Wednesday, 18 July 2018


Wednesday 18 July

Back in Spain, back in the field at last!  A most enjoyable morning with friends Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Linda Roberts as we explored Zapata before taking the ride up to the confluence of the Guadalhorce and Rio Grande to finish our birding session for the day.  Lovely to see Linda again even if for only a few hours before she returns to Britain.  Whilst waiting near the "arches" we managed to record a couple of small flocks of Common Waxbill along with passing Barn Swallows and the occasional Goldfinch not to mention the resident House Sparrows and Collared Doves.

Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrild

Then it was all into Derek's car and the drive down to the river where we parked just above the ford so enabling us to see what was on and around the river - and we were not to be disappointed.  The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and not a breath of wind as we recorded a number of Little Egrets and Little Ringed Plovers.  Not long before we found the first of the resting Night Herons and, of course, no shortage of Black-winged Stilts.  Both Common and Green Sandpiper were on the far side the tiny mere and even a Moorhen came out to check what was going on whilst keeping and eye on its well-grown chick.  A Common Kestrel drifted away overhead along with the occasional Yellow-legged Gull and, closer to the car, we had good views of Crested Lark, White, Yellow (Blue-headed) and juvenile Grey WagtailsSerins were out in force and we eventually found the sheltering Grey Heron when another Night Heron landed close by.

Night Heron martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax

Never mind the Pallid Swifts overhead or the family of now well-grown Mallards drifting on the upper reaches nor even House Martins, Cattle Egret, Blackbird and even Reed Warbler it was the sudden arrival of a Little Bittern that raised our expectations.  Would the bird come out of the reeds? Yes, along with another and then, a few minutes later whilst actually parked in the rive mid-way across the ford, a weird juvenile Little Bittern walked out with in five metres to "graise" at the edge of the river giving wonderful, clear views to all.  And not a camera in sight and no volunteers to get out into the river to wade to the boot and retrieve same!  This bird looked like a juvenile almost reaching adult male plumage and then deciding that a major moult was required as it presented itself with all sorts of "spiky" feathers - unless, of course, it had been well and truly pecked by siblings and or adults.  Just like a caged chicken!

Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus

A Cetti's Warbler was singing, others saw the Sardinian Warbler land near by and a dark-morph Booted Eagle flew across the river.  Greenfinch, Blackbird and a juvenile Marsh Harrier were added on a short visit to the main drain on the other side of the rover and then working our way alongside the reed-bed near the airport navigation lights we added a Red-rumped Swallow and many more Waxbill along with a Zitting Cisticola.  Near the stream crossing a pair of Short-toed Larks were feeding and making use of the nearby drinking water and our first of a couple of pairs of Turtle Doves put in an appearance. A party of eight Spotless Starlings just about completed the observations before we made our way back to the village for a well-earned cup of coffee.

Suitably refreshed we made our way up to the Rio Grande and collected Chaffinch sightings as soon as we arrived.  Lovely to see the Spotted Flycatchers and the nearby confluence held both Cattle and Little Egret along with a pair of Little Ringed Plovers.  Then a distant Wood Pigeon.  Working our way back to the track to head upstream we stopped to find the, at least two, calling Wrynecks but mainly just quick flashes as the birds moved through the back of the trees but, on the other hand, good, clear sightings of both Jay and Woodchat Shrike.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Always lovely to hear and watch Bee-eaters and today was no exception as the local breeding flock went about its daily routine whilst entertaining us as the same time.  Whilst on the bridge over the upper Guadalhorce we saw brief glimpses of a Golden Oriole and youngster along with a Blue Tit and another Booted Eagle.  A Short-toed Eagle was resting on the far pylon on the horizon and then the well-known call of  a local Raven.  More Grey and White Wagtails along with Serin and Goldfinch before we retraced our steps (can you retrace your steps whilst sitting in a car?) to the nearby petrol station and our respective cars.  However, never mind trying to avoid the Little Ringed Plovers that stood their ground as we crossed the river bed we son stopped to check out the pair of Kentish Plover which then took us well over the fifty mark for the morning.  A really enjoyable day and wonderful company.

Phone capture at Zapata showing reed bed that juvenile Little Bittern appeared and then re-seen on back top left.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Wryneck, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticlola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Charca de Suarez with John and Jenny

Tuesday 17 July

Now back in Spain and lovely to receive an email from John and Jenny Wainwright re their visit to the Charca de Suarez on Sunday.  Certainly more fun than driving over to East Midlands airport to join the cattle-truck-in-the-sky, otherwise known as Ryanair, on a swelteringly hot day and even worse on the plane itself.  At least my very late check-in, three hours before the flight, got me a window seat in the emergency door area so lots of leg room to make up for the uncomfortable seat itself!  I think it might be a case of getting the spare bins out and venturing forth once more myself before driving down to Tarifa on Saturday.

More good news from John that Jenny is making great progress and now walking further. And she was in charge of the camera for Sunday's visit to the Charca!

Charca de Suarez ; Sunday15th July

A very warm day with a light breeze now and then.

We arrived at the reserve about ten minutes before opening, overhead a few Barn Swallows and House Martins were seen.  Entering the reserve we headed for the new laguna hide, Laguna del Alamo Blanco, lots of Spotted Flycatchers down this track today, mostly juveniles waiting for food.

Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
At the hide a Purple Swamphen was feeding in the far reeds also about were a couple of Mallards, a Black-winged Stilt, oodles of Bee-eaters their calls drowning out most of the small birds in the reeds. But after a while they moved on a tad, and we could hear the Common Waxbills and the Great Reed Warbler calling; we did see the former later on though.  Common Swifts were in good numbers and as we were about to leave two more Purple Swamphens came out of the reeds squabbling and raced across the laguna putting two Shovelers up. 

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Then over to the Bluethroat hide overlooking the Laguna del Taraje only a Little Grebe, Moorhen and a Mallard about here so we moved round to the bamboo hide.  In the trees at the back of the laguna a pair of Turtle Doves were making trips back and forward and to our front a Red-knobbed Coot was feeding while in the reeds a Moorhen and its two chicks were spotted.  Suddenly a clattering of reeds and a Little Bittern flew out and across to our left.  Back along the track to the entrance and turning down towards the main public hide, we called in at the Chameleon corner hide, here more Red-knobbed Coots, Turtle Doves and another Little Bittern, this bird suddenly took off when a Common Coot came out of the reeds behind it.  A few Sardinian Warblers and a Cetti´s Warbler  plus some House Sparrows.

Distant Turtle Dove Streptopella turtur (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
At the main public hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we were watching a Red-knobbed Coot at its nest when another Little Bittern flew across and landed in the reeds to the right of the hide. A sudden outburst from a pair of Red-knobbed Coots - to the right of the island - as a Yellow-legged Gull swept down and plucked one of its chicks from the laguna and swallowed it as it flew off.  Then a Common Kestrel and two Black-headed Gulls flew over.  At the back of the hide two Ferruginous Ducks (or are they the hybrids??) were spotted, as were Shovelers, Mallard and Little Grebe.  The trees to our far right were roost to eleven Grey Herons and around these trees several Crag Martins were logged.

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We made our way back to the bamboo hide at the Laguna del Taraje where, as we made ourselves comfortable, a Kingfisher flashed across towards the Bluethroat hide.  Then we noted Common Waxbills, Great Reed Warbler, Spotless Starlings, Blackcaps and yet more Spotted Flycatchers here, the latter seem to have had a bumper breeding year.  On our way back to the exit we spotted a Chameleon in the bushes.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Lots of good birds seen and especially the Kingfisher having just read the BTO report that the "Beast from the East" weather back in February seems to have virtually wiped out most of these beautiful birds back in Britain.  All observers are now asked to send in any reports of Kingfishers seen in the UK.

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

Monday, 9 July 2018

Rutland Water

Monday 9 July

Still very hot here in the UK but, at least, some cloud cover this morning although still and about in short-sleeve shirts and shorts.  Different approach to Rutland Water this morning as I took the clockwise circuit of the lake so that I could call in at Lindon.  No sign of any Tree Sparrows but, in addition to the big, fat rat that was feeding on the grass path less then three metres away, Magpie, Wood Pigeon and a good number of both Great and Blue Tits. Both Chaffinch and Blackcap visited the feeders and on the water itself I could see plenty of Mute Swans and a small flock of Canada Geese.  A Common Tern flew past as did Black-headed Gull and a few Cormorants and then the arrival of a feeding party of a score or more Common Starlings including mainly juveniles (perhaps a "Starling School outing to the Bird Reserve!).

Ospreys Pandion haliaetus

Leaving Lindon I mad a quick stop on the bridge over the ingress to Manton Bay and was able to see the Osprey pair enjoying their morning breakfast, so that's another Rainbow Trout that won't be caught by the anglers!  Also first opportunity to use the new Canob SX60 camera and try and sort out how it performs.  Early days!

Then it was on to the main car park where, as usual, I was welcomed by the local Jackdaws and Wood Pigeons.  At the feeding station mainly Blue and Great Tits, including many juveniles, along with Blackbird, a single Dunnock at the far end, House Sparrow and a juvenile Robin plus Gold, Green and Chaffinches.

Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Inside to say hello to Mike of InFocus , purchase my pass for the day and take a look at Lagoon 1.  Lots of Tufted Duck and a few Mallard and a Heron along with very many Cormorant.  The first of many Greylag Geese were seen at the back of the water and I soon left to make my way over to Lagoon 4.  Walking along the long track at the back of Lagoon 2 I had a pair of Bullfinch near the Badger Hide and then, my birds of the day, a pair of Grey Partridge upped almost in front of me with their strange little flight before descending and disappearing into the not-so-long grass only five meters away from where they were completely hidden.  Perhaps a good job that I was the first to pass this way.  Similarly, a short stop at the Osprey Hide revealed a good number of Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot and Common Pochard on Lagoon 2 with Sand Martins from the nearby artificial nest colony flying over the water.

One of many Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Once inside the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4 I soon found a large flock of Greylag Geese and a good number of Black-headed Gulls.  In addition, no shortage of Lapwing and at least a quintet of Carrion Crow scavenging along the island shores.  A couple of Common Tern feeding over the water and to my far left just a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls noted.  On the other hand, I did record a handful of Oystercatchers, a single Shelduck and a two pairs of Great Crested Grebe.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus chick still begging to be fed
A brief stop at the Bitten Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 simple produced dense reeds and the small channel in front of the hide held a trio of juvenile Coots so on round to the Shoveler Hide.  Again, the advantage, at the beginning, of having the hide to myself and certainly the masses of ducks were beginning to assemble on this water.  Not just Tufted Ducks and Mallards but Teal, Gadwall and Red-crested Pochard (where were the Shovelers?) in addition to more Coots and Moorhens.  Only a few more Great Crested Grebes and Oystercatchers but I did have two Little Egrets in addition to the Mutes Swan with her five cygnets feeding close by.  Use of scope and bins revealed a feeding Curlew in the short reeds and then a lone Green Sandpiper.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus on beach patrol at Rutland Water
Quite a fitting end to the morning which, in total, produced 42 species.  Then it was home to see how well the new camera had performed.  I still did not find the "RAW" setting and was obviously using too much long lens so time will tell.  Mind you, it would have been a great help if the camera came with a printed user manual rather than have to rely on an Internet download; you can probably guess what my next job might be!

If you need a bodyguard then a Little Egret Egretta garzetta with a very pointed beak makes a good substitute!
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Grey Partridge, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch.

One of the breeding Common Tern Sterna hirundo at Rutland Water
Mute Swan Cygnus olor with four of her five cygnets

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