Friday, 23 June 2017

Fuente de Piedra

Wednesday 21 June

Jenny and guests off up the mountain so took the opportunity to pay a morning visit to Fuente de Piedra to both see what the reserve was like following the distinct lack of rain and also int he hope that I might pick a couple of new birds for the year.  With regard to the latter I was successful but not the pair I had anticipated.  No sign of the Rufous Bush Robin at a nearby site so suspect its too late in the sense that the bird is no longer sat singing on the wires having achieved his objective and secured a mate for the summer.  I also remembered as I was leaving that I had been told about the breeding Barn Owl in the old electricity tower but, again, not to be.

Collared Doves as I drove through the village and on the now dry field to the left as I made my way to the car park the first Jackdaws of the morning along with a single Red-rumped Swallow.  Towards the far end I also added both Barn Swallow and House Martin and a pair of Mallards flew across towards the Laguneta.  Up to the Visitors Centre and House Sparrows whilst a look through the scope away to my right where the track heads off beyond the boardwalk I picked up both Crested Lark and an Iberian Grey Shrike busy feeding from the fence as it dropped down onto its prey, whatever it/they might be.

Then a look out across the laguna from the mirador taking advantage of the shade offered by the large tree.  What a sight!  Completely white and difficult to decide whether it looked like freshly laid snow, the Bonnerville Saltflats or simply the end of the world.  No "Bluebirds" came racing across so I assume I could omit the second choice!  Way, way over tho the very far left was a huddles mass of Flamingos and, presumably this was the main breeding colony.  The rain we had a month or so ago must have done some good as today's paper informs me that there will be a ringing programme in early August, so some successful breeding.  Nearer and to the left where what little mud/silty/water might have accumulated from the minuscule inflow another two hundred Flamingo in one mass trying to ind sufficient food to survive.  But at least it made it easy to scan the whole flock and sure enough., to me great delight, I managed to find the single Lesser Flamingo.  One down and one new bird to find.
Lesser Flamingo Flamenco Enano Phoeniconaias minor (PHOTO: Tom Merigan from Internet)

On round tot he back and the Laguneta but a quick look at the small pond on the way revealed not only dirty, brown water but a single Avocet.  This was to be the only Avocet seen all morning during my 90 minute stay.  Lots of water here but the islands in front held numerous breeding Black-headed Gulls and their now well-grown chicks.  A few Coots, Moorhen and Litttle Grebe and ducks consisted mainly of Mallard.  However, a little closer scrutiny revealed not only the small number of Common Pochard but also at least a trio of White-headed Ducks.  To the very far left a couple of Shelduck and more Flamingos.  Overhead, in addition to the Barn Swallows and House Martins, a small number of feeding Gull-billed Terns and a pair of Whiskered Terns.

A scoped look at the far bank picked up a Black-winged Stilt and on top of the old chimney the baby White Stork was keeping very low to, presumably, try and avoid some of the sun's heat.  Good job that I then saw the adult coming flying in to the nest.

An interesting visit to the adjacent hide paid off having waited patiently for something to happen.  Not just the pair of Sardinian Warblers as I approached or the feeding House Sparrows, occasional Mallard or passing Spotless Starlings but the Bonelli's Warbler that put in a brief appearance.  Not the bird I expected but, nevertheless, another first for the year.  Walking back a pair of Stonechats were busy trying to feed their hungry youngsters and my final bird was a Kestrel as I left the village an was till able to be home in time for lunch.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat, Sardinian warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow.

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

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales

Wednesday 21 June

Must be Wednesday so, once again, David and his Arboleas Birding Group are up and about.  This time a visit to the beautiful Cabo de Gata and the nearby Morales.  Looks like they had a good day whilst I was up at Fuente de Piedra for a couple of hours in search of two new birds for the year that have so far eluded me and they even managed to record a Shag but no Cormorants.

Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales:   -   Wednesday 21st June

I had to drop some people off at Almeria airport this morning, so I arranged to meet up with John for bit of unofficial birding afterwards.  John got to Pujaire well before me and had already logged a number of common birds including Greenfinch and Serin.  I added a Blackbird.  After a coffee we headed to the first hide.  Apart from the usual Greater Flamingos we saw numerous Avocet, some Black Winged Stilt and Redshank (one appeared to have a downward pointing bill!) and a Black-tailed Godwit.  The only smaller waders we saw were Kentish Plover.  

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Yellow Wagtails posed nicely on low lying shrubs.  We noted both Mallard and Shelduck.  We saw both Crested and Thekla Lark and at least two Iberian Grey Shrike.  Barn Swallows and House Martins flew by and a pair of Pallid Swifts were briefly overhead.  Surprisingly we only saw one Slender-billed Gull plus a few Black-headed Gulls.
Raven Corvus corax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving towards the 2nd hide I spotted an Audion's Gull on the beach and then a Raven.  At the hide we added a rough-looking female Sardinian Warbler.
Female Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
As we approached the public hide a coach was parked up and releasing its full load of teenagers so we carried on up to the lighthouse.  The mountains behind it had suffered a serious wildfire last week as you'll see from the photograph.  John found a Lesser Black-backed Gull, whilst I added a Yellow-legged Gull. A juvenile Shag flew by.  Out to sea was a catamaran all the way from Jamaica!  More Raven were seen.  Heading back a female Black-eared Wheatear showed well.  Driving down towards the village, John spotted a Peregrine Falcon flying up the mountainside.   Luckily I managed to pull over and get a good view of this female falcon.

Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Instead of going back to the public hide we made our way round the rear of the reserve.  We first saw Red-rumped Swallows, but the rest was disappointing.  We only saw Greater Flamingos, Avocets and a Zitting Cisticola. There were a few Sardinian Warblers and Spotless Starlings by the agricultural field.
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After a lunch break overlooking the beach at Cabo village, where tourists had replaced Sanderlings and Turnstones, we made our way along the beach-side track to the Rambla Morales.  To our surprise we saw a Calandra Lark drinking from the estuary end.  The water level was down again exposing the sandy plateau.  At the edges were Kentish Plovers, Avocets and Black Winged Stilts. There were 11 Greater Flamingos present plus Moorhen and Mallard.  Also seen was a juvenile Black-headed Gull, a juvenile White Wagtail, a Black-tailed Godwit and some Common Swifts.
Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus with Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Hot and thirsty, but happy, we went our separate ways.  I saw a Jackdaw and a Bee-eater before hitting the motorway to make a total of 38 species for the day.  Due to the hot weather there will probably be no group outings till September.
Regards, Dave
A catamaran from Jamiaica! (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Signs of the recent fire damaged referred to in the text (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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

Monday, 19 June 2017

Birding in Andujar, Jaen Province

Friday 16 June

Collected by my friend Derek Etherton so that we could drive up to a lovely spot in the hills a few kilometres north of Andujar in Jaen Province, one of the best sites for finding the Lynx at the right time of the year.  A very journey in very warm weather with the outside ambient temperature reaching 42 by early afternoon!  The main sightings on the drive north via Cordoba were Buzzard, Black Kite and Raven with other sightings being replicated once we had arrived.  In addition, a stop at the local Visitors Centre produced a happy Turtle Dove singing happily away from the top of a dead tree immediately opposite the car park.

One of two Little Owls Mochuelo Comun Athene Atthis
With the reception not yet open at our hotel, we took a drive down to the beautiful local river Jandular set in most beautiful surroundings and were adding Azure-winged Magpies by the score or more.  We also found (Common) Magpie along with Woodpigeons then started to record the usual summer birds including both Barn and Red-rumped Swallow along with Blackbird, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and Goldfinch.  Once at the dam where the House Martins were nesting and feeding we also added a Grey Wagtail and a Green Woodpecker as we made our way back to the hotel.

Red-rumped Swallows Golondrina Daurica Hirundo daurica on the wires
Having checked in, had a siesta followed by a swim, we set off to drive down a country track in the hope of finding the breeding Whinchat that we had been told about before departing.  No such luck.  But we also had Bob and Lynn Carr in the car who were also staying with us at the hotel.  What we did find, apart from the swallows and House Martins, were very many Woodchat Shrikes, both adult and juvenile.  A handful of Hoopoes were recorded along with a couple of Little Owls and Jackdaw.  Needless to say, there were many more Azure-winged Magpies and a fair number of their common cousins, the Magpie.  Lovely to see not just individual Red-legged Partridges but also family groups with up to a dozen little balls of fluff scurrying along with their parents.  Many Corn Buntings and as well as Greenfinch along with a small flock of Serin before we found a single Great Spotted Woodpecker.

One of very many Red Deer Cervus elaphus does seen on the journey down the valley
And so back to the hotel for a very late dinner and even later call to bed.

Saturday 17 June

Up early for the 8.30 start of the Andalucia Bird Society's field visit to the area under the superb leadership of local guide and ABS member Jose Luis Sanchez.  Nine of us were to spend a fabulous day enjoying the beauty of the hills and valleys as well as seeing some wonderful birds.  But, being very hot, we arrived back at the hotel, our starting point, at 2pm for an afternoon rest before setting off once again at 7pm for three hours spent enjoying the absolutely beautiful river scenery that we had visited yesterday afternoon.

Travelling in just four cars and well spread out we had very many sightings of the numerous local Red Deer and a small herd of Fallow Deer.  On our left as we made our long way down the very rough track to the reservoir and its dam we had close views of the protected fighting bulls; magnificent beasts.  House Martin and Barn Swallows as soon as we left the hotel and not long before we added Blackbird and Bee-eater.  The first of very, very many Golden Orioles was heard and then seen.  We, similarly, added Woodpigeon, Collared Dove and Magpie but had to wait a "considerable" time before the numerous Azure-winged Magpies put in their expected appearance.  Not so much the two Little Owls but the handful of Chough that aught our attention early on before adding Woodchat Shrike and Goldfinch.  On the opposite field there was a pair of Mistle Thrush and foraging Crested Lark whilst the odd Hoopoe flew past.

Red Deer fawn Red Deer Cervus elaphus not far from Mum
Moving  well on down the track and noticing the Red-legged Partridges we eventually came to a long stop where we watched very close White-rumped Swifts feeding and returning to their nests in a culvert under track.  These birds use discarded nests of Red-rumped Swallows which we also recorded.  Then a short walk to an observation point and, whilst we saw some very anxious Magpies, we could not locate the potential resting pace of a Lynx.  Meanwhile, overhead, we had first a visit from a handful of Griffon Vultures before a couple of Black Vultures put in an appearance.  However, the sight of the morning was first a magnificent female Spanish Imperial Eagle and just a few minutes later she was joined by the smaller male.  The pair remained with us for ages and we even managed to pick up Iberian Grey Shrike and Dartford Warbler at the same sight.

On reaching the dam wall of the depleted reservoir we saw hundreds of House Martins resting on the shaded stone work whilst they and both Red-rumped and Barn Swallows were in the air.  We also had the occasional Crag Martin fly past the cliff face opposite and also picked up a Blackbird and a couple of Jays.  A pair of juvenile Mallards were on a small pool below and in the tunnel at the far end of the dam we saw all four of the Bat species that rested within.  Amazing to see that a large bat the size of a Blackbird and with, potentially, a 40mm wing span could fit into such a small hole with an approximate diameter of 25mm.

The distant shots of the Spanish Imperial Eagle Aguila Imperial Iberica Aquila adalberti and then to rest on top of the tree.

The return journey produced first a Common Kestrel and then an adult Golden Eagle immediately overhead and it was 2pm by the time we returned to our hotel for an afternoon siesta before setting out once again for an evening at the river.

Just the seven of us on the evening trip, setting off at 7pm and with Olly already on site and finding, amongst others, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Kingfisher.  Once we had joined Olly and parked up near the outflow from the dam we soon added both Grey and White Wagtail,  A pair of Kingfishers were nesting under the bridge upon which we were standing so they were in constant sight of us.  A small number of Bee-eaters were present and then we found a distant small flock of Rock Sparrows.

As the light faded and the temperature dropped to a "mere" 36 or s having reached a high of 43C on the drive down, so the birds came out to play - well feed actually.  Common Swifts arrived from very high above and there was a constant supply of very viewable Golden Orioles.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the tree immediately opposite us and then a Green Woodpecker was seen to cross the river.  But, at last, as well as distant flight sightings, I got a decent view of the Hawfinch that I had been trying to find.  With light fading I found a Nightingale under a tree on the far bank and no sooner had I pointed out the bird than it was joined by a male Sardinian Warbler.  Derek and Jose Luis also managed to pick up a calling Blackcap.

Driving back to the hotel we stopped to look in awe at  stag Red Deer with spread antlers containing at least seven spurs.  The animal was just content to stand and feed.  Strange to recall that it was feeding immediately next to one of the stone-constructed barbecues!  Should have brought the charcoal and some chips!  Needless to say, it was just after 10 when we arrived back in the dark and then got to work on the shandies and en evening meal before, yet again, a late retirement for the night.

Sunday 18 June

Yet another Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene Atthis
Having said our goodbyes, Derek and I accompanied by Olly took a drive a little further north to take a look at the Pantano del Rumblar near the hilltop village of Banos de la Encina.  Starting off with a Kestrel we soon added both Magpie and numerous Azure-winged Magpies along with Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Blackbird and Spotless Starlings.  As we drove through the olive groves approaching the water, apart from the scores of Azure-winged Magpies and a lone Magpie, we added both Woodcat Shrike and Hoopoe.

The dam, like others we had seen, was obviously much in need of water and with very steep banks.  Overhead we had House Martin, Barn Swallow and Common Swift plus the occasional Crag Martin.  Crossing the dam we then followed the track to its end but were unable to rejoin the water at any point.  The olive groves offered up most of the birds already seen but we did manage to add both Crested and Thekla Lark.  A close sighting of yet another Little Owl was very enjoyable and on the return journey we managed to find a Turtle Dove.  At the far end we saw a handful of Griffon Vultures over the mountain tops.

And so ended a lovely week-end which only left the drive back to the coast for a late lunch at home before Derek continues on to his home above Malaga and the knowledge that we had recorded almost sixty species during the visit.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Swift, White-rumped Swift, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Golden Oriole, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Hawfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Charca de Suarez

Tuesday 13 June

It may be an "unlucky" day is Spain, similar to our Friday 13th, but that was not the case for the sixteen members of the Axarquia Bird Group who were able to be present for the private access visit to the Charca de Suarez reserve on the western outskirts of Motril.  Travelling from as far afield as Fuengirola, Salar and the Lecrin Valley, not to mention our own Axarquia villages and towns, we were able to eventually record almost forty species during our morning stay.  Indeed, if you add on the additional birds seen at the follow-on to the picnic site at nearby Velez de Benaudalla the we certainly topped the double score.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Leaving just after 8 am with relatively close neighbour Bryan Stapley we had time to drive to the entrance via "Turtle Dove Alley", a concrete track in the middle of former sugar cane fields just outside the reserve.  Having seen Crested Lark, Spotless Starling and House Sparrow we the heard and saw our first Turtle Doves of the morning.  Both Blackbird and Zitting Cisticola were recorded immediately followed by a range of hirundines including Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin and Common Swift.  Indeed, the large communal nesting apartments of the local House Martins on the side of a factory unit at the back of the reserve were very active, so much so that it was almost too difficult to note the occasional Collared Dove.

Promptly at 9.30 Manu opened the main gates for our group and we were left to our devices for the next 3½ hours with  what appeared to be very many calling Turtles Doves - which were duly seen and photographed by many if not all.  Where to go first?  Like about half the group, I headed for the Laguna del Taraje where we found the odd Mallard, Little Grebe and Coot but also a single male Little Bittern.  The single Little Egret was very difficult to track as it concealed itself in the back of the reeds.  On the far side a Great Tit was seen in the trees and a couple of Reed Warblers were calling loudly.  The last took off to the other end of the pool and when we arrived were in time to get a hidden look once it had settle at the far side.

Distant record shot of the Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus
Meanwhile a most strange bird to behold; a fully grown juvenile Purple Swamphen.  Close by we found another two juveniles along with Mum hiding in the grasses.

Adult Purple Swamphen Calamon comun Porphyrio porphyrio and one of the full-grown chicks
Next to the relatively new Laguna del Alamo Blanco which seemed very full of water but short on birds. But then the Common Waxbills arrived to be fed and Derek and group even manged to record a quartet of Red Avadavats feeding in the same area.  Even better, much to our delight, a few of the very rare and localised Black-rumped Waxbills put in an appearance.  The only other bird seen on the water was a lone Black-winged Stilt.

The lovely little Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrid
Moving to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we heard and saw our first Nightingales of the morning along with both the first Spotted Flycatcher and a juvenile Zitting Cisticola.

Juvenile Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis
Arriving at the hide it was strange to see so much unoccupied water.  Mainly Mallard and Coots along with a few Little Grebe so we had to search to find the occasional Moorhen and the one adult Purple Swamphen.  Ricky was first to find the Feruginous Duck at the far end and then both a single Heron and a Yellow-legged Gull flew in and promptly hid themselves behind the now overgrown island in front of the hide.  A constant supply of hirundines and both Common and Pallid Swifts feeding over and on the water before the single Bee-eater put in an appearance.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
As expected we recorded both Nightingales and Spotted Flycatchers on our way to the Laguna del Trebol where we duly recorded the first Red-knobbed Coots.  A Turtle Dove was singing happily in the old, dead tree to the back and a very vociferous Cetti's Warbler made us aware of its presence in the immediate area.  Viewed fro the hide at the opposite end of this laguna we had good sightings of both adult and juvenile Red-knobbed Coots.

Adult and juvenile Red-knobbed Coot  Focha Moruna Fulica cristata
As we made our way to the final hide overlooking the small Laguna del Lirio we managed to record a female Blackcap on a top of a bush next to the fence.  the water itself produced more adult and juvenile Red-knobbed Coots and at the far end a female Yellow Wagtail of the UK flavissima race; now what was that doing here?  It was also at this water that Jon and Jenny wainwright managed to find a single Night Heron.  Meanwhile, David and Ann Jefferson managed to find a Sedge Warbler whilst at the Observatoria de la Ciguenela.

A final visit to both Lagunas taraje and Alamo Blanco produced nothing new so we gathered at the gates to say our farewells. However, nine of us continued up to the picnic site at Velez de Benaudalla to not only eat our own picnics but watch the activities of the resident Dippers who were busily feeding their young.

Our local Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus
Lots of Chaffinches and Spotted Flycatchers about along with White and Grey Wagtails.  It is relatively easy to listen to the calling/singing Golden Orioles but a far more difficult task to see never mind actually get a photograph.  However, John and Jenny Wainwright saw a trio as they arrived and I eventually heard then saw a male.  Even better, if flew down quite close to me on the other side of the fence so enabling me to get a few photos.  Great!

At last, up close to a male Golden Oriole Oropendola Oriolus oriolus
One last call for the seven of us heading back towards Torre del Mar as we made a detour to the heights above Cerro Gordo where, in addition to Barn Swallow, House Martin, Common and Pallid Swifts we actually found a couple of members of the small flock of localised White-rumped Swifts to put an even bigger smile on everyone's face as we then headed off to our respective homes.  Indeed, the last bird recorded was a passing Raven in heavy wing moult.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail (M.f.flavissima), Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dipper, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Golden Oriole, raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Black-rumped Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.

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

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Sierra Loja with the Andalucia Bird Society

Wednesday 7 June

Along with sight fellow members of the Andalucia Bird Society I spent a lovely birding day up on the Sierra Loja in wonderful company and great weather; sorry, very hot weather!  I am sure that we all had our target birds for the day and visiting ABS member Arthur peach even managed to record six new "lifers" but, first things first, we all had good views of the breeding Rock Thrushes which are only here for the summer and just love residing at heights of 2000 metres plus.

Working our way up the mountain track with multiple stops to check the adjacent woods and fields we made our first prolonged stop at the lower quarry where, sad to say, if our breeding Eagle Owls were at home they were very much taking shelter in the cooling shade at the back of their nesting cavity.  We had already recorded Woodpigeon, Spotted Flycatcher, Chaffinch and Greenfinch and here we had short sighting of a Dartford Warbler along with passing Barn Swallows, Crag and House Martins.  Above us were the first sightings of the local Jackdaws and then or first Black Wheatear, a local breeding resident.

As we continued on up the mountain we added Hoopoe and the first of a couple of Mistle Thrush sightings.  Again, the first Red-legged Partridge although, at a much higher level, we were also to see a female with a dozen chicks in tow.  Moving on we added both Serin and Goldfinch and our first Common Kestrel.  No shortage of Azure-winged Magpies.  We were well above the tree line when we added our first Rock Sparrow along with a lone Woodchat Shrike.  Having recorded a juvenile Northern Wheatear we thought that might be the only sighting as of late the predominate bird of this family had been the Black-eared Wheatear.  We did indeed see many f the later but, I am pleased to record, we did actually find more Northern's including a female at a much higher altitude with a beak full of food for her hidden youngsters, or maybe they were still in the nest.  In addition, most of the party were able to observe a passing Short-toed Eagle as it made its way up the mountain.

Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Gris Oenanthe hispanica
Near the electricity sub-station we found not one but a family of at least four Iberian Grey Shrikes, so good to see that these lovely, small raptors appear to having a successful breeding season.  More wheatears and then our first Rock Buntings and, ere long, both Crested and Thekla Lark.

Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia

Having reached the greatly depleted pools at Charco del Negro where we had schedules our picnic lunch, we were able to watch a good-sized flock of Linnets taking advantage of the water and also joined by a few Goldfinch.  Looking around we finally found our first Chough and before we returned it seemed as if we would be inundated with this corvid.

Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis

Then it was on up and round towards the "Fossil cave" in search of our main target bird, the summering Rock Thrush.  First more Rock Sparrows, Crag Martins, Black Redstart and Blue Rock Thrushes but we were not to be denied.  From a male hiding behind a large boulder we eventually got clear shots of both male and female as they moved around their new territory.  Not just a Griffon Vulture high above but a quartet of Alpine Swifts spotted by Derek.  Along with Rod and Arthur we even managed to locate a second Woodchat Shrike and a singing Corn Bunting.

Female Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis
And so the return trip down the mountain and no need to take the alternative track have seen our Rock Thrush.  But bonus upon bonus.  Derek stopped his car as three Alpine Accentors rested on the track before moving off left.  We all gathered around to see if the birds. Something moved back across the track and we found another  Crested Lark and a juvenile Rock Bunting.  But at least a pair of the Alpine Accentors did cross and, for those of us standing further back and with the advantage of height, could see them reach the top of the ridge and then moved very low to the right and in our direction.

Birds seen:
Red-legged partridge, Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Clough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Charca de Suarez

Sunday 4 June

Overslept; so much for arriving at the Charca de Suarez well before the 9 o'clock opening time!  In the end I arrived at 10 and left just after 11.30.  Whilst it was very quiet, I did manage to get a couple of special treats, especially on my final visit to the new hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Banco.  I actually started at this laguna having been greeted by a number of calling Turtle Doves and immediately found a lone Snipe feeding at the rear of the shallow water.  A Collared Dove was calling behind me and both Barn Swallows and House Martins were feeding over the water.  At that moment a quartet of Red Avadavats skimmed over the reeds and down out of sight.

Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur
Moving on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas I recorded both Blackbird and cetti's warbler and, on arriving, found mainly a small number of mallard along with Coots and the odd Little GrebeMoorhens put in an appearance and, in addition to the above hirrundines, a few Common Swifts came down to take on water.

Little Grebe Zampullin Cumun Tachybaptus ruficollis
The Laguna del Trebol produced a few more Common Coots and then a couple of "natural" Red-knobbed Coots without any collar markings.  Walking between the two hides overlooking this water I found Nightingales and eventually managed to see as well as hear the local Turtle Doves.  In addition, I then added both House Sparrows and my first sight of a Spotted Flycatcher.  Another Turtle Dove as I approached the second hide along with a couple of Goldfinch.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata
Nothing to report from either the Del Lirio or Del Trebol lagunas so back to my starting point at the Laguna del Alamo Blanco.  The Snipe had gone and been replaced by a pair of Back-winged Stilts and also a pair of Little Ringed Plovers.  Pride of place, however, must go to the pair of Common Waxbill that came to feed immediately in front of the hide and less than three metres away.  Wow, what colours!

Close quarters with the delightful Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrida astrid
Returning via "Turtle Dove Alley" I was greeted by a Turtle Dove and a few House Sparrows.  No Little Owl at the ruin but a pair of Red-rumped Swallows joined both the Barn Swallows and House Martins and, on the roof of the ruin itself, a Tree Sparrow.  Not fifty metres away I passed a small sparrow flock which included Spanish Sparrows at the far end of the concrete track a trio of baby Moorhen looked over by both Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus hinmantopus

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Goldfinch.

 More photos from this morning:
Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulca cristata

Female Mallard Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos
Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius

Too hot for the local Terrapins Mauremys leprosa
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