Thursday, 12 September 2013

Axarquia Bird Group Visit to the Guadalhorce, Malaga

Thursday 12 September


Normal service has resumed and it was lovey to welcome fifteen of the group to the first monthly meet of the Axarquia Bird Group.  And we were not to be disappointed, despite the clear, hot and sunny weather, with well over sixty species recorded including five raptors, fourteen waders and all three (major) swifts.  After a few months absence it was great to see Patrick Raines back with us from Canillas de Albeida. Also present were Liz and Marcus Rootes from Competa, Steve and Elena Powell from Frigiliana, John and Jenny Wainwright from Salar, Janet and David Fisher from Antequera and old (not so much of the "old" I hear him say) friend Andy Paterson from Torremolinos.  Then there were our visitors and it was certainly lovely to meet up again with Ian Templeton staying in Furengirola and hear about his latest musical exploits and once again we were also able to welcome Graham and Susan Knight presently holidaying in Alcaucin.  Best surprise was finally meting up with Chris Bell from Worksop in Noottinghamshire, who I have been corresponding with for the best part of a year, and his friend Rosie.  I trust that all had an enjoyable and worthwhile morning.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus  with Dunlin  Calidris Comun (PHOTO: Steve Powell)

Setting off form the church where we had all parked we were at the entrance to the reserve b 9.30 and had soon recorded most of the regulars including House Martin, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow and even Little Egrets, Coots and Rock Doves on or near the river.  Indeed, John even managed to find a Little Grebe skulking away on the edges and a lone Jackdaw passed over his head.  Above the footbridge at least a pair of Red-rumped Swallows were busy feeding and they were also regularly seen during the morning.  Above us, quite high, a number of Common Swifts were also feeding and building up reserves in readiness for their coming migration down to Africa.  Continuing on to the far, eastern, bank we had the continuous calling of Cetti's Warblers and a number of Zitting Cisticolas.  Above us a regular supply of single Grey Herons moving to and from the reserve and small flocks of Spotless Starlings.  Similarly, there also seemed to be a steady movement of gulls, almost certainly mainly Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls that we were to see at closer quarters a little late on in the morning.  A small flock of Greenfinches landed to our left and then, pushing away the "greenies", the arrival of a handful of noisy Monk Parakeets, the first of very many sen during the coming hours.

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus

At first the Laguna Cassilas seemed somewhat quiet with just a few Coots but gradually we recorded a number of Little Grebes and a pair of young Mallards.  Below the hide a Reed Warbler was busy in the bushes and a Melodious Warbler flew past.  No sooner had a Little Bittern dropped in below us to the right with other members of the group trying to locate the bird when we had the first of many sightings of that beautiful flash of blue, the Kingfisher.  A single Moorhen paddled across the water in front of us.  Meanwhile, whilst continuing to check-out the Common Swifts overhead, we did finally manage to locate at least two Pallid Swifts.

Booted Eagle Aguililla Calzada Hieraetus pennatus over the Wader Pool
And so it was on to the Wader Pool which, again, seemed very quiet on arrival save a couple of Little Egrets.  But then not only one but a second Booted Eagle overhead followed a little later by a very high Short-toed Eagle.  Another Melodious Warbler and then the first of many Sardinian Warblers that were to be seen before  we also recorded both Goldfinches and a number of wandering House Sparrows.  Marcus picked up the first Crested Lark behind the hide and then, at last, some waders with three Little Ringed Plovers.  Whilst at the this hide we were entertained by a Moorish Gecko that decided it was time he took a walk up the end panel.  Meanwhile, whilst the rest of us continued on from here to check out the old river, the Rio Viejo, and the Sea Watch, Jenny and Liz had stayed behind at the Casillas hide where they were joined by a visiting couple of British birders and, unlike we, were able to watch an Osprey in the air behind them; perhaps our wintering friend has finally arrived back.

Moorish Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
So, on to the old river, and still with plenty of water, where we found a good selection of waders along with Yellow-legged, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and a couple of Audouin's Gulls.  This water held the Black-winged Stilts and we were also able to find a pair of Avocets to join the Grenshank, Redshank and Wood Sandpiper.  A small number of Little Ringed Plovers were joined by Kentish Plovers along with single Sanderling and Dunlin.  Best of all, not the the pair of Ruffs but the single Whimbrel that dropped in whilst we were watching.  No sooner had we bemoaned the scarcity of Marsh Harriers here over the past months when Steve looked up to find a lovely specimen passing over in front of us!  Back to the water and we manged to record a pair of Little Terns departing seawards.

The lone Whimbrel Zarapaito Trinador Numenius phaeopus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Arriving at the Sea Watch, the small number of resting gulls off-shore were mainly of the Black-headed variety but we did find a lone Black-necked Grebe and then a pair of Sandwich Terns following the shore line from east to west.  Most managed to see the Cattle Egret that cam to rest on the western bank of the nearby river and then all eyes were focused on finding the single Northern Wheatear in the plover breeding area.  Steve set off to the fence to try and get a closer photograph and was joined  by all bar three of the group to continue walking along the beach and then on to the Laguna Grande.  John, Susan and I retraced our steps and were immediately rewarded with, presumably, the same Northern Wheatear on the other side of the track and, just as earlier, no sooner had I said to John that we had not seen a Serin all morning than one nipped across the track immediately in front of us.  More Sardinian Warblers before arriving back a the Wader Pool where more Little Egrets and Little Ringed Plovers had arrived along with a couple of Green Sandpipers. The same with the Cassilas but still no more sightings of the Little Bittern although the Kingfisher was still "flashing" about.

Northern Wheatear  Collalba Gris Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
Arriving at the Laguna Escondida we met up with some of the group, discovered that others had made an early start for home to attend other business but also came across Chris and Rosie who had arrived late at the reserve.  A couple of White-headed Ducks to add to the list and I decided to head off to the Laguna Grande.  No sooner had I departed than the Black-headed Weaver of which we had bee speaking was seen and John managed to get a photograph.  Good and bad news when I looked at the shot; not the weaver but a Yellow-crowned Bishop.

Record shot of Yellow-crowned Bishop Tejedor Amarillo Euplectes afer  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Things are changing at the Laguna Grande.  The single juvenile Flamingo is still present but gull numbers are receding.  However, we were still able to see both Audouin's and a couple of Mediterranean Gulls. The first Comorant I have seen this winter was present and, certainly, Heron number are beginning to build up nicely.  In addition to a juvenile White-headed Duck we recorded a handful of Common Pochard and the a pair of Gadwall.  The Black-necked Grebes were conspicuous by their absence until we found a trio just before our departure.  Still Common Swifts and Barn Swallows overhead but then, surprise surprise, wonder of wonders, a single Alpine Swift made its way across the water towards us in the hide and passed on overhead.  Probably about this time John turned round in time to see a pair of Turtle Doves head off over the tall grass towards the western river.

Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis on the Laguna Grande (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Meanwhile, in front of us, we had both a pair of Common Sandpipers and a few Ringed Plovers.  Yes, tere were also Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers and, yet again, another Kingfisher.  One of the Booted Eagles had obviously spent enough time in the air and we found it resting, well concelaed, in a large tree near the tall feeding post.  Finally, at last, we found a Common Kestrel and it was joined by a second as they rested in the tall trees at the back of the water.  The end of a very rewarding morning spent in friendly and pleasant company so time to make our way home.

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios Bastardo Tringa glarecia on the Rio Viejo (PHOTO: Steve Powell)

Birds seen:
Gadwall,Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Short-toed eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ruff, Whimbrel, Redshank, Greenshank, Green sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Yellow-crowned Bishop.




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

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