Saturday 11 August 2018

Pacific Golden Plover at the Guadalhorce in Malaga

Saturday 11 August

Not just an early notification from my birding pal Chris Bell in Worksop to inform me that not only had a Turtle Dove been recorded at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar but that a Pacific Golden Plover was presently residing down at the Guadalhorce in Malaga.  Chris had picked up the information from "eBird" so well worth keeping a regular eye on this reporting site.  However, Andy Paterson best summed up the situation, for me, with his comment, "A super bird still in breeding plumage. Serves you right for going to the UK!"  Then came a more detailed report from friend Derek Etherton complete with photographs.  What chance the bird might still be present of 30 August when I visit the site with the Axarquia Bird Group?

Guadalhorce – Saturday 11 August 2018

We had planned an early start for Saturday as withdrawal symptoms from a lack of birding (too hot!) were beginning to show.  The original plan was for our usual Zapata pre-dawn and stay for a maximum of 2 hours.  All that changed when firstly Ricky Owen  and then Andy Paterson both notified me that the Golden Plover that had been at the Rio Viejo area since last Monday had been definitely ID’d as a Pacific Golden Plover Pluvius fulva.  

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvius fulva (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)

Well that immediately changed our plans, firstly telling Andy that Barbara and I would be there to be joined by Mick Smith – providing he could rise from the pit!  We parked down by the school by 0715hrs as dawn was breaking and, as we slowly ambled along the track, Micky and Andy (his first outing on his new knees) plus Steve Pope from Calahonda joined us.  Ricky had sent a ‘Google Pin’ of the birds location so we headed straight there basically ignoring all the other birds around – OK, if you insist, Spotted Flycatchers, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Pallid and Common Swift, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins, Blackbirds, Yellow-legged Gulls etc. – that’s enough of these commoners, you know the rest.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvius fulva (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)

Approaching the second hide (the one nearest the sea view point) one other birder was in position sitting on the grass taking countless photos of the Pacific Golden Plover!  Yes it was close by, feeding happily in the shallow scrape in company of Little Ringed Plovers, Little Stint, Redshank and numerous Black-winged Stilts.  What a stunningly beautiful bird this rare plover is, still in full summer plumage and seemingly unconcerned by all the attention.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvius fulva (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)

We stayed for 30 minutes as the bird strutted its stuff, everyone took countless pictures, had super views in the ‘scope – what an easy ‘twitch’ – a word disliked by birders but usable under these circumstances.
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvius fulva (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)

By now the sun was up and the cool start (27c) was being affected by the sun’s rays and the perspiration was beginning to run.  So we about turned and slowly walked back to our respective parked cars with us all agreeing how worthwhile the early start was.  I still think Andy was as pleased by his longest walk since the replacement knee operation a couple of months ago, as he was by the bird!  At least his dog was happy – as were we all!

Derek Etherton
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvius fulva (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)

Sounds like a fabulous start to the day and leaves you with that satisfied smile right through to the end - depending upon later football results!

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