Sunday, 28 December 2014

Anyone seen a wader?

Monday 29 December

Very windy here this morning but clear apart from the clouds over the mountains and the sun trying to warm up the pace as I set out for the Guadalhorce in Malaga in the hope of better weather on the coast.  Arriving at 9.15 I was greeted by clear blue skies, sunshine and only a gentle breeze, not even strong enough to ruffle the sea.  On the other hand, by midday there was a more active breeze so glad that I was ensconced at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.

Marauding Monk Parakeets about as I arrived (and as I left) accompanied by both Collared Doves and the resident House Sparrows so along the embankment track to the footbridge.  A couple of Sardinian Warblers about and at least a dozen Black Redstarts whilst the occasional Cormorant either entered or departed the reserve.  A lone Kestrel rested on the other bank in a tree top and the first Rock Doves made their way to their favourite roosting bridge.

A "peek-a-boo" male Black Redstart ColirrojoTizon Phoenicurus ochruros
Just the one Coot on the river and a rather sad looking Grey Heron but, almost immediately, a small charm of Goldfinches passed over me along with a handful of Serin and I even picked up a single female Greenfinch.  Then I was at the Laguna Casillas and a quartet of White-headed Ducks to the right along with a trio of Common Pochard and a handful of Teal.  A small number of Coots on the water and a family of Little Grebes but the single Purple Swamphen was a pleasant surprise.  A couple of White Wagtails were working the path outside the  hide and then a juvenile Marsh Harrier drifted over  front of me.  Meanwhile, the Chiffchaffs were busy on the vegetation bordering the water.

A well-concealed Purple Swamphen Calamon Porphyrio porphyrio with watching Coot  Focha Comun Fulica atra
The Wader Pool, like the rest of the reserve, was full of water so very little chance of finding any waders here.  But, diligent searching, did produce a pair of Snipe along with more Chiffchaffs and Little Grebes.  A recently trimmed tree to the left seemed very inviting and here I found both a Robin and a Stonechat.  A pair of Mallards were sheltering on tte near side of the large island and as a female Blackbird flew into the above-mentioned tree so the wintering Osprey passed over the back of the water.

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus ablutions  - before and after
The Rio Viejo was also very full so only one sighting here, a pair of juvenile Flamingos.  On the other side of the track I managed to find a single Crested Lark and a small flock of Meadow Pipits.  The same was true of the beach once I reached the Sea Watch.  No people, no birds, no nothing.  But then, wait a moment, I found the single, forlorn Grey Plover near the water's edge to the west; and what a sad, miserable looking individual he appeared to be.  No doubt gone within the hour when the walkers and their dogs arrived.

Robin  Petirrojo Europeo  Erithacus rubecula
Returning by the same route  I managed to see a light phase Booted Eagle overhead and the Laguna Casillas held a single Little Egret.  Then on round to the Laguna Escondida and had two Cattle Egrets fly over the track and away to the east before finding, again, a rather empty pool, of birds not water.  A few more White-headed Ducks, Pochards and Coots but nothing else save an arriving male Blackbird.

Booted Eagle Aguilills Calzada Hieraaetus pennatus seen from above and below as well as at rest
The Laguna Grande held a good number of both Grey Herons and Cormorants.  There were two good-sized flocks of Spotless Starlings and in one, only a meter away from a resting Booted Eagle, was a Common Starling; just the one.  A trio of Shoveler and a pair of Teal rested to my left and I even found another Little Grebe.  At the far right, five Flamingos rested and fed near the barren island and then, just a few metres to the right, a quartet of Knot.  Now that was a very pleasant surprise, my first of the year.  There were very few gulls about all morning and the only birds recognised were a small number of immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Whilst at this hide I met a charming young Spanish lady from El Palo (whose father has a house just below mine in Los Romanes) with a good grasp of English so we were able to exchange sightings and ideas, etc.  Details passed on, so hopefully Mari will come and join us in the Axarquia Bird Group or the Andalucia Bird Society - or both.

Record shot of the Knot Correlimos Gordo Calidris canutus quartet at the back of the Laguna Grande
Not exactly a world-beating total with 39 species recorded but very enjoyable to be out birding again.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Grey Plover, Knot, Snipe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

A distant pair of Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago on the Wader pool

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