October – the best month for finding interesting birds as migration is well under way. You are likely to see many species, from departing summer visitors such as Bee-eaters, to arriving specialities like Bluethroats and Black Redstarts. Then there is always the possibility of finding some sort of vagrant – one of those waifs and strays which occur in unexpected places, and the Clot has a fine record of really lost birds which might not be seen again any time soon.

I thought long and hard about which one of these possible rarities to look out for this month, then I realised that if I wrote about one particular bird, I would look pretty silly if none actually turned up. So I’m taking a slightly different approach, which is to give you an edge if you come across something really unusual.

The standard recommendation is to get yourself a guide book to the birds of our area, but the problem is that these are often bulky, and if you get a publication written for the local area it might only be available in Spanish which won’t suit everyone.

I expect that many of you will have a Smartphone of some sort, and here is your advantage. You can get apps which cover bird identification – free ones and one you have to pay for.

The free apps include Ornithopedia, Ornidroid Europe, Birds Europe (ETI) and Birds of Europe. All have their strengths and weaknesses, but since they are free you can try them out and see which one (if any) suits you. They are available on both the Apple and Google sites, simply enter “Europe Bird Guide” in the search bar.

The Rolls Royce of birding apps is the Collins Bird Guide, which is an electronic adaptation of the birder’s bible – The Collins Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. The app costs about half the price of the book (12.99 on Google Play Store) and can of course be carried about in your pocket much more easily, plus it has the big advantage that it also has bird call recordings for each species which aren’t available with the book itself. It is a tremendous resource but only if you have some prior knowledge of bird families.

However, if you don’t have a smartphone, and don’t want to lug a big book around, there is something newly available which might help you. Pop along to the Santa Pola Tourist Office and ask for their new leaflet on local birds – it concentrates on birds found in the Salinas area, but most if not all can also be found in the Clot. You might recognise the name of the photographer who supplied many of the photos!

You can see more photographs of wildlife our area by visiting www.marketheridge.smugmug.com

See you next month