Thursday, 23 April 2015

Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Wednesday 22 April

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great to be back home and my first birding outing for the month was at the Rio Velez, Torre del Mar with the Axarquia Bird Group's monthly meet.  Lovely weather with the promise of mainly cloud by mid-morning when, in reality, it simply got warmer and warmer with glorious sunshine.  Great to see old friends again from far and wide even of the birds were in somewhat short supply albeit we eventually topped the thirty-five mark at the meet itself before dispensing and almost 60 in total.

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

John and Jenny Wainwright managed to encounter several Bee-eaters, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons, Corn Buntings and House Sparrows, I had to be satisfied with Thekla Larks, Chaffinches and Collared Doves.  Then, further of with their journey, they even ,managed to turn up a quartet of Lesser Kestrels, Calandra Larks, Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds.

Blackbird Turdus merula

No sooner had we nine members gathered at the start of the track near the N340 road bridge than, never mind the resident Rock Doves, we had Nightingales singing here, there and everywhere along with Goldfinches and Serins.  A handful of (iberian) Yellow Wagtails flew over followed by the first of regular sightings of Zitting Cisticolas and the calling Cetti's Warblers and Blackcaps. Strange how one visit produces no Blackbirds and another, like this morning, seemed to have a passing Blackbird at every step of the journey.  Overhead we had numerous Common Swifts with a small number of Barn Swallows, the occasional House Martin and even a Red-rumped Swallow.

Nightingale Luscinia Comun (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Working our way to the hide a rapidly departing Green Sandpiper was a pleasant change of species and even a couple of Reed Warblers. A male Mallard flew overhead and a lone Woodchat Shrike was found resting on the nearby canes whilst, on reaching the hide, we were able to find another Mallard along with both Grey and Purple Heron.  Also recorded were both Coot and Moorhen and from the beach, looking up the river, a few Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls and, on the far bank, a single Little Ringed Plover which was later joined by a pair of Common Sandpiper.  Meanwhile, a Sanderling circled above us trying to decide where to land and then thought better of it and flew off east.  House Sparrows were in good number and even a single Cattle Egret flew over.  John even managed, just in time, to get a glimpse of the distant Raven disappearing beyond the headland north of the N340.

Working our way back to the start point we had a trio of Crested Larks and a very close Monk Parakeet feeding on thistle heads whilst perched in a tree but, perhaps, even better was the single Common Waxbill found by John amongst the "gang" of Serins and Goldfinches (and there were many juveniles on the wing),  Similarly, a lone Night Heron disappearing upstream was also a pleasant bonus.  Again, no shortage of Spotless Starlings and another Woodchat Shrike.

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

A short walk upstream beyond the bridges produced little new although on our return Susana managed to see our only Hoopoe of the morning.  However, in addition to more Blackcaps, Barn Swallows, Nightingales, Serins and House Sparrows John also managed to hear the calling Quail in the field adjacent to the chimney factory - trying to actually see the bird was an altogether different matter!
Serin Serinus serinus

And that was just about it as we bade our fond farewells.  Whilst a number of us retired to the new home in Mezquitilla, John and Jenny made their way up to Ventas de Zafarraya on their way back to Salar.  here follows John's description of birds seen on this final part of their journey:

Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestria (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Back at the cars we parted company with the group and headed for the old railway line at Zafarraya, where parking up at the tunnel, we found Crag Martin, male and female Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Blue and Great Tit, a male Black Redstart and of course the resident flock of Chough. As we progressed along the track we noted Sardinian Warblers, Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Blackbirds, Bee-eaters, another male Blue Rock Thrush and then from the bushes a Melodious Warbler started singing, he flew  back and forwards from there to the tree were were parked under, then another was heard and as I walked on up the tracked two more males were heard.

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
(PHOTO: John Wainwright)

On our return journey to Salar we saw more Bee-eaters, Mistle Thrushes, a Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie and Crested Larks. And as we approached the village a Raven was disturbed feeding on road-kill and a Short-toed Eagle took off from a pylon on our left, to finish the trip a pair of Common Magpies were logged.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Quail, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Moorhen, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sand martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Melodious Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Rock Bunting.

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

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