Thursday, 31 January 2013

Osprey and Peregrine but no Short-eared Owl


Thursday
 
A beautiful warm and sunny day with clear blue skies and not a breath of wind in the air.  What better way to spend the day, therefore, than visiting the Gualdalhorce reserve in Malaga.  Arriving just after 10 the day was to be split into two sessions; the morning complete with scope and camera checking out all the pools and sea and after a little more than an hour's break to get something to eat in San Julian I returned via a short stop at the Parador Golf (and what a surprise that turned out to be!) by mid-afternoon to concentrate on camera work in the hope that the wintering Short-eared Owls might put in an appearance.  They did not even though I waited until well after 5.30 before setting off for home.

The morning session started with a welcome from a gorgeous male Black Redstart and a small charm of Goldfinches.  The odd Rock Dove was still present below the motorway bridge but, otherwise, the western river was deserted.  So, on to the eastern arm and the Laguna Casillas where I found a handful of White-headed Ducks, a few Coots, Mallards and a pair of Little Grebe.  Before departing I also managed to locate a pair of Teal and a few Gadwall came out to play along with the first of the Black-winged Stilts.  Behind me, a Zitting Cisticola was busy knocking five-bells out of a seed-head.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Himantopus himantopus

Moving on down to the Wader Pool I had House Sparrows and Chiffchaffs in the neighbouring bushes and the regular movement of Cormorants between the reserve and their various feeding stations.  The pool itself held a good number of Teal plus a single male Shoveler along with a pair of Gadwall.  Another pair of Little Grebe and about a dozen Black-winged Stilts added to the score.  Waders also included a single Redshank and Greenshank plus a couple of Common Sandpipers and a single Green Sandpiper.  Whilst looking at the Spotless Starlings in the top of the trees at the back of Laguna Grande I noticed the resting Booted Eagle and, returning to the Wader Pool picked up a small movement to my left.  Not this time more Ringed Plovers, the most common wader present, but a Bluethroat looking for food.  And to the other side of the hide a Robin for comparison and a Serin behind me.  Meanwhile, the Booted Eagle had take to the skies and at one point there was a trio of these lovely birds in the same view.  Finally, a single Snipe was spotted and a quartet of screaming Monk Parakeets passed over the hide before I started the walk down to the Sea Watch.

Record shot of Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica

The walk to the Sea Watch produces both Crested Larks and Stonechats and on the old river, Rio Viejo, were a number of Black-winged Stilts but mainly Ringed Plovers and a few Kentish Plovers.  Also present were a g]handful of both Sanderlings and Dunlins.  From the Sea Watch therer were a couple of rafts of gulls to be seen, mainly Yellow-legged but also a number of Black-headed Gulls.  However, just beyond the main group was a closely packed group of nine Common Scoter and, before leaving, I also managed to sea a couple of Black-necked Grebes.  On the beach in front of me a lone White Wagtail worked the edges in search of food.

The return walk to the above hides produced first a handful of Meadow Pipits and then another Bluethroat.  In addition to more Stonechats a lone Southern Grey Shrike played the role of sentinel overlooking both water and grass.  Finally, just when I thought I was only to see the one raptor this morning, the wintering Osprey appeared and moved slowly up river.

Then it was on to the Laguna Escondida which produced more White-headd Ducks, indeed there were birds on all waters other than the Wader Pool totalling in number about a dozen males, along with a number of Moorhens and the a Purple Swapmphen paddled across the back of the water before disappearing into the far channel.  In addition to the numerous terrapins that were sunbathing on every available surface, Chiffchaffs moved freely about the trees and shrubs whilst the Cormorants continued there everlasting wanderings back and forth from the main pool.

Hoopoe  Abubilla  Upupa epops

The main pool, Laguna Grande, itself was rather quiet other than the thirty plus Cormorants present along with a couple of Little Grebes and a single Heron.  So, time for a break and as I made my way back towards the footbridge I had first a female Blackbird and finally a Little Egret.  In the distance I could hear both Collared Doves and yet more Monk Parakeets.

Superb Starling Estornino Soberbio Lamprotornis superbus at the Parador

Returning to the Guadalhorce afetr lunch I called first at the Parador and had no sooner entered than I was looking at a number of Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and Monk Parakeets.  Then a pair of very obliging Hoopoes fed close by as I took numerous photographs.  Just when I was thinking about whether or not the Splendid Starling was still present I suddenly saw the bird.  Almost tame, the starling was happy to wander around the area close to the kiosk giving good photogaphic opportunities.
Distant Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco peregrinus

Back at the Guadalhorce I had a close view of a Cetti's Warbler as I made my way towards the Laguna Grande.  The Booted Eagle had departed but now present was a Buzzard in the same tree and two trees to the right a splendid Peregrine Falcon.  A pair of Black-necked Grebes had arrived plus a single Snipe immediately below the hide along with a couple of White Wagtails.  On the main water a number of Shoveler had appeared plus a couple of Herons and the Cormorants now totalled in excess of forty.  Out towards the sea a large number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were making their way east.

Common Snipe  Agachadiza Comun  Gallinago media

With still an hour to spare before the owls were likely to put in an appearance I decided to spend the time at the Laguna Escondida where at least I could find some shelter from the blazing sun burning my back.  I had, at last, a Kestrel in front of me as I made my way round to a very quiet laguna with now only the occasional Moorhen and the odd White-headed Duck but the, out of the reeds if not the blue, a Water Rail flew out from below me at a low level with steady flight, looking more like a chicken dresses as a Snipe, to land and immediately disappear into the thick undergrowth.  If I had looked away for a split second I would have missed the bird.

Black-necked Grebe Zampullin Cuellinegro  Podiceps nigricollis on the Laguna Grande

And so it was time to take up my watch station for the appearance of the Short-eared Owls.  Chiffchaffs, Stonechats and even Sardinian Warblers but no owls.  So, finally, with a heavy heart I admitted defeat and started off back to the car to make my way home.  No doubt, as I drove over the western channel the Short-eared Owls smiled to themselves and decided that, perhaps, they were hungry and would appear after all!


So you see, there may not have been any Short-eared Owls to be seen but I did record five raptor species excluding the Southern Grey Shrike, a range of waders even if somewhat small in numbers and a brief view of a flying Water Rail in the day's tally of 56 species.


Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Common Scoter, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Superb Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch




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

Bermejales & Cacin Area


Busy, busy time so, first, let me get John and Jenny Wainwright's account published re their visit to Bermejales on Wednesday (yesterday) and then I make a start on my visit today to the Guadalhjorce.  As I said yesterday, now that the weather has changed for the better everyone seems to be out birding.  Even Andy is over at Fuente today so I trust he will have left some good birds for me to see when I pay a visit on Saturday morning!

Meanwhile, as always, Johna and Jenny seem to have a great day's birding.


Bermejales & Cacin area  30th January 2013


A  fairly hot day, although, still pleasantly cool in the shade.  We drove round via Morelda today - mainly to fill-up with diesel.  On the way to Bermejales we saw Common annd Azure-winged
Magpies
, three Common Kestrels, Corn Buntings, Chaffinches, two Hoopoe, Spotless Starlings, Collard Doves, Woodpigeons, a Sardinian Warbler and a male Black Redstart


Egyptian Goose Ganse de Nilo Alopochen aegyptiaca (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

The embalse was deserted apart from us and after getting Jen settled I went off for my walk - in the direction of the campsite.  The first sighting was of an Egyptian Goose which fly off of the foreshore and splashed down about a hundred metres out - not before I got a photo of it though.  In the conifers to my left I saw Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Chaffinches. Out into the open and several White Wagtails were seen.  As I approached the small point I heard a honking and three more Egyptians Geese flew off the foreshore - going in the direction of the pedalo park - this is the first time I have seen four here, although did see three here in November 2011.


I then crossed the road and set off across country, here I found Goldfinches, a group of four Firecrests (I identified at least one male and one female ) before they flew off.  Blackbirds were in good numbers as were MistleThrushes.  A few Sardinian Warblers, Serins,
Black Redstarts, Chiffchaffs, Chaffinches and Long-tailed Tits were busy feeding in the conifers and eucalyptis and a small flock of Crossbills passed overhead.  As I passed through the trees the noisy "clapping" of Wood Pigeons departing, quietened the other birds singing for a while, then a Short-toed Treecreeper was heard - one was not seen today.


Scorpion Buthus Occitanicus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

As I walked back down to the embalse I found a small Scorpion (Buthus Occitanicus) under one of many of the rocks in the area and on the water I saw a Cormorant.  After some refreshment I headed off in the direction of the new ayuntamiento building by the dam.  Here I found a Grey Wagtail, Serins, a Coal Tit, Song Thrush and a Robin.  As I was kneeling, taking a photograph of a Pale Cloud Yellow butterfly, two shadows made me look up and there were two Siskins - first time I have found them at the embalse itself.

Pale Cloud Yellow butterfly (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Cacin Valley: return journey.


We branched off - on the way home - and took the quite rough road following the Cacin Gorge.  Our first views were of a male Sparrowhawk, then Chiffchaff, Chaffinches in the company of a Cirl Bunting, Great Tits, Blue Rock Thrush, and another Sardinian Warbler.  In the top of an almond tree we located a Southern Grey Shrike.


At the dam lake we found Pochard, Teal, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Cetti´s Warbler, Wood Pigeon, Grey and White Wagtails, and our first Stonechats of the day.  As we neared Morelada another Blue Rock Thrush was seen.  Several other butterflies were seen today including a Bath White, a Cleopatra and a Small Copper.


Another very enjoyable few hours, in this very productive area.


Another great report John with some wonderful sightings.




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

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Huetor Tajar

Looks like the sun and calm conditions has brought everyone out to play in terms of birding; Eric, myself and now John and Jenny Wainwright whop managed to pop across the relatively short distance to Huetor Tajar from their Salar home.  It must have been very worthwhile for Jenny to grab a quick photo of the presently resident Black-winged Kite and also interesting to note that Song Thrushes, Bramblings and Stock Doves are still about an even a fly-past form those most graceful of fliers, the Common Crane.

Black-winged Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

 Huetor Tajar  29th January 2013

A very warm and sunny day, chilly breeze every now and then.  We just popped down to the Huetor stream for a couple of hours, it was running quite fast today and could not cross at the ford. The
large tree - were we used to shelter from the sun - has had a catastrophe and a small part is still standing, the other half is laying down the bank of the stream.  It was here we found Spotless Starllings, House Sparrows, Meadow Pipits, Grey and White Wagtails. Goinground the tracks to the small poplar copse we saw Chaffinches, Song Thrush, Brambling, Goldfinches, Crested Larks, Black Redstarts and a very pale Common Buzzard

Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Further along the north bank of the stream we located several Zitting Cisticola, Grey and White Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and CattleEgrets. The Lapwings were very skittish this afternoon and we saw two good flocks of these along with two Stock Doves and severalWood Pigeon.   The bottom track to the ford was flooded so we took the top track- a bit muddy but passable - here we saw Moorhens, Linnets,Blackcap, House Sparrows, Mistle Thrush and more Goldfinches.

Common Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus passing over Huetor Tajar (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Leaving the stream area we dipped out on the Little Bustards but gained instead a Black-winged Kite, Serins, Linnets, Cattle Egretand Black Redstarts. A faint trumpeting to my left and I located a herd of twenty eight adult Common Cranes.  I though at first they might be coming in to land but they continued on. Just after this we found - at the top of a tall conifer -  a female Common Kestrel, and on the rooftop of the building here a Collared Dove.

Common Kestrel  CernicaloVulgar Falco tinnunculus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

The Sierra Nevadas looked stunning today - as a backdrop to a nice spot of birding.


Another successful day John and Jenny; what will be next?



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

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Tuesday 29 January

As forecast, day dawned with an almost perfectly clear blue sky, lovely warm sunshine and the recent breezes area thing of the past.  Time to go birding again so down to the Rio Velez mouth in Torre del Mar to see what has been happening at my local "water patch" over the past few weeks.  What a difference a day, or in this case a fortnight, makes!  Impossible to access the site at my normal point below the N340 road bridge with thick, soft mud preventing foot passage never mind driving the car.  Back round and down the new road to the barren fields between the eastern growing fields and the beach.  No such luck there either as I spotted all the parked cars.  The filed has been ploughed and was presently being planted with either cauliflowers or lettuce so it was on a few more metres to the beach itself.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula

There used to be a lovely raised footpath that gave great views over these field when observing Bluethroats, Crested larks and Golden Plover.  No more; the area has been ploughed clean and there now stands a 1.40 m earth embankment, presumably to protect the fields from either/both the sea and on-shore winds.  Even the small bushes and trees which proved so popular when checking on small birds have been removed.  Nothing for it but to walk along the shore towards the river mouth.  Even here there is a steep sand bank where the sea has cut back into the beach so it really is a question of taking to the shore's seaward edge.  However, I did immediately pick up Blackbird and Stonechat before reaching the newly-formed lagoon at the river's mouth.

It is one thing enjoying a quiet morning's birding but it was too quiet with very few birds about.  Much searching with bins and scope was called for.  Out at sea the occasional passing Cormorant and the far (western) growing field a large roosting flock of Gulls, mainly Mediterranean but also Black-headed and a few Yellow-legged Gulls.  The river held the odd Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover and at least eight Sanderlings were counted.  A Little Egret wandered up and down the shallows on the far side in search of food and, eventually, a trio of Moorhens proved that not all had deserted their home river.  Naturally, there were still many White Wagtails about.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita

After a short exchange with local Velez Malaga birder Kirree who informed me that he had seen the Black Stork (see Eric Lyon's account) on Sunday working its way down stream but also on 30 December had found a Common Bittern (yes,the real big one, not a Little Bittern) and a Spotted Crake about a couple of km upstream.  Pointing to his usual footwear a pair of "Wellingtons", I got the impression that he had managed to find the birds by being somewhere wet rather than on a path!  Having said our goodbyes, I continued to check out the sea before also working my way upstream finding Hoopoe, a good number of Chiffchaffs, House Sparrows and the occasional Spotless Starling.  The river itself look s most inviting from a wader's point of view so, perhaps, a new generation of small and large waders will take up residence,either temporarily or for the summer months, once the main migration gets under way.

The walk back to the beach and car produced a Black Redstart, Goldfinches and Serin before discovering a small flock of half-dozen Sky Larks bust feeding on the new lettuce plants; a least that is very much what they appeared to be doing.

Then it was back home to carry on with the house repairs recording a handful of Mallards on a flooded field near Trapiche plus Thekla Lark, Chaffinch, Rock and Collared Doves as I made my way up the mountain through Los Romanes and the final bird, a rather lovely male Blue Rock Thrush.

And best of all, I got chance to try out the new 70-300 IS USM lens; old technology but much lighter to carry when also coping with bins and a scope!


Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Moorhen, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.




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

Zafarraya and El Robledal


Pat's away so Eric Lyon managed to get in a good day's birding resulting in almost a half-century of species recorded including Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting and two woodpecker species.  If only I had known I could have joined him for a feast of small birds.  Thanks for the information, Eric which is published below.

Sunday 28 January

Yesterday Jago and I went birding whilst Pat was in the UK for the weekend.  We went up to Zafarraya which was fairly quiet with the usual Chough, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush etc.  No raptors (not even Kestrel) or Rock Sparrows but Sardinian and Dartford Warblers plus Blackcap.  
We then went across the Zafarraya plain with lots of Crested Larks, Linnet, Goldfinch and a tree full of Tree Sparrows.  Over the tops we hit the fog that seems to have engulfed Granada Province as our friends discovered when they tried a few days skiing in the Sierra Nevada.  So back to Robledal where the woods were full of bird song.  Before I had even got to the car park (which was packed with Sunday picnickers) I had seen all the tit species, pairs of both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Firecrests, Short-toed Treecreepers and Nuthatch.  Much the same nearer the car park but far enough away to be out of earshot of the hoards - again lots of the woodland species you would expect (Blue and Crested Tits were more in evidence than the rest) and this time including a small party of Wood Lark.

Better still, a close view of a pair of Hawfinch feeding on low branches and then dropping to the ground.  They seem to have arrived with twenty or so Greenfinch - although that may have been co-incidental.  Following the track round added Cirl Bunting and Southern Grey Shrike, lots of Corn Bunting and Common Magpie and one Kestrel. Altogether a great few hours birding and near 50 species.


But the most bizarre bird of the day was a Black Stork!!  Travelling back passed Puente don Manuel a Black Stork was gliding southward just about tree height on the left of the road.  Unfortunately, I could not stop as I was coming up to where the road width is reduced due to subsidence and there was traffic in both directions.  But what is it doing here?  An early arrival or from some park or similar?

Interesting about the Black Stork.  There has been a juvenile around Laguna Dulce in November/ December and speaking with local Velez Malaga birder, Kiree this morning (29 January) he informed e that he had seen a Black Stork working its way down the Rio Velez on the same day.  Sounds like the same bird to me and, presumably for whatever reason, may be the over-wintering bird that has been seen in the Campillos area.



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

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Siera Loja

You have just got to hand it to John and Jenny Wainwright, not for them the worry of a breeze or stronger wind when there is an opportunity for some good birding.  Here am I up at Casa Collado trying to clear up some of the damage, I never realised how heavy a bin of broken glass could be, with the wind picking up again and no promise of really calm weather before next Tuesday and John and Jenny are up the Sierra Loja along with the wind and cloud searching out some ever elusive birds.  Definitely deserve a browny point or two - or perhaps first crack at the spirits cupboard when they get back home.  Read on and dream about the birds that we are not presently seeing (but I did have Black Redstarts, Stonechats and Serins as I drove round to my neighbour to discuss the next stage of the repair programme).

 
Sierra Loja  26th January 2013


Clear lower down but thick cloud came in, up until 1200 - 1500metres then sunshine, but a still cold wind - only 4C.


After breakfast at the hotel we started up the Loja route.  Here we saw Collared Doves, Wood Pigeon, Spotless Starlings and Chaffinches.  At the quarry we saw Jackdaws and Chough, Red-legged Partridges and Azure-winged Magpies and at the cliffs more Jackdaws and Chough.  The mist then descended on us.


One of the sparkling Hawthorne trees to be seen (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

In the substation valley the mist was still quite thick but we found a Little Owl, a Black Redstart and a few Rock Buntings.  At the pond area nothing so we drove on to the fossil cave area - snow on the ground here in small pockets and the hawthorn trees sparkling as if there were diamonds strung from the branches, but lacking the berries, the trees were stripped bare!  We did pick up Common Kestrel, Stonechats, Blackbird and Thekla Larks.  Back round to the large catchment area where we saw more Rock Buntings and Thekla Larks.  Also here we saw a lone Ring Ousel, two Mistle Thrushes, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, a Southern Grey Shrike and a flock of some twenty Meadow Pipits.


Southern Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Larius meridionalis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

As we came out of the mist on the way down a juvenile Bonelli´s Eagle graced us with its presence, its tawny body shining as it turned into the sunlight.  No Alpine Accentors today as the areas where we normally see them were thick in cloud cover but a pleasant three hour trip even though birding was difficult.


Thanks John.  All being well I can forget about house repairs and get out and about again within the next couple of days.



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

Friday, 25 January 2013

A smashing time was had by all!!!!

Back at last from our nine-day cruise from Malaga to Malaga via Barcelona,Madeira and Tenerife.  When I say we had a "smashing time" I mean that in every sense of the phrase; quite literally!

The voyage started in lovely sunshine and we were aboard the Norwegian Spirit by midday to enjoy lunch whilst others were happy to lie back in their almost, next to nothings enjoying the glorious sunshine.  Out in and just beyond the harbour we had great views of diving Gannets and Cormorants going about their daily business in the company of a multitude of Gulls, mainly Black-headed but also a good number of Yellow-legged. Naturally, there were Spotless Starlings to be seen along with both House Sparrows and Rock Doves and how could we possibly depart without a farewell flypast from the local, screaming Monk Parakeets?

But then the fun and games started.  Only one bird seen all day on Wednesday, our full sea day as we set off for Barcelona.  However, nothing to be sneezed at as the morning appearance of a juvenile Pomarine Skua was a grateful addition to the new year list as it slowly flew past us along the starboard side.  But that was it; no more birds until we went ashore in Barcelona and, would you believe it, more Monk Parakeets all over the place!

When we departed that evening the captain did make a ship's announcement that the following two days at sea as we made our way back past Malaga, through the Straits and out into the Atlantic might be a little more rough than usual.  He kidded us not!  Friday was very choppy, great fun trying to dance as the floor moved in the opposite direction to us, but nothing compared to the Saturday when we got stuck into the Force (s and the rolling waves with their accompanying deep troughs.  A life on the ocean blue, etc, etc.  And that's when the "smashing" time really got under way.  First the occasional glass off a table, then a rack of glasses from behind the bar followed by bottle after bottle.

So come early afternoon and we received a telephone call from our neighbour to inform us that we were not the only ones enjoying a little breeze; the very strong winds at home had ripped through our sun terrace taking the conservatory with them; all was wrecked.  What could we do where we were other than make use of the ship's, very expensive, emailing facility to send back details of our house insurers.  Visions of roofs pointing skywards and walls hanging down sprang to mind.

However, come Sunday and we landed at a very calm Madeira.  An email was picked up whilst ashore form another neighbour commenting upon the winds but not realising that we were away from home.  The reply passed on the information and the hope that somebody might be able to take photographs of the damage before any clearing up was considered.  The island itself was very productive with a resting Kestrel a top a fir tree and just about every species of parrot on Earth.  Sad to say, other than the first, all were behind bars in the islands Botanical Garden!  Amazing to see that they actually keep breeding Monk and Rose-ringed Parakeets.

The following day saw us in Tenerife which called for a little shopping therapy and the need to make use of the 7, rather than 21, percentage rates of VAT!  We also received an email from our German neighbour along with the first photographs of the damage to our conservatory.  Lots of mess but the damage was not nearly as bad as we had imagined.

Such is the power of the wind on our mountain top!


Back to "normal" on Tuesday with the weather bad once again so the ship was unable to dock in Lanzarote.  Another two rough days at sea brought us back somewhat early to Malaga where we were able to disembark and be in our car on the way home by just after 9am.  It was only when seeing the damage at close quarters that we realised that, whilst the destruction was not as bad as we expected, the replacement structure would have to be more substantial.  And that is what we have been doing today and will, no doubt, be addressing our attention in the coming week or so as we, presumably, start the fight with the insurance company over an agreed settlement.  Isn't life exciting in Spain!





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

Laguna Dulce with the Wainwrights

Just back from our cruise, see following blog, but John and Jenny Wainwright managed to find a brief lull in the weather to venture forth to the Laguna Dulce near Campillos plus neighbouring lagunas and then back to Fuente de Piedra befopre the weather got the better of them.  But at least they got to see some birds and especially still a pair of Ferruguious Ducks, compared with the seven seen last week..  The report follows:



23 January 2013



A real biting wind with sunny spells.

Ferruginous Duck Porron Pardo Aythya nyroca with (as is often the case) a Common Pochard Porron Europeo Aythya ferina in  foreground (PHOTO: John Wainwright)


At the Dulce the wind was directly through the hide viewing slots and made holding even the binoculars steady; it didn't matter that much as the lake - excepting for a few Shoveler, Common Coots and Little Grebes - was devoid of birdlife. So we drove on round to the small Laguna Redonda, where we found two Ferruginous Duck, two Pochard, Black-winged Stilts, Moorhen, three Booted Eagles and two Ravens. A good number of Greater Flamingos and Black-headed Gulls were about on the flooded fields to our rear and in the trees lining the road House Sparrows, Chiffchaffs (singing) and Corn Buntings were seen. The whole area was alive with Crag Martins.
Mum, Dad and youngster Common Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus enjoying their winter hols at Fuente de Piedra (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

From here we drove across country to Piedra on the way seeing at least 400+ Common Cranes in the fields alongside the A384 and turning onto the very holed road to Sierra de Yegaus we had great views of a male Sparrowhawk as he flew low over the olive groves, a Raven, a Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Collared Dove and a female Marsh Harrier.  A couple of Common Kestrels were noted as well as a single Buzzard, two male and one female Marsh Harriers, Stonechats, Black Redstarts, Song Thrush and a Sardinian Warbler.



Approaching Piedra more Common Cranes were seen - no more than a hundred metres from the road - and with them were White Wagtails and Meadow Pipits.


At Piedra, by the boardwalk, we picked up Common Snipe (flying), Bluethroat, Robin, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler and Goldfinches in the tamarisks. In the scrapes we saw Teal, Mallard, Black-winged Stilt, good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Moorhens and Coots.


From the closed hide we saw Gadwall, Little Grebe, Pochard, Black-necked Grebe and Mallard.  The bushes in this area were crawling with Chiffchaff, Stonechats and Black Redstarts whilst House Sparrow, Hoopoe and a Southern Grey Shrike were also noted. Again the area was awash with Crag Martins.



The wind is picking up speed again and getting colder with it..so homeward bound it was!

Thanks very much John and Jenny but, as I said, at least you have seen some birds this week which is more than most! 



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

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bermejales

Looks like I was not the only one to escape for the house today and sneak in a little birding.  John and Jenny Wainwright dropped into the Embalse Bermejales and picked up a very nice Green Woodpecker.  At the same time, it looks from Jenny's photograph as if they were in turn about to be picked up by a visiting bird of the feathered variety.  These White Wagtails get everywhere.


Bermejales  

Very bright but really cold.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba
En route to the Bermejales embalse we saw three Common Kestrel, Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, Goldfinch, Serin, two Siskin, White Wagtails, Southern Grey Shrike, Great Tit and Chaffinches.




 Both photographs by Jenny Wainwright

Green Woodpecker Pito Real Picus veridis










At the embalse we saw White Wagtails - one of these was in a very convivial mood and wanted to have the car for its own - Crossbills, Common and Azure-winged Magpies, Wood Pigeon, Goldfinches, Robins, Short-toed Treecreeper, Linnets, Black Redstart, Mistle Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Cormorant, Chiffchaff and the Egyptian Goose.


We took a different way home and saw a female Goshawk sat on a grass mound (what a beauty), Green Woodpecker, Black Redstart, Chaffinch, Corn Bunting, Crested Larks, Goldfinches, Mistle Thrushes, Common Magpies, Greenfinches and Hoopoe.


The temperatures are dropping quite fast now, so back to "mi casa".







Many thanks John and well done you to get both Green Woodpecker and Goshawk within minutes of each other.

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Beautiful sunny day but a still, cool breeze and a dusting of snow on the top of Maroma as I drove down to Torre to post lots of magazine on behalf of the Andalucia Bird Society and decided to pay a short visit to the Rio Velez to check out the state of the river following all the carnage in November.  Whilst the river was still wide and plenty of water coming down it was, nevertheless, fairly shallow and seemed to be sorting itself out by exposing some gravel banks and islands so hope yet that the breeding waders will find a new home in the next month or so.  There is till much vegetation missing but the area was much calmer than my last visit a month ago.  Even the elongated sand bars stretching out into the Mediterranean have been somewhat curbed but the whole area looks so different than the  pre-November storms.  It remains to be seen what will happen when the spring rains produce the net deluge of water.

Arriving at the beach end of the new road alongside the eastern growing fields I was welcome by a good number of Meadow Pipits and a handful of Crested Larks along with a Sardinian Warbler, many Chiffchaffs and also the usual White Wagtails.  Immediately I noticed that some fields which have remained unworked for the past ten years have now been ploughed and sown with what looks like brassicas of one sort or another.  Just think, in a month's time these seedlings are going to be almost full groan cauliflowers and/or cabbages such is the magic of this land.  A Zitting Cisticola took off as I headed for the mouth of the river where I was greeted by well in excess of 500 gulls on the water and neighbouring western fields.  Most were Mediterranean but there were also at least 150 Black-headed, a good number of Yellow-legged and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the last mainly on the sea.  A Cormorant flew past in an easterly direction and a Sandwich Tern fished in front of me.

On the river margins were at east 30 Sanderling and a couple of Ringed Plover whilst a solitary Little Egret hunted the far side.  The first of about a dozen Moorhens was also noted along with one of the trio of Mallards seen during my relatively short stay.  The return walk down the main track to the road bridge and back to the pumping station produced many more White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs along with another Stonechat, Black Redstart and a noisy pair of Monk Parakeets.  Best of all, though, was the single Little Ringed Plover that dropped in right in front of me.

The final walk back to the car through these eastern growing fields also produced both Serin and Greenfinch along with the resident House Sparrows and then a couple of Crested Larks, a Kestrel and more Meadow Pipits upon arrival.

Driving home, just to prove that I do not need to visit the usual high mountain sites, I had a Black Wheatear sitting on top of an electricity pylon as I approached Los Romanes and a small number of Rock Buntings followed by Thekla Larks on the track leading up to the house.  A very interesting morning with 30 species including five new birds for 2013 which has brought my year's total to date up to 105.  What will I see next week to potentially add to the list?

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Kestrel, Moorhen, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern,  Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starlings, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Rock Bunting.



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