Monday, 12 November 2018

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Sunday 11 November

Off to the airport to collect visiting son so time for a couple of hours at the Guadalhorce before the flight's arrival.  Greeted on arrival by a male Blackbird and another couple seen as soon as I reached the eastern arm.  On crossing the footbridge just the single Little Egret and a solitary members of the resident Rock Dove community under the motorway bridge so straight on over to the eastern arm.  As I entered the nearby avenue a White Wagtail on the track and a quartet of Stonechat to my left.  Just the one, initial, Cormorant flying into the reserve but a Hoopoe was flying north low over the vegetation opposite the Luguna Casillas.  The water itself held almost a score of Coot along with a trio of Shoveler and a pair of Little Grebe.  Resting in the bare tree to the back right was a lone Booted Eagle which departed before I could extract my camera having been disturbed a by a couple wandering along the back.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
Moving on down to the Wader Pool I had a small number of Chiffchaff foraging in he nearby trees and, right on time, a fly past a group of creaming Monk ParakeetGoldfinches were heard and seen as I approached the hide but the water proved to be very disappointing with just a single Black-winged Stilt, a couple Shoveler and three Little Grebe.  Plenty of Spotless Starlings in the distant trees along with a single Peregrine Falcon in the "Osprey tree."

Moving on down towards the Sea Watch the old river level was very high as had been both previous pools so not surprising that no waders to be seen other than a quartet of Black-winged Stilts.  A Cetti's Warbler was calling and at the back of the stony ground to my left both a Crested Lark and single Meadow Pipit were recorded. A Grey Heron drifted in to the sheltered water and a male Sardinian Warbler put in an appearance.  The sea itself was calm and bathed in brilliant sunshine with a quartet of Black-necked Grebes at the mouth of the eastern arm of the river and a very large raft of Lesser Black-backed Gulls to my right (west).  Whilst checking out the the distant sea I had the joy of a couple of jumping Dolphins about two-thirds of the way to the horizon  - but still a very pleasant experience which I was able to share with a small group of visiting cyclists.

Male Common Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca

Working my way back and on to the Laguna Escondida a handful of Serin caught my attention opposite the Wader Pool and a Buzzard drifted over, barely five minutes later than having watched the circling Booted Eagle.  Approaching the hide two female Black Redstarts and a House Sparrow were feeding on the ground and once ensconced I could not but notice the handful of feeding Blackcaps to my left.  On the water a Moorhen, a couple of Little Grebes, four Teal, a single female Mallard and at least a dozen Shoveler plus a well-concealed Heron at the back of the water.

Two of the Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis are missing!
So on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Here we had approaching a hundred Shoveler and a handful of Gadwall plus another single Mallard.  A dozen Black-necked Grebe were on the far side of the nearby island and to their left the main resting colony of Cormorant which totalled at least thirty individuals but also including six Flamingo.  A Kestrel rested on the pole to my left along with a few Spotless Starlings and a couple of Collared Dove but immediately in front of me the feeding quartet of Black-winged Stilt along with a similar number of both Sanderling and Ringed Plover and a single Greenshank.  A pair of Common Pochard drifted across the back of the water and, at last, a couple of feeding Crag Martins skimmed down in search of an early lunch.

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia and with Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba below
So, about two and a half hours and a total of 42 species recorded.  Yet again, no sign of a White-headed Duck and the Wigeon seen last month were no longer present on the Escondida.

Female Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus in contemplative pose
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Greenshank, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius jiaticula
Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba quintet
Northern Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata

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

Friday, 9 November 2018

Do you fancy a visit to the Pyrenees?

Friday 9 November

Following on from a very enjoyable day up in the mist and clouds of the Sierra Loja and an afternoon visit to the Huetor Tajar Major fields on Wednesday with local professional guide Mick Richardson, readers might very well be interested in a tour that Mick is leading up in the north of Spain including the Pyrenees and the area around Belchite, which is noted for its Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Dupont's Lark amongst other exciting birds.  More details can be found on from the message below taken from Mick's website.  There is an underlined link below that readers can utilise.



This tour will start on the 22nd June and run until the 29th June 2019.
For more information follow the link below, numbers are restricted to 7 so please get in touch as soon as possible.

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

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Sierra Loja & Huetor Tajar

Wednesday 7 November

Just over 20 of us turned up at the Abades Service Station on the A92 for the first of this month's field visits of the Andalucia Bird Society lead by local guide and ABS member, Mick Richardson.  The plan was to ascent to over 1500 metre on the Sierra Loja in the morning to find the newly-arrive Ring Ouzels and, hopefully,  some of the resident Alpine Accentors with just the possibility of an early Fieldfare or two.  A continued visit to the fields of nearby Huetor Tajar was designed to find the wintering flocks of Stone Curlew and Little Bustard.  In the event, we record all five species with most members happy to see them all along with a lovely range of other birds which gave a final tally of at least 55 species for the day.

A few of the newly-arrived Little Bustards Sison Comun Tetrax tetrax
The day started clear and sunny on the coast wit a temperature of 12 which reduced to 9 as soon as I reached Punta Don Manuel and then on down to 4C as I took the country road beyond Zafarraya.  Mick told me that the local temperature had been a miserly 2C in Loja! So on to the meeting place recording Collared Dove, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch and Chaffinch along the way to be greeted by the local House Sparrows. Those arriving a little earlier than I had recorded good-sized flocks of Azure-winged Magpie but I had to wait until a couple crossed the motorway as we travelled on to Huetor Tajar. A few members also saw/heard a Robin in the car park area.

Having organised the group into as few cars as possible, we set off up the mountain track to go directly to the best area for the wintering thrushes.  Just the occasional stop on the way up and Blackbird, the first of two Dartford Warblers seen during the morning, Rock Bunting, Thekla Lark, very many Black Redstart, Corn Bunting, Stonechat and Black Wheatear recorded.  Once in the designated area we quickly added Goldfinch, Serin and Linnet and then the search began.

Stonechat tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Having found the first pair of Ring Ouzel we then, as usual, simply added more and eventually recorded at least a score of individuals.  Interesting to see the visitors from both northern Europe and the paler sub-species arriving form the Pyrenees.  Mick and others could hear the Alpine Accentors calling and eventually most, I think, managed to catch at least a short glimpse of this handsome little bird.  As an added bonus, a single Fieldfare was disturbed and a few of us caught sight of his rather rapid disappearance to the right.

Three of the score of Ring Ouzel Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus
Whilst spending some time in this area we also added a small covey of Red-legged Partridge and a single Chough flew over.  Lovely to see small flocks of Rock Sparrows but no Crag Martins this morning.  On the other hand, Derek and party found a Blue Rock Thrush and then Lindsay identified the first Little Owl of the morning.  Starting to work our way slowly back down the mountain a stop for a quick view of a Cirl Bunting before an approaching car on the narrow track forced us all to move on so resulting most missing this sighting.  A not infrequent sighting of the occasional Meadow Pipit but nothing "special" found at the Charca del Negra ponds or the old quarry save another Dartford Warbler.  However, passing through the final trees before arriving at our starting point we were able to add Great and Blue Tit, more Chaffinches and a Mistle Thrush.

Obviously a favoured drinking sot for the Ring Ouzel Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus
Once at the start point we added a passing Raven above the trees and a small party of Wood Pigeon whilst an Iberian Grey Shrike was working the field's edge.  Picnic lunches completed we moved off to Huetor Tajar and took the small footpath through the fields at the edge of the town.  A single White Wagtail and more Black Redstart along with a few Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and Crested Lark before we saw a flock of about 25 Little Bustards fly in to graze a few hundred metres further on.  A Sky Lark was seen and then the Stone Curlews.  Not the 100 plus we expected, only a handful but, on the other hand, we did have a party of almost thirty Little Bustards so saving a drive to the far end of the area in search of these lovely visitors.  Also close to this mixed flock were eight Cattle Egrets and a single Lapwing.  However, on the other side of the path there was a feeding Lapwing flock of well in excess of 100 individuals!  Making our way back to our respective cars most of us also picked up a couple of Chiffchaff as well as the mixed sparrow flock of mainly House but also a few Tree Sparrows feeding on the stubble along with both Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon.

Meadow Pipit Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis near the Little Bustards

And so to our final stop on a muddy track near a favoured site for Bluethroat.  A female Sardinian Warbler and then the Bluethroat itself was observed.  In the far distance a Buzzard was resting atop an electricity pylon.  Cetti's Warblers were calling as we made our way through the neighbouring field towards the railway line.  A good number of Corn Buntings here but also at least eight Reed Buntings and a few Stonechat.  A Zitting Cisticola was seen and amongst all the Spotless Starlings on the wires above the railway line we also manage to observe a single Northern (Common) Starling.  This area also produced a pair of (common) Magpie.  A walk back along the track towards the road produced a distant Kestrel and Lindsay, walking behind Mick and I, saw the Snipe fly up out of the ditch as we passed by.  A few Cattle Egrets were recorded and the final bird of the day was the departing Grey Wagtail picked up by Mick, Pauline and Lindsay.  Or should I include the small number of free-breeding Muscovy Ducks on the river bank on the edge of the town that seem to have take refuge amongst the small population of domestic/hybrid geese?

Little Bustards but also Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus and Catte Egret Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis
A really wonderful day despite the low cloud with a friendly group of supportive birders and with many thanks to Mick for his expertise and local knowledge.  And we even manged to be in our cars and setting off for our respective homes just before 6pm when the promised rain looked very much as if it was about to start.

Birds seen by the group:
Muscovy Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Buzzard, Kestrel, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Alpine Accentor, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Saturday 3 November

The forecast said to expect rain but upon waking twas a beautiful clear and sunny start to the day and the temperature rapidly approaching the low twenties.  So what better way to celebrate than take the short trip down to the Rio Velez just west of Torre del Mar for a couple of hours birding.  Upon arriving I had a gorgeous Grey Wagtail descend to the river bank and then a White Wagtail on the track leading to the beach beyond the road bridges.  Add on both House Sparrows and Blackbird and I thought I was in for a great birding walk.  Not so.  Plenty of water in the river which has attracted a score or more Mallards to join the few resident Moorhens but so much bamboo and reed growth that it was almost impossible to see the water, even more so as I moved along.

Male and femal Mallard Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos
Cetti's Warblers were calling and at least a handful of Black Redstarts recorded.  A solitary Green Sandpiper landed on the mud below me and a small number of screaming Monk Parakeets flew over.  Upon reaching the hide all seemed very quiet.  A single Cormorant flew low upstream over the reeds and next to the pumping station I picked up half-a-dozen Spotless Starling before spotting the male Sardinian Warbler.  Above me a few wandering Black-headed Gulls and maybe a dozen or more distant Crag Martins down from the nearby mountains.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba
A short walk to the beach revealed nothing and with a mixture of the deep channel cut through the beach and the very high vegetation it was impossible to actually see the river.  Even a walk upstream failed to provide a gap to reach or even get a view of the water so back to the hide.  A Serin landed opposite and ion the fields a pair of Crested Larks were bust foraging.  Nothing for it but to make my way back to the car picking up both Robin and Chifchaff on the way.  A Goldfinch posed on top of a gate and at the bridge only a few of the resident Rock Dove flock.

Goldfinch Jilguero Carduelis carduelis

The short drove to the other side of the bridges through the fields presently being planted with either lettuce or greens revealed more Goldfinch and even a Chaffinch.  Just the one Collared Dove and then the muck heap.  Who said nobody likes a muck heap?  This was one that had attracted a dozen Cattle Egrets and many House Sparrows and White Wagtails.  So, less than two hours for a total of 24 species.

Cattle Egrets Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis making the most of the muck heap

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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