Thursday, 14 February 2019

Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus
Wednesday 13 February

A beautiful, clear sunny day but shame about the strong wind.  Lots of fun and birds with visiting American birders from Pennsylvania, Jon and Noreen Leven along with their friends David and Bettie.  Off from Torremolinos just before 9.30 to Laguna Dulce then Fuente de Piera and not back till dark and well after 7pm - but we did take the scenic route back from Fuente de Piedra so that we could drive around the Guadalhorce lakes.

Approaching Campanillos we stopped to check out the cliff face at the Teba turn and were rewarded not with just a dozen Griffon Vultures gliding along the top and nearer but also a flock of about an hundred Chough.  Also present were Crag Martins and we even had our first of at least five Common kestrels seen during the day.

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Chough Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrocorax
Approaching the Laguna Dulce we stopped to check out the flooded fields on our right and, again, were well rewarded by a good range of birds including a couple of foraging Meadow Pipits in front of the car.  On the water itself, apart from the many Black-headed Gulls, were a number of Black-winged Stilts, Dunlin and a Redshank along with the many White Wagtails.  Further study produced a couple of Avocet and a handful of Shelduck, Ringed Plover and Lesser Back-backed Gulls.  However, I suspect my American guests were more impressed with the Lapwing.

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus
At the laguna itself the water level was still very high but I suspect the number of Coots had considerably diminished since my last visit a fortnight ago.  Lots of Common Pochard to be seen and then the finding of maybe more than twenty Red-crested Pochard.  Also present were at least two dozen White-headed Ducks.  Whilst there was a good number of Black-necked Grebes present, Great Crested Grebe numbers were not only down but the birds were much further away than usual.  We had a distant female marsh harrier quartering the back of the water and immediately in front of the hide a foraging Chiffchaff.  A female Black Redstart beat a hasty retreat from behind the fence and having found the wintering Crane on the far side of the water it was time to drive round to the track on the other side.

White-headed Ducks  Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala with both Common and Red-crested Pochard at top
No sooner had we arrived than a flock of about thirty Golden Plover wheeled around in the air immediately above the car but being very windy and with the sun in our faces it made taking good photographs of the Cranes more difficult but we perceived.  Also found on the far side were many more Coots and Lapwing plus, of course, White Wagtails and the expected Crested Larks and Corn Bunting plus a Sky Lark.  We also added Stonechat to our sightings and near the old farm found a Little Grebe on the pool at the side of the track.  having taken a chance that the track might now be passable to the end we pressed on but then came to the "gate" in the form of deep, flooded ruts and half the track missing with a gaping hole to the right!  Nothing for it but to turn round and retrace our steps so to speak but as we made our way back we did did get a glance at  female Hen Harrier above the olive trees followed by a small charm of Goldfinch; so not all bad news.  Ant then a lone Cattle Egret as we reached the end of the track and another male Common Kestrel resting on the wires above.

Common Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus
Having been informed of a nearby flock of Flamingos we made our way to a flooded field next to the road just before reaching the small pool and hide south of Campillos.  I counted a 101 Flamingos along with a few more Black-winged Stilts, a couple of Ringed Plover and more White Wagtails.

Then it was on to Fuente de Piedra and lunch.  Approaching the working farm on the junction so that we could take the anti-clockwise circuit to the village, we picked up our first Spotless Starlings plus more Stonechat.

Plenty of Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis

Our inner bodies now satisfied we made our way to the laguna as we approached the car park the flooded field to lour left held Black-winged Stilts and Black-headed Gulls plus a good number of Jackdaw on the bank.  At the far side two pairs of Common Teal were noted.  Viewed from the mirador next to the old tree, thousands of Flamingos could be seen n the distance and to our right we also came across the first Shoveler of the day.  The scrape produced a couple of Moorhen and then it was time to visit the main hide overlooking the laguneta.

Just a few of the Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus plus Gadwall Anade Friso Anas strepera (to left)
Lovey to see relatively close Flamingos and beautiful Teal and Shoveler.  Still a few Red-crested Pochard and even a two pairs of GadwallLittle Grebes were feeding and then the wonderful sight of a female Marsh Harrier quartering the pool and giving excellent views to all.  Not just the Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls but even a handful of Barn Swallows flying across the water.  As for the Coots, we noticed that one pair already had four thriving chicks happily paddling about the water - just waiting to be picked up by the quartering Marsh Harrier.  And if not one of the small chicks then certainly something else that had been sheltering in the long grass on the opposite side of the water from the hide.

Marsh Harrier Aguilucho lagunero Circus aeruginosus on the hunt for lunch
Finally setting off for home continuing on an anti-clockwise circuit so that we would link up again at the farm, we noted that had we been able to continuing on the connecting track mentioned above then we would have been defeated within thirty yards of the exit as the track is still submerged in a deep river and enough mud to last a lifetime!  Probably just as well that we stopped earlier on.  Now lots of Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows around the farm as we made our way onwards to the Guadalhorce lakes and Torremolinos.  More Blackbirds to add to the two males sitting on the wall outside the hotel in Torremolinos and  a dozen Cattle Egret flying back to their roost for the night.  A most enjoyable day in wonderful company and a final count of 47 species.

Red-crested pato Colorado Netta rufina and Common Pochards porron Europea Aythya ferina along with the Coots Focha Comun Fulica atra

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Back-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.



More of the Crane flock Grulla Comun Grus grus


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Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa

Wednesday 13 February

Looks like another good birding day for Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group as can be seen by the following report.



Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa:Wednesday 13th February

Today was bright and sunny, but a tad chilly to start with.  I drove down to the Rambla de Almanzora in Richard's car with him sitting beside me.  We checked what was around from the road bridge to the ford.  We saw Magpie, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, and Moorhen.  At the ford pool we added a Snipe and a female Shoveler. 

Snipe Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We also saw Black Redstart, Woodpigeon, White Wagtail and Black-headed Gull.  We were joined by Charlie and then John and Alan who'd seen a Booted Eagle and Crag Martins near the Consum supermarket.  Next to arrive was Trevor together with daughter, Karen and son-in-law, Mark, the latter two being novices.  As we were about to commence the walk towards the sewage works we spotted Stonechat, Mallard, Great Tit, Carrion Crow and Hoopoe.  As we made our way along the rambla embankment a couple of Green Sandpipers flew up the channel, but the star bird was a female Sparrowhawk.  A Grey Heron took to the air.  On the large pool we had Common Pochard, Mallard and Teal.  On the opposite embankment Richard spotted the now regular female Blue Rock Thrush.  He also saw a Robin.  We were joined by Val as we were turning round to head for the vehicles.

Female Blue Rock Thrush Monticoloa solittarius  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We added a Blackbird on our way to Villaricos village for a coffee.  John and Alan checked out the beach nearby and saw a Turnstone and Thekla Lark.  We all made our way to the harbour beach. There was nothing on the rocky islands as waves were splashing over the top.  I spotted a couple of Gannets out to sea and John found a Black-necked Grebe at the harbour entrance.  Karen the spied a Greenfinch on a nearby shrub.

Dunlin Calidris alpina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We walked over to the estuary where the usual suspects were in evidence.  Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen and Grey Heron.  We made our way round to the beach.  About a dozen Dunlin were feeding on the shoreline.  Alan found a Sanderling on a rock and I found a single Audouin's Gull swimming on the lake.  John checked out the rocky outcrop and found the Whimbrel as it flew off. There was a small mixed group of Sandwich Terns and Audouin's Gull, two of which had visible rings, the details of which I'll send off.  Val found a Turnstone and Kentish Plover whilst John got a Kingfisher perched on a rock.  The final bird was a Grey Plover found by me.

Auduoin's Gulls Larus audouinii with Sandwich Terns at back Sterna sandvicensis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved on to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket at the back of Vera Playa. The usual wildfowl were there.  Shoveler, Mallard and Teal, but Shelduck were also seen as they took to the air as a Marsh Harrier quartered over.  John pointed out one of many Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black-headed ones.  Also seen were Black-winged Stilt and Little Grebe.  Over the far side John found a Black-tailed Godwit whilst Alan added Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Little Stint.  Also seen was a Jackdaw.  We made our way to the raised concrete platform near the Agua Park.  We only added some White-headed Ducks.  We also heard Cetti's Warbler.

Common Pochard Aythya ferina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
A lovely days birding in good company. 55 species in all.
Regards, Dave

About a quarter of the gull flock (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Sunday 10 February

The 10 Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba on the Rio Velez
Up early to see of my brother-in-law to the airport,(I collect he and friend and the Friend's host undertook the return journey) so a chance to make an early morning visit to the local Rio Velez in Torre del Mar, arriving just after 8 o'clock.  Thankfully, although dry and coldish, no dog walkers nor "strange men" about so able to concentrate on the birding.  Still lots of water downsteam of the N340 road bridge but also far too much vegetation.  It was also soon very obvious that in addition to there still being many Chiffchaffs and White Wagtails about there were a good number of Blackbirds to be seen.  One wonders whether or not these might be migratory birds working their way back north.

Male Blackbird Mirlo Comun Turdus Merula
No sooner had I seen my first Blackbirds along with the resident Moorhens and Rock Doves plus a couple of passing Collared Doves than I changed my mind and drove up to the open hide (what a disgraceful place this is as it seems to be used as a toilet by humans rather than stray dogs), parked the car and then walked back to the bridge so that the low, rising sun was behind rather than in front of me.  A Cormorant flew over and then I came across a tree roost with more than 60 Cormorants complete with a solitary Grey Heron.

A few of the Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo roost

A Hoopoe was calling to my right and then the first Robin of the morning plus a good number of Chiffchaffs.  There must have been at least a score of Mallards spread out along this stretch of the river plus a trio of Teal.  A Green Sandpiper beat a hasty retreat before I picked up a pair of Stonechat and the first Serin.

Grey Heron Garca Real Adea cinerea in the early morning low sun

Once back at the hide very little extra to be seen apart from a male Blackcap and a few Spotless Starlings and more Chiffchaffs and Blackbirds.  A handful of Serin landed on the fence on the opposite side of the track and a Yellow-legged Gull was seen above.  So off down to the beach which, unfortunately by now, had a handful of dog-walkers with their yappy friends running around.  Really a case of using the scope to see what was resting on the water; a large mixed flock of Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls with a smattering of both Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls.  Returning to the car in readiness to move on I also picked up a Cetti's Warbler, Meadow Pipit and a quartet of Goldfinch.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops

The drive under the N340 to take a look up stream from the bridge produced more White Wagtails and Chiffchaff along with, presumably, the earlier Green Sandpiper and another calling Hoopoe.  Then on to the arable fields further up where I found many House Sparrows, a couple of Crested Larks and a flock of about 50 starlings with about a quarter being Northern rather than Spotless starlings.  next up a single Greenfinch followed by a solitory Black Redstart.  Posing on a wire on the other side of the now narrow river was a Little Egret and feeding in the water below a flock of 10 Sanderling.  Two Green Sandpipers now, more Meadow Pipits and then a couple of Grey Wagtail.  A single Cattle Egret flew across and then the, driving away, a kestrel resting on a pylon.

Two Green Sandpipers Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus

Back to the N340 and across the river to take a clockwise circuit of the arable fields to the west of the Rio Velez but all very quiet.  More White Wagtails, Chiffchaff and House Sparrows and then the very last bird on the three hour visit when I came across a Blue Rock Thrush sitting on top of a ruin just as I approached the Go-kart track next to the N340.


Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius
Birds seen:
Mallard, Teal, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Sanderling, Green Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Ceti's Warbler, Blackcap. Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba

Common Starling Estornino Pinto Sturnus vulgaris with Spotless Estornino Negro Sturnus unicolor cousins

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

The Sierras above Nerja

Thursday 7 February

Lovely warm sunny day as we discovered that the grown-ups' adventure playground near Marbella was only open at  week-ends, I took Jenny and brother-in-law Chris up to Maro so that we could explore a  little of the track up into the Sierra Tajeda from near the Maro caves.  Lots of calling/singing birds as we parked the car but the bright sunshine and the birds taking advantage of the high tree cover made recognition very difficult.  But we did quickly manage Collared Dove, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Chiffchaff.  Many tits heard but not seen.

Male Chaffinch Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs
A stop after about a km produced not only a sighting of both Stonechat and Blackcap by Chris and Jenny but also a the head-only sight of a young male Ibex on the rocks below.  Once at the picnic area, 5km from the bottom, all would have been perfect had not the local forestry gang been busy cutting and trimming.  Nevertheless, we quickly found more Chaffinches and then the first Great Tits plus a couple of Robin.  Chris found a Long-tailed Tit, just the one, I had a pair of foraging Crested Tits quickly followed by a couple of Coal Tit.

Coal Tit Carbonero Garrapinos Parus ater
Yet another few Chiffchaff and as I slipped behind a tree for the obvious reason I cam across a Wood Lark on the ground in front of me.  Who cares how you finish the morning and although few species seen I did record three new sightings for the year.  All the common tits other than Blue Tit which we heard singing upon arrival.

Birds seen:
Collared Dove, Wood Lark, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch.

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Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar with Dave & Co

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Interesting reading Dave's report below of the Arboleas Birding Group's visit to the west of Almeria.  Like me he has noticed that Shoveler numbers are rapidly declining as they make their return migration northwards.  A little worrying about all the plastic filth at Las Norias and those ABS members attending the February meeting In Cabo de Gata on 16 February and taking in a stop at this site on the way up or back will see the ghastly mess for themselves.  I'll be there Friday morning and trying not to be too distracted whilst birding.  Little Terns would be a delight to see.


Disgraceful discarded plastic rubbish at Las Norias


Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar  -   Wednesday 6th February

Ssssh! Don't shout it too loud, but the weather seems to have changed for the better.  As I drove Richard, Paul, Reyna and Peter down from Arboleas the temperature increased from 5C up to nearly 20C by the end of the day.  Blue skies, sunny and very little wind. We met up with Alan and John at the Repsol Service Station (Jct 420).  After a cup of coffee we headed for Las Norias lake, seeing a Cattle Egret perched on a power line on the way.  As we approached the first causeway, we saw White Wagtail, Black Redstart and the first of numerous Cormorant.  Richard saw a Robin and John a Black Headed Gull.  I scanned the far shore and counted over 70 Cormorants resting or drying their wings together with one Little Egret and a few Grey Heron.  We also saw Mallard, Red Crested Pochard, Coot, Moorhen and Great Crested Grebe on the water.  John found some Crag Martin.  On the right hand side, the best birds were 17 White-headed Duck in a raft.  A line of a dozen or so Cormorants were combining forces to fish.  Little Grebe were present.  Alan found an elusive Shoveler.  Most seem to have now departed.  A lot less Chiffchaff as well.  We heard the usual Cetti's Warbler.  Also seen were Serin, Greenfinch and Stonechat.
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Moving round to second stop, half way round, we picked our way through the ever increasing piles of discarded rubbish.  Alan found some Black-necked Grebes.  A flight of Goldfinch flew over.  A Sardinian Warbler was in the reeds.  I then spied a Spotted Redshank in the rocky area, together with a Green Sandpiper and a Northern Starling.  There were hundreds of the latter swarming around in large flocks.  A Grey Heron flew out of the reeds below us.  Richard thought it could've been spooked by a Purple Swamphen.  We then spotted 4 Little Terns fishing over the far side.  A Gadwall landed on the water in front of us.  I spotted a flying Little Stint.  Also seen were Meadow Pipit, Jackdaw and Blackbird.
We moved to the near end of the littler pool.  The fact it is only 500 metres from the Plastic Recycling factory makes the piles of discarded plastic sheeting all the more abominable!  We saw more Red-crested Pochard, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe and Cormorants.  We drove round to the little bridge. Paul spotted a Kingfisher and I saw a Snipe fly over.
On the way to Roquetas we stopped for a coffee at San Augustin.  We drove to the far end of the Roquetas salinas.  As we crossed the causeway, a Marsh Harrier flew above us. 

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Alan and John in the leading car also saw a Zitting Cisticola.  We checked out the reeds and eventually John persistence was rewarded with glimpses of a Purple Swamphen.  Greater Flamingos were, of course, present.  We also saw a distant Shelduck.   Mosquitoes rampant in this area!  On the way to the next stop we added Magpie and Kestrel.  There, Alan spotted Black-winged Stilt and Redshank and John had Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus at Roquetas de mar
We then moved on to the main pool.  Large rafts of Common Pochard, Coot and Black-headed Gulls. A few Gadwall.  Not the numbers of the previous visit.  Also seen were more Marsh Harriers and Cormorants.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
We ended up with 52 species. Lovely weather in great company. 
Regards, Dave

All photographs by David Elliott-Binns


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Sunday, 3 February 2019

Zafarraa and the Sierra Tejeda

Broad Leaf Iris Iris subbiflora
Saturday 3 February

Sunny, reasonably calm and the forecast a sunny day as I set out for the old railway track u at Venta de Zafarraya.  However, upon arrival the temperature had dropped to 2C, the wind was blowing a gale and light snow/frozen rain falling.  To make matters worse my arrival coincided with the meeting point of one of the local walking groups.  Not much point parking up so slowly drove up the track, through the tunnel and on to the old ruins before returning.  What a dearth of birdlife or any sort of life.  A handful of Chaffinches,  male Stonechat and a couple of Great Tits as I returned to  the mirador with overcast skies and contuing light snowfall.  Give u and go home where, at least the sun was shining on the coast?  Not at all; after all things could only get better - couldn't they?

Passing through the village I took a slight detour to visit the duck pond but found only a few "wild" Mallards amongst the domestic ducks and geese.  But other than a few House Sparrows all was deserted so on down to the "muck heap" and growing fields.  At first very quiet, even though the weather was improving and temperature now up to 4C where it remained till the afternoon when it reached the dizzy height of 5C at the woods of El Robledal.  A barren field held a few Greenfinch and Goldfinch as I drove down to the pond where I found a female Mallard and a White Wagtail.  However,  stopping on the way back to the main road  found a flock of 15 Mistle Thrushes busy feeding amongst the "left-overs" and then Crested Lark, Serin and Linnet.

Mistle Thrush Zorzal Charlo Turdus viscivorus

Nothing to report from the "Magpie Woods" so on to the cereal-growing fields in the hinterland.  Now here we did start to see some bird life once the first small flock of Calandra Larks and a couple of Black Redstarts had been found.  Feeding nearby both Sky, Crested Larks alongside a dozen or more Meadow Pipits and then the discovery of a handful of Short-toed Larks to really put a smile on my face.  Even a (common) Magpie sat in an old tree at the end of the fields. It was whilst stopping to check out the Magpie that I first noticed the movement a field back from the road.  Taking out the scope I found well in excess of 300 Greenfinches along withe the odd Goldfinch and Linnet and more Meadow Pipits.  Wow!

Meadow Pipit Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis

Setting off towards the old road up to Salar so that I could take the anti-clockwise circuit through the woods and stony moor I added a number of Corn Bumting and a Red-legged Partridge crossed the road in front of me and almost ended up on my dinner table!  Once through the woods and up to the small holdings I added many more White Wagtails and then a handful of Azure-winged Magpies.  A flock of a score or more Wood Pigeons flew over and I set about checking the many small flacks of Chaffinches.  Great news (luck?), I managed to find  male Brambling in with the third encounter. A few more Crested Larks then out on the stony terrain.

 Again, stopping just past the last farm house, that with the noisy wandering dog, I stopped to check a handful of small brown birds hidden just behind the edge of the road, on my side of the car.  Not just a trio of Rock Buntings but also a first Northern Wheatear of the year.  Only a hundred or so metres further on I finally found my Thekla Larks and a few more Azure-winged Magpies moving around near a score of more Spotless Starlings, the flock of which also contained at least two Common Starling.

Male Chaffinch Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs

With the skies now much clearer I moved on to the woods of El Robledal.  Stopping on the main track towards the picnic area I checked out the brown raptor atop the electricity pylon which turned out to be a Buzzard.  A Robin was moving around in the undergrowth but little else to see at the woods themselves.  However, stopping to once again check out the feeding finches as I exited the woods near the newly-restored cortijo, having seen another couple of Black Redstarts,  I not only found a good number of Chaffinches along with a few Goldfinch and Linnet but also another three Brambling in the large willow tree.  But the big surprise was to suddenly catch site of a lovely male Cirl Bunting on the bank immediately below me. Much as I waited, I could not encourage/wish the bird back into sight for a photo.

Stony terrain which produced both Rock Bunting and Northern Wheatear
So to the final leg of my journey as I set out for home; the mountain track relatively nearby that would take me down through the Sierra Tejada to Alcaucin and then on back to the coast.  Another Robin as I mad my way up past the last form and then the large flash of a white rump as a Jay moved away and down through the tree-covered sloe o my right.  A walk around the main picnic area produced a few more Chaffinches and Chiffchaff and then a quartet of Crossbill to end a long, cold but enjoyable day's birding.  And once down off the mountain I was once again in full sunlight, clear skies and a temperature of 16C.  There may have been few birds on show other then the large finch flocks but the 36 species recorded included 10 new records for the year.  It just goes to show, don't give up just because you get off to a bad start.  You just have to work a little harder for your birds.

Distant record shot of male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Buzzard, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting


Almond still in blossom

A different habitat to that on the other side of the mountain


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Friday, 1 February 2019

Zapata

Thursday 31 January

Not just the last day of the month but also time to say good-bye to our visiting Dutch-birder friend, Lisette as she leaves for home early next week.  Still, come November Lisette will be back with us to continue her Malaga birding and walks in the neighbouring countryside.  We eventually met up with Olly and Corrinne Hibbert and John and set of for Zapata to see if the tracks and area around the ford were as safe as led to believe.  Indeed they were.

On arrival we quickly recorded House Sparrow, Spotless Starling and Collared Dove as we made our way down to the Rio Gualhorce.  Soon up came a pair of Great Tit and an over-flying Cattle Egret plus a resting Kestrel on top of a bare tree.  As ever, there seemed to be White Wagtails everywhere.  Once parked a the for we could take in the birds either on the water, such as Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Shoveler plus those feeding or resting at the edges.  Here we found a very concealed Heron plus both Green and Common Sandpiper along with a single Greenshank.  A brief appearance from a Meadow Pipit before we added a Ringed Plover to the sightings.  Behind us the loud calling of Cetti's Warblers, foraging Chiffchaffs and the occasional Blackbird before a Grey Wagtail put in an appearance at the water's edge.  A Cormorant flew over on its way up river and taking a short walk up stream we found a dozen Jackdaw.

Linnet Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina

Having crossed the ford in just the one car a stop on the other side produced another couple of Green Sandpipers in the concrete run-off and the sight of an Osprey above us making its way downstream.  Both Serin and Blackcap were found in the neighbouring trees along with more White Wagtails.  Another good sighting was that of a male Black Redstart.  A Little Egret was resting at the water's edge.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacila alba

Back across the river and then up to the reed bed.  Here we found numerous Goldfinch and Linnet plus another Robin and a couple of Meadow Pipit, most enjoying a lovely bath in the exposed stream.  A couple of Greenfinch in the nearby trees along with a female Reed Bunting whilst two Moorhens made the mad dash across the exposed water.

Meadow Pipit Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis

Working our way along the track we also found a trio of Sardinian Warbler and Stonechat.  On a nearby post a Buzzard came to rest and a second Kestrel was seen over the airport perimeter. Whilst two dozen Cattle Egrets and about a dozen Jackdaws were feeding on the turned soil as they followed a tractor in the field behind us we also had a the first of a couple of Zitting Cisticola in the reeds.  Crag Martins were by now feeding above us.  Checking out the local starling flock we even managed to find a Common Starling in their midst.

Returning by taking the same route back rather than straight onto the nearby road, we stopped near the turn to the ford and watched a female Marsh Harrier drop down in front of us and, at the same time, also saw the Osprey circling above before moving away.  A Hoopoe was calling away to our left and a lovely male Kestrel was back in the original tree seen on entry to the site and then back towards the airport where we found a Red-legged Partridge walking across the top of the underpass entry!

Male Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus

No Waxbill or Penduline Tit but we did manage a final species total of 43.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.
 
Linnet Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina and White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacila alba enjoying their ablutions.

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