Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Villaricos & Vera Playa with Arboleas Birding Group

15 January 2020

latest report from my friend David Elliott-Binns following his day's visit with the Arboleas Birding Group shows that , once again lots of good birds found by the members.  I notice that lots of Black Redstart and Northern Starings are being seen this winter and for Dave and friends the arrival of Barn Swallows must have brought a smile to many a face.


Wednesday 15th January: Villaricos & Vera Playa

I decided we'd go local this week, so having picked up Claire outside Humbugs Cafe I drove down to the coast to the Rambla Almanzora at Villaricos.  In total there were 24 members out today, a possible record!  I thought the large number might be a problem, but apart from parking in Villaricos village at coffee time the day went well. 

The first problem was that I'd forgotten to bring my notebook, so unfortunately (not) John had to write down the birds seen.  Richard spotted a Robin and also on the list were Collared Dove and Magpie.  A Green Sandpiper was in the ford water.  Jacky had seen a Snipe on her walk from the beach.  Also seen from the car park were Moorhen, Northern Starling,  Black-headed Gull, Moorhen, Black Redstart, Mallard and White Wagtail.  Walking up towards the sewage work we all commented on the lack of birds on the water.  Another Green Sandpiper was seen and Alan added a Redshank.  A Serin and Greenfinch were perched on the fence.  Numerous Chiffchaff flitted about.  On the way back a Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover were seen on the small pools.  Also seen was a Grey Wagtail.  A Cetti's Warbler was heard.  Back at the ford pool we saw a pair of Black-winged Stilts.

After a coffee in the village we made our way to the beach.  Cormorants were on the harbour entrance rocks.  I spotted the "resident" Whimbrel on a closer rock.  Crag Martins were flying low over the rocks.  A Yellow-legged Gull and Turnstone were also seen.  Alan spotted a distant Gannet out to sea. We then walked over towards the estuary.  A tremendous amount of work is being done building up the sides with sand banks, but there still were a few birds around.  The star was a Kingfisher which was fishing on the opposite reed line.  There were three Grey Herons, Coot and Little Grebe.  Nearer the beach was a single Audouin's Gull together with a Sandwich Tern and some Black-headed Gulls. Near them was a Grey Plover and a small flock of Dunlin.  A raft of distant black birds on the water proved to be Cormorants in the end.  On the beach John found Kentish Plovers and a Sanderling on the rocky outcrop. 
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then convoyed down to the dual carriageway behind Vera Playa.  Several Stonechat were seen. Amongst the scattered bushes in the water we saw both Teal and Shoveler ducks as well as Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe.  Two Marsh Harriers were quartering over the reeds.

Moving round to the far elevated hide near the Aguaparc we had good views of about 20 White-headed Duck plus Shoveler and Teal.  I spotted a single Barn Swallow among the Crag Martins.  I then found a Ferruginous Duck, just as John arrived, having walked from the dual carriageway, saying he'd also seen one plus a Blackbird. 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A Little Bittern flew low over the water.  Another birder pointed out what we agreed was a Willow Warbler giving good views just below us.  I left at this point.  John and some others stayed on and were awarded with views of Black-necked Grebe, Booted Eagles and Purple Swamphen.


Willow Warbler  Phylloscopus trochilus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Adding those to the total, we ended up with 55 species for the day.  Very good days birding in good company.  Was good to see Richard and Maria again.  Also Jim and his daughter, Natalie.
Regards, Dave 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Interesting photograph of the Willow Warbler confirming how difficult these little phylloscopus warblers can be to identified, especially if relying on leg colour.  The "black" of the Chiffchaff can sometime be quite "light" whereas the Willow Warbler's "yellow" legs can often be quite "dark" - and that's before we take into account sun and shadow, etc.


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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Ventas de Zafarraya

Tuesday 14 January

Arriving at the mirador at Ventas de Zafarraya it was calm and sunny with a little hazy cloud but certainly on the cold side.  Indeed, frost still on the ground in shaded areas but, with height, came the chance to still see the Almond blossom and along the old railway track a lovely carpet of Broad-leaf Iris.

A few Goldfinches upon arrival and as I walked towards the old tunnel both Black Redstart and Stonechat.  Soon after the tunnel the first of four Black Wheatears and then a female Sardinian Warbler.  But generally quiet until I reached the old track-side ruin with a Kestrel perched on top of a large, spindly tree to my left.  In front of me a trio of Rock Buntings and more Stonechats.  On top of a pylon in front pf me a male Blue Rock Thrush.  Making my way back a couple of Chaffinches in the spinney below me and then my attention drawn to a quartering Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a quintet of Crag Martins.  Arriving back at the car a score or more Spotless Starlings before setting off for the "growing fields."

The small pond near the picnic area held 26 Mallard and more Goldfinches as I continued on towards the "Magpie Woods" and took the country lane to me left.  Lots of House Sparrows and at least a couple of hundred Ferral Pigeon feeding on the rough fields.  The set-aside field to my left held a trio of Mistle Thrush and a small flock of Linnets and Chaffinches.  More Mallards at the main pond and then a stop on the way back to the main road led to the sighting of a single Robin and then a small flock of Lesser Short-toed Larks along with more Mistle Thrushes.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus on the wires
White Wagtails on the road as I approached the Magpie Woods and almost immediately an Azure-winged Magpie passing on the left.  Through the woods and off to the left where I found an Iberian Grey Shrike.  Approaching the end of the arable fields a small finch flock in the trees near the small building and, wonder of wonders, including a Brambling.  Immediately over  the crossroads and I saw the first of a dozen Magpie and then a large flock of almost one hundred Wood Pigeons to my right.  Seven Red-legged Partridges on the road and then, on a small pile of stones a Little Owl.

Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridional
At the cross-roads itself a small number of Corn Bunting and a male Blackbird flitted across the road.  A detour along the paved road to my right as I started out on the return journey produced more Chaffinches, a second Little Owl and a Buzzard.

Fast disappearing Buzzard Buteo buteo
Only just midday so decided to pay a short visit to El Robledal in the hope that I might pick some new birds for the year including a woodpecker.  No such luck.  However, I did add a Jay to more Chaffinches, Black Redstart, Robin, Blackbird and House Sparrows.


Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Little Owl, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.








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Sunday, 12 January 2020

Osuna area

Saturday 11 January

A most enjoyable day's birding in the Osuna area which eventually produced all my target birds.  Leavng home before 7 to meet up with friends at the venta at the exit to junction80 on the A92 at Osuna it was clear, sunny and bloomin' cold.  It might have been 10C when I left the coast but rising to the top of the hill out of Malaga the temperature had dropped to -2C and settled for the morning between 4 and 8 before rising to 12 after lunch.  Approaching the meeting point I had already seen a couple of Buzzards and House Sparrow and White Wagtail were foraging in the car park area.

Eventually, along with thirteen special friends in a total of five cars we set off along the back lane and made straight to the viaduct over the abandoned high speed rail track-bed.   On the way we recorded Spotless Starling, Corn Bunting and more White Wagtails before the numerous number of Stonechats.  Also seen was a large flock of Red-legged Partridge and a number of Buzzards.  We even had the sighting of a departing Northern Wheatear showing its conspicuous white rump.  Even closer, a rather lovely Iberian Grey Shrike.  As we approached the viaduct very many small mixed flock of House and Spanish Sparrows along with more and more sightings of Ravens.

Surprised to actually see some water below the viaduct albeit mainly narrow streams and the occasional wet patch we soon found dozens of Rock Doves (Feral Pigeons) on the viaduct itself and a large flock of Lapwing below.  Having found the first of a couple of Green Sandpipers we were then show about eight Snipe immediately below and Derek was first to find the flock of about 50 Golden Plover and a handful of Ringed Plovers at the back of the wet area.  However, apart from the isolated individuals there were over sixty White Storks feeding alongside the horses to our distant left.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

Not really any warmer as we made our way back to one of the high over-bridges passing a close Iberian Grey Shrike on the way to take the farming road out into the steppes in search of the local Great Bustards.  Derek in the lead stopped to say that he could see a few distant Great Bustards and by the time we had all disembarked and concentrated we finally added our small groups together and reached an estimated flock size of about 55.  Great.  Then a small raptor on a rock that moved to a low bush at the side of the track.  At the same time a Kestrel took up station on a nearby rock but I think most of us were right in calculating that the original small raptor was indeed a Merlin.  Whilst in the area we recorded Linnet, Crested Lark, Red Kite and Calandra Lark and as we continued to study the big birds a small number of Lesser black-backed Gulls flew over.

Female Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus

Steve then took our car along a narrow, deep-rutted track to try and get a closer view of the Great Bustards as they had moved away right to land in front of a distant white building.  Whilst watching the feeding flock, we were amazed to see a another large flock fly in from the left and pass immediately overhead the feeding group.  Counting the split as 25 and 35 it would appear that we had about 120 Great Bustards in sight at the same time.  It appeared that a handful were actually feeding very close to a nearby farm building so we took a circuitous route to the area but, alas, the group were just as far away and now with the sun in our faces.

Maybe a third of the Great Bustard Aventarda Comun Otis tarda flock
We , therefore, drove back to the main road and carried on the next turn which took us over the third high bridge towards La Lantejuela.  Stopping on the bridge we had a flock of 16 Stone Curlews fly immediately in front of the car and then a quintet of larger birds.  A pair of Ravens and both a Buzzard and Marsh Harrier also moved away to our right whereas a close Buzzard headed off left in front of Steve.

Distant shot of more Great Bustard Aventarda Comun Otis tarda 

Our next call was a visit to the old ruined farm at the end of a long track where the Rollers and Lesser Kestrel breed.  These had not yet arrived from their winter quarters and all we added were Chiffchaffs and more Crested Larks.  But we did stop to watch a few Linnets and Serin and Steve spotted the single Brambling which came to rest in the top of a nearby olive tree.  Whilst the rest of the group remained with the Great Bustards to take more photographs and also found a good-sized mixed finch flock including a number of very flighty Bramblings,we headed off to nearby La Lantejuela for a comfort break and warning coffee passing a large group of Spotless Starlings on the way which also included a good number of Common Starlings along with more Calandra Larks before joining the main road to the village.

White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala with Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus

Suitably refreshed,our next stop was at he small reserve on the outskirts of the village based on the local grey-water treatment plant.  As usual the site was closed but the warden was exiting with a small group of Maltese birders and let us join them a the hide overlooking the main pool.  Lots of birds to be see,  Apart from the seventy plus Flamingo we had a variety of duck species including Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, many White-headed Duck and a pair of Ferruginous Duck.  Both Little and Black-necked Grebes clearly on show and a number of Coot.

Shovelers Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata and Flamingo take flight
There were smaller birds to be seen around the edges including many Chiffchaff and House Sparrows but we also saw House Sparrows and on the left bank a feeding Spotted Flycatcher, another early sighting following last week's bird a the Charca de Suarez, Motril.  Steve and Elena were first to find the Black-winged Stilt on the far side and a walk along the road to check-out the bushes produced a male Sardinian Warbler.

Common Buzzard Bustardo Ratonera Buteo buteo 
All joined together for a final drink on the outskirts of the village before making our respective journeys home and for we three the straight seven kilometre road back to Osuna produced no less than seven Buzzards on the pylons along with a suddenly arriving Black-winged Kite.  Just when we thought we had recorded the last species of the day we happened to check out the resting bird on the next length of wire and discovered a Wood Pigeon rather than another Collared Dove, so giving a final tally of 51 species for the day.

Sometimes the bird gets away first: Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus (above), Buzzard Buteo buteo (below)



Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-backed Grebe, White Stork, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Sardiian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Iberian Grey Shrike, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Brambling, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Over 70 Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus present.at la Lantejuela

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Thursday, 9 January 2020

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Thursday 9 January

With jenny off to a hospital appointment at 8.15 I took the opportunity to drive into Malaga and spend the morning at the Guadalhorce reserve.  Upon arrival just after 9 o'clock I found it cool and cloudy with only a few minuscule breaks in the cloud; decidedly on the cold side and not until almost eleven before the sun popped its head out for a warm five minutes.  Nevertheless, despite the very high water levels I managed to find some good birds.

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia

A couple of Monk Parakeets on the high fence at the back of the football ground and both White Wagtail and Robin as I made my way up to the riverside track.  Within a few metres a male Sardinian Warbler crossed the track in front of me whilst a handful of House Sparrows were showing well.  So on to the footbridge where looking upstream I found my first Heron of the day as a Cormorant made its way towards the main pool.  On the far side both a couple of Greenfinch and a Serin before heading on to the Laguna Casillas.  Looking around the water I found a couple of Mallards and a half-dozen Pochard plus a handful of Coot.  Just the one Little Grebe and a single Booted Eagle was resting in the dead tree to the right.

Common Pochard Porron Europea Aythya ferina

At the Wader Pool the main attraction was the lone Greenshank along with a dozen Black-winged Stilts and five Little Grebes.  Just two Moorhen and in the distance a resting Buzzard in a dead tree, which was still on view three hours later.  A single Heron flew in and took up residence.The walk to the Sea Watch produced a trio of Meadow Pipits and a few Yellow-legged Gulls overhead with occasional fly-pasts of Monk Parakeets.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

On the Rio Viejo (Old River) itself a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull and n the further island a single Sanderling and three Ringed Plovers.  To my left first a Stonechat and then a male Black Redstart.  The sea seemed very quite but using the scope I managed to count five Gannets flying well out on the water.  Returning to the Wader Pool I added Goldfinch and Chiffchaff before adding a couple of Collared Doves having arrived at the hide.

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Whilst at the Laguna Casillas, it now being a little warmer, the first of the feeding Crag Martins had arrived and a male Kestrel seemed to be hovering and "inspecting" the roosting Booted Eagle.  Meanwhile, a couple or more of Cetti's Warblers were making their presence known.  Approaching the Laguna Escondida I found a trio of Crested Larks and on the water a few Coots and Pochards.  Having noted a few more Little Grebes then the lovely welcome sight of a first male White-headed Duck, the first seen at the Guadalhorce for probably almost three months.

White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala

And so to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Maybe as many as twenty or more Cormorants and a further half-dozen Herons.  With the Cormorants were five juvenile Flamingos and in the dead trees to the left a few Collared Doves and three Booted Eagles.  Just a handful of Mallard but at least thirty Shoveler.  At the back a single Redshank which eventually found its way nearer to the hide where I could also see another Ringed Plover.  On the far water I eventually counted a total of ten Black-necked Grebes but no Little Grebes on this water.

Juvenile Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus with Cormorants Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo
Walking back to the car I found a flock of about thirty Spotless Starling and a couple of Common Starling.  No sooner had these birds moved away than a Blackbird flew across the track.  A little later on many more Stonechats, White WagtailsGoldfinches and Serins plus a couple of Linnets.  So on and under the footbridge to take the new exit to the said bridge and on to my car.  Given that it was only 12.30 I first drove to the far end of the beach where, as expected, I found the residing pair of Common Scoter but practically nothing else.

Redshank Archibebe Comun Tringa totanus

Why rush off back to Mezquitilla when you can drive under the airport and take a quick look at Zapata.  All basically quiet apart from a good supply of White Wagtail, Golfinches and Serin but I did add a handful of Short-toed Larks and, having crossed the ford, found a single Green Sandpiper.  Just Coots, Moorhens and Shovelers on the river itself and a lone Heron flew across.  Nevertheless, a final total of 46 species for the morning.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Common Scoter, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Heron, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.


Three of the four Booted Eagles Aguililla Calzada Hieraaetus pennatus

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 8 January

As hinted at last week, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group are back out with a vengeance and seem to have had a fabulous day at Cabo de Gata.  What a great way to start the new year with over 50 species recorded.


Cabo de Gata and the Rambla Morales: Wednesday 8th January

For our first official trip of the new decade I decided we'd go to Cabo de Gata and the Rambla Morales.  I picked up " grumpy" (her word) Carolyn (she's not an early morning person!) from the Overa hotel and then Iain from Los Gallardos.  As I drove down south the clear skies began to cloud over, but it later became blue and sunny.  We'd listed Collared Dove, White Wagtail and Blackbird by the time we arrived (early) at the cafe at Pujaire.  We were on our second coffee when the others began to arrive.  In no particular order:- John, Les, Alan, Trevor, Val, Mike, Diane, Richard, Alec and Peter.  Les and co had seen Hoopoe and an Iberian Grey Shrike. 

We made our way to the first hide.  Apart from the usual Greater Flamingos there didn't appear to be much there, but a scan produced a Little Egret, spotted by Carolyn.  A Greenfinch and Kestrel had been seen by Les.  Some Mallard flew from behind us.  On the shallow pond on the opposite side of the road,I saw a number of Chiffchaff.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew south.  Carolyn was first to spot an approaching female Marsh Harrier.  She also found a Green Sandpiper.  Alan found two distant Grey Plover.  A Bluethroat perched briefly on the stone wall before dropping down with another out of sight.  A small number of Crag Martins flew passed.  Richard was quick to spot the fast Snipe.

Les and I simultaneously spotted a distant bird of prey.  We concluded it was a Common Buzzard.  Alan found two Black-winged Stilt and a Redshank in a shallow dyke to our left with a Stonechat on a fence.  John wandered down the road a bit and reported a Black Redstart.  Alan observed a line of Shelduck and three flying Eurasian Curlew over the savanna.  A noisy Sardinian Warbler was eventually seen.  An Iberian Grey Shrike was on the power line.
Male Stonechat Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We convoyed round to the second hide.  There was nowt out to sea.  As we approached the hide two flights of Stone Curlew flew right to left.  There must have been at least 35 birds in total.  There, Spoonbill could be seen far to our right on their usual causeway.  A Bluethroat gave us short views whilst a pair of Stonechat showed well.  We also had Slender-billed, Black-headed, Lesser Black-back and Yellow-legged Gulls, but in small numbers.  When we got back to the cars, Carolyn spotted some Gannet out to sea.

Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia with Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)


I lead the group to the public hide.  Here I spotted a small raft of Shoveler duck.  "Eyes of a hawk" Richard found a very distant Black-necked and a Great Crested Grebe.  I realised that John, Alan and Les were AWOL.  En route we'd checked the past location of the Dotterel without a result.  When the fugitives arrived, they said they'd found 8 Dotterel on the opposite side of the road.  Les had wandered down to the shore line and had seen Sandwich Tern, Sanderling and Turnstone.  John also had an Audouin's Gull.  We exited via the church track.  A Meadow Pipit, a Thekla Lark and a Dartford Warbler was seen. As we passed through the village, us out in front found two Trumpeter Finches perched on a chain link fence.

Dotterel Charadrius morinellus (PHOTO: Alan Fisher)


We headed for the lighthouse but didn't see anything new.  As we were travelling back over the pass, both Carolyn and I spotted a large raptor just popping over the high ridge never to be seen again!  We didn't see the Dotterel again, but Alan and co did find some Trumpeter Finch on the way back.
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes agineusgith  (PHOTO: Alan Fisher)
Using the beachside track we made our way towards the Rambla Morales, seeing Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart and Stonechat on the way.  John also had Skylark.  At the lake we only found some Moorhen, a couple of Coot and a solitary Purple Swamphen.  Alec found a Little Ringed Plover and Alan's Robin concluding the day's list.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 53 species.  A good day's birding in good company.  Mike and co left early as he wasn't feeling well.  Hope you're feeling better, Mike.  Best wishes also to Kevin, who sustained a knee injury a few days ago.

Regards, Dave

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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Tuesday 7 January

With reports of a Marbled Duck seen on new Year's day, I was up and down to the local Rio Velez by 8.30 where I had a quiet but interesting couple of hours - and no Marble Teal, indeed no ducks other than five drake Mallards.  A clear sky with a very low sun but a stiff cold breeze to make sure that i did not remove my outer coat!

Welcomed by the first of over a dozen Blackbirds a couple of White Wagtails and a departing Cattle Egret (another 26 still tree roosting further downstream) I parked the car and took a gentle troll down towards the now vandalised hide.  A lone Ringed Plover on a pool in the river bed and then a Grey Heron flew over from the river to land in the neighbouring field to me left where it joined four other individuals and all five were still present when I returned.  In addition to the Cattle Egret roost mentioned above there were four Cormorants and a passing Collared DoveCetti's Warblers were in full voice and the occasional House Sparrow put in an appearance.

Just a few of the hundred plus Cattle Egrets Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis that roost in the lower Rio Velez
Moving on down to the beach from the hide just a lone Spotless Starling then five foraging Moorhen on the grass this side of the reed-bed,  A Stonechat posed on a small twig as a couple of Black-headed Gulls flew overhead.  Out on the water itself there must have been well in excess of a couple of hundred Lesser black-backed Gulls and looking up the river a single, resting Heron and five Coots.  On the edges a couple of White Wagtails and a single Sanderling were feeding.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

More calling Cetti's Warblers and a few House Sparrows as I made my way upstream on the western side and near the top was able to add Chiffchaff, Robin and another Great Tit.  Reaching the river bed a lovely Grey Wagtail before retracing my steps for the return journey.  Approaching the hide a lovely view of a most handsome male Penduline Tit with a pair of Hoopoe on the gate next to the pumping station.   Needless to say, the local Monk Parakeets put in an appearance.  Once back at the car chance to see another Ringed Plover and a hastily departing Snipe.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops

Under the road ridge, immediately finding another pair of Hoopoe, and further upstream through the growing fields where I found a score of Goldfinches and a handful of Serin.


Many more House Sparrows and White Wagtails and then both a Blackcap and Black Redstart before the quartet of Crested Larks.

Female Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros

Once down in the riverbed, in the small puddles I found a trio of Ringed Plover, another Grey Wagtail and a distant pair of Meadow Pipits.  Then it was time to head back home but not before taking a steep track upwards to get closer to the flock of Spotless Starlings including a dozen or so Common Starlings.

Very distant Meadow Pipits Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis
Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

Sanderling  Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba in the low morning sunlight

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Sunday, 5 January 2020

Charca de Suarez, Motril

Sunday 5 January

Bluethroat RuisenorPechiazul Luscinia svecica
A wonderful three hours at the Charca de Suarez, Motril this morning with visiting birding friend Hans Borjesson from Sweden, on his last day before flying back to Sweden in the morning.  A great start when we picked up scores of Common Waxbill at the far end of "Turtle Dove Alley" before driving round the corner to the Charca entrance where we were met by both Black Redstart and White Wagtail.  By the time we left we had recorded 44 species and then added two more as we worked our way back down Turtle Dove Alley and on towards the old N340.

A good start a the Laguna del Taraje where we found many Mallards along with a pair of Shoveler, a couple of Little Grebes and at least four Red-knobbed Coots plus a few Moorhens.  To our left both Blackcap and Robin and then calling Cetti's Warblers, Chiffchaff and Great Tit.  Above us many of the Crag Martins that we were to encounter during our visit.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita

A Teal was recorded from the hide at the far end along with more Chiffchaffs and then on to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco.  What a surprise!

Well concealed Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Lots of water but no birds.  However, ever patient, I eventually found a Snipe on the far side at the edge of the reeds, Hans heard a Water Rail and then the bird put in a very brief appearance at the very back before both Sardinian Warbler and House Sparrow made brief appearances.  Both Serin and Kestrel were found concealed in a tree at the back and a distant Grey Heron was seen afar.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

Waking to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Anas in now bright sunshine we added Wren, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and a Chaffinch.  Once inside we quickly became aware of the good number of both Common and Red-knobbed Coots along with a plentiful supply of both Mallard and Shoveler.  Towards the back we added both Gadwall and Pochard and, of course, plenty of Moorhens and a few Moorhens to be seen.  On the island in front of us a single Grey Heron and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls plus a number of Cormorant and around us a few White wagtails, a Stonechat, plentiful supply of Chifchaff and a few Little Grebe.  At the very back of the water we also found our first, two, Purple Swamphens of the morning.  Above the water, yet more feeding Crag Martins.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata

Our next stop was at the northern hide overlooking the Laguna del Trebol where, again, many Red-knobbed Coots and Mallards plus additional Common Coots and Mallards and another couple of Purple Swamphens.  However, we immediately became aware of the many very close Chiffchaffs feeding on the dry, decaying recovered weed to the right of the hide.  Before long, as hoped, these charming little birds were joined by both a Grey Wagtail and a Bluethroat and giving excellent views.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio with Mallards

So on round the track to the southern hide where we also came across a second Reed Bunting of the morning and the first Black-headed Gulls.  However, the high point was probably the five Mediterranean Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon that we were shown on both sides of the entrance track including one very young specimen barely five centimetres long and still jet black.  Evidently, we were informed, these animals tend to be black until they have soaked up sufficient sunshine and warmth to take on the ability to change colour to suit their respective backgrounds.


Young Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon (above) with more mature specimen
With time running out we entered the final hide on our clockwise circular tour overlooking the Laguna del LirioShoveler, Red-knobbed Coot and Moorhen along with more Chiffchaffs when Hans found the trio of Ferruginous Ducks.  If that was not exciting enough he was then first to spot the stranger in our midst.  A very, very early Spotted Flycatcher showing well as it carried out its hunting role in typical fashion.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Musciapa striata (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson) *

So time to return home and as we drove back down Turtle Dove Alley we stopped as we found a small number of Common Waxbills and then a Marsh Harrier.  A Kestrel was resting on the wire at the top end of the road and at the far end we also added Spotless Starling before our final sighting, a pair of Cattle Egrets flying away to our right.  All in all, a very enjoyable morning in good birding weather and the excellent company of Hans.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Musciapa striata 

* Digiscoped; use of phone camera with telescope

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Birds seen: 
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Grey Wagtail Lavandera Cascadena Motacilla cinerea
Ferruginous Ducks Porron Pardo Aythya nyroca with male Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata (front)



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