Monday, 10 August 2015

Guadalhorce and further upstream

Monday 10 August

Just received a lovely report from Derek and Barbara Etherton who, along with Micky Smith, have been exploring the Guadalhorce from Zapata upstream.  Certainly proves that there are birds to be found and seen if you put yourself out as can be seen by Derek's report.

Zapata and Rio Grande

Met Mick Smith this morning, later than usual, to try and find this elusive warbler.  We headed straight to the area we had seen it on Friday last, but our combined luck was out.  Locking the car with several Red Rump Swallows seemingly within touching distance we walked on to see a Spotted Flycatcher  busy feeding and numerous mixed finches, Gold, Green, Serin and Linnet were feeding on the ground.  A Hoopoe walked a few yards in front of us and several Little Ringe Plovers were on the large rock.  House Sparrows went from the ground to the bamboo and Cetti's Warblers seemed to be everywhere, and not just calling but highly visible.  A couple of Jackdaws flew by the motorway bridge & a flock of 30+ Mallard flew over going down river, perhaps they just enjoy flying because 10 minutes later they were back again!  Walking through the dried river bed to where the Guadalhorce still flows quite strongly a Kingfisher flashed past up to the top weir.  It passed over several Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails feeding and in the grass, semi hidden, there appeared to be a Sandpiper of sorts.  It soon revealed itself to be a Green Sandpiper but then from behind us another Sandpiper flew in and low and behold we had a cracking Wood Sandpiper right in front of us.  Long green legs and the white eye stripe prominent.  A couple of Barn Swallows were resting in the reeds & a solitary Common Swift passed by.

By now it had started to rain, yes rain, that weird stuff we seem just hear about but seldom experience.  So we hopped in the car and drove over to the reed ditch to what was about.  Now, two hours later than I normally visit, it seemed so different, and dare I say so quiet.  However we saw a Purple Swamphen climbing the reeds and ten minutes later saw it fly past us to land.  A debatable Spanish Sparrow [think it's that hybrid] was feeding.  A small flock of Common Waxbills flew past and several Short-toed Larks showed themselves.  I suspect the birds were confused by the falling rain.  A Nightingale posed well for Barbara and the Zitting Cisticola's were there usual affable selves.  Sardinian Warblers were active along the fence.  Collared, Rock and Turtle Doves all flew over.  Flying from the placed rocks towards the water deposit a Black Eared Wheater [they bred here this year] showed very well.  A solitary Blackbird issued it's usual warning call of our approach. By now we actually sheltered under the landing light pier and as soon as the rain eased made our way to obtain essential supplies, coffee and tostada!

Whilst munching we decided there was time to visit the upper reaches of the Rio Grande to see what else we could add.  At the very top end between the road and the water pipe we were fortunate to find and see Grey & White Wagtails, many European Bee-Eaters, a super Squacco Heron [juvenile], Woodchat Shrike and Black Winged Stilt.  Among the many Cattle and Little Egrets were two 'Little Egrets' that looked decidedly different.  Not at first sight but when 'scoped they showed many grey feathered areas particularly around the neck and wings.  We put them down as juveniles, but something just didn't seem right.  I now have second thoughts, just look at page 83 of the current 'Collins' and you'll see what I mean!  Doubling back on ourselves we were lucky to see a Golden Oriole [male] fly up into one of the eucalyptus trees that abound around here.  He moved from tree to tree affording super views.  Crossing back over the water by the goat farm something caught my eye by 'crashing' into the trees on the bank.  Stopping the car and getting out we witnessed a juvenile Booted Eagle being as clumsy as you will ever see; falling off branches, hanging on by looping a wing over a branch, so untidy!  It's concerned parents were constantly calling to it and circling close by and eventually it untangled itself, had a shake and took to the skies, right place, right time!  A lone Common Kestrel completed the morning.

A total of 50 species and yes we did record the noisy, raucous green parrot-like bird! (Those "Monkeys" seem to get everywhere.)

Sounds like a great day was had by all and most definitely the real fifty shades of grey!  Your "strange" egret reminds me that Steve and I saw a "strange" Barn Swallow on Sunday morning down at  the Rio Velez.  We both were thinking Hobby as the bird looked so big but decided, watching it with our 'bins' that it was, literally, just a rather large individual rather than the hoped for raptor.

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