Friday, 9 April 2021

Guadalhorce, Malaga

 Thursday 8 April

Stormy weather for my visit with it looking very bleak at the Sea watch

Arriving at the Desembocadura de Guadalhorce in Malaga a few minutes after 8 o'clock I found the area cold and dark, even to suggest that heavy rain might be on its way although not forecast, and a very strong breeze.  Notwithstanding, as I set of towards the footbridge a Sardinian Warbler crossed the track in front of me and paused on the wires when it reached the fence.  House Martins were more and more active as I crossed the bridge and walking up the slope towards the track along the eastern side a Crested Lark was busy foraging in the gravel.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Once at the Laguna Casillas the small Pochard flock was below me to the left and further over a couple of both Coot and Moorhen.  The occasional Little Grebe put in an appearance and a quartet of Black-winged Stilts were also noted on the far side of the water.  A handful of Lesser black-backed Gulls passed over but, as yet, no hirundines.

Avocet Recurvirstra avosetta

So on to the Wader Hide where I found over thirty Black-winged Stilts along with a few Redshank and a pair of Kentish Plover.  A couple of Slender-billed Gulls dropped in to rest and a the far side a lone Little Egret.  A Common Sandpiper was feeding on the edge below me whilst behind more calling Cetti's Warblers and a small charm of Goldfinch was working the nearby trees.

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus with Slender-billed-Gulls Larus genei

Leaving to check out the Viejo Rio (Old River) a Greenfinch was in the adjacent tree and once in sight of the water a single Heron at the far end on the narrow arm.  However, what was immediately obvious were the scores of Black-winged Stilts and a dozen Flamingo.  Closer inspection revealed a number of Shelduck before taking a closer look at the many waders as I made my way towards the beach.  Lots and lots of Redshank along with all three small plovers; Little Ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plover.  Again, just the one Little Stint but about a dozen Sanderling and three Curlew Sandpipers.  So many I almost missed the pair of Dunlin which were in the mix.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

As a small number of Spotless Starling flew over I moved closer to the small island which held a mass of Sandwich Terns and Slender-billed Gulls.  No Whiskered Terns but a couple of Black-headed Gulls had joined the mass roost along with a pair of Audouin's Gulls.  Having made a very brief visit to the Sea Watch, fighting my way down against the strong on-shore wind, and finding nothing but a raging sea and the occasional wandering gull, I returned to the Old River in time to watch a female Kestrel drift slowly seawards across the water which put just about every bird up in the air and certainly dispersed the terns.

Mainly Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis but find the Audouin's Gulls  !

By now a pair of Mallards had arrived at the Wader Pool and Reed Warblers were calling near the Casillas hide.  High above the far side a couple of Pallid Swifts eased their way towards me and once round the corner a Hoopoe moved off the path.  Monk Parakeets overhead and soon I was at the Laguna Escondida.  Relatively little on the water other than a quartet of White-headed Ducks and a pair of Coot until the Shoveler paddled its way towards the hide.  In the small bare tree to the left front of the hide a couple of Bee-eaters seemed happy to take a well-earned rest.  So, finally, on to my last hide and recording both Serin and Zitting Cisticola on the way.

Bee-eater Merops apiaster

Not unsurprisingly, there were many more Black-winged Stilts on the Laguna Grande along with the bulk of both the Shelduck and Slender-billed Gulls.  Only ten Cormorants recorded but over thirty Flamingo on show to my right.  Having found a quartet of distant Avocet, I then found another single individual amongst the Shelduck on the distant island and a a breeding pair on a small grassy island near to the front right of the hide. Way to the back and left of the hide beyond the resting Cormorants I discovered that the single Black-necked Grebe was still present on the site.

Very distant Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

Whilst the occasional Barn Swallow and the score or more of Spotless Starlings moved about over the water I concentrated on the far right side of the water starting at the distant island.  Not only were most of the gulls and Shelduck gathered in this area but they had been joined by a single Cattle Egret.  Checking the gulls, whilst there were a few Black-headed the majority were immature Mediterranean Gulls along with a handful of similar Lesser Black-backs

Shelduck, Sandwich Terns, Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, etc

However, the small gull on the extreme left was the long-staying Little Gull, which has obviously made this water its temporary home. Deep searching behind the gulls and towards the small pool at the back also revealed a single Collared Pratincole.  And not to be left out, a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls decided that the tall, bare feeding tree to my left might suit them very well for their morning roost.

Little Gull Larus munitus (left) with Back-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis (left) and Collared Pratincole Gareola pratincola (centre right)

With signs of the cloud breaking and the temperature starting t rise I decided it was time to make my way back to the car and home.  Walking back along the main track I had a Hoopoe on the ground in front of me and then a couple of Blackbirds crossed the path to add to the handful of House Sparrows in the neighbouring trees and approaching the bridge, before the now detour towards the main gate, at last the singing Nightingales to finish the morning.

Collared Pratincole Gareola pratincola (left)

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Monk Parakeet, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Shoveler Anas clypeata 

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala

Time for bed - before the Kestrel arrives and scatters evryone!

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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