Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Stone Curlews and the first Cranes

Tuesday 27 October

Just received the following report from friend Derek Etherton which just goes to show that a little rain should not be a deterrent and, as a result, he had a great day's birding with Barbara and brother, Terry.  Not only did he find a good number of Stone Curlews in both the usual places at Fuente de Piedra but was also able to confirm that the first Cranes have returned for the winter.  If, as has been suggested, we are in for a bad winter in most of Europe then we may very well see far more than the usual thousand Cranes at Fuente de Piedra in the coming four months.

Birding Tour from the Rio Grande to Fuente de Piedra and back home

At a loss what to do with my brother on the last day of his stay with us.  It was raining and the planned day walking Malaga was loosing its appeal, it was obvious a change of tack was needed.
Crested Lark Calerida cristata (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
So into the car and off to firstly the Rio Grande, plenty of water with the past days of rain [very welcome it is!], Green and Common Sandpipers, White and Grey Wagtails, Little and 2 Great Egrets to the fore. Mallard, Grey Heron, Sky Lark, Crested Lark, Moorhen and Cormorant in view feeding in the fast flowing, muddy water.  Eventually we found a close by Snipe, always a favourite, at first hiding from us but then finding food more important than us viewing it.  Lots and lots of Meadow Pipits around now and it seems they, the Chiffchaffs and the White Wagtails are here in force.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
We left after a pleasant hour to travel through the pouring rain over the mountain top at Ardales to far sunnier weather and on to Fuente de Piedra.  En route we picked up Stonechat, flocks of Serins,  Goldfinches and Greenfinches and so, so many Hoopoes.  A flock of 20+ Stone Curlew were in the barren fields near the dilapidated house at the northern end but too far away for pictures.  Arriving at the Visitors Centre it was a real pleasure to find the recent rains had put a wet shine on the previous dried lake.  Not an awful lot but birds were back!  200+ Greater Flamingo, 2 Avocets, Mallard, Shoveler, Black Winged Stilt,  a lone Shelduck and 3 Meadow Pipits, soon to be reduced to 2 as a hungry female Marsh Harrier collected a take away!  The Laguneta, with corresponding large hide, at least has a little water for the few Mallard, Little Grebe and Coot that were present.  Around the main lake many Black Redstarts had arrived, Blackcaps were in the tamarisk, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the available water.  Jackdaws flew over and Sardinian Warblers were plenty.  
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Viewing down to the dry field toward the Lesser Kestrel nesting tower both Lapwing and another 20+ Stone Curlew were spied.  An Iberian Grey Shrike took it's usual position on top of a bush  and a lone Common Kestrel flew over.  A pair of Ravens were viewed before the first Common Crane was seen flying towards us.  A single Barn Swallow passed low over us and then we found a Booted Eagle on its usual circular hunting mode.
Stone Curlews Burhinus oedicnemus over Fuente de Piedra (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
It was a bonus to have a Mongoose (did you know the collective noun is 'mongaggle'?) cross the road just ahead of us and travelling the back roads a Sparrowhawk was noted and Cetti's Warbler heard.

Well it kept my difficult-to-entertain brother amused for the day and as a bonus we ended up with a list of 51 without trying too hard.  Back to normal tomorrow!!!

Great to read about the returning waters at Fuente and the sight of a late Barn Swallow.  And it also sounds as if, at last, the door to the main hide overlooking the laguneta has been finally repaired as it was nailed shut when I visited earlier in the month!  (Perhaps they I knew I was on my way over!)  Great report Derek and much appreciated by us all.



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

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Rio Velez

Tuesday 27 October

Following yesterday;s heavy rains the forecast for today was more of the same plus thunderstorms.  I had intended to email all saying to cancel visit if wet but forget and just as well as at 9.30 the sun was shining, it was getting warmer and I had to put on both cap and sunglasses.  But the latest forecast did suggest that it would be raining by soon after 11 o'clock which, indeed, proved to be perfectly correct.  At least the five of us present managed to get in a couple of hours birding before the wet stuff arrived!

Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros

Good to see James Moore back out in Spain again and we were joined by Julie Beckett and Hugh Clixby along with Eric Lyon following his couple of months back in the UK.  A lot of vegetation in the river bed and tall bamboos on the track-side making visibility a little difficult but nevertheless we eventually found the birds and finished off with a final total of 26 species during our very short sty.  No sooner had we arrived than we noticed the number of Black Redstarts present but just the single Moorhen and a lonely Grey Heron.  There were half-a-dozen Mallards resting in the river and certainly no shortage of Blackbirds moving around on this occasion.


Red Avadavat Bengal Rojo Amandava amandava
Overhead a number of Crag Martins were feeding as we made our way down to the hide and had soon also added a couple of Zitting Cisticolas to the list.  Then we at the hide and chance to see what was feeding in frontof us - despite being unable to see the river or lagoon.  Chiffchaffs a plenty along with Stonechats and then the Grey Heron returned and we had yet more Stonechats.  To the right, and for the first time in ten years or more, a lovely male Red Avadavat posed just waiting for  somebody to take his photograph - and my camera was in the car rather than risk it with the promised rain.  Meanwhile, the Cetti's Warblers sang and even presented themselves on occasion and a number of Yellow-legged Gulls passed over.  The Serins were joined by a couple or more Goldfinches and we decided to see if we could reach the beach.

Passing a departing Hoopoe as we headed towards the river we eventually found a lone Little Egret and a flock of twenty or more Sanderlings sought a landing place but were put off by the local anglers on the beach.

With the first spots of rain we returned to the hide and soon had our first Bluethroat of the morning followed by another along with Stonechats and Chiffchaffs.  A Spotless Starling disturbed a feeding Moorhen as it came in to land. The second Great Tit of the morning was recorded along with a Robin whilst, behind us, we had a solitary Collared Dove.

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscina svecica

Finally, looking as if the promised rain was about to set in, we made our way back along the track to the road bridge picking up a pair of Monk Parakeets and a single Cattle Egret below the bridge.  Driving under the bridge to access the garage and the other cars, we had a pair of White Wagtails and then a small warbler-like bird flew out of the trees and landed on the fence.  Fortunately, the binoculars were still round my neck so I was able to pick up the bird and confirm a Firecrest.  A lovely way to end the visit.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Sanderling, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Firecrest, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat,  Serin, Goldfinch.



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

More from the Sierra Loja

Friday 23 October

No sooner had John and Jenny come down the mountain that Barbara and Derek Etherton along with Micky Smith were driving to the top of the Sierra Loja the following day, Friday 23rd, and finding a whole assortment of birds including at least 35 Ring Ouzels.  However, following the sight of at least 20 high-feeding Alpine Swifts a couple of days before whilst walking the Camino del Rey, they were chuffed, and they did also see Choughs, to see at least 100+ feeding low at the top of the mountain.

A whole variety of birds seen as per the list at the end but especially rewarding, as well as the above, were the Northern and Black Wheatears, Alpine Accentors, Blue Rock Thrush, Southern Grey Shrike, female Hen Harrier and Red Kite.

So, in the end a very impressive lit pf 37 species  but, as Derek says, despite the wonderful views of the Alpine Accentor it was the Alpine Swifts that made their day.


Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Hen Harrier, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Alpine Accentor, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting.


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

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Charca de Suarez

Heron Ardea cinerea
Sunday 25 October

The early morning rain cleared away and I was able to take advantage of the extra hour so could pretend it was 9.15 when Bryan Stapley arrived for our drive over.  Pleasantly warm with only a little cloud but very few birds about.  The most exciting was the overhead circling of a Booted Eagle.  Indeed, such was the lack of birds that we left by about 11.30 (real time) and spent a little time searching the fields in "Turtle Dove Alley" before an early return to Mezquitilla.

First to arrive at the site we went straight to the new hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where the intention was to spend most of our time watching such birds as Water Rail, Kingfisher and Red Avadavats.  In the event, all we found were a few Mallards at the back, the occasional Moorhen and a pair of Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers in front of the hide.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio with male Mallard Anas platyyrhynchos
So, upsticks and move on to the man hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas.  Here we had a multitude of Mallards along with a few Shoveler, a Pochard and a handful of Teal.  No shortage of either Moorhens or Coots along with a couple of Purple Swamphens and a "collared" Red-knobbed Coot at the back of the water.  The Little Grebes were busy feeding and there were at least six Cormorants resting on the far side of the nearby island.  Just the one Grey Heron but a good number of dragonflies hovering over the water.

Male Teal Anas crecca (above) with female below
The walk between the pools had produced both Chifchaff (mainly) and a Willow Warbler whilst overhead a Booted Eagle was disappearing inland.  Back to the main hide where we had a Stonechat that refused to accept his position in life and, by his actions, was determined to transform into some form of "flycatcher".  Just the one Kingfisher that skipped rapidly across the water and we left to check out the Laguna del Taraje where more Mallards, Coots and Moorhens were observed.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
So back to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where still very little had happened.  A single Grey Heron had appeared at the back and a Gadwall was noted with the small number of Mallards.  Overhead we had a very distant Cattle Egret, the sole individual till we found a second at the side of the road as we departed.  The Booted Eagle had returned and presented well above us as we reached the hide.

Obviously not a great birding morning so we decided to leave early and spend a short while checking out the field either side of "Turtle Dove Alley."  Both a Kestrel and House Sparrows seen as we arrived and then a small charm of Golfinches accompanied by a greater number of Serins.  A walk down the track at the side of a field produced a short glimpse of a Bluethroat and as we continued we had more Stonechats and Chiffchaffs along with a Corn Bunting.  A Marsh Harrier was quartering the fields and our final bird of the morning was a Spotless Starling bringing the morning's tally to28 species.

Ever thought about what a Heron must do to prepare himself for a little loving?

Now where's that chick?
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal. Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.


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

Friday, 23 October 2015

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

Ring Ouzels Turdus torquatus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Thursday 22 October 2015


Birding holidays over so it is back to "normal" birding for us all.  Just as I was having a nose around Zapata with Derek and Barbara, John and Jenny Wainwright were, as to be expected, once again up their Sierra Loja.  Even received a phone call whilst in Malaga to inform me that there were at least a score of flighty Ring Ouzels to be found and, at the moment, a plentiful supply of berries.  Might have to visit next week or  month depending on other commitments.  Be good if the local Jack Snipe reappeared again.

With Derek and company visiting the site o in the morning, Friday, it will be interesting to see ho many Ring Ouzels they manage to find.






Sierra Loja

A warmish day below but still in the 22ÂșC up top.
Lots of "mushroomers" up the mountain today but still a few birds to see.  En-route to the Sierra we saw Collared Doves, Goldfinches and Chaffinches.  In the tree line we noted Crossbills, Rock Buntings, Mistle Thrushes and Coal Tits.

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Moving on to the cliffs we saw Chough, Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings, Black Wheatear, Black Redstarts, a Green Woodpecker was heard down in the lower slopes as well as Red-legged Partridges (which we found later).  A bit further on at the quarry area we saw Whinchat, more Mistle Thrushes, Black Redstarts and Goldfinches.  In the sub-station valley area we found Red-legged Partridges, a Southern Grey Shrike, Rock Sparrows, Meadow Pipits and a Northern Wheatear.


Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

The "mushroomers" were all over the ponds so we drove straight round to the fossil cave where we saw more Rock Sparrows, Crag Martins, Meadow Pipits and Chough.


Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

So on to our primary objective, the hawthorn bushes and possibly Ring Ouzels.  Not one or two but over twenty birds were seen - very mobile - and had to wait twenty or more minutes for the return of the birds to the bushes and the rock face.  After photographs we went over to the Sierra Gordo area where more Northern Wheatears, Red-legged Partridges and Ring Ouzels were seen.  So down to the catchment area where again the Ring Ouzels were about (only a dozen or so this time) but still very mobile and skittish.  A Mistle Thrush was also seen here as well as Linnets, a Great Tit, Robin, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, and a pair of Serins.


Record shot of Ring Ouzels Turdus torquatus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Retracing our route we finally located two Little Owls, Chiffchaffs, Black Wheatear and a White Wagtail but
I think the number of people here today was a bit of a disruption but still, our objective was made.

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

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

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Zapata, Malaga with you know who!


Thursday 22 October 2015

After dropping Jenny off at the airport for her short return visit back to the UK I met up with Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Derek's brother, Terry for an hour or so in lovely weather down at the Guadalhorce behind the airport at that wonderful wetland know as Zapata.  The flooding from the resent heavy rains had now subsided so we were just about back to normal as as soon as we arrived were looking at both House Sparrows and Meadow Pipits, having left the Spotless Starlings back in the village, and a distant Common Kestrel.  No visit here would be the same without either Crested Lark and/or Stonechat and today was no exception recording a number of each.

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Whilst a Booted Eagle, and later a second, circled round above we had a pair of Common Sandpipers on the edge of the weir and a very bedraggle Grey Heron on a small island just above.  Chiffchaffs flitted about in the Tamerisks along with the odd Blackbird and occasional charm of Goldfinches whilst the lone Robin seemed happy to just sit and watch the world go by.  A female Mallard was in the upper water and both White and a lovely Grey Wagtail were observed almost in front of us.  Again, where you find Goldfinches you often find Serins and the same was true of this morning.

Moving along the track towards the hidden reed beds we had a couple of Cormorant fly over and then a solitary Zitting Cisticola that was happy to sit and pose on the fence immediately in front of the car.  Within a few metres next to the main drain we had first a Greenfinch them presumably, the same pair of Common Sandpipers previously seen on the weir and, judging by their inter-action, love is in the air!

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
Stopping at "Short-toed Lark corner" we had the pleasure of watching an adult Bluethroat as a Hoopoe skipped by behind and another Meadow Pipit posed on the fence top.  In the distance a Peregrine Falcon and then further sightings of our Booted Eagles as a distant pair of Ravens wandered eastwards.  However, what did surprise us all was the appearance of a relatively low Short-toed Eagle, now what was he doing here rather well on his way south of the winter?  meanwhile, a lone male Linnet sat atop the tree looking imperiously down upon us and showing a lovely pink chest.

Male Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Now came a surprise as we were suddenly joined by three Spaniards who had seen us with bins and cameras and realised that we were out birding.  For their part, they were currently undertaking some ringing ("banding" if you are reading this in an American context) and had been on site since before eight this morning.  We thought we had done well to see one Bluethroat whereupon they produced another from their keep bag and informed us that this was their eighth of the morning and had been catching them regularly since August.  Also present, which they specially brought up from their recording station to show us, was a rather lovely male Penduline Tit.  It is only when you see these birds at very close quarters, especially "in the hand" that you begin to not only appreciate their delicateness but also how small a Bluethroat is compared with you field estimation.  Having seen a Chiffchaff retrieved for the mist nets Derek was also shown a female Blackcap that had also been recently trapped.

Up close and personal with a Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Time to depart for a quick coffee before facing the city traffic in Malaga city as I try and arrange a change of telephone supplier before making my contented way home and with thanks again to Derek and Barbara - but not before passing a couple of Little Egrets at the end of the track.

Now up close, and very close, with the Bluethroat Luscinia svecica











Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Common Sandpiper, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

 


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

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Donana with John and Jenny: Day2

Saturday 17 October

Donana National Park Day 2:  Valverde Centre

Lots more birds for John and Jenny who seem to be thoroughly enjoying their extended stay down in Huelva province.

A very thundery, humid day with bright periods.

The sky was black as coal when we started off for the Centre and as we left
El Rocio it bucketed it down, so nothing was seen until we reached the start of
the track - next to the Isla Mayor turning.  The first sighting was of a 
Black-shouldered Kite, then searching  through a flock of sparrows we found a few
Spanish Sparrows, then some Spotless Starlings and Stonechats, while in the canals 
Grey Herons and Cormorants were noted.  A male and female Marsh Harrier  were seen
quartering the marshes and a Black-headed Gull flew past.
 
Cetti´s Warblers were in good voice as we progressed up to the usual Night Heron 
roost - they were not here save for two immatures.  Opposite the building we found
seven Great Whites, Little and Cattle Egrets,plus Grey Herons, a White Stork and 
Cormorants.  In the fields past the building we spotted two Lesser Short-toed Larks, 
Corn Buntings and a White Wagtail.
 
Immature Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As we approached the centre the power lines were occupied by at least fifteen
Lesser Kestrels, while at the centre all that was in situ were about a hundred and
fifty Mallard and two female Marsh Harriers who had great fun flying over the reed
beds and pools putting the ducks every time.
 
Moving on from the centre - where we had a coffee - although nobody really wished
to speak, we turned left and went straight ahead, making for the boundary  gate of
the reserve.  Along this track we saw Northern Wheatears, a single male Whinchat,
hundreds of White Wagtails - just keeping far enough in front of us as to thwart 
any ideas of photographs, also a Hoopoe and a Yellow-legged Gull were noted.  At
the gate we spotted two Red Kites and a Raven at the cattle enclosures.  Retracing
our steps a single Griffon Vulture was seen sitting in the field close to some
horses, the four Greylag Geese flew past.
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continuing round the circuit we saw lots mote White Storks in the rice paddies plus two Black Storks, Great White and Little Egrets. Another male and female
Marsh Harriers were seen here and at one of the bridges a Kingfisher was disturbed.  
At the new large irrigation pools we found a Great Crested Grebe and as we  left
the reserve two Buzzards and a small flock of Lapwings were seen.
 
The rain started again and as we had a beer in the bar at the site a terrific 
rainstorm ensued, so we waited for it to finish and then went down to the marismas
to see what effect it had had on them, not a lot!!  But the centre was open and no
sign of the Imperial Eagle today, due to the weather...and yet more rain forecast
for tomorrow. 

Beautiful Red Kites Milvus milvus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
 

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

Five days in Huelva Province (4)

Thursday 15 October

Day 4: Ayamonte Area

Time to go our separate ways with a few travelling home but seventeen of us moving on to the Donana national park where we had booked in for the night in El Rocio.  This meant that we could spend the morning exploring the marshes around Ayamonte and whilst a couple of cars made a return visit to the top end of the Odiel Marshes the remainder of the second group made their various ways to El Rocio calling in at some of the well-know sites near Huelva on the way.

The initial visit to the coast south of Ayamonte was somewhat disappointing as upon arrival in the target are we discovered the road through the marshes closed for repair works.  This resulted in a rather large detour to find the harbour at the far end of Playa del Moral where the exposed mud held Turnstone and Dunlin along with Cormorants and both Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls.  In what appeared to be fresh water next to the harbour we also found a large number of Little Egrets, Herons and more Cormorants whilst in the vegetation next to the water were numerous Magpies, House Sparrows, Stonechat, Backbird and Corn Bunting.  Not unsurprisingly, amongst these large flocks of House Sparrows we duly found some Spanish Sparrows followed by a Sardinian Warbler and then the odd White Stork whilst a Common Kestrel flew over us.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Meanwhile, Barbara and Derek Etherton had found the main track to the east of Ayamonte, almost parallel to the old Huelva road, and, taking a side track, came upon a Rufous Bushchat, Common Redstart and Orphean Warbler drinking at a puddle on the track in front of them.  Having telephoned through the news, most of us at the harbour site made a hasty retreat to join them albeit a few carried on to El Rocio and John and Jenny took an alternative route.

Having all met up once again we proceeded down the side track where we all duly found both the Common Redstart and Orphean Warbler along with numerous Stonechats and a pair of Sardinian Warblers - but not the Rufous Bushchat. A couple of Hoopoes were seen and then the first Marsh Harrier for the day.  Reaching the end of the track at the Oyster farm we were able to look at the river where we had Whimbrel, Curlew and Green Sandpiper.  Whilst at the "farm" we spent some time watching the young lads at work as they cleaned and packed the oysters for onward travel to Sevilla and, when offered, even sample one, or at least Derek and I did.  Before leaving we duly bought a couple of dozen and then shared them out before dinner in El Rocio.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Back to the main track which we took o the far, eastern, end before continuing on to Huelva.  In the pools and streams on either side we duly recorded a number of birds including both Greenshank and Redshank along with Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Herons, Little Egrets, Little Grebe, Ringed Plover and Curlew.  Ducks included Mallard, Gadwall and Shoveler and, of course, we found both Moorhen and Coots.  In addition to the eight Spoonbills on the final pool we had over-flying Barn Swallows and on the bank both Linnet and Southern Grey Shrike were recorded.

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Then it was on to Huelva with Derek and Steve's cars off to the Odiel and four cars to the Donana.  Meanwhile, John and Jenny were busy at one or tow well-known sites on their way to El Rocio as can be seen from John's report.

A warm day but so much diving

We started off from the golf club after collecting breakfast, and then spent the next hour and a half driving in 
and around Ayamonte area.  Finally when we did "land", we took a small track across the heathland and saw 
Zitting Cisticola, Stonechat, Blackbird, Crested Larks,Southern Grey Shrike and House Sparrows. In the
gullies we found Redshanks, Turnstones, Dunlin, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Little Egrets, Yellow-legged Gulls,
Black-headed Gulls and Little Stint.

We then made our own way back down to km13 on the Matlascana road, en route seeing Buzzard, Common 

Kestrel, Magpie and Azure-winged Magpies, Rock Doves, and several White Storks.  At the km13 area as
we entered the "hide" a Bluethroat was noted on the brambles to our front.  Then we heard the Waxbills 
coming over.  On the lagoon we saw Purple Swamphen, Teal,Common Coots, Shovelers, Moorhens and two
Little Egrets, while in the surrounding bushes we found Blackcaps, Common Waxbills, Goldfinches,Long-tailed
Tits, Common Chiffchaffs and Robin.


 





















Moving on to Acebuche reserve, here we had a coffee then moved down to the right of the hides.  As we got 
close to the garages a Northern Wheatear posed for us. Oodles of Azure-winged Magpies about here as usual, but a nice surprise was the
Short-toed Treecreeper.  Also about was a Dartford Warbler, Pied Flycatchers all female, a Spotted 
Flycaycher,Common Magpies, Spotless Starlings, a Blackbird, Crested Larks, Stonechats, three Greenfinches
and our first Chaffinch and Great Tit of the trip.


Whilst at the gazebo hide at the top end of the Odiel, those present managed to find all the usual birds from yesterday including a feeding Osprey and a number of Black-necked Grebes along with the resident Flamingos.

Those of us heading towards the Donana made our first stop at the Laguna Mujeres where MoorhensCoots and Purple Swamphens were easily seen at close quarters.  Both Mallard and Shoveler on the water which were later joined by an arriving Gadwall and the occasional visit from both Little Egret and Cormorant.  A Kingfisher flashed across the water before we drove another kilometre up the road to access the hidden corner of the large lake.  As soon as we arrived we had a Squacco Heron and closer study confirmed that there were actually four individuals present along with Purple Swamphens, Grey Herons, Moorhen and Coots.

Record shot of Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

Finally, it was time for the drive to El Rocio where we recorded more Azure-winged magpies, Magpies, Crested Lark and a couple of handsome Common Buzzards sitting on th fence alongside the main road.  having checked-in at the hostal, I then took Olly, David and Diane Hackett over to the La Rocina Visitors Centre and back via the SEO Visitors Centre at the far end of the, now dry, El Rocio lake.  At the former we found our first Chaffinch of the week and at least a couple of female Pied Flycatchers whilst at the latter site we had Cattle Egrets, at least 300 Greylag Geese, Cetti's Warbler. lapwing and feeding Barn and Red-rumped Swallows overhead.  Altogether, I would think that, as a group, this was possibly our most productive day with well over 70 species.

Female Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant,Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, lesser kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Rufous Bushchat, Robin, Bluethroat, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.


El Rocio in the evening sunshine


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