Friday 15 January
It all went wrong! Oversleeping meant that I arrived at the Guadalhorce about half an hour later than anticipated at 8.30, so missing the possible chance of seeing the local Barn Owl. A quartet of Jackdaw greeted me as I approached and on getting out of the car a Hoopoe was posed on top of the fence on the opposite side of the road. A handful of Monk Parakeets then proceeded into the reserve and the first of the morning's Black Redstarts was recorded as I started my walk towards the footbridge. Chiffchaffs on and off the fence to my left and once on the bridge I soon picked out the resident Rock Doves under the motorway bridge and a Heron at the river's edge. A Little Egret was hunting slightly further upstream and as I made my way to the Laguna Casillas a large number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were heading inland.
Once at the hide I had a White Wagtail on the path whilst on the water itself a number of Coot and a couple of Little Grebe and a Moorhen. The juvenile Flamingo had obviously spent the night here and a Collared Dove flew across the water in front of me. So on to the Wader Pool where, once again, at least 40 Shoveler present along with another pair of Little Grebe and the occasional passing Cormorant. Towards the back a small flock of Serin were resting in a nearby tree.
Moving on to the Sea Watch I noticed the many Black-headed Gulls heading upstream using the eastern arm of the river and once able to study the sea in the much calmer conditions, despite the low early morning sun, another Great Skua and even a single Balearic Shearwater. On the beach both a small flock of Sanderling and thirteen Kentish Plover. A Crested Lark flew into the breeding area just behind me and a Kestrel was resting atop a distant tree, Mainly Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the water until a pair of Sandwich Terns flew westwards in front of me.
|Shelduck Tarro Blanco Tadorna tadorna
Starting the walk back alongside friend Andy Paterson we noted Stonechat, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and another Hoopoe along with more White Wagtail and House Sparrows. Splitting away from Andy, I continued on round to the Laguna Escondida picking up a pair of Blackcap on the way. Nothing to be seen on this water so onwards to the Laguna Grande and the main hide where I connected once more with Mick Richardson who had met up with us just before we left the Sea Watch. Lots more activity on the water albeit mainly towards the back.
|Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus with Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Near the hide a single Greenshank and Redshank along with a handful of Black-winged Stilts and about half-dozen Shelduck. Lots of Shoveler in the pool beyond the bank to our left and the islands away to the the left held a couple of score of Cormorant along with both a Heron and Little Egret. At the far back I only managed to count a dozen Black-necked Grebes but Mick had already found a quartet of Red-crested Pochard and a couple of male White-headed Ducks hiding in the far corner. Another, or was it the same, Flamingo was seen and then time to record the arriving Crag Martins to feed over the water. Meanwhile, the visiting Starlings were mainly Spotless and but also a small number of their Northern (Common) cousins.
|Distant White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
So, at 11.30 having recorded 42 species in less than three hours we made our departure to meet up again at near-to-home Caleta harbour to see if we could find the visiting "rare" gulls.
|Distant Red-crested Pochard Pato Colarado Netta rufina
Shelduck, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Redshank, Greenshank, Great Skua, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.