Thursday, 8 January 2015

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Thursday 8 January

Lovely clear, calm and sunny morning as I made my way down to the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar for a couple of hours wandering the river bank and beach.  Just a couple of workers in the fields so all very quiet and undisturbed albeit the water level seems to have fallen quite dramatically since my last visit, no doubt due to the breach on the shore which has seen a steady outpouring of the fresh water into the sea.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta alba feeding, at rest and in competition with a Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo
Perhaps the water lowering at the lower languna explains why I am still finding both Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls further upstream than normal.  The usual Rock Doves were in residence and plenty of Moorhens to be seen from the bridge to the beach.  No shortage of White Wagtails and, as per previous visits, there were Chiffchaffs all over the place.  Also near the bridge I found my first two Ringed Plovers and a a trio of Mallards.  I wonder whether a number of the mallards will stay to breed as there were certainly plenty present, the birds have paired up and exploring suitable nesting sites.

Chiffchaffs Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita everywhere

No sooner had I started to walk down towards the pumping station than I found my first Grey Wagtail followed by another couple of Ringed Plovers. Cetti's Warbers were blasting forth all around me and, ere long, were even making themselves visibly noticed.  A Little Egret took off downstream and was quickly followed by a Grey Heron.  Before reaching the hide, I was aware that a dozen or more Crag Martins were feeding over and near the water so another pleasant sighting to help the morning on its way.

Stonechat  Tarabilla Comun  Saxicola torquatus
From the hide I had good views of feeding Chiffchaffs and the first Stonechats plus another Grey Heron, Moorhens and the sight of the now dwindling lagoon.  Also in the immediate vicinity I had a very small charm of Goldfinches plus the occasional House Sparrow and a Zitting Cisticola.

Stopping on the beach to look back up the river I could not but notice the score or more of Cormorants, many hanging their wings out to dry, accompanied by about a dozen Coots, a few Moorhens and a small number of Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Then I found my first wader, a Little Stint who rapidly disappeared to be replaced by a Kentish Plover as I was joined by friend Marcus Rootes.  Marcus had been making his way down the track behind me and during his walk managed to find most of my birds plus a sleeping Snipe, Green Sandpiper and female Reed Bunting.

Record shot of Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis
With the Kentish Plover moving to the opposite mudflat it managed to reveal both another and the "missing" Little Stint.  Just to add joy the birds were joined by a single Dunlin and a lone Sanderling.  Within minutes it seemed, a handful of Sanderling flew in from the beach were, presumably, they had been disturbed by a passing walker.  And whilst all this was going on we were bother entertained to the fishing talents of a Kingfisher about thirty metres upstream; in and out, back to the same reed to digest then start all over again.  Lovely to watch.

Time to make my way back to the car and collecting a Crested Lark on the way plus just the one Cattle Egret looking for titbits in the worked field.

Water Pipit Bisbita Alpino Anthus spinoletta
Driving under the old metal bridge to check out the immediate area slightly upstream I was rewarded by yet more White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs, another pair of Ringed Plovers and a single Water Pipit.  My last bird of the morning as I drove away was a female Black Redstart that "jumped" up onto the wires to bid me farewell.  Finally, approaching the start of the climb up to Casa Collado a number of Collared Doves and a male Kestrel.

A final total of 34 species including seven waders.  Does this mean that the corner has been turned and we can now expect to see genuine wader arrival?

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Zisticola, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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