Friday, 16 February 2018

Fuente de Piedra and Chipiona

Friday 16 February

PHOTOS TO FOLLOW

A very sunny day with no wind; beautifully warm, especially for mid-February.
We, Bob, Oz-Bob, Jenny and I met up at Fuente de Piedra where the water level was quite high today. Our first sightings were of a Snipe and White Wagtail then several Black-tailed Godwits, Black-winged Stilt, Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves, Coot and Teal. Meanwhile, Florin (the two Bobs), had a trio of House Martins as their first bird of the day. Along the board-walk we noted Shoveler, Spanish and House Sparrow, Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Black-headed Gulls. Black Redstarts, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Stonechat, Little Ringed Plover, Cattle Egret, Zitting Cisticola and a nice surprise was the Greylag Goose dropping into the "Stone Curlew" field. Walking along to the "scrape"  more Stonechats, a Robin, Chiffchaffs and a Wryneck was heard as was a Green Woodpecker a while later. Moving round to the Lagunetta hide, we saw White-headed Duck, Mallard, Common Pochard and a huge amount of Shovelers. An interesting sight was seen concerning the latter birds, a group of some thirty birds initially were seen in a circle and all dabbling at the same time.  The number increased as other Shovelers joined in the melee, they circled for a good ten minutes, then dispersed as quick as they had began. A few Little Grebe, Gadwall, Coots and Moorhens were spotted and good numbers of Greater Flamingos were logged, along with two Grey Herons and the White Stork was on it´s chimney nest.
Walking back from the hide to the mirador, two Marsh Harriers(females) flew across the lagoon and below them a dozen or more Shelducks were feeding. While off to the right of the mirador in the dry area of the marsh we spotted Stone Curlews and a few Golden Plovers. The Jackdaws in the tower behind us were making one hell of a noise, but we still managed to pick up by song first, Sardinian Warblers, Blackcap, Meadow Pipit and Crested Larks. The Green Woodpecker was heard several times walking back to the car but not sighted. But a wonderfully bright male Serin gave us our departing song.
After coffee we started on our way to Chipiona, En-route we noted fourteen Buzzards, eleven Common Kestrels, a flock of Calandra Larks and two Raven. As we passed the "dump" (on the A92 at about Km45), a huge number of Black Kites with a couple of Red Kites, White Storks and a male Hen Harrier were logged. Arriving at the port we dipped out on the Little Swifts, but in the lighthouse area we saw Sandwich Terns, Black-headed Gulls, several fully-plumaged Mediterranean Gulls, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also about. Indeed, to our great delight, we even managed to record an Iberian Chiffchaff on the rocks below the promenade.  Cormorants, Sanderlings, Cattle and Little Egret, Magpies, Stonechats and Chiffchaffs were seen at the "Chameleon Centre" plus a single Meadow Pipit.
John Wainwright
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Malaga, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Grebe, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Black Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Golden Plover. Little Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Wryneck, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, House Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Iberian Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.


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Thursday, 15 February 2018

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 15 February

Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have een out and again this week, that's twice in two days!  me too, as I shall also be out for the next four days as I enjoy Bonanza, Donana and the Odiel with friends.


Sierra de Maria  -  Thursday 15th February

We were lucky enough to have an extra trip this week as Lily wanted to show her friend, Maria, the Sierra de Maria! Gilly & I picked them up at the Overa hotel, Jct 547 E15/A7 and headed for Maria town.  There, after a coffee at the garage, we met up with Brian & Mary at the chapel.  The weather was fine & sunny. We saw Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Blackbird in and around the tall poplar trees.  I spotted a female Blue Rock Thrush flying away. Moving up towards the Botanical Gardens we found a flock of Serin and I spotted a Cirl Bunting.  At the Information Centre, the female ranger advised us many schoolchildren were due at around midday.  It was now hot so Gilly & I shed our anoraks.  In the lower gardens we saw 2-3 Short Toed Treecreepers, but not a lot else. 

Can you spot the Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We heard Crested Tit & Jay.  There were patches of snow covering the lower path, but was not dangerous with care.  It was our intention to do the middle path, but with extra altitude there would be more snow and also time was running out before the vociferous hoard was due to arrive!   We added Coal Tit & Brian found a Stonechat.  We left the gardens as two coaches arrived at the chapel car park. Just then we spotted some Griffon Vultures above the mountain ridge.  Eventually about 15 were in a plume.  We walked back to the cars as 50 odd loud kids headed up the hill.
Sunny, but snow under foot (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
On the trip down to the farm buildings a Raven flew over the road.  At the buildings we had Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Goldfinch and a few Crossbill.  I spotted a Mistle Thrush on the ploughed field. Moving on to the water trough, we parked up, using the car as a hide. Saw Black Redstart & Northern Wheatear as we arrived.  Had good views of Linnet, Serin and one or two Crossbill drinking.  Driving along the plain we had more Linnet & Crested Lark. We found a Corn Bunting plus a Little Owl on rock piles.  At the hamlet we added Rock Dove & Sparrow.  There were two Little Owls on the way back plus a Kestrel.
Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then had lunch at the La Piza forest cafe. Kindly the staff advised us of the impending arrival of the kids!  We saw Chaffinch & Crossbill there as well as a Mistle Thrush drinking from the fuente. We left as 4 coaches arrived!
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 28 species. Weather was wonderful. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.
Regards, Dave
Male Linnet Carduelis cannabina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs  and additional information

Zapata and the Rio Grande

Thursday 15 February

Up extremely early and arrive on time at 7 o'clock to collect our Dutch birding neighbour and take to the airport for her return flight to Holland.  Then it was down to Zapata, behind Malaga Airport, for a couple of hours followed by breakfast at a local venta then off for a couple of hours to the confluence of the Rios Grande and Guadalhorce just beyond Cartamar.  What a morning that saw 60 species including eight new birds for the year.

Early morning Greenshank Archebebe Claro Tringa nebularia
Welcomed on the way down to the river by House Sparrow, Collared Dove, a huge murmuration of Spotless Starlings, Blackbird and Stonechat, we were soon sealed in the car, having just met up with Barbara and Derek Etherton by the arches, and studying the lower reaches of the Guadalhorce near the ford.  The water seemed to have recovered a little but there still appeared to be some contamination as in front we could see shoals of very large fish (Carp?) and both the local Cormoranats and Little Egrets giving them the greedy eye till they realised that no matter how big their eyes might be, there was just no way these birds were going to be able to swallow any of these monster fish!


Little Egret garceta Comun Egretta garzetta and Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo walking on fish!
On the shore line in front of us we had a quintet of Greenshank and both Common and Green Sandpiper.  The couple of Wood Sandpiper were an added bonus and at least seven Little Ringed Plovers were counted. 

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios Bastardo Tringa glareola wondering whether to eat the fish of flee with his life!

Having seen Mallard and watched two pairs of Gadwall paddle across the river, we then checked out the two Great White Egrets as a Kingfisher flashed across the water.  Slightly up stream three Glossy Ibis were taking their rest and we even located a Night Heron along with the resident Coot and Moorhen.  Whilst the pair of Kestrel seemed to be initially mobbed by a handful of Jackdaw, a Buzzard was located above the trees.  Naturally there were White Wagtail and Chiffchaff to be seen and then a couple of Snipe on the far bank as a female Marsh Harrier drifted over on the lookout for breakfast and had to decide whether or not to help itself to a Little Egret.  In and around the bushes we also had Serin and noisy Cetti's Warblers before located a couple of Shoveler as both Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls put in an appearance.

Marsh Harrier Aguilucho Lagunero Circus aeruginosus

The short tip across the river to the deep culvert produced a couple of Bluethroat whilst a Sparrowhawk was seen overhead.  Our return trip to cross the river produced both Hoopoe and Blackcap and even a lone Red-legged Partridge on the river bank before recording a the first Grey Wagtail of the morning.  Driving along the track and past the reed-bed we had a small number of Common Waxbill and a few Greenfinch.  Both Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticola were seen on the fence and a little later also the first of a couple of male Sardinian Warblers.  Above numerous Crag Martins and so to breakfast before heading slightly inland.

Arriving at the Rio Grande we first travelled slightly downstream on the dusty track and stopped to watch a handful of Siskin and a few Chaffinches feeding, presumably taking on grit.  Then it was on to the river's edge where we recorded four Black-winged Stilt, more Common and Green Sandpipers along with Serin, Goldfinch and Crested Lark.  Two Great White Egrets put in an appearance and then we move upstream to check out the Guadalhorce.  Here we found many White Wagtail and Crag Martin along with female Black Redstarts (had the males already returned to higher ground to stake out their preferred breeding site?)

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba
Crossing the river we stopped to identify the Water Pipit and then found a good number of Blackcap feeding on the rotting pomegranates still hanging on the trees.  Movement in the green cover below us as we stood on the bridge helped us locate our first Willow Warbler of the year and then a Buzzard flew past soon to be followed by a Booted Eagle.  A Jay was calling form the Eucalyptus trees and another seen on the track below the bridge.  Making our way back to the main road we first recorded a lone Meadow Pipit and then, high above us, a raven drifting right to left.  Our final stop at the nesting area of a local Bonnelli's Eagle duly delivered the bird as it soared above a neighbouring hilltop.  And that would have been the end of a fabulous morning had I then not found the missing Cattle Egret as it flew over the road in front of me as I approached the slope down into Torre del Mar.

Grey Wagtail Lavandera Cascadena Motacilla cinerea


Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-Headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail,  Bluthroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Jay, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch,Goldfinch, Siskin.

Fish fish and more fish in the river

Early morning shot of the Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Piegadis falcinellus

A peak-a-boo Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba on the upper Guadalhorce

Another early morning shot, a Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius

Record shot of male Siskin Lugano Carduelis spinus

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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Las Norias with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 14 February

Interesting report from David and seems to confirm our experience last week that there are very few waders about and summer hirundines are still yet to arrive.  However, lovely to read about the Woodcock.


Las Norias & Roquetas  -  Wednesday 14th February 2018

Following in the Axarquia Bird Group's footsteps, we decided to visit Las Norias & Roquetas this week.  Richard, Gilly & myself met up with Alan, Les & John at the Jct 420 service station for a coffee before heading to the first causeway at Las Norias.  The water was dead flat, so we could easily see Great Crested, Black Necked & Little Grebes together with Coot, Moorhen & Mallard. Down the far end we could see a line of resting Cormorants on posts and in front of them, Red Crested Pochard, Shoveler & Black Headed and Yellow Legged Gull . Overhead and in lines on the power cables were hundreds of Crag Martin.  Les spotted some distant White Headed Duck.  Also seen were Chiffchaff, of course, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat & White Wagtail.

Crag Martins Ptyonoprogne rupestris by the score  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving round to the litter strewn stop on the long side, we saw much of the same until a bird was flushed in front of Gilly.  It flew at eye level past all of us.  A Woodcock.  A summer passage migrant according to Collins!  Alan had a brief view of a Whiskered Tern and Richard found a Bluethroat. Also seen were Hoopoe, Serin, Greenfinch and a Teal.
A few of the Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina flock (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We next stopped at the smaller lake, at the opposite end to the plastic recycling plant.  Lots of Red Crested Pochard with a Shoveler or two.  Les spotted a wader, but flew before being identified.  It was probably either the Redshank or Common Sandpiper was saw shortly afterwards.  On the grass field Les found a Meadow Pipit and I spotted a Grey Wagtail amongst the White ones.  A walk along the road to the little bridge didn't add to the list.  Considering this reserve is a heron/egret breeding area it was disappointing to see only one Little Egret and a few Grey Heron.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We then followed Les's directions to the lighthouse end of the Roquetas salinas, having stopped for a coffee in San Agustin.  We'd seen Kestrels on the way and some very close Greater Flamingo.  At the first stop, a lake surrounded by reeds, John soon spotted a pair of Purple Swamphen.  On the water was a raft of mixed Common & Red Crested Pochard.  Gilly then found a single Glossy Ibis.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
The next stop, a causeway between two salinas produced huge numbers of Lesser Black Backed Gulls and a few Audouin's as well.  A pair of Gadwall was seen.  There was a Little Stint as well as Black Tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Black Winged Stilt & more Redshank.  Les spotted a Stone Curlew and a Grey Plover.  Some distant Marsh Harriers were seen.  Richard who'd stayed by the vehicles had a Snipe, Stonechat & Goldfinch.  I spotted a distant Slender Billed Gull before we headed to the small pool where the Red Knobbed Coot used to be, alas no more!  Apart from Coot, Mallard and a male White Headed Duck we did see a hen!  Les, Alan & John had a probable Booted Eagle en route.  The big lake was as usual populated with many Coot & Black Headed Gulls.  We did see a small raft of White Headed Duck.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
A lovely day in the sunshine. Still can't believe the Woodcock! 58 species seen.
Regards, Dave
And who let this young lady join in all the fun? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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Iceland Gull at Caleta Harbour, Velez Malaga

Wednesday 14 February

It might be "Valentine's Day" but somebody loves me as, taking Jenny off this morning for Tai-Chi class, I was left to check out the harbout at Caleta, Velez Malaga.  Was this to be my lucky day?  It most certainly was as I was able to get very close views of the Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides that has been in residence for the past week.

On arrival just after 10 I first checked out the entrance to the inner harbour; nothing.  Next the outer harbour and then the more open water.  No sign of the Iceland Gull so decided I would just have to plough through the hundreds of gulls resting on the beach. And there it was, right in front of me, second gull from the end.  So close and obliging almost as if it was wearing a plaque saying "Please take my photo!"  So I did, many times over.

In the end I had shots of its flanks back and front.  It hopped about occasionally as a wave or to got too close or rough then finally took flight with its neighbours for a quick ten metre spin before returning to almost the same spot.  Eventually, the bird took to the air once more and this time decided it was better off resting on the water about ten metres form the shore.  No problem for me as I now had flight and water-based shots of the bird.




Check out the size comparison

Look how small the foraging Sanderling Corelimos Tridactilo Calidris alba is by comparison





Graceful in flight

Back on the water at a distance
 
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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Tuesday 13 February

Just the bare two hours down at the local river, the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar and back home by 11.30.  Whilst I managed 30 species in the allotted time, regretfully I still did not find my target bird, the little Penduline Tits that feed and breed in this area.  Greeted by both House Sparrow and White Wagtail a trio of Moorhens scampered back to cover as I got out of the car just upstream of the road bridge.

Once under the bridge and walking down towards the sea the singing (?) of the Cetti's Warblers was almost deafening and soon there were plenty of Chiffchaffs and the occasional Goldfinch to draw one's attention.  The odd Blackbird or two crossed the dry river bed which looked a mess along with the track edges as a result of the recent bamboo harbest and then, suddenly, a Snipe took off from almost beneath and zig-zagged away down stream.  By now I was seeing a regular supply of Cormorants overhead and even found three Herons resting high in a tall tree on the opposite bank.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
Once at the hide all seemed quiet initially.  First a Hoopoe feeding around the immediate area.  A Greenfinch and a pair of Serins along with a trio of Spotless Starlings behind me and a small number of grazing Moorhen to the front.  A Zitting Cisticola put in an appearance and then it was on down towards the water.  A resting Heron seemed happy to remain in situ and a handful of Coots and Moorhens were on the water along with more Cormorants.  A number of small gull, mainly Black-headed, considered making use of the pool at the river's truncated end but did no remain for long.  Most were of shore where hundred could be counted, mainly Lesser Black-backed but also a good mix of both Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls.  Further out a t least a coupe of Gannets were diving for their breakfast.

Little Stint Correlimos Menudo Calidris minuta
Having seen a single Barn Swallow from the hide, by the time I reached the edge of the pool there were a number of feeding Crag Martins overhead but just the one pair of mallard to be seen  A lone Purple Swamphen made a dash across the channel and into the reeds which gave me chance to follow the feeding antics of a pair of Sanderling accompanied by a single Little Stint.  In addition, a great opportunity to compare the size difference between the two species.

Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba with Little Stint behind


So a slow walk back to the car with regular unproductive stops to scan the fragmities for the elusive Penduine Tits but I did find both a female Black Redstart and a single Robin.  I could see a single Cattle Egret on the river side of the path up ahead and then, whilst putting away the equipment in the car, a visit from a friendly Great TitThirty birds in four time thirty minutes.

Two Sanderlings Calidris alba with Little Stint Calidris minuta in front to show size comparion


Birds seen:
Mallard, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Snipe, Meditaerranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.


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Monday, 12 February 2018

Laguna de la Barrera, Malaga

Monday 12 February

Took Jenny to the Hospital Chip in Malaga, arriving early at 8.40 for her 9am appointment.  Once settled in I drove the less than five minutes to the neighbouring Laguna de la Barrera to see if I could catch up with the reported female Tufted Duck.  I say "less than five minutes" but not having taken more detail of directions I drove around for nearby ten minutes then parked and walked the five minutes to the water.  As a result, both scope and camera left in car.  In the event, scope not needed and I had to make do with a distant phone picture of said target bird.

Female Tufted Duck Porron Monudo Aythya fuligula



It sounds very impressive to talk about a "laguna" whereas a more accurate description would be an abandoned gravel pit of maybe twenty or thirty years past.  Worked out presumably in the middle of a housing development it has been developed into a wildlife area with walks and children's play facilities.  All very nice or would have been if somebody had walked round the perimeter of the water and removed all the rubbish including an assortment of broken palettes.  I imagine the laguna is filled by natural drainage and given the dry weather here and the "tide mark" around the edges I would think that the water level is about at least a metre below normal.

Very distant picture take n with camera of female Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (far left) and two female Pochard

On the water a trio of Moorhen and a quartet of Coot accompanied by seven Mallard, mainly resting on the far side.  Most noticeable were the score of "White" geese including seven "domesticated" (?) Greylags.  On the water itself I managed to count 44 Common Pochard and the single female Tufted Duck had adopted this flock as her protectors.  Also present were a Blackbird, House Sparrows, White Wagtail and the noisy Monk Parakeets along with both Rock and Collared Dove.  In addition, I counted maybe 50+ Yellow-legged Gulls and at least 20+ Black-headed Gulls.

Not bad for a thirty minute visit then, now knowing the way, back to the hospital to eventually collect Jenny and return to Mezquitilla.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, White Wagtail, Blackbird, House Sparrow.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs  and additional information