Friday 15 March 2013

Whiskered Tern and Pallid Swifts

Thursday 14 March

A beautiful sunny start to the day with clear blue skies and only the occasional cold gust of wind so what better way to celebrate the improved weather than spend the morning down at the Guadalhorce in Malaga.  Welcomed by the resident Collared Doves as I arrived at 9.50 (well, I did have to look for a post box on the journey down from the mountain) I had no sooner walked up to the riverside path than a perching Kestrel on the opposite bank gave me the once-over as I continued on to the footbridge.  Here, as expected, I found a couple of Red-rumped Swallows patrolling the immediate area.  I thought that they might be the only members of this species but I was to be proved wrong as many more were seen over the pools and fields to the back of the reserve.   A lone Little Egret was found up stream from the bridge and as I left the bridge a rather handsome pair of Linnets put in a short appearance.

White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala
Walking on the eastern arm of the Guadalhorce and the Laguna Casillas I saw a few Goldinches and the start of regular passages to and from the Laguna Grande by the still present Cormorants; my estimate would be in the region of fifty plus.  The water itself proved that the White-headed Ducks had returned with a vengeance with at least a dozen present.  In addition, there were about the same number of Common Pochards and a handful of Gadwalls but only a few Coots.  Over the water both Barn Swallows and House Martins were feeding low and I also had a regular appearance of a small number of Red-rumped Swallows.  Needless to say, Spotless Starlings were also moving around the area.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
Accompanied by a number of Serins I then moved on to the Wader Pool which, again, was very full but at last showing signs that there might soon be some feeding area for the waders.  A couple of juvenile Flamingos were in the water immediately in front of the hide and a Black Redstart was actually sitting on one of the openings.  Ten Black-winged Stilts were counted along with a single Greenshank.  Alongside the wader a pair of Little Ringed Plovers were staking a claim to the island whereas on the far side under the trees a handful of Teal and a pair of Shovelers were taking a mid-morning siesta.  Finally, the first Heron of the day flew over and I made my departure southwards.

The journey down to the Sea Watch produced both Corn Bunting and Crested Larks along with more Serins and Goldfinches plus the first Chiffchaffs of the day.  A single White Wagtail was feeding on the fenced area to the right and another on the beach to the east along with a Kentish Plover.  Out at sea a total of twenty-nine Common Scoters was counted along with a small number of Yellow-legged and a couple of Lesser Blacked-Gulls.  Meanwhile, almost below me, a single Slender-billed Gull was resting with eight Black-headed Gulls.

Slender-billed Gull  Gaviota Picofina  Larus genei

After noting the handful of Black-winged Stilts and the missing member of the wintering trio of juvenile Flamingos along with another Greenshank in the Rio Viejo, calling in at the above hides on the return journey I managed to add a Redshank at the Wader Pool and a Moorhen at the Laguna Casillas.  However, the main attraction here whilst watching the hirundines was the appearance of three Pallid Swifts at a very low level feeding within metres of the water.

Whiskered Tern Fumeral Cariblanco Childonias hybrida
So on to the Laguna Escondida, which held another score of mixed Pochards and White-headed Ducks, and then the Laguna Grande recording Greenfinches as I walked the track.  The Laguna Grande's main occupants were a large number of Cormorants plus a few Grey Herons and a single Little Egret.  On the water quite a few Shoveler and yet more White-headed Ducks along with a few Little Grebes and a pair of Black-necked Grebes.  It was whilst watching the hirundines, mainly Barn Swallows and House Martins that I picked out the single, or possibly two, Sand Martins before becoming aware that there was a single Whiskered Tern bust picking insects of the water's surface.  What a shame that I did not have my camera with me!  Then, moving in from the trees at the back a second and closer look at the quartering juvenile Marsh Harrier.

So that was the end of the morning's visit as I had to get back home to meet the builders who were due to start work on the house repairs - but not before a final fly-pass by a trio of screaming Monk Parakeets which brought the morning's tally up to 45 species.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Common Scoter, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Pallid Swift, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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