Sunday, 24 April 2016

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Sunday 24 April

What a beautiful, warm and sunny start to the day so I took myself off down to the local Rio Velez in Torre del Mar to see what was about, especially having just read the local paper which features "Wetlands hit by Wildfires" (Euroeekly, 21-27 April, Axarquia Edition, Page 10).  On arrival, and welcomed by a pair of Red-rumped Swallows,  it was very evident that we have had a dry winter but regular showers of late as the riverbed was an absolute jungle of overgrown grasses and weeds.  But the birds seemed happy as Nightingales, Cetti's and Reed Warblers singing their little hearts out. The resident Rock Doves were distributed between the tall trees opposite and under the road bridge and even a Common Kestrel popped in for a few minutes.  But with all the ground cover and trees in lea it was very difficult to see any birds albeit all were observed before I returned to the car.

Walking down to the hide I had a coupe of Goldfinches and then looking for a singing Reed Warbler a Great Reed Warbler popped out and posed in its usual fashion right in front of me.  Lots of House Sparrows about and , overhead, the occasional passing Spotless Starling drew attention to the small number of feeding Common Swifts.

Resting a while in the hide to wait for the birds, and not just the House Sparrows, to put in an appearance I could small the smell of burnt vegetation, more later.  House Martins were also now feeding above me and I watched as half-a-dozen Mallards flew in to land on the hidden river.  A Melodious Warbler spent a short time feeding low in a bush opposite the hide and beyond it I was fortunate enough to see a Purple Heron jump up and straight down in the thick vegetation.. Simply birding luck that I happened to be looking at the warbler and the movement was immediately behind as it was the only sighting obtained.  Also seen were a couple of Serins and over the water a quartet of Black-winged Stilts were continually moving around, presumably looking for somewhere to land away from the occupied beach.

Melodious Warbler Zarcero Comun Hippolais polyglotta

Walking to the beach I passed what can only be described as "Armageddon" the way that all the bamboo on both sides had been removed and then the ground either accidentally or otherwise set fire so leaving a black scar on the landscape.  This area was one of the prime areas for breeding Nightingales, Reed Warblers and the local colony of Common Waxbills.  The article referred to above makes great lay of how the area will now b monitored and all readers were reminded that it is illegal to cut and remove bamboo after 15 March so as to protect the breeding birds.  And what could I hear on the other side of the river?  Yes, active harvesting of the bamboo with the continuous slashing of blades.  As we all seem to think and say, lots of laws in this country but none to implement then; no winder it s not unusual to come across smokers in bars and ventas, etc.  One Blue-headed Wagtail seemed to find something to feed on the burnt land and the first f a few Blackbirds was seen flying overhead to the other side of the river.

The well-concealed Nightingale Ruisenor Comun Luscinia megarhynchos
Looking up river from the beach I recorded both Coot and Moorhen along with more fly-pasts from the Black-winged Stilt quartet and two Mallard ducks with accompanying ducklings.  By now Barn Swallows had joined the House Martins and Common Swifts and I managed to see not only Reed Warbler and a close Nightingale but also a Cetti's Warbler on the way back to the car.

A quick drive under the bridge and upstream found not only a Great Tit but a rather unusual feeding behaviour.  Looking a the Great Tit I noticed that there was a Monk Parakeet on a lower branch of the bus and busty feeding.  What did surprise me, however, was that its meal was a Serin with the parakeet busy plucking the bird.  Not a lot of comfort for the male Serin which hovered nearby, especially with another five Monk Parakeets in the next tree and possibly thinking that they, too, might be partial to a little meat.  The only other birds recorded were Bee-eaters and Crested Lark.

Monk Parakeet Cotorra Argentina Mylopsitta monachus

Birds seen:
Mallard, Purple Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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