Thursday 11 April 2013

Whilst the cat's away, etc!

I may be over in England for the week and have experienced rain, cloud, wind and, yesterday, thick fog driving from Southampton to Devizes before the sun eventually came out and today I have been promised April Showers followed by more rain at the week-end but, at least, no snow whilst you all enjoy a warm and sunny week out in the Axarquia.  On the other hand, it might be dry tomorrow so I shall spend most of the day at Rutland Water, always assuming that I have completed the garage repairs.

Meanwhile, whilst I am away others have been able to continue birding.  John and Jenny Wainwright spent Tuesday last up on the Sierra Loja whilst Ivan and Inger Zink-Nielson having returned from "Arctic" Denmark for a few months had a very profitable morning down at the Guadalhorce in Malaga, finally ending up with a magnificent 58 species by way of their "Welcome back to Spain."  Up in the mountains, John would appear to be back in charge of the camera and he has forwarded photos for your perusal.  Similarly, good to see what is about in preparation for my own visit to the Sierra Loja next Wednesday with the Andalucia Bird Society.  Who knows, we might even find an early-arrived Rock Thrush.

Ivan and Inger's report:

Finally back after a very cold winter in Denmark.

Here is the report of today's visit to Guadalhorce with a total of 58 species:

Mallard; Gadwall; Shoveler; Pochard; Red-crested Pochard; White-headed Duck; Little Grebe; Cormorant; Night Heron; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Purple Heron; Flamingo; Booted Eagle; Marsh Harrier; Kestrel; Peregrine Falcon; Moorhen; Coot; Black-winged Stilt; Collared Pratincole; Little Ringed Plover; Ringed Plover; Kentish Plover; Common Sandpiper; Redshank; Greenshank; Black-headed Gull; Yellow-legged Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Whiskered Tern; Rock Dove; Collared Dove; Swift; Pallid Swift; Bee-eater; Crested Lark; Barn Swallow; Red-rumped Swallow; House Martin; Yellow Wagtail; Nightingale; Wheatear; Blackbird; Blackcap; Sardinian Warbler; Cetti's Warbler; Reed Warbler; Willow Warbler; Pied Flycatcher; Woodchat Shrike; Raven; Spotless Starling; House Sparrow; Goldfinch; Greenfinch; Corn Bunting; Monk Parakeet.

Inger and Ivan

Interesting to see that the Night Heron is still about along with a passage Willow warbler and the first report I have seen this year for a Pied Flycatcher.

John and Jenny's report:

Rock Bunting  Emberiza cia
 Sierra Loja  9th April 2013

A very sunny day but  a very cold wind over the 700m mark.  The wooded areas held a few birds, including Azure-winged Magpies, Wood Pigeon, Collared Doves, Serins, Song and Mistle Thrushes.  As we approached the cliff area, Jenny spotted two raptors soaring above a dozen or so Chough, they turned out to be Bonelli´s Eagles.  Lots of Jackdaws feeding in the grassy area of the cliffs along with Spotless Starlings and Rock Buntings whilst a Common Kestrel dashed across the cliff face.
Thekla Lark  Galerida theklae

On the way to the sub-station valley we saw Black-eared Wheatear ( these are the predominant birds at the moment), Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Thekla Larks, several Northern Wheatears and Mistle Thrush.  In the substation valley two Little Owls were seen as well as more Black-eared and Northern wheatears, Rock Buntings, Chough and Thekla Larks.

Little Owl  Athene noctua
Instead of going directly up to the ponds we kept left;  here we found Goldfinch, a Hoopoe, Chaffinch, Woodchat Shrike and our first glimpse - we have heard it once before - of the new seasons Common Cuckoo.  We then turned back to the Charca del Negro area , the pond level is still very high and no bird life to speak of.  So onto the fossil cave, here we found Black Wheatears, Wren, Blackbirds, Chough, Crag Martins, Spotless Starlings and just round the corner from the caves we came across a huge herd of Ibex, some fifty-five individuals including adult and juvenile bucks and a few females- the most we have ever seen up here in ten years is thirteen individuals.

Part of the large group of Ibex on the slopes of the Sierra Loja
On the way down we called in at the hidden quarry where we saw two Lesser Kestrels, Wood Pigeons, Azure-winged Magpies, Short-toed Treecreepers, Long-tailed Tits, Red-legged Partridge, Chaffinches, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Chough, Serins, Greenfinches and Stonechats.

Northern Wheatear  Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear  Oenanthe hispanica
As we parked up at home in Salar, five Bee-eaters flew over the house.

All right, so there are some wonderful sightings in the above two reports but I have not been without a sighting or two myself.  Whilst at my brother-in-law Chris's house on Monday afternoon I had both Common Starling and Dunnock and, on looking out of the kitchen window less than an hour ago, I had two very rare birds for me on my mountain back in Spain, a Common Magpie waking the long television aerial opposite and a pair of Wood Pigeons; one less than three metres away as it came to sample he delights of stagnant pond water!!!!!!   In addition, I also had Red Kite on both the outward and inward journeys but, sadly, the Partridge was of the Red-legged rather than Grey persuasion.  No doubt the former were feasting on the many Pheasant carcases that seemed to caress the country roads.  Which also meant that there were many Carrion Crows about along with another missing bird for our part of Spain, the Rook.

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

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