Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Monday 4 May

A very pleasant morning down at the ponds of the Gualhorce in Malaga on a calm, cool and somewhat cloudy day; almost perfect for birding.  I met Mari, a young birder from Finland who was over here for four days and together we set off from the Guadalmar church recording Spotless Starling, Rock Dove and House Sparrow as we approached the entrance track to the reserve.  A couple of Cetti’s Warblers were rendering a full blast of their song as a handful of Goldfinches moved about the trees.  In addition, we saw the first of a number of Blackbirds encountered during our morning’s visit.

A trio of the feeding Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea
Having watched a number of Barn Swallows feeding above, reaching the footbridge a single Hoopoe crossed our paths and disappeared over the river and then we had a good number of feeding House Martins along with many Common Swifts.  Just the single Little Egret landed on the river bank and we were only to see one more, on the Wader Pool, all morning.  From the bridge to the first hide at Laguna Casillas we saw many Sardinian Warblers and they seemed the most numerous small bird of the morning.  Also recorded were a Zitting Cisticola and a Crested Lark.

Common Pochards  Aythya ferina
The first hide was rather disappointing compared with normal with just a pair of Coots, a Moorhen with six chicks and the one female White-headed Duck.  On the other hand, apart from a pair of Mallards there were a score of male Common Pochards fighting over/protecting the single female.   A couple pf fly-pasts by the raucous Monk Parakeets livened things up a little and then a pair of Reed Warblers were found busily building their nest right in front of the hide.  Meanwhile, the song of a couple of Nightingales could be heard from behind.  A Common Sandpiper put in an appearance followed by the arrival of the first Black-winged Stilt and we made our way the second hide.

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus busy nest building
The Wader Pool had far more to off, both in numbers and variety. On arriving we immediately saw the Spoonbill and then three Flamingos at the back of the water.  More Black-winged Stilts here along with another couple of Common Sandpipers plus a dozen or so of Curlew Sandpipers and a handful of Dunlin.  Checking out the other waders we found three Redshank, a quartet of Avocet, the Little Ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plover.  In addition to the continuous supply of House Martins, Barn Swallows and Common Swifts we also managed to record a single Sand Martin.  Finally, a distant Kestrel was found high in the trees at the back of the main pool.

Walking to the Sea Watch a Jackdaw passed us on the canal side and the old river (Rio Viejo) produced more Ringed and Kentish Plovers, many Redshank, Common Sandpiper and a pair of summer plumage Turnstone along with a couple of Sanderling.  Whilst an immature Yellow-legged Gull passed overhead, a pair of Audouin’s Gulls were resting on a small island in the river and then, perhaps best of all, a single Collared Pratincole taken a rest on a nearby sandbank.

Common Sandpiper Actitus hypoleucos
Nothing to add at the beach or nearby other than a small flock of Serin so we retraced our steps and on to the Laguna Escondida where we finally found a couple of male White-headed Ducks floating around with their heads well and truly hidden.  However, one did eventually look up so that we could get a photograph.  This water also produced the only pair of Little Grebes along with a male Gadwall preening on the left shore and a resting pair of Shovelers at the very far end.

The heavily-ringed Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
The same was basically true of Laguna Grande where we recorded all three small plovers along with more Black-winged Stilts and a breeding pair of Avocet who had managed to produce their first egg – and promptly left it unattended.  Maybe incubation will commence with a full clutch so that all chicks hatch at the same time.  On the other hand we did have a visit form a Black-headed Gull and a moulting Grey Plover was found on the far bank.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta with nest below and just the single, first, egg
The end of a very pleasant and enjoyable morning with Bee-eaters calling above us as we returned to the road and so brought a final total of 50 species.

Lots of Black-winged Stilts to be seen Himantopus himantopus

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Collared Pratincole,Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Collared Dove, Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch. 

Possibly the only Little Egret Egretta garzetta present during the whole morning

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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