Sunday, 15 February 2015

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Sunday 15 February

Up early, very early at 5am and following a late late when we did nor get to be till 1am, to take jenny to the airport for her flight to Stansted.  Very wet and windy en route albeit windy but dry in Malaga itself.  The end result, with no bars open in San Julian at this time of the morning, was that I was at the Guadalhorce by 7.15 am.  Still dark but a couple of male Blackbirds out on the road making use of the street lighting to look for a small morsel to keep the hunger pains at bay.  (I knew there was a reason why the street lights are kept on at night.)

Male White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala
Straight over to the eastern arm and the Laguna Casilla where I could just about make out the far side of the water as daylight slowly crept in.  A couple of Coots on front of me and a give-away male White-headed Duck with its head and blue beak shining out like some kind of avian beacon.  W Mallard made its way across at the back but I decided to check out the Wader Pool rather than sit around.  Not much here either with the light still poor but at least I could see some early Black-winged Stilts, a Little Egret and a single Greenshank on the water.  What to do?  Check the Rio Viejo and beach the return to these two hides.

Nothing at all to add on the old river and the beach was also deserted.  However, I did reach 200 when counting the Cormorants resting on the water just off the beach.  A few Yellow-legged Gulls above and a handful of Herons making their way away from the reserve.  As I reached the Sea Watch a couple of White Wagtails departed from the path immediately in front and then on the return walk to the Wader Pool I had first a Crested Lark followed by a small charm of Goldfinches and the odd Greenfinch.

The Wader Pool now had some bird life but no small plovers.  Two Greenshank and a single Black-tailed Godwit along with a heavily-ringed Spoonbill, a couple of Little Egrets and at least 16 Black-winged Stilts.  (The last along with those seen at the Casilla, confirmed that numbers are beginning to grow and they are even getting a little of the fiesty side as they drive all interlopers away.)  A handful of Little Grebes, a single juvenile Flamingo and an assortment of Chiffchaff, Goldfinches and Serins completed the initial survey.  A single Crag Martin dashed over the water then up and over the hide and was quickly followed by a rather smart Kingfisher that made its way down the water to come to rest in a tree at the far end.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

Similarly, there was also more activity at the Laguna Casilla with a number of Coots, Mallards and White-headed Ducks in view.  A Moorhen crept along the far bank whist, almost below me, a number of Teal were still busy resting along with a trio of Gadwall on the opposite side.   In the vegetation to the side first a male Sardinian Warbler then a true pair of Blackcaps along with a number of Goldfinches, Serins and Chiffchaffs.

Leaving the pool to walk to the Laguna Escondida I recorded first a female Black Redstart then Stonechat and the first of a few barn Swallows.  A Hoopoe flapped away to my right but there was very little on the water when I arrived, jut a couple of Coots and another White-headed Duck.

Ending up at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande, I had already found a couple of meadow Pipits as I approached and, on arriving, could confirm that there were still plenty of Cormorants on site but no Herons.  At least a dozen Shoveler made up the duck population and I even found the "resident" Booted Eagle well concealed in its usual tree in front of the tall roosting pol to the left.

Booted Eagle Aguililla Calzada Hieraaetus pennatus

Getting quite windy and trying to keep awake after only about four hours sleep and only a Spotless Starling to add to the list, I decided that the best option was to head back to the mountains, light a fire and watch the rugby, "Cymru am byth!"  Mind you, now that I have completed the blog I am probably going to be fast asleep before the Welsh thrash the Scots.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Yellow-legged Gull, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

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