Thursday 18 July 2013

Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops
It may have been a very hot day and the last "official" visit of the year for the Axarquia Bird Group but still, despite the heat nine of us arrived at the meeting point to walk the lower reaches of the Rio Velez at Torre del Mar.   Just over two hours later we were back at the cars having, surprisingly, recorded over 35 species.  Too hot to wear anything other than the least amount of clothing, species were recorded once back at Casa Collado so, no doubt, the emails will come flying i to remind me of what I have missed!  The main thing was that I was back in southern Spain and amongst long-standing friends and, as the saying goes, "get back in the saddle" after a seven week absence from birding the Axarquia.

On arrival Eric Lyon, Steve Powell, Malcolm Austin, Brian Green and Dan Wilkinson were already present (and I was a few minutes early!) and were pointing out both the Moorhen and Reed Warblers that were still present.  We were soon joined by Gerry Collins and Louise Gray from Salobrena along with Lesley Laver from Nerja who had made the longest journey and they , too, were able to pick up the same birds.  The resident population of Rock Doves was out in good numbers and within minutes we were being serenaded by dozens of Monk Parakeets who seemed to remain with us for the rest of the morning.  Malcolm managed to see the lone Common Sandpiper before it disappeared and then we started the leisurely walk down towards the pumping station and the beach.

Lone juvenile Kentish Plover  Chorlitejo patinegro Charadrius alexandrinus on beach
The walk produced regular sightings of Reed Warbers and Spotted Flycatchers and then a single Olivaceous Warbler in the low bushes.  No sooner had we seen the Purple Heron take off upstream than we were joined by numerous Barn Swallows and a good sprinkling of Red-rumped Swallows feeding over the water.  Very few waders about but there was a handful of Little Ringed Plovers and maybe three Ringed Plovers feeding on the river edges.  Similarly, a handful of the Iberian race of Yellow Wagtails (Blue-headed Wagtail) were seen and an occasional White Wagtail.  A small number of Bee-eaters were heard then seen overhead.

Juvenile Nightingale Ruisenor Comun Luscinia megarhynchos
Looking across to the river from near the pumping station we first recorded the first of a few Zitting Cisticola and then a single Little Egret followed by a handful of Cattle Egrets.  The Purple Heron reappeared and the trio of Hoopoes first seen near the start of our walk also reappeared.  Indeed, there seemed to be a plentiful supply of Hoopoes, Reed Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers about all morning.  In addition to the occasional Barn Swallow, we now had House Martins and both Common and Pallid Swifts, mainly the former.  We could see the resting roost of Yellow-legged Gulls in the far field but there also a good number present on the lower waters of the river awaiting our arrival.  Then, proceeding towards the beach, we had a very tame juvenile Nightingale on the track in front of us that seemed determined to continue looking for food and completely ignored us.

Female Red Avadavat Bengali Rojo Amandava amandava
Very little of the beach has, yet again, taken on a new layout, but we did find a single juvenile Kentish Plover.  On the far side of the rive a score of more of Yellow-legged Gulls, mainly immatures, plus a small number of both Black-headed and Audouin's Gulls.  Then, making our way back upstream, the delight in seeing a small flock of Red Avadavats.  Strangely, on this occasion it was the females that were easier top pick out but we did see males in their off-season browny-red coats.  More Common Swifts, House Martins and White Wagtails in this area and, again, a trio of Little Egrets passed overhead and our "tame" Hoopoes once again caught up with us.  Needless to say, we also had a fly-past by a small flock of Spotless Starlings and the noise and sight of the Monk Parakeets.  The river bank in front of us produced a regular supply of Serins, mainly juveniles, and the occasional Goldfinch plus more Reed Warblers and Zitting Cisticolas.

On reaching the cars, some departed for the cooler location of home whilst five of us took a look at the river above the road bridge where, in addition to a number of White Wagtails, we had a very close sighting of a Cetti's warbler, a second  Common Sandpiper along with another Blackbird and even a Collared Dove plus, of course, more noisy Monk Parakeets.  Add on the Kestrel, Stonechat and Thekla Lark seen as I drove down off the mountain and I was well-pleased with a total of almost 40 species for the morning.

Is this Audouin's Gull Gaviota de Audouin Larus audouinii having the last laugh?

Birds seen:
Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail (Iberiae), White Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin and Goldfinch.

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1 comment:

  1. Bob,
    The Audouin's Gull is NOT having the last laugh/squawk, it's hot, which is hardly suprising these days.