Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Great White Egrets and Night Heron

Tuesday 30 September

Juvenile Night Heron Martinete Comun Nycticorax nyticorax
I took Jenny down to her Spanish class in Puente don Manuel which would then give me a couple of ours at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar.  However, upon arriving we discovered that there were no classes today so a couple of stops in Velez Malaga and Torre del Mar left me with about an hour at the Rio Velez before it was time to head back home.  Jenny dropped me off in the usual place below the main road and then drove the car on down to the new hide to continue with her homework whilst I walked down with bins and camera.

The recent rain had helped freshen up the area albeit adding very little water to the river.  I was greeted by a good-sized flock of Spotless Starlings and a couple of demented Monk Parakeets screeched over and away towards the town.  Approaching the river bank, a juvenile Night Heron lifted from the wet area and perched in a neighbouring tree opposite.  Almost immediately a single Grey Heron departed downstream to be quickly followed by a lone Little Egret.

No sooner had I started to walk towards the hide than I noticed the ten Cattle Egrets following the tractor busily harrowing the field on my left.  A Kestrel rested on top of the next pylon whilst, looking down at the river, a White Wagtail also took off downstream but the lone Blue-headed Wagtail remained on site.  No sooner had I noticed the first than a lone Green Sandpiper whisked away upstream.

Arriving at the hide I was able to set up the scope to see what else might be lurking about in the deep vegetation.  Ere long I had found my first Moorhen but the three Coots were more difficult to spot.  At least another five Grey Herons spent tome in the river opposite along with a single Cattle Egret and a second Little Egret.  Very few hirundines about but I did manage to record a handful of Barn Swallows and a pair of House Martins.  Until almost time to depart, the small birds in front of the hide were exclusively Goldfinches but later joined by a single Willow Warbler and very small number of both House Sparrows and Serins.

Yellow Wagtail (Blue-headed) Lavandera Boyera Motacilla flava iberiae

With ploughing taking place on the normal gull roost in the field on the opposite side, the birds had taken over the beach and even passing nudists seemed not to distract them from their rest.  Mainly Black-headed and Mediterranean with a few Yellow-legged Gulls thrown in for good measure.  Where were the usual Mallards? I could here the occasional bird but see nothing and then, almost by accident, I found a small flock of eight birds well-concealed in the long grass.
Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
Time to set off home and as we approached the original parking place a clear gap just before the tall trees revealed a pair of Great White Egrets which had obviously arrived within the least hour.  What lovely birds these are.  As they moved away downstream  it was a case of quickly retrieving the camera in the hope that they had only moved a sort distance.  just a glimpse of white as they carried on downstream and with a thick curtain of bamboo between me and the river I left them to happily continue on their way.  Finally, crossing under the upper bridge to avoid navigating the now very rutted and muddy track back to the road, we first had a male Blackbird fly across our path and then came across a pair of Spotted Flycatchers along with a few more House Sparrows and a very "tame" juvenile White wagtail that I thought for one minute was, had the door been open, actually going to walk into the car!

Just the 25 species seen but the Night Heron and White Egrets were rather special.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Monk Parakeet, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, 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. 

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