Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Algarrobo Costa

 Tuesday 1 December

Full Moon still looking down on me

First day of the month and once more back up my usual riverside walk upstream of the Rio Algarrobo.  But this time, off just after first light at 8.20 before the walkers, I hoped.  Not exactly to be but very few about.  On the other hand, very few birds about.  The Sun was just coming up to my right (east) and the Full Moon was still very clear in the sky to my left on the other side of the river.

Welcomed to the opening spinney by a lone Collared Dove and immediately  a Black Redstart and a White Wagtail foraging around the roadside rubbish bin. Plenty of warning of the approaching squadron of screaming Monk Parakeets, quite deafening, then onwards and upwards.  A couple of Spotless Starling and a single Blackbird before noting the 14 Wood Pigeons resting on the wire above and to my left.  A further couple of Wood Pigeons were resting high up in a Eucalyptus tree and the start of seeing a continuous supply of Collared Doves.

Early morning Wood Pigeons Paloma Torcaz Columba palumbus

Regular sightings of Black Redstarts as I continued up the the motorway underpass where I picked up a handful of House Sparrows and many more Spotless Starlings and once near the entrance to the "Experimental Station" a further four White Wagtails and a score or more Yellow-legged Gulls were noted.  Making my way back towards the road crossing over the weir I noticed the half-dozen Linnets foraging at the riverside.  

One of the half-dozen Linnets Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina at the river's edge

A lone Cattle Egret was seen heading up river and once at the sewage works a second Cattle Egret resting atop of a pole.  Nothing to be seen inside the works on this occasion as too much activity.  Back over the river and on down stream where I eventually found some of the resident Chiffchaffs, again feeding in the Eucalyptus trees.

Cattle Egret Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis keeping watch over the sewage works

Birds seen: 

Cattle Egret, Yellow-legged Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, White Wagtails, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Linnet.

Not so much a "Parrot in a Pepper Tree" but one of many Monk Parakeets Cotorra Argentina Myiopsitta monachus

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

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Algarrobo Costa

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 

 Sunday 29 November

In these restricted times very little choice of birding activity for me.  I can walk along the short length of beach and usaully guarantee both Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with the occasional Cormorant and even a visiting flock of Mediterranean Gulls.  The mouth of the river Algarrobo can usually  be relied upon to provide House Sparrows and Collared Doves along with numerous Monk Parakeets and sometimes visiting White Wagtails, Serin and a possible Stonechat.  Never short of a Feral Pigeon or tow but most of the Spotless Starlings are more likely t be found upstream.

However, if I want a decent walk then it is the path alongside the river that I take upstream for about a kilometre where I pass under the motorway and have a clearer sight of the distant hills.  Taking the return walk I cross the river after about 300 metres to circumnavigate the local sewerage treatment works before re-crossing the river to continue homewards.  Today, the start of the walk through the spinney that holds a number of bowling areas and seats produced the usual Monk Parakeets, a handful of Black Redstarts and the first of many Collared Doves.  On this occasion I also had the first of the Chiffchaffs before reaching the more open stretch of grass and trees.  

No shortage of Monk Parakeets Myiopsitta monachus

A Blackbird flew across the path and then two more spotted atop a tree on the other side of the river.  More Chiffchaffs and Black Redstarts followed by a lone, departing Kestrel.  With  a small stream flowing down the river bed following recent rain hopefully more birds about as I progress upstream.  No sooner had I seen a departing female Kestrel heading away from me than I found the male resting in my tree for spotting birds.  Not only the Kestrel but a single Wood Pigeon right at the top and a few Spotless Starlings.

Male Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Once in the more open area near the sports hall I had my first White Wagtail along wit more Black Redstarts the a Chiffchaff followed by the appearance of the resident House Sparrows.   Up and under the motorway where, as usual, I found a couple of Crag Martins and a good number of Black-headed Gulls circling above the hidden water deposit.  

White Wagtail Motacilla alba

Making my way back I crossed the river, very shallow over the causeway, and found a further five Cattle Egrets at the sewerage works in addition to one heading away.  House Sparrows then a quartet of Goldfinch before re-crossing the lower causeway and rejoining the path downstream.  More and more Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings along with another couple of Blackbirds and the last birds recorded a pair of Greenfinch as I approached the final spinney.  Only fifteen species but lovely to be out exercising and enjoying the morning's warm sunshine.

Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis to be found at the sewage works

Birds seen:

Cattle Egret, Kestrel, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Not often you see a White Wagtail in a tree

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

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Algarrobo Costa

 Wednesday 18 November

Now back from our interesting but weird visit to the UK.  Booked for three weeks to allow for two weeks of self-isolation followed by a week to meet family and friend as well as undertake a little birding.  Within four days of arriving the UK lockdown commenced so no chance of going anywhere or even family visiting.  Then, the following day, an email from Ryanair to say return flight had been cancelled and with nothing else available till early December found ourselves returning a week earlier than planned, last Monday morning.  Not sure whether or not the fact that there were only 17 (seventeen) passengers on board was some sort of a bonus!

Therefore, delighted to actually be able to get out birding again with an upstream walk along the dry river bed of the Rio Algarrobo. Another minor problem, Algarrobo seems to be the smallest municipality in the area.  If we lived 200 metres to the the east, that part of the pueblo would be in Mezquitilla de Velez which comes under Velez Malaga and would also have opened up the river at Torre del Mar and possibly even the province right up to the Granada border at Ventas de Zafarraya.  Ah well, perhaps something will improve next week.

Female Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon  Phoenicurus ochruros

No sooner at the riverside walk and we became aware of the screeching Monk Parakeets quickly followed by a couple of Collared Doves.  By the time we returned we must have recorded almost thirty of these very common doves, far more than the supply of Monk Parakeets.  Once clear of the initial park are we had a Great Tit followed by the first of quite a number of Black Redstarts, almost all being of the feminine gender.  A small charm of Goldfinch flew over and then on up towards the first river crossing.  Here we found a pair of White Wagtails and a lone House Sparrow.  On the far side a trio of Cattle Egrets were noted and then one flew in to forage the far side of the river bank.

Collared Dove Tortola Turca Streptopelia decaocto

Continuing on up to and slightly beyond the motorway bridge we noted scores of Spotless Starlings and, included in their number, at least three Common Starling.  A Chiffchaff was working the trees and we were to find another couple on the return journey.  Overhead there seemed to be almost always a trio of Lesser Black-backed Gulls drifting around and a slight deviation on the return walk to circumnavigate the local sewerage treatment plant only produced another Black Redstart and a House Sparrow.  Continuing on back to the old N340 a Blackbird and finally a lonely Feral Pigeon.  An enjoyable walk in the sunshine, even if only 14 species recorded.

Birds seen:

Cattle Egret, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.


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

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Rutland Water

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus

 Saturday 14 November

A relatively calm, clear and sunny start to the day following heavy overnight rain so time to come out of self-isolation (at last!) and spend a couple of hours or so at nearby local patch, Rutland Water. At last, hopefully a range of birds rather than just the Jackdaws and Starlings seen from the garden.

Approaching Rutland Water I first went to see what might be about on Fishponds and North Arm and a quick stop near Burley Fishponds found rather few birds about but those present included Wigeon, Cormorant and a pair of Gadwall having already recorded a Magpie as I approached the private road.  In the far distance a Great White Egret and Little Egret plus Wood Pigeons resting in the trees on the opposite bank along with a couple of Grey Herons.  On up past Hambledon tot the end of the track, lots of cars about as many people seemed to be taking advantage of the chance to exercise now the weather had improved, and returning the same way a couple of stops to look at the same water from a higher vantage point.  This soon produced large numbers of both Greylag and Canada Geese plus many more Mute Swams and a closer view of the Great White Egret. Both Dunnock and Blackbird crossed the road in front of me and in the field to my left the first Carrion Crow of the morning.  Also on the water a single Great Crested Grebe and a number of Black-headed and single Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

Left turn towards Egleton and the last fields on the right held a large flock of feeding Rooks, probably approaching 100 individuals.  Once parked up, the first stop was at the Feeding Station in front of the Visitors Centre which seemed very quiet, the time now approaching 10 o'clock.  Both Blue and Great Tit along with the occasional Chaffinch and even a Moorhen occupying the pond.

Male Chaffinch Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs

Having paid my entrance fee I first headed south towards the Mallard Hide passing a pair of Egyptian Geese and Carrion Crow resting in the open field on my right just outside the reserve.  From the hide I had a better view of the birds occupying Lagoon 1.  Lots of Lapwing and Wigeon along with more Great White Egrets, Shoveler, Shelduck and Mallard.  A small number of Teal near the shore and then I found a pair of Avocet to the left of the nearest island in front of the hide.  Returning to the Visitors Centre car park I came across a few Jackdaw in the old tree near the Feeding Station and then off northwards to see what else might be about.

Egyptian Goose Ganso Egipcio Alopochen aegyptiaca

Walking on towards the Redshank hide I cam across a busy little Robin and looking up was able to see the distant, soaring Buzzard. Nothing extra to report from either Redshank or Grebe Hides other than the Stonechat at the former but upon returning to the main path I happened to see a light shape in the small tree on the opposite side of the field.  Only bins with me but having heard of the recent sighting  of a few Redwing in the area did my best but the bird seemed wrong.  Wondered if a possible Fieldfare but a little on the small side as it was concealed in the branches.  Record photographs taken form a couple of distant viewpoints and upon returning home was able to put my mind at rest and confirm a resting Song Thrush; still a lovely bird to come across.  

Well-concealed Song Thrush Zorzal Comun Turdus philomelos

Closer views of Wigeon and Moorhens from the Osprey Hide and then on up to the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4.  No small birds about but a few close Wigeon and the occasional Moorhen.  In the distance a number of Mute Swans and just the single Little Egret but the main flocks were the very distant Black-headed Gulls and a large number of both Lapwing and Golden Plover.  The latter were mainly congregated to my left and must have totalled well in excess of 100 if not double the number given that part of the area was hidden by vegetation.

A few of the many Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvialis apricaria

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria to the rear and Lapwing Vanellus vanellus at the front
A few Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus

Moving ion the Lagoon 3 and the Shoveler Hide I immediately became aware of how few ducks were actually on the water.  A small number of Wigeon and Teal and, of course, more Lapwing.  However, off to my left quite a gathering Great White Egrets accompanied by a few Little Egrets.  

Mainly Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba with a few Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta in support

Nearer to me, on my immediate left, a group of 8 Snipe were bust feeding at the water's edge.  Scanning the far reed edge I picked up a few Heron and more Moorhen but where were all the Coot?  Just as I was about to depart a Marsh Harrier drifted right across the back of the water revealing more and more Cormorants.

A happy group of Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Closer were of the egrets whilst at the Buzzard Hide where I also came across a couple of Tufted Duck and a distant pair of Goldeneye.  The Crake Hide provided  few more close Wigeon and a Little Egret whilst at the Lapwing Hide overlooking the South Arm revealed a number of Great Crested Grebes but, again, no Coots.  On the other hand, obvious to where all the Tufted Duck flock had relocated.  Walking towards the Lapwing Hide I had a Wren "skip" across the track in front of me and on my way back I almost fell over as the sudden mix of a deep "bark" and "squeeling pig" indicated that a water rail was close at hand behind the fence in the shallow water.

A pair of distant Goldeneye Porron Osculado Bucephata clangula

Calling in at the Smew Hide on the way back I found that this area of Lagoon 2 held a good supply of Gadwall as well as yet more Wigeon.

Wigeon Silbon Europeo Anas penelope

And so back to the Visitors Centre to report my findings before heading back to the car park to change out of walking boots, etc and make my way home via an anti-clockwise circuit of the water.  A stop at Lyndon Visitors centre enable me to find a large flock of Coot and on the feeders Greenfinch, Chaffinch and both Blue and Great Tits.  A handful of Long-tailed Tits arrived at the far hedge and a Dunnock seen in the bush next to the feeders.  On the far side of the water from the Teal Hide a very large gathering of both Mute Swans and Little Egret.  Even a few Teal close at hand to give meaning to the hide's name!

Mute Swan Cisne Vulgar Cygnus olor

Finally time to head home and approaching the closed entrance to the dam a couple of Pheasants in the field to my right.  Nothing to be seen on the deep water so off home and back in Stamford before I saw my first Collared Dove and Starling of the day.  But still no House Sparrows today.

Birds seen: 

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch,

Ducks seen at Rutland Water:

Female Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca

Tufted Duck Porron Monudo Aythya fuligula

Goldeneye Porron Osculado Bucephata clangula





Male and female Wigeon Silbon Europeo Anas penelope

Both side profiles and front view of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Mainly Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvialis apricaria

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

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

RSPB Frampton Marsh, Boston

Greylag Geese Anser anser

 Wednesday 4 November

The final day before England shuts down and Boris throws away the keys, etc!  A clear and sunny start to the day following a slight overnight frost so a later than expected start to drive over to RSPB Frampton Marsh on the outskirts of Boston.  An interesting drive across which produced Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws along with large flocks of Starlings, multitudes of Black-headed Gulls feeding in the harvesting fields as I approached and even a low Buzzard immediately in front of the car as I approached Spalding.  But arriving at the reserve it was pretty obvious that all the other local birders were also making a final sortie before lockdown with an almost full main car park so straight down towards the high bank to park in the alternative car park and check out the flooded fields and pools.

Just a few of the thousands of Wigeon Anas penelope

Thousands of Wigeon had arrived for the winter along with hundreds of both Teal and Starlings.  On the water a few Mallard and Shoveler with the Teal but also lots of Canada and Greylag Geese. However, my biggest surprise was to find a quartet of White-fronted Geese looking very clean and bright.  Now I wonder how long, and for how long, theses migrants had been on site?  In the distance I could see a solitary Little Egret and to my right a small number of Shelduck.  With Lapwing appearing to be everywhere much concentration needed to find the occasional Moorhen and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  At least four Magpies recorded in the area and then a walk up to the top of the high bank to check out the Salt Marsh and far side of the reserve towards Boston.

More Greylag Anser anser but where are the White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons?

Very little to be seen on the Salt Marsh but I did scope a distant Marsh Harrier quartering the far area towards the river.  Towards the East Hide I pick up a handful of Brent Geese along with more Shelduck. Returning to the car I took another look at the water and discovered a busy feeding Snipe in the short grass beyond the handful of Teal whilst scoping the thousands of mixed Wigeon, Lapwing and Starlings along with Teal I found a foraging Common Sandpiper.

Only thirteen of hundreds of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Moving back to the main car park I was disappointed to find the main water at the Visitors Centre completely devoid of bird life as maintenance was on-going.  Most disappointing for me and other observers if this was to be the last opportunity to visit the site.  It probably now comes down to how far one can travel for their exercise!  Other than another Magpie nothing to see in the neighbouring hedgerows albeit plenty of fruit on display so, in time, no doubt many winter thrushes will be arriving.  However away from the car park towards the farm buildings I did pick out a couple of Curlew and a resting Mute Swan.

Magpie Pica pica

Rather than straight back to Stamford, upon leaving, passing a resting female Kestrel and a flying Pied Wagtail, I then took the opportunity to drive down the farm road/track just beyond the reserve to look at the large irrigation pond at the back of Wet Grassland and also see the previous large flocks from the other side with the sun behind me.  And most worthwhile it proved to be.  Not that many birds on the pond but there was a quartet of Gadwall, a pair of Pochard, and a few Tufted Ducks.

Female Kestrel Falco tinnunculus about to depart

Returning along the lane I stopped for fifteen minutes in an avenue of trees about an hundred metres before re-joining the road away from the reserve to Frampton village.  I had seen movement and patient waiting in the car produced a number of Chaffinches plus Blackbird, Great and Blue Tits.  Even a little "Jenny" Wren landed at the base of a tree on my left then "hopped" over the lane to rest on a low branch to my right.  Whilst all this was going on I was aware of a dark shape in the tall vegetation and eventually the long tail followed by the body revealed a cock Pheasant.

So, time to move on and a call at Baton Gravel Pits on my way back but hardly had I set off than I had a number of Wood Pigeon and approaching Spalding a Red Kite immediately in front of me trying to decide how to access the carrion on the main road.  Another Buzzard was seen approaching Deeping St Nichols which may well have been the same bird that I saw on the way out.

Baston Gravel Pits seemed almost full to bursting following the recent rains and on the western pond I had a large flock of Lapwing along with Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon and a single Cormorant.  A few Black-headed Gulls and even a Little Grebe put in an appearance.  Checking the eastern pool behind me I found far more Black-headed Gulls and maybe a dozen or more Cormorants.  In addition, a few Coots and Tufted Ducks made up the numbers.

More Wigeon Anas penelope

Finally, departing the waters towards Baston I stopped immediately after the junction to check-out the large flock of Lapwing and Black-headed Gulls feeding on the field on my right.  A few Starlings were amongst the larger birds and right at the front of the field a pair of Greylag Geese.  To my right and beating a hasty retreat along the hedge a trio of Hares, whilst the cock Pheasant took his time to amble away.  And all this watched over by the male Kestrel on the wire above.

Feeding Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and a few Starlings Sturnus vulgaris watched by Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus


Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, White-fronted Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Snipe, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch.

Teal Anas crecca
Shoveler Anas clypeata
Mainly Canada Geese Branta canadensis
Yet more Wigeon Anas penelope to finish

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