Tuesday 29 January 2013

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Tuesday 29 January

As forecast, day dawned with an almost perfectly clear blue sky, lovely warm sunshine and the recent breezes area thing of the past.  Time to go birding again so down to the Rio Velez mouth in Torre del Mar to see what has been happening at my local "water patch" over the past few weeks.  What a difference a day, or in this case a fortnight, makes!  Impossible to access the site at my normal point below the N340 road bridge with thick, soft mud preventing foot passage never mind driving the car.  Back round and down the new road to the barren fields between the eastern growing fields and the beach.  No such luck there either as I spotted all the parked cars.  The filed has been ploughed and was presently being planted with either cauliflowers or lettuce so it was on a few more metres to the beach itself.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula

There used to be a lovely raised footpath that gave great views over these field when observing Bluethroats, Crested larks and Golden Plover.  No more; the area has been ploughed clean and there now stands a 1.40 m earth embankment, presumably to protect the fields from either/both the sea and on-shore winds.  Even the small bushes and trees which proved so popular when checking on small birds have been removed.  Nothing for it but to walk along the shore towards the river mouth.  Even here there is a steep sand bank where the sea has cut back into the beach so it really is a question of taking to the shore's seaward edge.  However, I did immediately pick up Blackbird and Stonechat before reaching the newly-formed lagoon at the river's mouth.

It is one thing enjoying a quiet morning's birding but it was too quiet with very few birds about.  Much searching with bins and scope was called for.  Out at sea the occasional passing Cormorant and the far (western) growing field a large roosting flock of Gulls, mainly Mediterranean but also Black-headed and a few Yellow-legged Gulls.  The river held the odd Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover and at least eight Sanderlings were counted.  A Little Egret wandered up and down the shallows on the far side in search of food and, eventually, a trio of Moorhens proved that not all had deserted their home river.  Naturally, there were still many White Wagtails about.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita

After a short exchange with local Velez Malaga birder Kirree who informed me that he had seen the Black Stork (see Eric Lyon's account) on Sunday working its way down stream but also on 30 December had found a Common Bittern (yes,the real big one, not a Little Bittern) and a Spotted Crake about a couple of km upstream.  Pointing to his usual footwear a pair of "Wellingtons", I got the impression that he had managed to find the birds by being somewhere wet rather than on a path!  Having said our goodbyes, I continued to check out the sea before also working my way upstream finding Hoopoe, a good number of Chiffchaffs, House Sparrows and the occasional Spotless Starling.  The river itself look s most inviting from a wader's point of view so, perhaps, a new generation of small and large waders will take up residence,either temporarily or for the summer months, once the main migration gets under way.

The walk back to the beach and car produced a Black Redstart, Goldfinches and Serin before discovering a small flock of half-dozen Sky Larks bust feeding on the new lettuce plants; a least that is very much what they appeared to be doing.

Then it was back home to carry on with the house repairs recording a handful of Mallards on a flooded field near Trapiche plus Thekla Lark, Chaffinch, Rock and Collared Doves as I made my way up the mountain through Los Romanes and the final bird, a rather lovely male Blue Rock Thrush.

And best of all, I got chance to try out the new 70-300 IS USM lens; old technology but much lighter to carry when also coping with bins and a scope!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Moorhen, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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