Wednesday 29 July
What a great day! Collected by Steve and Elena Powell we drove into Malaga and "deposited" the ladies at a material shop for them to get really struck in with the rolls of whatever (not sure that this was a good idea!) whilst Steve and I spent about an hour at the Guadalhorce visiting (only) the main hide at the Laguna Grande. Not too much damage to the credit cards when we retrieved the girls and then it was on to that well-know sports supermarket where Jenny got a chance to try out one of the many cycles on display. Bike chosen and reserved and a pair of helmets and other bits and pieces purchased, looks like I'm going to be mounting a stead as well, we then made our way over to the eastern end of El Palo where we were able to enjoy a fabulous fish lunch under the direction of my great friend Mari Carmen whose father is the owner of El Tintero. Not heard of this restaurant? The you need to get over there as soon as possible and be both amazed and entertained, never mind filled with gorgeous freshly caught fish and crustaceans of every shape and size. Am I advertising? Yes, open seven days a week from midday to midnight and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. (But finding somewhere to park can be a bit of a nightmare at times.)
back to the birding. No camera so the opportunity to just enjoy the birds and there were some interesting species to be found. Welcomed by the usual Monk Parakeets and occasional House Sparrow, we were soon on the river bank looking down on Mallards and Coots. Good numbers of House Martins as we crossed the footbridge accompanied by occasional Barn Swallows. A small mixed flock of Serin and Goldfinches playing about in the bushes along with the occasional Greenfinch as we made our way to the hide and a single Zitting Cisticola took off - and probably wished he had not given the heat even before late morning.
As soon as we reached water we had many Black-winged Stilts with their now well-grown offspring and then the main water held well over an hundred gulls taking a well-earned rest. Whilst mainly Black-headed, we did find a few Mediterranean Gulls rapidly moulting out their black head feathers and even managed a single Audouin's Gull. Amongst the gulls was a small flock of about a score of Sandwich Terns and these were then joined by a single Little Tern, looking barely half the size as it posed alongside its larger cousin. But, wait a minute, we then had another tern half-way between the two sizes. Much observation and it turned out to be a juvenile Whiskered Tern. To complete this group, we then managed to find lesser Black-backed Gulls after we left the reserve.
Also present were a few Mallards and a trio of Grey Herons plus an over-flying Little Egret. Although we saw a single Hoopoe and Blackbird, there were a number of waders present including a pair of Common Sandpipers, a handful of Curlew Sandpipers and all three small plovers, a single Kentish with its diagnostic dark legs, perhaps a quartet of Ringed but mainly Little Ringed Plovers.
Considering we were only in the reserve for barely an hour it was most refreshing to see both water and a selection of birds. And then, of course, we had that fish lunch to look forward to and, for jenny and I, the absolute look of surprise on the faces of Steve and Elena. Al in all, a most enjoyable day.
Mallard, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.