Wednesday, 22 February 2017



Wednesday 22 February

Just had a short email from my friend Dave Elliott-Binns re his group's visit to Maria today.  Evidently Dave is training up a new scribe so I might get a more "formal" report at a later date.

However, along with the three photographs, Dave commented on the number of Rock Sparrows, over 100, seen on the power lines and the sighting of a first, male, Lesser Kestrel of the year.  Able to refer Dave to our recent visit to Extremadura re the latter.  Dave also stated that the weather was somewhat chilly!


Crested Lark Cogujada Comun Galerida cristata



Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua











Male Lesser Kestrel Cernicalo Primilla Falco naumanni


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

Caleta de Velez

Wednesday 22 February

A very early evening walk along the coast to the fishing harbour produced a very useful 14 species.  Arriving near the port, Jenny and I had screeching Monk Parakeets in the trees behind us along with both Blackbird and Spotless Starling on the neighbouring roofs.  Both Collared and Rock Doves were also present.

In the marina a small number of mainly Black-headed Gulls and, at the back, a quintet of Razorbill sheltering from the rough sea.  On the fenced-off beach just outside the harbour a gathering roost of mainly Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls along with many Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Resting with the on the stones was a single Little Egret and on the beach a solitary Little Stint busily feeding along the shore line and amidst the roosting gulls.

Little Stint Correlimos Menudo Calidris minuta with Yellow-legged Gulls Gaviota patiamarilla Larus michahellis

A walk out to the red lighthouse gave views over the sea where yet more gulls were resting and a returning fishing boat was swamped with scavenging gulls and at least a quintet of Gannets.  Returning to the harbour and the walk back home we noticed that a pair of Turnstones had arrived to  feed amongst the gulls resting on the stone wall.

Birds seen:
Gannet, Little Egret, Little Stint, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Razorbill, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Blackbird, Spotless Starling.


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

Exttremadura; Day 3 and Arrocampo

Sunday 19 February

A morning return visit to the steppe lands south of Obando in the hope that we might find the Little Bustard along with Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse that we missed on yesterday's ABS day.  A further, closer, sighting of more Great Bustards would be an added bonus.  As yesterday, as we gathered in the car park of the hotel  we could look across the road and see the resting Stone Curlews and both Lapwing and Crane were in early evidence as we set off on the first part of our journey which was to take a look at the old ruined church in Acedera which is a well-known site for seeing both nesting White Stork and Lesser Kestrel.  We were not to be disappointed.

How many Stone Curlews Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus can you find?

The church has remained in, basically, its preset state since damaged during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.  There are many holes, niches and crannies on the short tower and walls to enable a large colony of Lesser Kestrels to find suitable nesting sites albeit a few years ago the small tower section was cemented over and painted joints appended.  Not only does this do very little for the appearance of the tower, the resulting work covered many nesting access points and so reduced the number of pf opportunities for the returning small raptors. 

Lesser Kestrel cernicalo Primilla Falco naumanni
Meanwhile, the White Storks make use of the higher levels for their large nests of sticks, etc.

This White Egret Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia certainly knows how to get a decent blow-job



The White Egrets obviously enjoy living together
Both on the drive to the church and on leaving to reach the rolling plains we added an assortment of birds including Magpie, Crested Lark, Stonechat and Collared Dove.  Once south of Orellana la Vieja and the Zujar reservoir and onto the hills it was somewhat surprising to see a couple of Black-headed Gulls but the Red-legged Partirdge was a delight as was was the Raven and many Jackdaws along with sightings of Corn Buntings on the fences.  A small pond held a pair of Mallards and then we were ready to see a number of both Buzzards and Marsh Harriers.

We had regular sightings of individual Lapwing and then a stop as we eventually found our Great Bustards, a flock of about twenty-five.  Not so long after and I had a very brief sighting of a departing Little Bustard and would have been most disappointed if this was to be the only sighting.  A couple of minutes later we were all out f our cars and counted a flock slightly in excess of a hundred pass over.  Then another three and as local guide William Haworth stated, this was most peculiar.  We should have been seeing regular movements of sandgrouse with Little Bustard being the possible occasion and then only in very small numbers.  But was I complaining?

Most of the flock of Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda can be seen
A couple of large flocks of Calandra Lark were working the fields and then, slowly drifting by in the distance, an immature Golden Eagle.  We then added a Thekla Lark to the list and eventually came to a stop for our picnic lunch and a chance to use the higher ground to look into the valleys below.  More Golden Plover were seen and the birds seem to be breaking away from large flock and coming to rest on the grasses.  Difficult to get a decent photograph but many managed to get the birds focused in their scopes.  Indeed, whilst here we saw our first Northern Wheatear of the year.  The bird was on a sandy track near the road then obligingly came to rest on top of a fence post.  Shame that my photograph could not do justice to this handsome male in the windy conditions.  Whilst here we also had a hovering Common Kestrel and witnessed the passage of a small flock of Wood Pigeon.

Record shot of a pair of Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvialis apricaria
Carrying on we made a further stop, not for the Golden Plovers that flew away to the right but because we hear sandgouse.  then a party of four Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew over to be followed by a another group of about seven.  Great!  Even better, we then heard Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and three individuals appeared over the horizon and disappeared over our cars to the rear.  Object achieved and all four target birds now recorded.

Time to take my leave and make my way north to my hotel in Tejeda de Tietar in preparation for the morning's visit to the Monfrague National Park.  However, with time in hand I was able to leave the motorway and take a detour around the Arrocamp reservoir and especially the little back lane that in the past has provided some good sightings based on the small village of Saucedilla.  The only bird seen in the village, apart from more Barn Swallows, was a single Coot.  But once on the back road I added Stonechat, Corn Bunting and Crested Lark before arriving at a small lake.  More Barn Swallows over the water and I am sure that I saw a Red-rumped Swallow out of the corner of my eye but no further sighting so this bird still awaits being added to my year list.  On the opposite side of the road is a very large, shallow pond used by the resident cattle and, as expected, it also housed a number of birds, mainly White Wagtails but also mallard and a single Egyptian Goose.  There were Cattle Egrets in the field and then the sighting of a single Great White Egret on the next lake along the road.  This lake also held a handful of Shoveler and a couple of Coot with Cormorants passing overhead to and from the main reservoir.

Egyptian Goose Ganse deNilo Alopochen aegyptiaca
Finally, making my way back to the motorway to complete the journey I was able to add a few Teal at a small water and stopped for the occasional Chiffchaff and then, at last, the first Iberian Grey Shrike of the day.  Most enjoyable and no sooner had I arrived at a lovely rural hotel than I was joined by friends Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Jerry and Barbara Laycock for the evening who had spent the day exploring the Monfrague area with much success.



Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-legged Partridge, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, White Stork, Golden Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Coot, Crane, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Stone Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting.



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

ABS visit to Extremadura

Saturday 18 February

With 20 fellow members of the Andalucia Bird Society, led by local guide and ABS member, William Haworth accompanied by his assistant Neil Renwick, we spent a most enjoyable days birding in glorious weather on the eastern border of Badajoz province in Extremadura in search of some of the most iconic species of the area's steppe and rice field habitat.  And what a start to the day it was.  Nevermind the calling Collared Doves, gathered in the car park of the Hotel Don Juan we looked over the fence and adjoining road and there in the stubble field was a small group of Stone Curlew; a most auspicious start to the day and promise of great sightings to come.  Indeed, between the group we managed to record just on 80 species during the day.

Some of the hapy members looking forward to a great day's birding
Our first part of the morning included driving around some local paddy fields before moving onto the rolling downs that help make up the steppe territory before finally taking in some of the reservoirs around Zorito to the north of us.  Certainly no shortage of both Lapwing and Cranes early on and once into the harvested rice fields we quickly added Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Blackbird, Azure-winged Magpie and Chiffchaff.  However, as with yesterday, it was the sheer number of sparrows that took your breath away.  having got accustomed to the flocks, and they to us, it soon became apparent that there were both House and Spanish Sparrow along with a smattering of Tree Sparrows.  Then a group of small "sparrows" followed up from the ditch and we realised that we were looking at, perhaps, a flock of some fifty or more Common Waxbill.  Not content with this sighting, having moved on less then fifty metres we had a cloud of Waxwing leave the next bush and they must have totalled nearer 200 individuals.  Before re-joining the road we had also added Crested Lark, Buzzard, Red Kite and Hoopoe.  By the time our next stop had been completed we had also seen Jackdaw, Iberian Grey Shrike, many Marsh Harriers, Raven and Barn Swallows.

But before reaching our first reservoir we managed two separate sightings of a handful of Great Bustards.  The second group of four were a little further away from the road up against a distant fence but, at least, it did mean that every member of the group had recorded the species.

Distant record shot of Great Bustards Avutarda Hubara Otis tarda
So on o the first of the reservoirs where we found a very large flock of Shoveler and about a dozen Pintail.  Also present were Great Crested and Black-necked grebes, Mallard, Coot and Cormorants.  Driving down tot a smaller reservoir we stopped to admire a single Squacco Heron and a nearby pair of Great White Egrets.  The pool itself had much of the same along with more Barn Swallows, Little Egrets and a handful of Spoonbill.  Closer inspection also produced Gadwall, Teal and Heron and on a small island a pair of Egyptian Geese.  Nearer to hand we also found Magpie and Sardinian Warbler.  At this point a pair of Black Vultures (also known as Monk Vultures) drifted over.

Soaring Black Vulture Buitre Negro Aegypius monachus
Moving further around the larger reservoir we came across a number of Wigeon and a very faithful Kingfisher that remained with us for the whole of our lunch break.  More Marsh Harriers and a distant,unidentified eagle over the far hill with a number of Griffon Vultures.  A Sky Lark was singing overhead and and on our return drive we also picked up a Thekla Lark.  Whilst we were busy watching this individual, the members in the following car were looking up and following the Short-toed Eagle!

Distant record shot of the male Hen Harrier Aguilcho Palido Circus cyaneus

Working our way back towards Obando along a country road over the steep territory we added Crag Martin and Linnet along with the first of a few Lesser Kestrel.  Not so much the Wood Pigeons but the flocks of Calandra Larks caught our attention followed by the lovely sight of a quartering male Hen Harrier.  Then it was a limited number of Golden Plover and the first Red-legged Partridge of the week-end and a number of Meadow Pipits.

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba
Finally we arrive at the large hides at the Moheda Alta Visitor Centre overlooking the rice fields where the thousands of wintering Cranes had been coming in to roost for the night.  On the way to the hide we stopped to admire a solitary Great White Egret in the now fading light.  Unfortunately, just as Cranes had arrived very early this winter so, it would appear, the return migration was also starting early so we saw only hundreds rather than thousands but, nevertheless, a wonderful sight.  But not just Cranes as we had regular feeding visits from both House and Spanish Sparrows along with both Waxbill and Red Avadavat.  Both Robin and Bluethroat put in an appearance as did a number of Zitting Cisticola.  Our final birds of the day, excluding the quartering Marsh Harriers and a female of that species feeding on a Crane corpse, were Chaffinch and Green Sandpiper and, perhaps best of all, the sight of a Dunnock by a couple of members.

And in came the Cranes Grulla comun Grus grus
All in all a fabulous day's birding in glorious weather and superb company with many thanks to William Haworth for planning and leading the group.



Birds seen:
Egyptian Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal,Red-legged Partridge. Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Squacco heron, cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Coot, Crane, Great Bustard, Stone Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, tree Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.


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

Sunday, 19 February 2017

El Fondo with the Arboleas Bird Group

Sunday 19 February

it sounds as if we are all out and about this week-end; me up in Extremadura and Dave and friends further north near Elche once again visiting the El Fondo reserve.  Given that I will not be back till Tuesday at the earliest I'll get Dave's report published first.

El Fondo, Elche plus extras
Saturday 18th February 2017

I realise now that this day was the 7th anniversary of my heart attack!  So glad to still being around! I got picked up by Trevor & Ann at 05.15hrs in Arboleas.  Sadly Phil was full of cold so was unable to come (to my advantage...see later!).

We made good time to Cox service station where we had a coffee before heading to the North Gate of El Fondo bird reserve.  Antonio, the friendly ranger let us in just after 8 o'clock.  We'd already seen overflying Marsh Harrier and Cattle Egret as we drove down to the elevated viewing platform at the far end.  From there in front of us the expanse of reed surrounded water had Common Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, a male White Headed Duck, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot.  There was also Black Necked and Little Grebe.  The reeds were alive with Chiffchaff.  We heard Cetti's and Reed Warblers. I had a glimpse of a short flying Purple Swamphen before it disappeared into the reeds. Similarly, I saw a Great White Egret briefly together with a Grey Heron.  Numerous Marsh Harriers were seen. Scanning with my scope I found a perched Common Buzzard and a Booted Eagle.  Another birder found another two in the avenue of trees behind us.  On the pool behind us we had Great Crested Grebe and Shoveler.  Also saw flying Lapwing, Cormorant and Shelduck.

We walked the short distance to the hide to our right. We saw more Shoveler and Red Crested Pochard. We added Little Egret.

We then drove back towards the exit gate, stopping at various hides on the way.  From the elevated hide we were lucky that a local birder, Graham, was still there.  He pointed out the Spotted Eagle well concealed in a distant palm tree.  Would never have found it without his guidance!  From there we also had views over a shallow marsh area where we could see Black Winged Stilt, Common and Spotted Redshank and more resting Shelduck.  We also saw Wigeon, Black Headed and Yellow Legged Gull, Iberian Shrike and Woodpigeon.  Trevor and I spotted a flying Osprey as well.  Ann had bought scrumptious sausage rolls for them and Phil.  They were lovely, Phil.  Sorry you missed them! Our final stop was on the raised pathway over the scrubland.  We added Robin, Sardinian Warbler and Meadow Pipit.  Others there locked onto flashes of Bluethroat, but we didn't.  Also seen were Kestrel &and Greenfinch.

Exiting this area at the prescribed time, we made our way to the Information Centre.  Lots of people around including little ones.  We had views of a Purple Swamphen.  There was only one Red Knobbed Coot in the sheltered pool by the Centre, but did add a Water Pipit there.  I found a solitary Kentish Plover.  A flight of Dunlin flew by.  At the first hide we added Gadwall.  The second hide didn't produce the anticipated Bluethroat coming to the feeding station.  There were large numbers of resting Shelduck.


Long-eared Owl Asio otus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We left El Fondo and stopped off at my friends house between Lorca and Puerto Lumbreres.  We managed to see two or three Long Eared Owls through the trees.  A Barn Swallow flew by.  A bonus on the way home was a flock of about 25 Red-billed Chough in a field by the motorway at Gonar.
We had a great, but tiring day.  Good weather and good company.  Thank you to Trevor for driving and Ann for been the secretary and bringing the sausage rolls!  With the extras we saw 53 species today.  Sorry, only one photo today!
Regards, Dave


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

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Extremadura; here I come!

All about the Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus
Friday 17 February

A very cloudy start down on the coast and even some fine drizzle as I neared the clouds driving up the mountain motorway from Malaga but once on the plain and approaching Antequera I could see the blue breaks in the sky.  By the time I reached Cordoba it was a lovely, warm sunny day with clear blue skies.  What an easy journey, even the single carriageway towards Badajoz to the north of Cordoba.  Concentrating on the driving but still time to see Azure-winged Magpie and Cattle Egret along with Spotless Starling, a resting Buzzard and a pair of Ravens flying slowly away to my left. The final bird before leaving Andalucia and entering the region of Extremedura was a single Lapwing.

Following a stop for a quick clara con lemon (lemon shandy) I was was rather surprised to see it came accompanied by a tapa of seven, yes 7, small sausages.  And then the bill; exactly one Euro! Onwards and upwards and no sooner had I turned right for the country road up to the Embalse Zujar and I had a trio of Cranes in the field to my right and looking left saw another trio at close quarters. No point stopping I thought, I'm bound to see scores, if not hundreds, as I travel along this road.  Yes, you guessed right, not another crane before I reached my hotel in Obando and checked in.  In the same early area of this road I also added Crested Lark and Goldfinch and a little further along the road cam across an old bare tree housing eight White Stork nests complete with occupants.

These White Storks Ciguena Blanca Cicomnia ciconia bring a whole new meaning to the "White House"
Somehow the instructions were incorrect so I did not find the intended track to the right which would have taken me deep into the steppe and the chance of both bustards and both sandgrouse.  I did, however, come across a large pond adjacent to the road which held a single Heron, two pairs of Teal, a pair of Mallard and a handful of Black-headed Gulls.  Checking the neighbouring fences also produced a few House Sparrows and a Corn Bunting along with White Wagtail and, best of all, a couple of Lesser Short-toed Larks.  Continuing on I added Stonechat and more Corn Buntings with a large flock of Jackdaw beneath a bridge over a steep valley and crossing the dam of the Zujar reservoir added both Collared and Rock Dove with a preening Cormorant on the rocky river outlet below.  Finally, a handful of Serins were feeding in the trees next to my parked car.


Having checked in at the hotel and taken the necessaries to my room I then set off to explore the neighbouring village of Obunda and soon found the deserted rice fields on the other side.  There followed an hour or so of me driving up and down the tracks between the fields accompanied by thousands of sparrows in many separate flocks.  Whilst, initially, the birds were House Sparrows before long I was also encountering large flocks of Spanish Sparrows and further in to the area even cam across large flocks of Tree Sparrow.  But the main attraction were the Cranes, there were scores of them.


As I drove the tracks I cam across a trio of Hoopoe, then more and more again, a total of ten.  But off to my right I could see a well-flooded rice field (most of the fields seemed to have been totally abandoned after harvest unlike the rice fields in both the Donana and La Janda) housing a flock of birds.  Scope out and it revealed 90 Black-tailed Godwits along with three Green Sandpiper and in excess of an hundred Lapwing spread over the surrounding ploughed fields.  Then, to the left, a single Golden Plover.  A short drive further on and a new track leading towards the birds gave an opportunity of a closer look and it turned out to be four Golden Plover along with a Little Stint.  In a bare tree behind the group sat a lone Buzzard taking its rest.

One of ten Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops on site

Continuing with my exploration of the rice fields produced more sparrows of all three species previously seen along with Lapwings and Cranes in small family groups.  Then, back on a country lane, a turn to the right which seemed to hold more Cranes finally produced the "mother lode" for the area where there must have been well in excess of 500.  A nearby wet area also held a pair of Little Egrets.


Time to make my way back to the hotel I had a whole raft of Cattle Egrets satin a line and then the first of two Iberian Grey Shrikes was noted followed by a Kestrel and, finally, a Raven flying away from me.  Quite a welcome and now for the big day on Saturday when, hopefully, I will see some sandgrouse and bustards.


Birds seen:
Mallard, Teal, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Buzzard, Kestrel, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Crane, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.


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

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Thursday 16 February

Lovely bright start to the day with no wind and very little cloud as I made my way to the old bridge over the Rio Velez just west of Torre del Mar for the monthly visit of the Axarquia Bird Group.  Just a morning visit on this occasion with an earlier start at 9 am and joined by a total of old and new friends including David and Ann Jefferson for Torrox Costa, Bryan Stapley from Canillas de Albaida, Corrinne and Olly Hibbert from Algarrobo Pubelo, Lee Aldrich all the way from Alaurin el Grande and Mandy Loader and Shane Wilkinson from Competa.  A great morning's visit which eventually produced 35 species including some very specials such as Bluethroat, Penduline Tit and Sedge Warbler.

First seen Bluethroat Luscinia svecica (PHOTO: David Jefferson)

First up were the numerous Chiffchaffs, ignoring the resident Rock Doves, and quickly followed by both Moorhen and a pair of Mallard.  A stop a little further down the track to search the undercover either side of the water produced first a White Wagtail and then the first of a couple of Bluethroats.  A couple of Snipe seemed to be busy flying up and down the river but then a settled bird was seen by all along with a Grey Wagtail and a trio of Ringed Plovers and a single Common Sandpiper.  On the other side of the track first a Serin and then a Robin on the fence.  Lee found a Sardinian Warbler and it was time for the first of very many sightings of the delightful Zitting Cisticola.  No shortage of either Blackibirds or Cetti's Warblers, the latter of which were both heard and seen and then the first Crag Martins overhead which were soon joined by our first Barn Swallows of the day.

Distant Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis

A stop a little further along the track produced not only the first sight of the roosting Cormorants but our only Black Redstart.  Once ensconced in the hide overlooking the small meadow we duly picked up Coot, Stonechat and many more Chiffchaffs.  However, difficult to choose which bird took pride of place as no sooner had we found a Penduline Tit, which seemed to happily feeding on the seeding bulrushes, than David found the first of two Sedge Warblers.  Naturally, being in a meadow-like habitat we also found Meadow Pipits, two at this stop and a further four on the return journey towards the cars.  Leaving the hide we had a very close sighting of a Hoopoe.

Penduline Tit Pajaro Moscon Remiz pendulinus (PHOTO on Left by David Jefferson)

Eventually reaching the beach I was surprised to see how far the sea had reached the site with just a very narrow strip between the end of the track and the marginally higher gravel to give us a view over the lagoon.  All very quiet other than a better view of the roosting Cormorants and another Grey Wagtail.  A couple of Coots and a pair of Mallard and just the one, solitary immature Yellow-legged Gull above us - although Bryan was the only to notice the Heron that rose out of the reeds disappeared away to our right.  More sightings of both Crag Martins and Barn Swallows.

A small section of the Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo roost
Then it was the return walk to the cars where we duly found the second Sedge Warbler and a Great Tit was added to the list.  On the far side of the old bridge we had a fleeting glimpse of a House Sparrow but more on the fence and ground opposite the cars and a single Green Sandpiper was resting on the far bank of the river.  Back at the cars we had both Goldfinches and Serins on the fence.  Overhead, just when we had commented on their absence during the morning, a noisy, screeching Monk Parakeet arrived as if on cue.

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica seen from hide
One extra bird on the fence took off low to the right and I just caught the white vent.  I thought David said Corn Bunting but he may have been referring to another individual in the covered furrows.  On the other hand, it is always useful, never mind great, when you have a camera in constant pose position to collect the slightest movement, etc as David also mentioned Dunnock.  Back home and a check on the computer did indeed reveal that not only was it a Dunnock but was showing the white vent that I had noticed.  Looks like a juvenile finishing its moult but, nevertheless, a fourth species to vie for "Bird of the day" and given the Dunnock's scarcity in the south of Spain I think this individual, right at the last, has captured the honour.  Also, for me, another new species for the year.

Dunnock Prunella modularis (PHOTO: David Jefferson)
  And so we all departed at 12.15 to meet again in a month's time.


Birds seen
Mallard, Cormorant, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zittting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.


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