pego Marshes Natural Park. Ou...