Saturday, 14 October 2017

Charca de Suarez, Motril

Saturday 14 October

A lovely three hours at the Charca de Suarez this morning with my Belgian friend, Marieke Berkvens; a sort of rehearsal before we set of for the four-day visit to the Donana National Park and Odiel Marshes plus a trip over the border into Portugal.  Indeed, made even better by meeting some dear friends with David and Ann Jefferson entering the first hide within minutes of our arrival and then bumping into Gerry Collins about an hour later.  As we took our leave at the end of the morning we realised that we were also meeting George Hargreaves once again and I have not seen George since the very first meeting of the Axarquia Bird Group, exactly ten years ago this past week.

Purple Swamphen 
As we turned into "Turtle Dove Alley" we had already recorded a field of Cattle Egrets and upon arriving at the Laguna del Taraje the first birds on show were a pair of Purple Swamphen.  Also present a few Mallards and a Little Grebe followed by both Coot and Moorhen.  We watched a juvenile Spoonbill fly in and then proceed to feed on the weeded edges in front of the hide and the a Kingfisher flashed past.  A Cetti's Warbler was calling to our left followed by a pair of Teal paddling slowing across the water.  Not just a Robin dropping in but also a lone Snipe feeding, slightly hidden, almost in front of the hide.

Adult Little Grebe
With just a few Mallards to be seen on the now full Laguna del Alamo Blanco we made our way to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas having first found a pair of Serin drinking near the previous hide overlooking the Laguna de la Cana de Azucar.  From the main hide we could see a number of resting mallard and Coot and with plenty of the latter on the water itself.  Also present were a pair of Cormorant and a single juvenile Flamingo.  A number of Little Grebe plus another Purple Swamphen before the Grey Heron dropped in in front of us.  We also had a good number of Moorhen and, looking carefully, more than a handful of Shoveler as well as a pair of Pochard.  As usual it seems, the first Red-knobbed Coot of the morning was the collar-ringed individual that is usually found right at the rear of this water, a flashing then feeding Kingfisher and, finally, a visit from a White Wagtail.

Well caught that Kingfisher! 
The Laguna del Trebol produced the expected unringed Red-knobbed Coots along with their more common cousins the Common Coot plus a further Purple Swamphen, Moorhen and a few Mallards. Leaving to visit the hide on the opposite side, where we confirmed that at least a pair of collar-ringed Red-knobbed Coots were still present, we saw both single Spotless Starling and a male Blackbird.  A very brief appearance of a single Common Waxbill before the female Pied Flycatcher put in a long appearance as she commenced feeding in iconic fashion.  Leaving the hide we managed to find two Chameleon, one green and one brown reflecting the branches on which they were respectively climbing.

Our friendly friend the Chameleon; green on green and brown on brown

A female Kestrel passed overhead before we made our last stop at the Laguna del Lirio where, yet
again, it was Moorhen and Red-knobbed Coot that were to be seen till a Grey Wagtail dropped in.  Finally, returning to Turtle Dove Alley we found a female Stonechat and having joined the main road immediately had a light morph Booted Eagle overhead.

You can hide but we can still see you Mr Spoonbill!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Serin, Goldfinch.

Grey Heron visiting his duck friends

Juvenile Little Grebe

Red-knobbed Coot with the awful collar ring

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

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Quality birding at the Sierra Loja

Juvenile Ring Ouzel Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus
Tuesday 10 October

How often do you get a chance to say that today's birding was all about quality rather than quantity?  A great day out at the Sierra Loja with Derek and Barabara Etherton along with Micky Smith after meeting up the Abades service station on the A92 above Loja for a pre-visit coffee before driving up the mountain. And a special day, too, as if she had survived just six more months it would have been my mother's 100th birthday and then discovered that Mick's birthday was yesterday.  There must be something about we lovable Librans!

When was the last time that a birding trip ended up with buntings recording the highest number of species?  We had four (Cirl, Rock, Ortolan and Corn Bunting) and they were only equalled by the thrushes with Blackbird, Ring Ouzel, Blue Rock and Mistle Thrushes.  And not, if you will pardon the choice of words, a single tit seen all day.

First-winter Otolan Bunting Escribano Hotelano Emberiza hortulana
Just as I approached the service station a handful of Azure-winged Magpies crossed the motorway and Barbara and Micky Recorded a Little Owl on their journey so, already, the morning was looking promising and despite the early morning chill with the temperature down to 11C (but very warm in the afternoon) it was a lovely clear, sunny day and not a hint of the breeze until the afternoon.  taking just the one car we soon made a stop in the open woods just before the first picnic area to watch a couple of Short-toed Treecreepers and then the first a of a number of Pied Flycatchers.  Indeed, we were to see quite a few before the day was out and to think that we had all missed the spring passage of these lovely birds.  Also, for our great delight, we had a Red Squirrel (more black out here) amble across the ground within ten metres with is tufty ears sticking straight u and a long bushy tail, longer than its body.  Our friend even stopped to pose in the sunshine on top of a small boulder before carry on and where was the camera?  Yes, in the boot and we dare not open the car doors.  Barbara picked up a Nuthatch before we all saw our first Mistle Thrush and then we were at the picnic area where our first of many Black Wheatears was seen by all.

The main quarry was not as productive as one would expect with the main surprise that there was not a single Crag Martin about and we had to wait well over an hour until we had almost reached the Charca de Negra before seeing our first, single, specimen overhead.  However, this area can always be relied upon to produce the first Jackdaws along with a calling Red-legged partridge and Blackbird.  We thought we had a Sardinian Warbler suddenly "pop up" but as soon as it landed on the nearby bush it was easily recognised as a Dartford Warbler and we were to seen another three of four before moving on. Again, the first of very many Stonechats was recorded.  Working our way up the  track no Azure-winged Magpies but we did have another Blackbird followed by Blue Rock Thrushes and a number of Black Wheatears.  Yet more Stonechats all over the place and then a couple of parties of Thekla Lark and a pair of Crested Larks before a small flock of Spotless Starlings flew away to our left in front of the cliff holding the Eagle Owl's traditional nest site.

Now that we were well above the tree line the Thekla Larks became more common and as soon as saw our first Black Redstart these most handsome birds began to appear at regular intervals.  Then it was the turn of a rather lovely Iberian Grey Shrike to put in an appearance and, again, more individuals were seen on these higher slopes.  A stop at the usual place duly produced the first Spectlacled Warnler and very soon after a quintet of Red-legged Partridge  - followed by many more at fairly regular intervals, usually in small family parties.

Distant Iberian Grey Shrike Alaudon Real Lanius meridonalis

As we approached the turn at Charca de Negra we had, as previously mentioned, our first Crag Martin of the day and were very much in amongst the now exposed Rock Buntings; lovey, delightful little birds and  looking so pretty with their striped heads.  All that the pond area produced were distant Blue Rock Thrushes and Black Wheatears, more Iberian Grey Shrikes and a number of Golfinches.  But things got a little better as we made our way round to the fossil cave where we found a handful of Rock Sparrows on the cliff top above.  Our first close views of Chough also occurred and then a single Corn Bunting as, after partaking of our picnic lunch, we searched the nearby Hawthorne bushes for possible early-arriving Ring Ouzels.

(Young?) Male Sparrowhawk Gavilan Comun Accipiter nisus
Red-billed Chough Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrocorax

It was here that we picked out a small raptor in the skies above and then watched in awe as the male Sparrowhawk aggressively attacked the lone Chough that simply refused to move away from, presumably, the former's teritory.  A remarkable spectacle that will certainly leave something in the memory bank for months to come.

Sparrowhawk v Chough; the territorial battle

Here, in addition to now regular sightings of Northern Wheatear, we found a rather bland-looking bunting which gave cause for extra diligence.  Eventually, comparing the fairly-distant photograph with a Collins Guide we were able to all agree on the bird being a first winter Ortolan Bunting; for me a first for the year.

Northern Wheatear Colalba Gris Oenanthe oenanthe
And so on along the track to where I would normally turn round and start the return journey.  Water, what water?  This is normally a barren landscape but today there was no water in the drinking troughs on the way up the mountain, both pools above Charca de Negra were bone dry and below us we could see two large water catchments.  The first with its plastic lining looked, from above, as if it had either dried up naturally or been emptied and its neighbour, an older man-made structure with a stone wall on the further, yet higher, side looked as if it actually did hold a small pool.  So, driving on until we found the path on the right, we descended to the said pools.

Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia

What an oasis!  Possibly the only water for a very large area there were both Rock Buntings and Black Redstarts taking advantage of the facility.  Many Stonechats around and then we noticed that a number of Crested Larks were making use of the water to both bathe and drink.  The odd Goldfinch moved about and then a number of Crag Martins accompanied by a few Barn Swallows put in an appearance, both drinking the water and feeding over the muddy-emptiness of the adjacent, dry water deposit.  But better was to come.  A strange-looking bunting had us taking a closer look and we found, again, we were looking at a pair of juvenile Ortolan Buntings.  Micky was more than pleased when we then found a single Common Redstart coming down to drink but it was not the Blue -headed Wagtail (Iberian Yellow wagtail) that came down to thoroughly enjoy itself as it set about its ablutions but Derek had seen a stranger drop in which was out of site to the rest of use.

That's better!  Iberian Yellow Wagtail Lavendera Boyera Iberica Motacilla flava iberiae fresh from bathing

But patience had its reward as found we looking at, what appeared, to be a very exhausted and newly-arrived, Ring Ouzel.  (First of the year.)  The bird eventually made its way across the pool to a bare tree in front of us where, much to our surprise and pleasure, we realised it was not the only Ring Ouzel present.  I think we all pretty sure that this small number, probably about 8 as a maximum, had literally just arrived, completely exhausted, in the past hours or so and were now trying to regain their strength before feeding, etc. After that, having spent well over an hour at this particular site, we had wonderful views of the birds, were able to identify both juvenile and females and, at last, the birds resting in sunshine.  Not only did we see Ring Ouzels in the dead tree we also had both Cirl Bunting and Ortolan Bunting along with Linnet resting on the same branch so giving excellent opportunities to compare plumage and size.  And above them, and a couple of Ring Ouzels, another Iberian Grey Shrike at the very top.  What a site!  Now if only we could move the tree yet keep all the birds.

Our juvenile Ring Ouzels Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus
I think by now we had seen all and wanted to retain the experience as we made our way back down the mountain encountering a fairly large flock of House Sparrows at the newly-built lambing shed at the the Charca de Negra turn.  Packing our cars we had a Wood Pigeon fly over and then it was back to our respective destinations.  Having driven the four or so kilometres eastwards to make the turn back in the opposite direction towards Malaga, I decided otherwise and continued on to bear off to the right through Salar on the Alhama de Granada road over the empty hills and then down through the growing fields to Venta de Zafarraya.  As soon as I turned off the main road to the latter, the small cover of trees produced the expected Chaffinches and then, at the bottom of the hill, I encountered a pair of (common) Magpies.  But the most amazing was still to come.  Not more than a couple of hundred metres further on I had a Roller resting on a large rock at the side of the road on my left.  I stopped to take a closer look not believing my eyes - whereupon the bird upped and away then back across the road and away into the distance.  What a way to end a fabulous birding day in great company.

And yet, despite this being a visit where quality outshone quantity, it would appear that I recorded 38 species, forty if you include both the Little Owl and Nuthatch.  And I wonder what other species Derek, Barbara and Micky encountered on their return drive to Alhaurin de la Torre?

NB:  And the big question is: Do juvenile Ring Ouzels migrate in their own complany as no pure adults were seen?

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Sparrowhawk, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Roller, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Dartford Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie. Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar

Osprey Pandion haliaetus (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
Wednesday 4 October

Shame I could not accept the invitation to join Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group as I would very much like to have added Knot to the year's list.  As it was I was having blood sucked of my arm, all red though mother had told me it should be blue, then round the corner to give water or, as known to we gentlemen of a certain age, to literally have the p**** taken!  Not helped by being told my sample was insufficient and hang around to try again.  So much for catching the bus into Malaga for the morning but, having dropped Jenny off at the bus station in Torre del Mar, I suddenly had the "urge" so had to rush back to the hospital and, eventually, manage to leave the car in Torre and arrive on the bus less than an hour behind Jenny.  A walk round the indoor market was enjoyable as was the ride back along the coast in glorious sunny weather.  Too much information I hear you say.  So, on to Dave's report and those fabulous Ospreys in addition to the Knot.

Las Norias & Roquetas   -   Wednesday 4th October

For a change today we decided to head for Las Norias and Roquetas.  Barrie and I met up at Jct 529 service station (eventually.......he was waiting at one end and me the other!)  We headed south only to be delayed by a reported accident, but we got to Jct 420 Repsol garage cafe before the prescribed hour where we met a tired John, who'd been up late on an airport run!  After a reviving coffee we headed to the first causeway on the Balsa de Sapo.  A scan over the left hand lake produced many Great Crested Grebe.  Down the far end we could see Grey Heron, Yellow Legged Gull, Cormorant, Little and Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Mallard and Common Pochard.  We heard Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers.  A Cattle Egret and a Black-headed Gull flew over.  I spotted some Red-crested Pochard before John shouted "Osprey!"
Female Pochard Aythya ferina (abobe) and male Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
There it was at our end of the lake circling in search of prey, eventually diving down, but failed in its attempt.  We moved round to the next stop.  We saw more Red-crested Pochard.  I found some Gadwall and Barrie some Shoveler.  John spotted a Western Swamphen.  We were disappointed that there was no visibility from the second causeway due to the vegetation.   I spotted a Night Heron flying over.  Barrie said there was a better view round the corner.  We walked round and had much better views.   There were about 8 Night Heron roosting together with Little Egret.  We then motored up to the little bridge.  Barrie spotted another Swamphen in the far reeds.  Whilst in the area I picked up about 50 beer bottles, which we put in an appropriate bottle bank.
Dunlin Calidris alpina (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
We convoyed towards Roquetas seeing an adult Booted Eagle and some Magpies on the way.  After an early tostada lunch we made our way to the lake.  A kestrel was seen.  On the lake were hundreds of Coot and Black-headed Gulls.  On the far side were some Greater Flamingos.  John found a raft of 60 odd Black-necked Grebes which dived en mass when a female Marsh Harrier flew over.  Leaving John's car there we all got into my 4x4 to travel along the bumpy track.  We found a Greenshank and a Little Egret at a shallow pool to the left.  On sandy areas where water once was, we found Ringed and Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling.  There was a small flock of Sand and Crag Martins.  We also saw a Willow Warbler and some Stonechat.  We ended up at the Salinas de Cerrillos.  The water level was quite high.  I counted 42 Sandwich Tern.  I found a Glossy Ibis.  Barrie spotted a Black-tailed Godwit.  A discussion ensued regarding a couple of medium-sized waders.  After checking the photos and Collins I deduced they were Knot.  
Red Knot  Calidris canutus (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
There were Slender-billed and Audouin's Gulls, an Avocet and a Redshank.  We saw our first Barn Swallow of the day and a Zitting Cisticola showed well.

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
On the way back we stopped at a gull-covered causeway.  They were mostly Audouin's Gulls closest to us, then the odd Yellow-legged, followed by Lesser Black-backed Gulls down the far end. We next stopped at the ex Red Knobbed Coot pool. Still none there.  Lots of Mallard, a few normal Coot and a single female Common Pochard.  Barrie spotted our final bird, a Kingfisher.
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
A brilliant day.  Another Osprey being the star bird. 49 species in all.  No mosquitoes!  Good birding and company.
Regards, Dave
Our favourite Osprey Pandion haliaetus (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Sunday, 1 October 2017

El Fondo

Saturday 30 September

What a last day to the month where I managed to take my species total up to 145 following the long morning visit to the El Fondo reserve, near Elche in Alicante province.  Leaving home after morning dance club on Friday, jenny and I spent the evening with Barrie and Jan Avis in Bolnuevo before setting out with Barrie at 6.30 to arrive at the reserve's North Gate for an 8am opening.  Here we met the waiting Dave Elliott-Binns and his companions Mary and Frans whilst a resting Cattle Egret and Magpie in the old tree were seen at the end of the drive near the main gate and our friends heard a "yaffling" Green Woodpecker off to our left and, as we waited, watched the local Spotless Starlings and a few Collared Doves take to the sky.

Grey Herons Garza Real Ardea cinerea in the early morning mist
Driving down the main track to the far elevated hide we had a Moorhen in the canal on our right and a flock of over fifty Flamingos in the early morning light to our left.  A Raven flew off to our right and there was the continuing passage of individual Herons moving between the waters.  From the hide, through the early morning mist, we took in our first Little Grebes, a couple of Shoveler and the brief appearance of a Water Rail on the far bank before settling down to really see what was on view.  Behind us, facing the low sun, we picked out a solitary Osprey resting on a short pole in the water and this bird was to remain in situ for the rest of our stay in this area. 

First sighting of the Osprey Aguila Peascadora Pandion haliaetus
Immediately in front a good-sized flock of Red-crested Pochard and, a little further away, a smaller group of Common Pochard.  Back on the other side, with the sun now behind us, we watched a Green Sandpiper land on a very small muddy area and, on focusing on the bird, also picked out the feeding Snipe.  There was also a small number of Coot and a couple of White-headed Ducks paddled across the water.  Meanwhile, on the reeds to our left, Dave managed to find a feeding Bluethroat which gave all of us good views and off to the right a female Marsh Harrier rested on a short post.  Above the reeds on the far side the nightly roost of Barn Swallows were waking themselves up and taking to the skies.  A Kingfisher flashed across the water and then we had a good view of our first Iberian Grey Shrike of the day.  Then the first sightings on Cormorants moving between the various waters.

Finally, one of the calling Purple Swamphens put in an appearance and a pair of Great Tits arrived to feed on the reeds immediately in front of the hide.  Dave saw a Little Bittern dart across the tops of the nearby reeds to the left and quickly disappear down below. But, on the other hand, we were all on the ball when a second Little Bittern hurried over the reed tops and dropped onto the track below us before disappearing into the vegetation.

Next it was on the the small hide over looking the water containing the above Osprey.  Closer views of the Common Pochards and also a number of Mallard and Great Crested Grebes.

Osprey Aguila Peascadora Pandion haliaetus

Moving back to the main track and the "Wasp Hide" overlooking the flooded fields, informed by Dave that the water level had dropped considerably since last Saturday so leaving much exposed mud, we quickly picked up a good number of Ringed Plover along with both a Common and Wood Sandpiper.  A couple of Bluethroats were bust feeding in and out of the cover and in the far distance among the main Flamingo flock we could see a good number of Black-winged Stilts along with a handful of Avocet and a very small flock of Black-headed Gulls.  After checking photographs and a more concentrated study with bins and scopes we eventually also found a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and the first Little Egrets of the morning.   To add to the handful seen on first arrival, there were a number of Shelduck feeding on both the shallow puddles and deeper water further out and then a small flock of Sanderling skimmed over the mud at the water's edge..

Obscurred Red-crested Pochards Pato Colarado Netta rufina

The final elevated hide gave a different view over these same fields but we did manage to find another Iberian Grey Shirke along with both a second Booted Eagle, Barrie having found a very distant bird from the first hide, and Kestrel.  Above us the hirundines were busy feeding; mainly Barn Swallows but also a few House Martins and the occasional Sand Martin.  

Plain Tiger Buttefly Danaus chrysippus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
With the gates due to close at 11.30 we returned to our cars and made our way round to the Visitors Centre.  No sooner had we arrived and we were visited by the local House Sparrows and in the small pool in front of the hide we had a close view of a Purple Swaphen along with a quartet of Red-knobbed Coots.  Taking the board walk over the pool, Dave stopped to photograph a Plain Tiger Butterfly Danaus chrysippus and Barrie and I had a close view of a Great Reed Warbler before it crossed the walk, rested awhile in the bush tops then disappeared down behind the adjacent fence.  Then, having already seen a flock of at least forty Glossy Ibis overhead upon arrival at the Centre, we found a number of resting individuals along with very many Cattle and Little Egrets plus a number of Common Coots

One of many Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus

However, what really appealed were the four Marbled Duck at the back of the water.  A Cetti's Warbler arrived and posed openly at the water's edge before working its way deeper into the low grasses.On the other side of the boardwalk more Common and Red-knobbed Coot along with another couple of Purple Swamphens and yet more Herons.

Marbled Duck Cerceta Pardilla Marmaronetta angustirostris
Onwards and upwards to the final pair of hides.  To our left the large water area in front of the left hide produced yet more Coots and Mallards along with at least half a dozen Marbled Duck and a couple of Gadwall.  A few more Shoveler and Moorhens added to the total and so many Little Grebes.  On one particular small area of the water there was a "cluster" of about twenty Little Grebes all busily feeding from the surface; I wonder what they had found.  Very little from the final hide on the opposite side of the main track but we did pick up a single White Wagtail.  On this return journey Dave and Mary heard Sardinian Warbler to add to the previously seen Stonechat.

Purple Swamphen Calemon Comun Porphyrio porphyrioo

Finally, we completed the loop back to the Visitors Centre and a last look into the first pool visited revealed a couple of female Red-knobbed Coots each with a single chick in tow.  Amazingly, one looked little more than six weeks old the the second probably far less than a month.  Late hatchings and, possibly, the rest of the brood and/or eggs take by local predators such as gulls but, hopefully, these last two chicks might survive into adulthood and raise broods of their own next year.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata

So ended a wonderful warm and sunny morning in great company and I had seen my first Marbled Ducks of the year as we recorded 55 species in five hours. All that remained was the very long journey back to Mezquitilla after a stop for lunch before hitting the motorway.  (The A7 toll-free road was less then a kilometre away and we left it back in Andalucia just three minutes away from home.  Now that's what you call service!)

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Great Reed Warbler, Sanderling, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpier, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow.

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

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 27 September

This week's visit by the Arboleas Birding Group saw the party at Cabo de Gata with a follow-on to the Rambler Morales where some good birds were recorded, including late Common Swifts.  Must have been great to see the Red Kite and Bluethroats and more regular sightings of Iberian Grey Shrike are always welcome.  I look forward to joining this little band of happy pilgrims when we visit El Fondo on Saturday morning.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales
Wednesday 27th September

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei  (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Hoping for some migrants, Gilly and I headed to Cabo de Gata early in order to do the rear of the reserve before we met up with others from the group later.  As we passed the beach we saw Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach.  Once on the track we saw Stonechat and Chiffchaff flitting along the wire fencing.  Some Ringed Plovers were on the first salina.  A Marsh Harrier flew over.  We flushed a covey of 12 Red-legged Partridge as we came down from the ruined farm buildings.  Closer to the waters edge now we had good views of Sanderling, a young Dunlin and a Slender-billed Gull. 
Sanderling Calidris alba (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)

Gilly spotted a Iberian Grey Shrike.  Back in the water were Avocet, Greater Flamingo and Black-winged Stilt.  Further along we had Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler before everything took off in panic as a female Sparrowhawk flew by landing in a nearby bush.  In the next Salina there were at least 100+ Shoveler and some Black-necked Grebe, Mallard, Shelduck and a Redshank.  A Sand Martin flew by.  Gilly spotted some Greenshank and a Hoopoe whilst I found a first winter Bluethroat.  As we reached the end of the track 4 Stone Curlew took to the air and a Red-rumped Swallow was seen.  We'd seen 32 species as we met up with Barrie P, Beryl, Barrie A, Jan and John at the Pujaire cafe!

Bluethroat Luscinia scecica (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
After a coffee we made our way to the first hide.  On the wader front we saw a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, a Ruff, a single Bar -tailed Godwit, Avocet, Greenshank, Dunlin, Ringed and Grey Plover and Eurasian Curlew.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Again everything took to the air apart from the Greater Flamingo as an Osprey flew over and attempted to catch a fish.  We then had a steady stream of raptors come over.  Firstly Booted Eagles, then Honey Buzzards, but the rarest for us was a Red Kite. 

Red Kite Milvus milvus (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
A female Marsh Harrier came over.  I spotted a Northern Wheatear on the power line.  Also seen were Iberian Shrike, Common Swift and a Whinchat.  Little Egret and Grey Heron were also added before we headed to the second hide.
Nothing to speak of out to sea.  On the walk to the hide some of the group spotted Stonechat, Greenfinch and a Pied Flycatcher in the shrubs.  Barrie P found some Spectacled Warblers with an Iberian Grey Shrike.  Barrie A spotted an obliging Bluethroat.  Gilly found a distant flying Raven. Barrie P added a juvenile Black-eared Wheatear whilst I found a juvenile Woodchat Shrike.  Gilly counted 427 Greater Flamingos

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
At the public hide John saw a Turnstone and Curlew Sandpiper.  We also had Greenshank, Black Necked Grebe and Avocets.

Juvenile Dunlin Calidris alpina (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
It was then lunchtime so we adjourned to our usual cafe next to the beach in Cabo village.  I somehow missed the 5 Whimbrel flying past!

Osprey Pandion haliaetus (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
We then convoyed towards the Rambla Morales.  A pair of Raven were seen perched on concrete posts.  At the pool things were quiet in comparison to the earlier birding.  We added Teal, Coot and White-headed Duck.  A small swirling flock of Sand Martin was near the beach.  Barrie P heard a Cetti's Warbler.  Gilly and I had the female Sparrowhawk as we made our way to the campsite.

Raven Corvus corax (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
A great days birding in good company.  Checking both lists, Gilly and my list from earlier and the group's list, I think we saw about 60 species.
Photos by Gilly and I.
Regards, Dave
The hiding Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae (PHOTO: David & Gilly Elliott-Binns)

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