Thursday 4 April 2013

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Black-winged Stilt

Up early and down to the Cruise Port in Malaga to collect the family Gillaspie; Tom and Jayma with their daughter, Jayla and Tom's sister, Joanna (I trust that I have correctly spelt all the names!).  Then it was straight off to the Guadalhorce ponds as rain was promise for noon despite the hint of a hazy sun in the sky.  And sure enough, the rain arrived ten minutes early and fell as a few isolated spots which we only picked up because we could see the occasional ripple on the lagoons.  All in all, a very pleasant day spent in wonderful company and, hopefully some happy memories for Tom and family to take back to the west coast of Florida once they eventually get to Rome on Holland America's Noordam, their final destination.
Resting Barn Swallows  Golondrina Comun  Hirundo rustica
Greeted by a couple of pairs of Collared Doves we had no sooner walked up the entrance tack to the reserve than we had a pair of Booted Eagles in the tree immediately in front of us; what a way to start the morning!  A male Sardinian Warbler was foraging around in the bushes below whilst overhead we had the first of very many Barn Swallows and House Martins.  Indeed, there were Barn Swallows everywhere; seen at all the lagoons and in the majority as far as hirundines were concerned but, arriving finally at the Laguna Grande there were probably as many Sand Martins, certainly the most that I have seen at this wonderful site.  Meanwhile, walking towards the eastern arm of the river wee had many Goldfinches at close quarters along with Spotless Starling and the usual Rock Doves below the motorway bridge.  A quintet of Little Egrets in a dead tree to our right was a welcome addition and gave us the opportunity to compare these birds, complete with their "Marigolds" to the American Snowy Egret.  Also seen walking the track was out first Blackbird of the day and an over-flying Grey Heron whilst a female Mallard waddled along the path in front of us.

White-headed Ducks  Malvasia Cabeciblanca  Oxyura leucocephala
Arriving at the Laguna Casillas we were rewarded with a good number of both White-headed Ducks and Common Pochards.  In addition, we had a few Moorhen and a couple of Coots then out came the two pairs of Gadwall to see what all the fuss was about.  Add on a small number of Mallard and a pair of Black-winged Stilts along with a well-exposed singing Reed Warbler and we just about ready to move on to the Wader Pool.  However, just as we were leaving a single Purple Heron flew across the pool.

Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus on the Wader Pool
Other than the occasional Moorhen, the Wader Pool was full of Black-winged Stilts with at least thirty present, and another forty plus on the Rio Viejo next door.  We did have another handful of Pochards and a pair of Gadwall along with a female Teal but they were not the centre of attraction.

Gadwall  Anade Friso  Anas strepera
The walk down to the Sea Watch not only produced the above Black-winged Stilts but also a good number of Common Swifts to add to the Barn Swallows feeding overhead.  These were accompanied by the regular sight of the odd Cormorant or two passing between the reserve and the sea.  Greenfinches were about in small numbers and then a quartet of Linnets before we found the pair of "hiding" Redshanks.  A couple of Black-headed Gulls were seen along with a small party of Mediterranean Gulls resting at the far end of the water towards the sea.  The sudden movement of the Stilts led us to look up where we found the reason for their alarm as a Sparrowhawk turned above us and then moved away.  On the opposite bank of the river we had a good view of an Iberian race (flava iberiae) Yellow Wagtail which was soon joined by his partner.  Meanwhile, a dozen noisy Bee-eaters flew overhead and then we had a couple of Crested Larks on the waste ground to our left along the first Woodchat Shrike.  Before leaving this area we had recorded at least five individuals.

Woodchat Shrike  Alcaudon Comun  Lanius senator

 At first glance the Sea Watch seemed to produce nothing but empty beaches and lots of sea but closer inspection soon revealed a pair of Sanderling and a couple of Kentish Plovers to the western side.  The short stretch of unkempt beach to the east then produced a single, disappearing Common Sandpiper before a single Whimbrel walked into view.  Next up was a lone Ringed Plover in the company of eight Turnstones.  Turning our attention towards the sea, we were able to identify a small number of Yellow-legged Gulls along with even fewer Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  However, resting in their midst were at least twenty Common Scoter; where had the other hundred plus from last week gone?

Turnstone  Vuelvepiedras Comun  Arenaria interpres
Time to make our way back with, apart from more hirundines, Woodchat Shrikes and a few screaming Monk Parakeets, nothing else of difference was noted.  Although we did pick up a single male Stonechat on the fence.  The Laguna Escondida was disappointing producing a few Pochard and White-headed Ducks plus the first Sand Martin of the day.

Ghost-like Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus over the Laguna Grande
So onto the Laguna Grande with its remaining Cormorants, a single Grey Heron and a lone Black-necked Grebe.  However, this was the water that contained many Sand Martins,which almost outnumbered the Barn Swallows.  Excitement as a single (ringed) Glossy Ibis flew around and eventually landed in the water as it appeared to be trying to pick insects off the water whilst in flight.  At the back of the water a nervous flock of thirty plus Avocets were seen to rise and fly along the edge before dropping down only to reappear again for another short flight.

Sand Martin  Avion Zapador  Riparia riparia
A walk down the track to the path leading to beach produced a Night Heron on the return journey along with the Whiskered Tern that had arrived at the Laguna Grande in our absence.  Once more looking out over the water we also picked up a solitary Little Grebe and then a female Peregrine Falcon hiding behind crossing branches in the "Osprey Tree"; very difficult to see but we were told where to look by the Welsh birders who had recently arrived at the hide.  Cetti's Warblers were loudly singing and then our final bird at this water, a male Blackcap feeding amongst the daisies in front of the hide.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande  Charadrius hiaticula
Then, as we left the reserve to return tot he car, a single wind-swept Common Kestrel resting in a dead tree opposite the exit which managed to lift our final total for the morning to a very pleasing 57 species.

Whimbrel  Zarapito Trinador  Numenius phaeopus

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Common Scoter, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail (Blue-headed Iberian race), Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Monk Parakeet Cotorra Argentina Mylopsitta monachus

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

No comments:

Post a Comment