Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A corvidic afternoon

Tuesday 2 September

What a hot day and the forecast suggested that today would be the coldest day of the week with a maximum of 29C.  Just got back from my "corvidic afternoon" in time for a quick swim before dinner and discovered that the temperature in the shade had reached 35.5C.  What's it going to be like by Friday at this rate?  Corvidic afternoon; is there such a word and/or phrase?  If not there should be and bags I get the credit or the new adjective!

having collected both brother-in-law, Chris and a rental car from the airport this morning, the idea was to meet up with Gerry O'Neill near Lake Vinuela for an afternoon's birding u at Ventas de Zafarrya and the neighbouring hinterland.  However, Gerry was running late following his morning's birding at Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra followed by taking the wrong road to Competa which nearly resulted in him driving through the Montes de Malaga back to the city so that it was eventually well after 3pm by the time we got under way in the relentless heat of the afternoon.  But not all was bad news as Gerry was able to tell me about the six Honey Buzzards that flew immediately in front oh at the Laguna Dulce hide then proceeded to walk into the water to bathe and then dry themselves on the bank when the ablutions were concluded!  I just can't wait to see Gerry's photos and will, with permission, print them in this month's e-magazine, Malaga Birds.

Eventually, passing a Red-rumped Swallow, we arrived at the old railway track at Ventas de Zafarraya and had soon seen our first Black Wheatear and a little further on a couple of Serins.  But apart from regular Black Wheatear sightings all was relatively quiet in the heat of the late afternoon.  No sooner though the tunnel and we had our first Crag Martin and then our first warblers.  A pair of Sardinian Warblers, like the Stonechats seen on or near the track were not surprising but it was a pleasure to final find an Olivaceous Warbler.  A single Spotted Flycatcher was seen low down n a shrub.  Little else to see apart from the pair of Linnets seen by Gerry so we set off for the "Magpie Woods" and the hinterland beyond including the vast arable fields.

Only a single Chaffinch and a couple of Mistle Thrushes seen in the woods but no sooner beyond and off to the left than we had both a Kestrel and three Wood Pigeons.  Still little to be seen other than a Crested Lark as we started on the "anti-clockwise loop" off the old Loja road.  This was to be the corvid period of the afternoon for as soon we had seen more Serins and Stonechats we then had the mass return of the Chough colony which must have numbered over an hundred individuals.  This was a rather quick tour given the late hour and Gerry still had to return to Benalmadena but we also added a pair of (Common) Magpies plus both Crested and Thekla Larks before eventually finding a small flock of Azure-winged Magpies.  No sooner had we found these blue magpies than a stranger appeared from their midst and departed left; our first Jay of the day.  Finally, almost at the end of the circle, a juvenile Woodchat Shrike presented itself on a nearby fence.

Our final stopped followed the appearance of a rapidly departing Turtle Dove when a flock of juvenile White Wagtails presented themselves as they fed on the recently ploughed soil.  With a few Bee-eaters eventually seen as well as heard, we made our way home recording both Barn Swallows and House Martins.  Our final bird as we drove past the Malaga boundary was a male Blackbird giving a final total of 27 species.

Birds seen:
Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Chough, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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

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