Thursday 24 September 2015

Axarquia Bird Group at the Rio Velez

Thursday 24 September

Good as they say to be "back in the saddle" following my absence and he long, hot, humid summer with, at very short notice, six members joining me for a couple of hours plus down at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar. Not seen Gerry Collins, David and Ann Jefferson and David and Juliette Hird for months so along with Steve Powell we were able to take stock of the surroundings and see the end result of no serious rain since mid-march followed by hot and humid weather in July and August. The resulting drying-up of much of the river and rapid development of the bamboo and tall reed has somewhat decimated the site so making it almost impossible in most places to see any puddle nevermind the river itself.  Obviously, the heavy rain a fortnight ago did not flush out the rubbish. Indeed, I was astonished, nevermind disappointed to discover that from the beach, now accessible once again, there was the smallest area of clear water at the lagoon but no sight of the river behind. Makes you wonder where all the wintering gulls are going to rest and clean themselves in clean water.  Whilst all had seemed very quiet and very few birds to be seen, I was amazed on recording the sightings to discover that we had actually seen 40 species in just over two hours.

WE were greeted by the resident Rock Doves and very raucous Monk Parakeets before settling down to whatever else might be about.  David and Juliette had parked by the new hide so they actually got to see a female Common Redstart as well as a departing Squacco Heron.  Is it me or are there many more sightings of this lovely little bird this autumn?  Much Blackbird movement and the Cetti's Warblers seemed to be calling from everywhere as we made our way down the track finding a pair of Cattle Egrets resting very high in a tree on the opposite bank and then both a number of grey herons and, eventually, a couple of Little Egrets.  No sign of the reported Spotted Crake but, looking up, we did have a reasonable view of a Booted Eagle and then a fly past by a Common Kestrel.

Robin Petirrojo Europea Erithacus rubecula

A handful of Willow Warblers were busy feeding and then, in the riverbed, a female Pied Flycatcher.  Leaving the male Sardinian Warbler posed on the fence behind us we continued to the hide.  From here we picked up a small number of Goldfinches and a Great Tit plus hearing a terrific range of song from the nearby Spotless Starlings.  The first of a number of Zitting Cisticolas put in an appearance and then a Sparrowhawk above us disappearing west.  Above the river we could see feeding Barn swallows, a single Red-rumped Swallow and a number of House Martins which were joined by the visiting Black-headed Gulls.

Willow Warbler  Mosquitero Musical Phylloscopus trochilus

The walk to the beach produced a very exposed Robin and lots of gulls out on the water, mainly Lesser Black-backed but also Yellow-legged Gulls.  Looking up river into the reeds only produced another Grey Heron and a House Sparrow feeding on the edge.  However, walking upstream we did come across the occasional sight of the now narrow river which held both Coot and Moorhen and then a single Green Sandpiper and a Stonechat.  Meanwhile, Steve and David Jefferson had both heard and seen the odd Reed Warbler in the reeds near the lagoon.

Then it was a leisurely walk back to the cars by Gerry and I, David and Juliette having remained near the river's edge in front of the hide, picking up a Collared Dove and a last look at the relatively small puddles below the road bridge.  What a difference.  Within five minutes we had recorded another six species.  First a pair of Common Waxbill right in front of us looking resplendent with their bright red beaks and eye striped and a White Wagtail flew to a smaller puddle to look for food. Immediately behind came a Grey Wagtails and, talk about seeing all at the same time, its arrival signalled the urgent departure upstream of a (Blue-headed) Yellow Wagtail.  On the opposite bank, in the "main" puddle, a Ruff came to feed and yet another Mallard waddled along to see who the new visitor might be.  Finally, a couple of Serins flew over the river and away behind us taking the final tally, as fa as I know, up to a rather rewarding 40 species.

Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrild

Birds seen:
Mallard, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Barn swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Pied Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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