Friday, 22 October 2021

Charca de Suarez

 Thursday 21 October

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea at the Charca

Almost in residence so time for an afternoon visit to nearby Charca de Suarez in Motril. Taking the Camino Patricia route along the back of the reserve, I first recorded a passing Kestrel followed by a dozen feeding Cattle Egret as they followed the ploughing tractor.  A male Stonechat on the wires then House Sparrows before arriving on site with a second Kestrel

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Straight to the Laguna del Taraje in lovely, warm late afternoon sunshine to find, yet again, no shortage pf water and tall vegetation.  A score of Mallard and a single Moorhen but, even more obvious, right in front of me, a Purple Swamphen.  A Little Grebe made its way to the far right and was replaced by an approaching Shoveler.  Moving to the hide at the other end of the water a trio of Gadwall and the first Red-knobbed Coot.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Very little to be seen at the Laguna del Alamo Blanco with too much water and lots of tall grasses.  A sleeping Greenshank and a well-hidden Heron in addition to a couple of Mallard and a Moorhen.  Moving on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas first a Robin then an over-flying Blackbird, the first of a quintet to be seen during the visit.

Heron Ardea cinerea

Once settle in the hide obvious that there were still numerous Common Coot to be seen along with more Red-knobbed Coots. A single Little Egret resting on the island in front and many more Mallard and a good number of Shoveler.  The occasional Little Grebe before searching the far end where I found Pochard and a trio of Ferruginous Duck.  Also in attendance a dozen Cormorant and as many Black-headed along with a quartet of Yellow-legged Gulls.  Lovely to find a couple of Teal and, of course, very many more Moorhen. However, pride of place probably goes to the dozen Grey Heron perched around the back.

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

Nothing new when I arrived at the Laguna del Trebol but more Red-knobbed Coot but upon walking round to the hide at the southern end of the water a Grey Wagtail and feeding Chiffchaff. A Collared Dove came to visit and then a Robin appeared in the bushes to my right. Having followed the movement I eventually found the foraging Cetti’s Warbler in the dense undergrowth and in the reeds to my right a Stonechat. 

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

The last visit was to the Laguna del Lirio where, in addition to the trio of Red-knobbed Coot and single Moorhen a visit by a male Blackcap was a new species for the evening. Leaving the reserve I was pleased to see the arrival of a dozen Crag Martins circling the adjacent apartment blocks obviously down from the mountains to start their winter break at lower levels and searching for a preferred roosting site now that the sun had dipped and the evening temperature was falling.  And now sixteen Cattle Egrets as I returned by the same route.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

 Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow.


Gadwall Anas strepera

Shovler Anas clypeata

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata


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

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Guadalhorce, Malaga

 Wednesday 20 October

A lovely clear and sunny day as I collected local birder Stuart Lightbody from Caleta and headed over to the Desembocadura del Guadalhorce in Malaga for a morning's birding.  We may be suffering a major drought situation in the province, especially in the Axarquia but there was certainly too much water at the Guadalhorce providing very little shore or wading area.

Booted Eagle at rest

Lovey and quiet when we arrived until greeted by  a dozen raucous Monk Parakeets then quickly followed by even more.  On the opposite of the western arm a  couple of Kestrel in the bare tree before on to the river crossing.  Once off the bridge a Blackbird crossed in front of us and as approaching the eastern arm a number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving around above us.  Then we arrived at the Casillas Hide and all looked very quit at first other then a pair of Little Grebe.  However, taking a closer look we not only added a further two but also five Coot.  Sitting quietly in the reed below to our left was a Kingfisher and the old, dead tree on the right of the far bank held a resting Booted Eagle.  This bird remained for most of the morning until we finally saw it take off when re-visiting the hide on our return walk. However, it was not all peace and quit for the eagle as it was mobbed twice by a pair of Jays. In the vegetation below a number of Chiffchaff and both Mallard and Cormorant were seen passing over.

The Booted Eagle eventually departed

On to the Wader Hide where, again, too much water so no waders other than the dozen Black-winged Stilts.  Three Shelduck and a couple of Flamingos at the back of the water and a couple of Little Grebe to the right.  All of a sudden a great disturbance at the back where the Shelduck had previously been seen as an Osprey came into view followed by a male Peregrine Falcon.  No sooner had we recovered from the sudden sighting than the resident Marsh Harrier joined in the fun, obviously not happy that the Peregrine was in its territory.  Moments later we had Marsh Harrier, Peregrine and Kestrel in the same sighting.   The arrival of a Collared Dove to the island was somewhat of an anti-climax.

Ringed Plover

Moving on down to the Rio Veijo we had both Stonechat and many Greenfinch along with a handful o House Sparrows.  At the back of the river a quartet of heron but with so much water and little beach it took some time o find the Sanderling, Kentish Plover and Ringed Plover. A Common Sandpiper arrived to our right and was followed by three passing Barn Swallows.  A Green Sandpiper made a sudden dash round the back. On the opposite side of the track we found Crested Lark and Sardinian Warbler.  Continuing on towards the sea observation post we also found a Meadow Pipit and with the continuous quartering of the Peregrine Falcon a number of Goldfinch were put to flight.  Absolutely amazing and a privilege to watch the hunting peregrine but we did smile when it tried to take on a Lesser Black-backed Gull and then made a stoop on a passing Little Grebe which took evasive action by a rapid dive.

The hunting male Peregrine Falcon

Nothing special from the Sea View other than the large resting flock of mainly Lesser Black-backed and small number of Yellow-legged Gulls.  Returning towards the previous hides we came across a pair of Zitting Cisticola closely followed by a couple of Serin plus many more Greenfinches.  And the Peregrine Falcon continued its pursuit of a tasty dinner - but, as far as we could ascertain, without any success.

Arriving at the Escondida Hide all seemed quiet other than a couple of Coot but then a Shoveler found resting under the tress but soon joined a further handful.  At the back  three White-headed Duck and a Moorhen swimming across in front of them.  But did see the Kingfisher that flashed across the water.

A few of the massed Shoveler recently arrived for the winter

Our final stop was at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande with not only a White Wagtail on the track as we approached but a pair of Egyptian Mongoose made a hurried crossing.  Once settle in the hide we noticed the ever-increasing flock of Shoveler and a dozen Flamingo.  About a score or more Cormorant along with four Little Egret and another Heron.  At the back a trio of Shelduck and a Redshank.

Sanderling

In addition to the single Slender-billed Gull we also found sleeping Spoonbill and Greenshank. two Dunlin were feeding below to our right and also present a number of Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover and Sanderling.  We finally found the single Black-necked Grebe and the Osprey was quietly relaxing in a tree at the very back of the water.  The final arrival was a flock of Spotless Starling and brought our morning's tally up to exactly 50.

Slender-billed Gull

The sleepers:

Osprey

Greenshank

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Jay, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.


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

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Roquetas de Mar

 Sunday 17 October

Away from the hotel before 8.30 so that we could take a quick breakfast and then on to the sandy south side of the salinas for almost three hours before heading back to Mezquitilla and a celebratory birthday lunch with friends.  There had been a light shower of rain during the night so fresher air and a little cloud at the start of the birding but quickly warming during our visit.

No sooner had we passed through the entrance gate than a pair of Hoopoe flew over and once at the small pond on the left a number of House Sparrows whilst on the water Mallard. Moorhen and Coot along with a single Little Grebe.  A lone Great White Egret passed high overhead  followed by a Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds and once on the main track a trio of Barn Swallow.  Stopping to check one of the very many Stonechat we saw a few Spotless Starlings and Crested Lark.

Sanderling Calidris alba

A little more water than on my visit last month but only that there were now a few puddles, probably a result of last night's rain.  On such salina produced a wealth of small waders including Ringed Plover and Little Stint along with Redshank, Sanderling and Dunlin.  The next short drive also produced Kentish Plover with Iberian Grey Shrike atop a bush on the opposite side of the track.  At least three Kestrels recorded in this general area plus a pair of Sardinian Warblers.

Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis

Once back to the main water a number of Flamingos and resting on the causeways Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls.  Lovely to see the quartet of Audouin's Gulls.  Amongst the gulls Redshank, Greenshank, Little Egret and Black-winged Stilt.

Looking ahead we watched the  and movement of closely-packed flock of over 500 Spotless Starlings which seemed to feeding in the low bushes.  Left of them another Iberian Grey Shrike.

Just a few of the Spotless Starlings Sturnus unicolor

Once at the end of the track near the pumping ruins more waders including Sanderling, Greenshank, Dunlin and Black-winged Stilt. These were later to be joined by more Kentish and Ringed Plovers.  On the water, many more Flamingos along with Glossy Ibis and Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe.  Even a couple of Slender-billed Gulls.  Barbara drew our attention t the female Peregrine Falcon that had landed near the top of a pylon for a long rest.  A White Wagtail walked across the track.

Distant female Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Watching a Marsh Harrier crossing the back of the water our attention was drawn to the three Magpies atop a pylon.  Almost as a last scan of the area I picked up a tightly packed flock of Avocet in the distance to the far left and as we watched they took off, circled and returned to their original position. Time to make a start back to the main gate and the return journey but this time following a few of the inland tracks.  We were well rewarded when a Song Thrush flew across and posed but not long enough to lift our cameras.  Almost immediately an obliging Robin posed instead.


Birds seen:

Mallard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow.

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

Cabo de Gata

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

 Saturday 16 October

With Jenny remaining at the hotel, Derek, Barbara and I made an early start for a day at Cabo de Gata.  After a breakfast stop at Pujaire we were at the first hide as you entered the village by 9.30.  Another lovely day but on arrival the light was not too good and the low sun shining straight into our eyes and camera lenses was not conducive to good birding.  This certainly led to our hopes being sky-high as we thought we had a close view of the recent-arriving Wilson's Phalarope but it was not to be; just a Greenshank feeding in the same manner which caused all sorts of confusion but the tell-tale identifier being the slightly raised bill.  However, there was no shortage of Flamingos on the now shallower water as we checked out the wires and fields on the opposite side of the road finding our first Iberian Grey Shrike along with Spotless Starlings, Crested larks and a Sardinian Warbler.

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

A closer look at the water found a number of Black-tailed Godwit along with Slender-billed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Waders included RedshankCommon Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Whilst we watched the dozen or so feeding Barn Swallows we also became aware of both Little Egret and the pair of Heron.  The Mallard were further away to our right and at the very back a bathing Curlew.  A lot of Stonechat and a couple of Iberian Yellow Wagtail before we saw the single Raven fly over the site.

Frenzied feeding by the Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

Moving on round to the next hide we picked up Collared Dove and once ensconced both Greenfinch and and Robin

Robin Erithacus rubecula

 Approaching a low flying Stone Curlew had been seen and then other from the hide.  Cormorant resting and flying over the water along with more Little Egret and very many Flamingo before finding the ten Spoonbill. Yet more Kestrel and then the flock of Avocet which seemed to be in a massed feeding frenzy, presumably invertebrates stirred up by the accompanying Flamingo. A lone Jackdaw flew over shortly followed by the only House Martin of the morning.

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Moving on down to the Public Hide we had our first Thekla of the morning along with Short-toed Larks.  The shore in front of the hide produced Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Little Stint, Sanderling and Greenshank.  On the water both Mallard and Shoveler along with Shelduck and many Slender-billed and even more Black-headed but only a couple of Mediterranean Gulls.  Not so much the House Sparrow but the single Willow Warbler that appeared outside the hide was a very welcome surprise.

Sanderling Calidris alba (left) with Dunlin Calidris alpina

A quick trip up to the lighthouse was very unrewarding albeit a Corn Bunting and a pair of Black Wheatear were seen on the way up.  Once back to we took the track along the back of the salina and encountered very many more small waders, all previously seen other than the lone Ruff and a small number of Turnstone.  We were almost at the end of the track before we came across our fist and only Blackbird of the day and a Hoopoe also put in a brief appearance before finding a handful of Linnet.  Time for a drink and tapa before starting on the afternoon visit to the Rambla de Marales.

Hoopoe Upupa epos

Making our way along the beach track yet many more Stonechat and the first of the Barn Swallows.  However, upon arriving at the laguna there were thousands of Barn Swallows feeding up in preparation for their coming migration.  Indeed, not just resting in the reeds but also on the sand itself as if wanting to get some heat into their bodies.  Amongst the thousand plus birds Derek eventually found a House Martin but it was a little while before we got decent views of the small number of Sand Martins and then finally found a Red-rumped Swallow - sitting in a tree immediately in front of the car.  But not just hirundines, there must have been an hundred plus Iberian yellow wagtails in the same, relatively small area.

Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica

On the water itself a large number of Flamingos plus Coot, a single Purple Swamphen, Mallard, mainly Shoveler and a female Red-crested Pochard.  A Little Egret was hiding in the reeds and before we moved on even two pairs of White-headed Ducks.  A passing Marsh Harrier put up most of the smaller birds and before we had added Zitting Cisticola and Cetti's Warbler.

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus

It was not so much the Little nor Black-necked Grebe but the closer Bar-tailed Godwit that took the prize.  And so back to our hotel in Roquetas de Mar and having not seen a single specimen all day we were greeted as we approached the own by a dozen Cattle Egret.

Male (above) and female Iberian Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae


Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Ruff, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Shoveler Anas clypeata with Purple Swamphen (extreme left) Porphyrio porphyrio

Barn Swallows with a Sand Martin Riparia riparia


Iberian Yellow Wagtail with Sand Martin

Female Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Can you find the very distant Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus?

Beautiful Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus


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

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar

 Friday 15 October

Time to celebrate my birthday with two nights in Roquetas de Mar and so pleased that our close friends Derek and Barbara Etherton were able to join us.  Noting both Sardinian Warbler and Kestrel on the way our first stop was at the large irrigation laguna at Las Norias, right in the heart of "Plastic Land!" A lovely warm and sunny day in cloudless blue skies and the same promised until our return on the following Sunday.

Male Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Arriving at the first crossing of the laguna with its now installed extra water pipework and machinery plus ever growing vegetation which somewhat cuts down the area of visibility it was soon evident that little to be seen on the water either side.  Lots of Great Crested Grebes and some distant Cormorant so time to really check out with bins and scope what else might be about.  A couple of Little Grebe and two Heron followed by a resting Kingfisher close by in the reeds to our left looking west.  A Cetti's Warbler was calling as a couple of Moorhen paddled out into sight and then a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls overhead.  Ere long a trio of Crested Lark and the first Coot of the morning noted.  As a trio of Barn Swallows passed overhead towards the eastern end a Hoopoe crossed in the opposite direction.  In the meantime, almost immediately below us, a Common Sandpiper came to rest on the rocks as its partner crossed the road.

Time to continue on and take the back road to the final crossing arriving at the crossroads beyond the plastic recycling factory.  A Kestrel passed overhead and parking near the waste ground a handful of Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails were noted along with juvenile Grey and a couple of White Wagtail. Nearby both feeding Chiffchaff and a solitary Common Redstart.

Checking the shallow end of the water eleven Glossy Ibis were resting on an island of discarded plastic. As we moved up the water towards the recycling factory we noted yet more Great Crested Grebe and then the sudden excitement as a Little Bittern exploded out of a nearby bush and dashed over the road.  Looking up we found a small number of Sand Martin accompanied by a single Crag Martin and then, not too far away, an Osprey was drifting towards us.  Naturally, as we left t the site to head on towards San Augustin with a coffee break on the way, a number of both Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings were seen at the farm and, sitting quietly amongst the sheep a Cattle Egret.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Approaching the salinas from San Augustin we turned west and headed for the hidden pond at the end of the straight road. Lots of Spotless Starlings and then the regular sightings of Stonechat after Stonechat.  On the small pool itself a quartet of Flamingo and a couple of Little Egret.  A Black-winged Stilt moved across the back of the even smaller pool and then a darting, zig-zag departure from a Snipe.  Another Kestrel and then a single Turnstone before a Marsh Harrier and Heron drifted across the back, the former quartering for its lunch. 

Moving on to the track leading down t the lighthouse, we parked the car outside and walked as far as the water.  A single Greenshank and even a Little Stint were found along with a pair of Ringed Plover before a Kingfisher flashed past as the Cetti's Warbler announced its presence.  A couple of Slender-billed Gulls were resting on the water and more Flamingos were noted.

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei

Next it was the long drive round to the other side of the salina to the fresh water pool which was full of the massed flock of Coot.  Closer to the road and our viewpoint we had a number of both Mallard and Shoveler and soon also added Common Pochard.  No shortage of Black-headed and a smaller number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A couple of Cormorant flew across the water and two Marsh Harriers were seen on the far side.  Not just a handful of feeding Little Grebe but to the back of the water around thirty Black-necked Grebes moving in line astern.

Birding completed we moved off to find our hotel for the next couple of nights.

Birds seen:

Mallard, Shoveler, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Glossy Ibis, Flamingo, Osprey, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Snipe, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Redstart, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow.


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