Friday 6 September 2013

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Honey Buzzard Abejero Europeo Pernis apivorus
Friday 6 September

My delightful friend, Marieke Berkvens, has just spent the past five days down in the Tarifa enthralled by the thousands of Honey Buzzards and Black Kites that have been passing over on their autumn migration to Africa.  Returning home today, I met Marieke at the airport when she returned her rental car and we then spent a leisurely three hours birding down at the Guadalhorce "ponds" before a Menu del Dia in San Julian and back to the airport to catch the late afternoon flight to Belgium.  There may have been a mere three hours but we were greeted by an over-flying Booted Eagle and, by the time we left, had recorded just over forty species.  Just as a special favour to Marieke, a quartet of Honey Buzzards drifted over the the Rio Viejo so that they could give her a special "Good-bye" spiral before both were to go their separate ways!

Little Egret  Garceta Comun  Egretta garzetta

At first sight, with a strong sun beating down from an almost cloudless sky, there seemed very little about.  After the Booted Eagle as we walked to the eastern arm we arrive at Laguna Cassilas to find very little in the way of birds other than a number of Coots.  Patience provided a couple of Little Grebes and one or two Grey Herons flew into and out of the reserve.  A few Barn Swallows were feeding over the water plus the occasional House Martin whilst, a little higher, a good number of Common Swifts were very busy feeding on the wing.  Then the first of two Kingfishers was recorded and immediately below the hide a lone Reed Warbler came into good view as it fed - unlike the Cetti's Warblers which were heard on a number of occasions but not actually seen.  A single Glossy Ibis flew over and then a couple of Sardinian Warblers were observes as they fluttered about between bushes.

The lonely Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Piegadis falcinelius seeking solice amongst the gulls and with his new best (big) friend.  Ah, per chance to dream!

Moving on the the Wader Hide we encountered Ted Lord and Gerry O'Neill who had, presumably, been ensconced in the area for a couple of hours or more.  During this short walk a single Green Sandpiper flew over and above the track.  Again, comparatively little on this water until we found about a dozen Little Ringed Plovers, a single Snipe and a few Little Egrets. As to be expected, the local marauding Monk Parakeets, numbering about a dozen, screeched over.

One of many Little Ringed Plovers Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius to be seen on the Wader Pool.
Leaving cases, books and glasses in the safe-keeping of the above birders, Marieke and I walked down to the Rio Viejo to see what was on the water.  Lots of gulls about which were mainly Yellow-legged with a smaller number of Black-headed Gulls.  This was also where the local Black-winged Stilts had congregated and then we found both Ringed and Kentish Plover.  A pair of Ruff were also seen and then Marieke found the four Honey Buzzards almost overhead the Wader Pool hide and, so, quite unseen by both Ted and Gerry!  Returning to the hid the only new bird to arrive was a male Yellow Wagtail of the Iberian sub-species whilst a Kestrel was seen resting in a distant tree.

A quartet of Honey Buzzards Abejero Europeo Pernis apivorus circled above the Wader pool

Marieke particularly wanted to see a Common Pratincole and Audouin's Gulls.  No chance of the former so we took ourselves off via the Laguna Escondida to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Again, the former was relatively quiet but we did manage to find a handful of White-headed Ducks along with a pair of Little Grebes and the Booted Eagle once more made a short fly-past as a small charm of Goldfinches arrived in the neigbourhood.  On towards our last stop and , in addition to a pair of Collared Doves, a single Hoopoe was feeding in the nearby shrubbery.  A Zitting Cisticola darted out, paused a short while and then took off again.

The always delicate Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus seen on the Laguna Grande

So we came to our final birding destination.  Lots of gulls present and it was simply a case of using bins and scope to see what was present.  Lots of Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls but the we did find a single Mediterranean Gull and, of course, a small number of Audouin's Gulls for Marieke to enjoy.  Also present was an adult Flamingo along with, presumably from last year or a very early bird form this, youngster which was still showing some brown feathers.  A couple of Ringed Plovers and quite a number of Grey Herons along with a couple of Little Egrets before we found our Glossy Ibis which was happily sleeping amongst the gulls.  The bird did take off for a short flight round the neighbourhood but was soon back and asleep once more.  A single Moorhen put in an appearance whilst at the far end of the water we watched in awe/amusement as a fox lazily wandered along the shore without a care in the world.

Fox Zorro rojo Vulpes vulpes on the prowl at the back of the Laguna Grande. First you make room and then you go off in search of more food!

Then, beyond the far end of the laguna, masses of gulls took to the air.  We know what we thought at the time so it was just a case of searching the far skies until we found our culprit, a Marsh Harrier.  No sooner found than we also discovered a single Turnstone had dropped in immediately below us and a pair of Black-necked Grebes were finally located on the water.  For the third time during our morning we saw yet another Kingfisher dash past.  Time to make a start back to the car, have lunch and get Marieke to the airport for her plane.  But not before a Crested Lark took to the air and we had a small flock of Greenfinches descend into the bushes on our right as we walked the track.  A final tally of 42 species so not bad for a very leisurely and social three hours in delightful company.

Only the one Turnstone Vuelvepiedras Comun Arenaria intwerpres to be seen on this visit.
Now as I sit here in the studio wing this blog I have just watched a Short-toed Eagle drift over and the Bee-eaters are flying and calling all around me.  Absolutely wonderful!

This young Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus was obviously born very early in the year.

 Black-headed Gaviota Reidora Larus ridibundus and Mediterranean Gaviota Cabecinegra Larus melanocephalus Gulls

Birds seen:
White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, Flamingo, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Booted eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Ruff, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Audouin's Gull  Gaviota de Audouin Larus audounii (above) and with Mediterranrean Gull Gaviota Cabecinegra Larus melanocephalus below


As we returned to the road yet another car had been broken into with a smashed quarter-light on the off-side (also next to the path).  Please remember NOT to park your vehicles here; leave them either at the church or by the school entrance where there is far more chance of people being about to, hopefully, prevent such occurrences.

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1 comment:

  1. Bob
    Superb blogs as usual . Always an enjoyable and inspiring read.

    Hope you and Jenny are both well.

    Paul and Pam x