Thursday, 16 October 2014

Axarquia Bird Group: Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Thursday 16 October

A most beautiful clear, calm and sunny morning with nineteen present for this month's Axarquia Bird Group visit to the local Rio Velez in Torre del Mar.  A shame that such a high attendance was met with relatively few birds and, in total, just over forty recorded by the group was a whole.  Olly had travelled down especially from Roquete de Mar in Almeria, setting off in the dark at 6.30, whilst Barrie and Jan Avis from Mercia were at least on their way home from a short break in Portugal.  Gerry Collins and Diane Porter travelled across from Salobrena bringing Nerja member Lesley Laver with them.  Not so far from the east came Steve and Elena Powell from Frigilliana with, freshly-returned after a long break back in the UK, Mary-Ann Murphy.  Also travelling westward were David and Ann Jefferson  from Competa and near-neighbour Patrick Raines from Canillas. Nearer to "home" we had Pat and Eric Lyon from Sayalonga, Dan Wilkinson from Triana, Howard Slade and Jurgen Breuer from Almachar and finally Malcolm Austin and myself from Lake Vinuela.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
As might well be expected we were greeted by the resident Moorhens and Rock Doves and even had an early White Wagtail in the river below the road bridge.  A couple of Grey Herons flew away and we were to see plenty more during the morning.  However a very brief sighting of a juvenile Night Heron was to be improved upon at the end of the morning when we had two in flight over the track. A couple of Goldfinch but no more till later in the morning but regular sightings of male Blackbirds and a couple of noisy Monk Parakeets.

Walking down the track those a the rear were luck enough to pick up the single Pied Flycatcher and the first of two Kingfishers seen during the morning and away to the far left at the back of the fields was a single Cattle Egret whilst a few Crested Larks put in regular appearances.  The walk was especially noted for the number of Reed Warblers seen in the bushes on and near the river bank which looked a very lush green and completely screened the narrow river itself.  First a departing Green Sandpiper upstream quickly followed by a Common Sandpiper the the small group of Mallards fell into sight.  Other warblers included both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler along with Sardinian Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas and the ever-calling Cetti's Warbler.  in addition, the group also recorded both Stonechat and, on the return walk by Elena, Black Redstart and Robin.

Juvenile Reed Warbler Carricero Comun Acrocephalusscirp aceus trying to convince all that it was either a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler
The first arrivals at the hide were graced by the presence of a trio of Barn Swallows and then more Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Reed Warblers.  At least seven Grey Herons visible at one point and whilst watching the disturbed Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls some found the soaring Booted Eagle high above.

The same bird photographed by Gerry Collins.  Note the remains of the yellow gape and the pale underside in the top.
Reaching the beach to look up river revealed not only more Moorhens and Common Coots but also the single Red-knobbed Coot that was first seen lat month.  Still wearing its white neck collar or I am sure this bird would have been missed by all.  Then, for the first time in many a year, a walk back along the western side if the river.  passing the gulls' roosting area we found a number of Mediterranean Gulls plus  the first Collared Dove of the morning.  On the muddy scrape in front, not only a few House Sparrows but a single Ringed Plover and a Meadow Pipit.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica crisala No. 276 
The final stop was to check out the field of artichokes, always a favourite of wagtails, and, sure enough, we were rewarded by both male and female Blue-headed Wagtails (Iberian race Yellow Wagtails)  and a juvenile White Wagtail.  In the far distance a couple of Jackdaws were seen near the cliff and a small number of Spotless Starlings passed over. And that was just about it save for a single Little Egret that took fright, as well as flight, as we approached the cars and with the eight Mallards were a pair of Shoveler in winter plumage and, finally, Elena managed to pick up a juvenile Bluethroat as she walked back to the car.

Having dispersed, I took Barrie and Jan up to the picnic site above Alcaucin where we were met by a large school party and much noise; what chance of any birds?  However we did have a couple of sightings of departing Jays, a Great Tit and Chaffinch near the "secret" water channel and high over the peak above a couple of Griffon Vultures and a pair of Raven.  On the other hand, re-approaching the top picnic site we first had a pair of Hawfinches, a Nuthatch and then a close view of a single Firecrest.  But no Crossbills seen on this occasion and that is probably a first!  Add on the Thekla Larks as I came back up the mountain to home and it was almost 50 species for the morning.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Moorhen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Bluethroat, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chifchaff, Willow Warbler, Firecrest, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Pied Flycatcher, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Hawfinch.

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