Tuesday 3 May
With annual paperwork sorted and handed in at Torre del Mar left the town with friends Barbra and Derek Etherton to pay a morning visit to Ventas de Zafarraya followed by the woods at El Robledal after tapas between sites. Very cloudy and temperature at the top recording 10C but, with the wind, feeling more like 6 or 7C and continuous rain forecast for the most pf the day and possibly including some thunder. However, walk up the old railway line and back followed by a visit to the pond at Vereda de Almendral was all accomplished before the first spots arrived. Rather more steady as a we approached the track to El Robledal and once out of the nearby restaurant certainly more persistent, so much so that we decided to abandon any further birding and returned to the coast so that I could pick up my car whilst Derek and Barbara heading back to Alhaurin de la Torre. Ironically, the coast had received not a spot of rain and the sun was shining brightly and the temperature in mid-afternoon up into the low twenties.
Arriving at the mirador at Ventas de Zafarraya we immediately had a female Stonechat in front of us and the first of many Choughs was seen on and above the facing cliff. House Sparrows were scurrying around as were a couple of Serin and a Black Wheatear on the wires as a Blue Tit alighted in a nearby tree. Greenfinches on the bank below us and a Collared Dove behind as we set off up the old railway track to the tunnel. Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch and Linnets were seen before we reached the tunnel and then a male Black Redstart. Both Derek and Barbara manage to find the passing distant Alpine Swift but not for me.
|Linnet Carduelis cannabina (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
Once the other side of the tunnel, strangely not a single Crag Martin seen all morning, Derek was able to focus in on a distant bird with the new camera and confirm a Wren. A Kestrel atop a pylon was not the main raptor attention as first a male then both male and female Peregrine Falcons left their cliff-side nesting site to make a lazy circled before deciding it was time to mob the two Griffon Vultures rapidly approaching their territory. A total of six Griffons and a little later a Booted Eagle.
|Wren Troglodytes troglodytes (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
More activity as Derek recognised the call of a Spectacled Warbler and ere long the bird was almost on top of us giving a wonderful view. Plenty of Great Tits about and many carrying nesting material! Finally the first of a number of Blue Rock Thrush sightings and a first Thekla Lark.
|Male Blue Rock Thrush Turdus torquatus (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
Other species noted included Spotless Starling and Chaffinch before our first of two Woodchat Shrikes. A Nightingale was singing below us and Blackbird to the front before we finally manged to find a Rock Bunting. So back to the car and move on to the growing fields at the far end of the village.
|Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
Just after mid-day saw us at the pond in Vereda de Almendral where handful of Mallard were on the water and the local House Sparrows we bust going about their ablutions and then drying themselves on the nearby fence. A male Stonechat was on the fence behind us whilst a selection of small birds arrived to drink and wash including a good number of Serin and Greenfinch along with Linnets, A lone Blue-headed (Iberian)Yellow Wagtail was also present and on the far side a couple of Common Sandpiper.
|Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
The far end produced a single Wood Sandpiper that leisurely worked its way round the edges and so revealed the feeding Snipe. A Crested Lark flew up on to the wires and another landed on a fence at the back of the pond. Rather surprising to see the Little Ringed Plover then departed the pond for the neighbouring field before once more returning to the water’s edge. Other than more Blackbirds, Spotless Starlings and Collared Doves, the final species was a White Wagtail.
|Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
And that was it, as after our tapas we decided we were better off heading home and avoiding the rain which seemed to have set in for the afternoon.
|Snipe Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)|
Mallard, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Wren, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting.
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