Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Zapata and the Rio Grande

Serin Verdecllo Seinus serinus
Wednesday 7 March

Jenny out at  a couple of classes during the day so an excellent opportunity to join friends Derek and Barbara Etherton for a morning at Zapata (Guadalhorce behind the airport) and then follow on, after a lovely egg and ham roll, up to the Rio Grande.  At the "Arches" just before 9.30 and all into Derek's car to drive down to the river across the mud flats following the recent, continuous rain - albeit not as bad, I am told, as yesterday, nevermind Monday!

Welcomed to the site by the local Jackdaws and Spotless Starlings then the drive down to the river produced many Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler along with a passing male Blackbird and a number of both Serin and Goldfinch.  A trio of Greenfinches gave us the beady eye and, of course, there were numerous House Sparrows.

Goldfinch Jilguero Carduelis carduelis
Once at the river we could see that, indeed, the water level had slightly receded but still a good flow and great fun to watch the Mallards being taken downstream to ride the rapids over the now deep crossing - even backwards!  Lots of White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs about plus a few Little Ringed Plover.  A large party of Greenshank took off downstream and there was no shortage of Green Sandpipers.  On the far bank at least four Grey Herons and a solitary Night Heron.  In addition to the Mallards we found a pair of Gadwall and a number of Moorhen but just the one Coot.  The Jackdaws were busy under the motorway bridge and that point a Marsh Harrier put in an appearance quickly followed by a Sparrowhawk.  Even stranger, the Kingfisher flying downstream decided to seek elevation and passed over the reeds rather alongside parallel to the water.

Great White Egret Gazetta Grande Egretta alba
A couple of Black-winged Stilts were seen in the area and a few Cormorant before it was the turn of the Little Grebe to be taken downstream on the strong current.  Having got my shot of a close Goldfinch we headed off to the reed bed and found ourselves following a pair of Red-legged Partridge. A Kestrel sat on a pylon on the opposite side of the water whilst closer to hand we had more Crested Larks, a Zitting Cisticola and a Great Tit.  Before leaving we also added a pair of Glossy Ibis to our sightings for the morning and then a couple of Collared Doves to add to the local Chiffchaffs but, on the whole, this part of the site was very quiet with no sign of the resident Waxbills.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia
Then, after our breakfast, it was up to the lower reaches of the Rio Grande starting at the confluence with the Guadalhorce.  Chaffinches as we drove through the trees then a pair of Spoonbill was followed by at least two Great White Egrets and a handful of Little Egrets plus Moorhens.  Above us a good numbers of feeding Crag Martin, Barn Swallow and House Martins along with a few Pallid Swifts. After Derek had picked out the Meadow Pipit we made our way upstream taking note of the feeding Great White, Little and Cattle Egrets along with more Black-winged Stilts and White Wagtails.  Then a stop as almost immediately overhead we had our first Short-toed Eagle of the year.

The high Short-toed Eagle Culebrera Europea Circaetus gallicus

No sooner had we seen the eagle than we seemed to enter "Raptor land" with first a Booted Eagle immediately followed by both Buzzard on the nearby wires and a Kestrel.  Having recorded both Black Redstart and Stonechat we made our way up to the bridge to admire Herons, drying Cormorants and a lovely Greenshank when we found not just more Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps but a Grey Wagtail and our first Common Sandpiper of the morning.  All very enjoyable and a final count of over 50 species before we made our way back to collect my car from Zapata.

And then the Common Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo bureo was up, up and away (Camera passed to Derek to take shots through the nearside window)
 Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, Spoonbill, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Pallid Swift, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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