Saturday 2 March 2013

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

3 March 2013

Apologies for the delay; Internet has been down for three days following heavy storms early on Thursday 28 February.

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar:   28 February

The last day of the month, Andalucia Day, and the morning started very damp following heavy overnight rain and even a little slushy snow down as far as Casa Collado at 550 metres but, at least, it was dry and signs of breaks in the cloud to reveal a little promised sun.  So, without more ado, it was into the car, wipe the small amount of slush of the windscreen, and head down to the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar.  No sooner away from the house and I had Thekla lark, Rock Bunting and Chaffinch before reaching the bottom of the mountain whereupon I quickly added White Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Blackbird, Serin and Chiffchaff.

Parking near the beach the sea was throwing up a few large waves and it was not so much "Surf Scoter" as a score of human surfers in the water; are these people mad, even with, presumably, dry suits?  A couple of Blackbirds and the first Hoopoes as I put on Wellington boots to walk along the shore towards the rive mouth.  Next up White Wagtails, Goldfinches, Crested Lark and Chiffchaffs before the first hirundines were spotted with a couple of House Martins and a single Crag Martin.
Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epos
Reaching the edge of the river it was quickly apparent that the area was being used by a large mixed flock of gulls and Cormorants to shelter from the fairly rough sea.  Mainly Mediterranean but also a small number of Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls before finally finding a few Audouin’s Gulls.  A small number of Moorhen were also using the area and waders consisted of a score of Sanderling plus a single Little Ringed Plover and a pair of Ringed Plovers.  Further upstream the air was black, just like a horde of midges, as hundreds of hirundines fed over the river.  Lots of House Martins and Barn Swallows but also a dozen or so of Crag Martins and, at last, a small number of Red-rumped Swallows.

Next a walk up river to the road bridge and return.  Feeding from a small branch floating on the river’s edge below a bush was a Wren with a Bluethroat for company not one metre away.  What a lovely sight even if the Bluethroat looked as if it was going through a pre-migration moult judging by the condition of its head and upper chest.   A trio of screaming Monk Parakeets flew over and, on the grass in front of me, a group of six Hoopoes all in site at the same time.  Naturally, there were more Moorhens and even a couple of pairs of Mallard in the river itself.  A Sardinian Warbler “popped” out of a low bush at the side of the track and a handful of Rock Doves were on their usual resting post under the new bridge.  In front, in the water, a single Grey Heron stood at attention whilst a single Little Egret looked longingly into the water for some sign of prospective sustenance.  Surprisingly, there was even a lone Black-winged Stilt in close proximity.  The return walk to the pumping house saw the arrival of a quartet of Redshank and a couple of Collared Doves flew over as I made y departure back to Casa Collado.  Only present for about ninety minutes but manage to record 33 species.  
Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
But that was not the end of the morning.  A quick stop at the usual flooded field on the back road from Velez Malaga to Trapiche produced another Little Egret, a few White Wagtails and Rock Doves but, also, in addition to the good number of Spotless Starlings a single Common Starling drinking and feeding at the edge of the flooded field.  Add on the birds seen coming off the mountain and I managed to record a rather respectable 38 species in a relatively short morning.

Birds seen:

Mallard; Cormorant; Little Egret; Heron; Moorhen; Black-winged Stilt; Little Ringed Plover; Ringed Plover; Sanderling; Redshank; Mediterranean Gull; Black-headed Gull; Audouin’s Gull; Yellow-legged Gull; Rock Dove; Collared Dove; Monk Parakeet; Hoopoe; Crested Lark; Thekla Lark; Crag Martin; Barn Swallow; Red-rumped Swallow; House Martin; White Wagtail; Wren; Bluethroat; Stonechat; Blackbird; Sardinian Warbler; Chiffchaff; Common Starling; Spotless Starling; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Serin; Goldfinch and Rock Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.  

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