Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny


John and Jenny Wainwright are certainly making up for the missed fortnight's birding and seem to have hit the February meeting of the local "Little Owl Society" judging by the numbers seen in one relatively short period!


Sierra Loja  26 February

A very bright day but very cold wind only 2-3C up top.

Our first port of call was the hidden quarry, where we saw Crossbills, Azure-winged Magpies, Chiffchaffs, Chaffinch, Great Tit and a Dartford Warbler proclaiming his territory in fine song.

Linnet Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

At the cliffs only a Little Owl, a few Jackdaws and five Chough and the substation valley was very quiet too, only yielding another Little Owl, a Black Redstart and a few Stonechats.  The road up to and at the ponds (Charca) was uneventful except for a pair of Rock Buntings, but the bottom pool was well over the back wall that is normally visible.


So along to the fossil caves where we saw Black Wheatear, Stonechats, Thekla Larks, another Little Owl, Linnets, more Chough and a Blackbird.  The icicles are quite a sight here!!   As I was searching for Alpine Accentors - I could hear them calling - a Common Kestrel  flew across the cliff face and after that I couldn´t hear them again.  We did however have fabulous views of an adult Bonelli´s Eagle as it soared above us.


No Rock Sparrows but lots of stalactites in the "Fossil Cave" (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
There is still a good covering of snow up here today and the track is quite slippery.  We retraced our steps and on the way back down we located another Little Owl just past the concrete "nissan hut", and as we got to the cliffs the one Little Owl had turned into two -  so bringing a the total to five. Also a Collared Dove and three Spotless Starlings were recorded.

Yet more Little Owls Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Not a great count just good to be out!



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

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Guadalhorce, Malaga


The weather must be improving and just in time for Jenny's recent bout of bronchitis which has kept John and Jenny Wainwright cooped up in their Salares home and devoid of serious birding.  But, by jove, they made up for it on yesterday's visit the to Guadalhorce in Malaga where, in addition to the birds on the Reserve, they had large flocks of both Common Scoter and Pintails, both rather lovely birds, out on the open sea.  Lucky them!


Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
25th February 2013

A very warm day but the wind had a real chill to it.  As we entered the reserve we saw Cormorants, Jackdaws, Rock Doves, Monk Parakeets and Mallard, while in the small bushes we found Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warblers, Black Redstarts and Chiffchaff - the latter being in full song. Above the bushes there were quite a few hirundines including House and Crag Martin and Barn Swallow.

Moving onto the Laguna de la Casilla, here we saw Pochard, Gadwall, White-headed Ducks, Teal, Coot and Little Grebes. Overhead we located  Booted Eagle and three Grey Herons and above the reed beds we saw Red-rumped Swallows and two Sand Martins.

At the next hide - Rio Viejo - lots of Black-winged Stilts, a Redshank and two Greenshanks were noted although not very good views of them, several Little-ringed Plovers, a lone juvenile Greater Flamingo. Teal, Shovelers and Mallard represented the duck family and  a few Goldfinch, Stonechats, Serins and Greenfinches were also seen here.  Crested Larks were in good numbers but very little else about in the rough areas and a Marsh Harrier was seen in the area of the Laguna Grande.

As we approached the Sea Watch area a huge flock of ducks landed about 300metres out at sea these we found to be Pintails  - forty three of them. Two largish flocks - totalling seventy - of Common Scoters were also seen here. A small group of Auduoins Gulls some Black-headed, Yellow-legged and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also noted. A sudden movement to the right of the Auduoins and we located a Razorbill and a few minutes later another one.

On the groynes a Little Egret was fishing and over this flew a Great White Egret, small numbers of Little Ringed Plovers with seven Turnstones and along the beach we watched Sanderlings, Crested Larks, three Kentish Plovers, one Dunlin and a few White Wagtails.

We then made our way to the Escodida hide where the chilly wind was blowing directly into our faces we did get White-headed duck, Teal, Shoveler, Moorhen and a few Coots here, and so onto Laguna Grande.

Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata on the Laguna Escondida (PHOTO: John wainwright)
 It was very pleasant in this hide as the wind had died down a tad by now and here we picked up a Common Buzzard sat in the bare trees opposite and in the water below us White-headed Duck, Shovelers, Black-winged Stilts and two Yellow-legged Gulls were feeding.

At last, the Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus on the wing (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the islands a lone Spoonbill was seen along with more Grey Herons, a few Wigeon, Cormorants, Black-necked and Little Grebes, a single Grey Wagtail and a Common Sandpiper were spotted on the far mud-bank and in the surrounding bushes were saw Great Tit, Blackbird and Sardinian Warbler. Jenny spotted a raptor flying over the trees this was the Osprey it landed on the tall post and was there for a good twenty minutes before flying out to sea.

A Common Kestrel was seen as we left the reserve.




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

Friday, 22 February 2013

Axarquia Bird Group Monthly Visit

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua
Thursday 21 February

It seemed a good idea at the time to visit the old railway track above Ventas de Zafarraya with a follow-on to he woods of El Robledal until we actually arrived!  Passing Barn Swallows, Collared Doves, House Sparrows and Spotted Starlings as we climbed up to the pass I arrived a little early and decided to take a walk up to the tunnel before anybody else was about.  What a mistake to make!  Even with extra layers on it was absolutely freezing in the bitterly cold strong wind.  So, with the arrival of the other eight participants, it was decided to work the opposite way round and visit the woods first where, at least, there would be some shelter.  A question of re-arranging transport then, along with Elena and Steve Powell plus Mary-Ann Murphy from Frigiliana, Marcus and Liz Rootes from Competa, Gery Collins and Louise Gray from Salobrena and Malcolm Austin and myself from Lake Vinuela, the short journey get under way.

No sooner were we making our way along the track tan we had a Black Redstart followed by a Stonechat and couple Serins feeding with a pair of Rock Buntings.  The second car picked up a Magpie whilst we all stopped to admire both a Corn Bunting and Southern Grey Shrike atop neighbouring large bushes.  A Red-legged Partridge "paddled" along at the side of the track but the predominant bird at this point was the Jay with at least four individual s between the main road and the parking area - where logging was under way and much of the usual area being used to deposit the removed pine trees.  A couple of Mistle Thrushes and a single Song Thrush put in an appearance and then it was up and away into the woods to walk an anti-clockwise trail.

In the event, the morning very much turned into a session of passerines or, for some, lots of "LBJs".  First Blue and Great Tits in the presence of many Chaffinches and then both Nuthatch and a small number of Firecrests.  A Green Woodpecker "flashed"  through the back of the trees and then we were finding both Coal and small parties of Long-tailed Tits.  Almost back to the cars and we heard calling then picked up a Crossbill with more Nuthatches along with a trio of Greenfinches.  A distant Short-toed Treecreeper was seen but no sooner had we started to make our way back along the track to take the right-hand turning towards the pantaneta above Alhama de Granada when we stopped to see yet another, closer, Firecrest.  No sooner seen along with a passing small charm of Goldfinches than Mary-Ann looked in the neighbouring tree to identify a lovely Crested Tit.  Whilst watching the bird to see where next it would reappear a Short-toed Treecreeper decided to join in the act and wander up the same tree.  In future visits this tree will hence-forth be known as the "Mary-Ann tree" by way of reference to the area!!!

Firecrest  Reyezuelo Listado Regulus ignicapilla

The track to the above lake produced Wood Pigeons and a female Kestrel but whilst stopping to check out more Goldfinches Steve looked out of the other side of the car where the Chaffinches were feeding and was straight on to a rather lovely Brambling.  Only a small mixed flock but, nevertheless, great to see that we still have a few of these finches with us in Spain prior to their return to Scandinavia.  Finally, another (female) Green Woodpecker crossed the track immediately ion front of us before reaching the water.

The view from the venta side of the pantaneta produced a different set of birds with a handful of Cormorants, a couple of Little Grebes, and a small number of Mallard, Pochard. and Coots. In addition, we had a single Moorhen, White Wagtail and yet more Long-tailed Tits along with a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Blackbird.  Meanwhile, above the water,were scores of feeding Barn Swallows, House Martins and Crag Martins but we were unable to identify either Sand martin or Red-rumped Swallow amongst these birds.

Little Owls Mochuelo Comun Athene noctuas watching you, watching me

Leaving the pantaneta to make our way back to Ventas de Zafarraya for a Menu del Dia and had a quartet of Azure-winged Magpies cross the road when I happened to mention to Steve to slow down as he left the first set of trees as there would be a Little Owl resting on the rock at he bottom on his side of the car.  After much banter and queries as to whether or not I was prepared to put it in writing, we approached the said rock and I said "Stop, there's the Little Owl on the first rock."  Not just one but a pair of Little Owls which, I suspect, use this as their day-time roost, not ten metres from the road.

And with that we headed off for our meal having recorded a very respectable 45 species during the morning.  Nothing at Ventas de Zafarraya so the Choughs, Black Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrushes and Rock Sparrows will have to wait for another day.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Red-legged Partridge, Cormorant, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Green Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Tree-creeper, Southern Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.




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

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Red-knobbed Coot, Ferruginous Duck AND then a Long-tailed Duck for good measure

Sunday 17 February

At last time to let readers know about our return journey from the Odial area in Huelva and what a journey it was.  Not so much the dull, overcast sky and the occasional few drops of drizzle , sufficient to require wiper blades at times, but the fact that not one but four "special" birds were seen at our four stops on the way through and out of the Donana National Park.  One would have bee  great but four, almost unheard of!  Indeed, by the time we got back to Casa Collado we had recorded all the expected birds and more with the only "missed" species being the Night Heron.

Azure-winged Magpie  Rabilargo  Cyanopica cyanus

So here we go.   Having already seen a Song Thrush and small number of Blackbirds on the lawn behind the bedrooms, we were away by 9.30 and heading for the motorway to Huleva from where we crossed the river Odiel by the old bridge and then took the coastal road to Matalascanas and so to El Rocio.  The first Azure-winged Magpies were seen during this early part of the day and then we stopped at the small pool just east of the "gas works" to pick up a Purple Swamphen, Grey Heron and a couple of Common Coots.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia above the Information Centre at the Acebuche

Next it was to the Donana's Acebuche Centre (recording Spotless Starlings, a Raven and Collared Doves) where loads of both (common) Magpies and their Azure-winged Magpie cousins were encountered.   A pair of White Storks had set up home immediately above the Visitors' Centre and, with both Crested Lark and Robins about we made our way to the first two hides.  Another Purple Swamphen was seen along with Little Grebe, Moorhen, Pochard and Mallard and, just to keep us on our mettle, a pair of Glossy Ibis flew over and landed in the watery grasses to the left.

Then the first of our quartet of special birds.  Arriving at the second hide a rather stunning Yellow-crowned Bishop was posing on a tall reed immediately in front f the hide.  I should have been happy with that sighting but there was to be more to follow.

Deciding to make straight for the main lake at El Rocio, we passed a couple of very wet-looking Buzzards along with Stonechats and Hoopoes, not to mention numerous Magpies and Spotless Starlings, and stopped for a shirt while at the hide overlooking the southern end of the laguna.  Half-a-dozen Snipe were feeding in front whilst on the water itself were numerous Black-tailed Godwits, Black-winged Stilts, Little Grebe, many Spoonbills, MallardShoveler, Teal, Flamingos and Black-headed GullsBarn Swallows were feeding over the water and then we spied a few Pintails along withe a number of White Wagtails.

Pintail Anade Rabudo Anas acuta at El Rocio

On to the main Information Centre manned by the SEO lady where she duly pointed out the resting Spanish Imperial Eagle.  This end of the water also held both Grey Heron and Little Egret whilst Cattle Egrets were feeding on the  grass behind us.  A single Avocet was also recorded along with a good number of Lapwing and a small party of Jackdaws.  Enquiring about the possibility of Marbled Teal and Red-knobbed Coots, I was told that the lake below the Dehesa de Abajo would be our most likely opportunity and that there was/had been a rather special bird seen here.

Nothing for it but to make our way out of the National Park via the side roads and through that strange village of Isla Menor (why does this small village have a single petrol station that always seems to sell the cheapest fuel in the Region?) recording numerous White Storks and then loads of Glossy Ibis, Little Egrets, Herons, the occasional Great White Egret and then a single Squacco Heron.  In addition this journey from El Rocio to the Venta del Cruce also produced Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting and Southern Grey Shrike.  Perhaps best of all, we even had a handful of Black Storks and both Hen and Marsh Harriers.  But being already after 2.30 we decided to stop for a meal before turning left and heading for the lake at Dehesa de Abajo.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata at Dehesa de Abajo

By 3.45 we had passed scores of occupied White Stork nest and arrived at the lake where, immediately, we encountered three Red-knobbed Coots, two wearing numbered neck bands for easy distant identification.  Not too many ducks appeared on the water but Little, Great Crested and Black-knecked Grebes. and Chiffchaffs feeding in the lakeside vegetation.  A Danish couple who we had encountered the previous day in the Odiel Mashes stopped to enquire about sightings of Marbled Teal and we had to rplay in the negative but did inform them that the SEO rep had mentioned a very rare duck had been seen.  Half an hour later we received a signal from the far end of the lake that something had been seen so moved our car along the road to join them.  Imagine our surprise when we, too, sighted what was taken for a female Long-tailed Duck.  Lots of distant photographs and then the bird took off but, surprise number two, instead of tourning towards the back of the lake it swung around and landed in front of us, not thirty metres away.  However, the light was by now rapidly worsening and the bird was in the shadow of the small island opposite.  nevertheless, we had cracking views and this became out third success of the day.

(Probable) First winter male Long-tailed Duck Pato Havelda Clangula hyemalis at Dehesa de Abajo

But there was more to come.  Within a very short time we even managed to locate a female Ferruginous Duck with a small mixed party of Pochards, Red-headed Pochards and Shovelers.  And we even had a pair of Tufted Ducks, yet another very rare species for this part of Andalucia.  Absolutely marvellous to have recorded four great birds in one day and what does that say about species such as  Glossy IbisGreat White Egret, Squacco Hern and Black Stork?


Time to set off for home and a promised stop for a coffee at the first motorway service station after leaving Sevilla.  Seeing the half dozen Red Kites over the motorway near the rubbish dump just east of Sevilla was expected but what did come as a little bit of a surprise was to see that they had been joined by as many as a dozen Black Kites and at least one Booted Eagle.  What a way to end the day and a final tally of 61 species.


Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Squacco heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Red Kite, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow,White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting and Yellow-crowned Bishop.

Good-bye to the Long-tailed Duck.  When will we meet again - anywhere?


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

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Odiel Marshes (Marismas del Odiel)

Saturday 16 February

Having had a super birding day on the way down to our hotel in Nueva Portil, now was the day to travel the short distance up the Information Centre at the top end of the nature reserve serving the Odiel Marshes for the monthly meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society.  Imagine our surprise, therefore, when we travelled over for the 9.30 stat in quite thick fog!  However, the day was and remained calm and as we had to wait about fifteen minutes for the remaining party of four the fog had lifted sufficiently not to spoil our start never mind the rest of a very full day.  A very successful day at that with over 80 species recorded by the group led by Manu.  Indeed, apart from all the returning White Storks we even had a Great Crested Grebe in the foggy waters as we joined the motorway.

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba

The fit our or so was spent checking out the river and waters around the centre as the tide slowly receded revealing the food-rich mud and all the various waders feeding there on.  Curlew and Whimbrel were seen together as were both Black and Bar-tailed Godwits.  Add on Avocet, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, a single Curlew Sandpiper, Redshank and Grey Plover and we were well and truly in amongst the birds.  Flying over the area we had Cormorants, Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls along with a Sandwich Tern.  The neighbouring small pond contained a range of ducks including Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall and Teal plus, of course, both Moorhens and Coots.  Needless to say, there were also Little Grebes and Black-winged Stilts whilst both Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler flew across from the hide to this same small pond.

Moving off down towards the lighthouse there many regular stops to check out the waters on both sides of the road during which we added Great White Egret, Little and Cattle Egret, White Stork, Black-necked Grebe, Heron, Sanderling and Kentish Plover.  One particular stop revealed a small party of Spanish Sparrows. During this part of the drive we also recorded Chiffchaff, Corn Bunting, Goldfinch and Hoopoe whilst, at the back of the large pool to the left in addition to a score of Sponbills was a solitary Caspian Tern.

One of the beauties of this area is the likelihood to see some glorious raptors and we were not to be disappointed.  First a resting Osprey and then both a female Hen Harrier and at least a trio of Marsh Harriers including a magnificent adult male.

Distant Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus

Then it was back to the Information Centre for our picnic lunch before entering the private part of the site to reach the freshwater pool.  This necessitated the us of Manu's car only so whilst the first half of the party were driven over a handful of the thirteen visitors started to walk the track as we awaited Manu's return to collect us.  We may have had both a Dartford Warbler and a Bluethroat but the other group managed to record both Wood Lark and Meadow Pipit to add to the group's combined total.  On arrival at the final turning point we had an absolute mass of small waders including many of those already seen but there was also a pair of Little Stint and both Osprey and Marsh Harrier drifted over.  Indeed, whilst waiting for we in the second party, the others had a magnificent view of a fishing Osprey which then disappeared with its well-earned afternoon meal.  Finally, on to the last, fresh water, pool where, fling overhead we had both Barn Swallow and House Martin.  Another Osprey was spotted on the far side and a Green Sandpiper worked the edge of the water below us.

Our final stop of the day was at the lake in El Portil.  Here we had Black-necked Grebe, Pochard, Shelduck and Mallard with feeding Barn Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins above.  But the illusive Red-crested Pochards and Tufted Ducks could not elude us.  The nearby small pine wood also added Black Redstart, Robin and Serin to the day's total.

Spoonbill  Espatula Comun  Platalea leucorodia

Also recorded during the day were Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Reed Bunting, Azure-winged Magpie, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Spotless Starling with earlier sightings of Oystercatcher, Southern Grey Shrike, Sardinian Warbler and Snipe. However, perhaps pride of place should go to the dozen Stone Curlews seen on a bank between the lagoons just after crossing the bridge near the Information Centre at the start of our journey.

All in all a marvellous day with special thanks to local member Manu Mojarro who organised and led the day.



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

Friday, 15 February 2013

Great Spotted Cuckoos towards Huleva




Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Friday 15 February 2013

A beautiful, sunny start to the day with clear blue skies and no wind as I set out towards Huelva Province along with Barrie and Jan Avis so that we could participate in the February field visit of the Andalucia Bird Society which was to be based on the Odiel Marshes (Marismas del Odiel) on Saturday.  With a 9.30 meet and not wishing to set off before five in the morning and arrive back near midnight, a couple of nights in El Portil was the order of the day.

A question of birding our way west so the first stop was the laguna at Fuente de Piedra but entering at the back from the Campillos road.  The farm at the junction where we took the anti-clockwise route round the lake produced the usual assortment of House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings and no sooner had we stopped at the first sign of water than it was obvious that the Flamingo numbers had continued to build, now well up in the thousands with probably in excess of 5,000, and most of the birds looking very pink in their breeding colours.  Also, the predominant duck species was certainly going to be the Shoveler with scores in sight and continued to be seen at every water observation point.  Continuing on round to the Mirador Cantarranas with regular sightings of Crested Lark we soon found part of the wintering Crane flock with approximately 120 counted feeding on the (usual) fields below the entrance to the car park.  The water itself held an assortment of Coot, Shoveler, Mallard and Little Grebe in addition to the thousands of Cranes and the occasional Black-winged Stilt whilst quartering the reeds where at least four Marsh Harriers including a rather handsome adult male bird and at least four Common Buzzards.
A family of Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus at Fuente de Piedra
A stop at the outlet before reaching the main entrance, having already passed more Cranes and a number of Corn Buntings, produced a trio of Snipe on the flooded field to the left along with a pair of Black-tailed Godwits and more Black-winged Stilts.  Closer observation also revealed a Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and White Wagtails and the first of the numerous Cattle Egrets seen during the day.  A pleasant surprise was a female Blackcap in the nearby tree whilst answering a call of nature.  Why do birds suddenly turn up on these occasions?  A single Cetti’s Warbler was also heard and briefly seen.
The field to the left of the entrance drive to the Visitors Centre was still flooded and held a number of Black-headed Gulls along with the first of the Teal to be seen and a small number of Chiffchaffs feeding in the small trees at the side of the road/water.

Viewing the main laguna and small pool below from the side of the Visitors Centre once again revealed the thousands of lovely Flamingos but also numerous Shovelers and, this time, good numbers of Teal.  More Black-winged Stilts and, as expected, a large flock of Black-headed Gulls resting on the water but at least we did also manage to find a small number of Shelduck.  A single Black-tailed Godwit was feeding on the small pool (but no Avocets) and a good number of Black-necked Grebes were on the main water.  Below, on the fence, we had a visit from a female Reed Bunting and both Robin and Black Redstart were moving around the nearby bushes.  A female Marsh Harrier drifted over resulting in a mass take-off from the eater and then it was round to the Laguneta behind the centre where there was still plenty of water.  In addition to the single Snipe and a large number of Little Grebes, we also found Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Common Pochard and Gadwall.  Before setting off again westwards we also managed to find a small flock of Serins, whilst, at the side of the entrance road pool, a number of Jackdaws had come to feed, drink and wash, a Little Egret flew past and a Chaffinch was sighted.
No sooner were we underway than we had our first sighting of Red Kites with a couple circling in front of us near the motorway.  Then the first Kestrel of the day along with more Lapwing, having seen the first whilst at Fuente de Piedra, before stopping for lunch in Osuna immediately after leaving the motorway.  The town itself also produced both Rock and Collared Doves and a stop to check out the first of the “Sevilla Lakes” produced more Flamingos but also a pair of Raven on a nearby farm roof.  Our one and only Barn Swallow flew past the car.


However, our main lake at the turn towards La Lantejuela took me completely by surprise as we were greeted by extensive reed beds but next to no water.  On the other hand, checking out the small birds immediately in front produced a small flock of Spanish Sparrows.  Taking the track from the main road to look at the back of the Nature Reserve lake did produce water on which there were a good number of both Flamingos and Shoveler along a mixed flock of Gulls, mainly Yellow-legged but also Black-headed.

Views of the pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos Crial Europeo Clamator glandarius to the south of La Lantehuela
Passing through La Lantejuela itself the next target was the Red-legged partridge and the hope that we might see one of the few resident Great Bustards.  No sign of the former and just when we thought all was lost I saw some “odd” on the ground between the trees not twenty metres from the road.  A slight back-up and bins on the object revealed a Great Spotted Cuckoo.  What a find and absolute delight!  Photographs taken before turning off the engine at which point the bird took off.  But not very far and then moved forward to a leafless tree near the road.  More photos, and at which point we discovered that there was a second bird immediately below our subject, and then moved the car slowly forward to get yet better views and more photos.  With us all in such good spirits we had hardly moved a couple of hundred metres and we had a first Red-legged Partridge of the day and then, just like the proverbial number nine bus, numerous sightings before leaving these woods and heading for the railway bridge.  Reaching the high bridge over the new high speed rail track only Ravens were heard and Crested Larks seen from the bridge itself.  We did have more Red Kites and picked up our only Southern Grey Shrike on the wires as we approached the bridge so it was onwards towards Huelva.
Before taking the last turn to the left and on towards rejoining the motorway, we noticed that the flooded fields in front and behind the new high speed rail track low viaduct contained a lot of white so we stopped to check out what was actually there.  Not only many Yellow-legged, Black-headed and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls but at least a score of Avocets along with the Black-winged Stilts.  A White Stork came in to feed and, at the far side, a few Lapwings, about eighty Golden Plovers and a sole Grey Heron.

Knowing that we still had about two hours driving to reach our destination we finally forced ourselves back in the car to resume our journey, but not before we picked up a small charm of Goldfinches, and continued westwards along the motorway towards Sevilla and then Huelva.  The remaining journey produced more sightings of Buzzard, Red Kite and, later, White Storks but we did also add a single Hoopoe at the side of the road about midway between the two provincial capitals.  Then, approaching our destination, a (common) Magpie flew across the road.  Amazing to discover that our day had produced a final total of 58 species but no Blackbird seen all day.



Birds seen:

Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Rock Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.



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

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Just received a report from John and Jenny Wainwright who managed to get down to the Guadalhorce in Malaga yesterday.  Looks like they still did not manage to escape the recent windy weather but at least they saw some good birds.


Guadlahorce 13th February 2013.

It was very blustery with a lot of cloud first thing, sunshine later but still very windy.  We headed for the Parador golf course for the Splendid Starling and whilst here we did see Collared Doves, House Sparrows, masses of Monk Parakeets, Blackbirds but no Splendid Starling.  So back to Guadlahorce.

Black-tailed Godwits Aguja Colinegra Limosa limosa (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

We parked up close to the beach so as to scan the beach & sea, here we saw Cormorants, two adult Gannets, a largish flock of some thirty Common Scoters, Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, and over the beach we found Turnstone, Barn Swallow, Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler.  Then we had to return to the car as one of the legs had fallen off my tripod and of course, being an ex-engineer, I didn´t have the right Allan key for the job so off to Leroy Merlins.  Repairs sorted and back on track we entered the reserve  - the wind was making it difficult to see much as it was directly in our faces - but we did see Grey Heron, Little Egret, Sardinian Warbler and Little Grebe on the way.

Spendid Starling Lamprotornis superbus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
At the Laguna Grande, we found Great White Egrets, Grey Herons, Cormorants (most with their breeding patches), Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwits (one particularly splendid male in summer plumage), Little Egrets, White-headed Ducks, Shovelers, Common Pochards, Teal, Coot, Moorhens, Black-necked and Little Grebes and a single Wigeon.  A good few hirundines started arriving including Crag Martins, Barn Swallows and House Martins.  Also around were Goldfinches, Zitting Cisticolas and Spotless Starlings.

Next we headed for the Escondida hide, here we found two Teal, three Coots and two Shovelers, but above the hide more Crag Martins and Barn Swallows and one Red-rumped Swallow.  The wind was still blowing a gale so we headed back to try to find the Splendid Starling and there he sat waiting for us just shy of the kiosk as reported by Bob.


It seems that all good things come to he (or she) who waits!


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

British Birding

Wednesday
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Just back from a visit to our little house in Stamford and managed to get three days birding in despite the atrocious weather.  It may be cold and windy here but t was very cold, windy and with snow back in Lincolnshire.  Although, to be fair, I did manage my birding before the snow arrived and on landing at Stansted early last week it was beautiful sunshine and remained so until I collected the rental car and set off for Stamford!

I had a final count of 71 species over the three days and whilst I did not mange to track down any Waxwings I was more than pl;eased with some of the birds that I did get a close look at including Whooper Swan, Smew (male and females), Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Fieldfare, Redwing, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch and Yellowhammer.  In addition, whilst at Rutland Water I am pretty  sure that I got  distant view of both the visiting female Scaup and Long-tailed Duck.  I took very distant record shots but, alas, they are proving very inclusive.

Looking at the accompanying photograph, it reminds me of how we humans also close our eyes when really savouring something absolutely delicious!  Everyone, I suppose, to their own taste.
 
A more detailed, illustrated report has been published on my alternative blog which records birding activities away from Spain.  Those interested can check it out on: http://www.axarquiabirder.blogspot.com or simply CLICK HERE.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Donana and Home

John and Jenny were certainly busy on their last day in the Donna National Park as can be seen from the final instalment forwarded to me by John.  After all the wet and wind, not to mention the attempts to snow me in, I shall be glad to be back in Spain early next week when I, too, can catch up on some birding in more favourable climes.  My British experience will, hopefully, be written up tomorrow as the forecast is for more rain all day!


DonaƱa Day 58th February 2013

A very pleasant day with hardly any wind.
We headed for Matlascanas beach, on the way we saw Buzzards, Chiffchaff, Common and Azure-winged Magpies, Hoopoe and Marsh Harrier.  We were hoping to pick up a few missing birds from our list,but the beach was full of fishermen and cocklers, still we did manage a distant Gannet and a flock of Black Scoter.

So we headed back for Acebuche:
After refreshments in the cafe, we made our way to the central hide here we saw Moorhen, Mallard, Raven, Stonechat, Southern Grey Shrike, Great Tit, Red Kite, Woodpigeon and Jenny saw an Egyptian Mongoose making its way along the side of the reedbed.

Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)


We the moved along to the next hide right and on the way saw Dartford Warbler, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Hoopoe, Serins, Robins and Song Thrush. Nothing from this hide except two Little Grebe and three Mallard, so we headed for the last hide.  As we made our way along the boardwalk we saw Crested Tit, heard a Nuthatch(but couldn´t locate it), and Blackbirds.  As we entered the hide I was bemoaning that we never see Pendulines here and, lo and behold, Jenny finds one on the reedmace and the I find another to the right of the hide.  Also here we saw Chaffinch, Barn Swallow, Purple Swamphen, White Stork and House Sparrows.

We left here and decided to call into La Rocina before starting off for home.  Here we saw more Robins, Serins and Chiffchaff.  From the first hide we saw a Black Kite, harrassing  a female Marsh Harrier which had what looked like a snake in its talons.  We never saw the outcome as they disappeared out of sight over the trees.  Onto the next covered hide and here we saw Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, four Purple Swamphens, Pochard,Spotless Starlings, Shoveler, Stonechats, Southern Grey Shrike, Goldfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Cettis Warbler. As we left the hide We located a Greater Spotted Woodpecker busily drumming away and in the same area a family of Long-tailed Tits and another Short-toed Treecreeper.

A very enjoyable visit to this marvellous area, with a total of 109 birds.

Just think, I shall be wandering these places next Sunday!



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