Monday 30 September 2013

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Monday 30 September

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
Up early so that I could go down to the post office in La Vinuela to collect the post before driving on down to Torre del Mar to complete other business.  But with no hurry for the latter I decided to spend some time at the Rio Velez before hand and, as a result, had a fruitful ninety minutes which produced almost thirty species; more if you also included the mountain birds.

On arrival I was greeted by a handful of Mallards with even more further down stream and, of course, the resident Rock Doves made themselves known along with a few alarm-calling Blackbirds.  A Little Egret was feeding below and I was to see another three as I moved down the track towards the beach.  A White Wagtail took off downstream and a Heron decided that its tree-top position might not have been as safe as it first supposed.

One moment the Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea  is resting and then it is on its way

This all led to me looking at the actual river.  We had had a little rain on Friday and the water levels were up and had refreshed the muddy banks.  However, once again, either naturally or by design, the river has changed its shape.  The lagoon now seems quite deep and expensive with a prominent island in the lowest reaches.  The narrow sand bar separates the sea from the river but the lagoon not only reaches the western bank but has now extended some fifty metres to the west of the main track down to the sea.  At the far end there is still a high bank between the eastern growing fields and the beach and every scrap of land has been deeply ploughed; not much here then for our wintering Golden Plovers and, on the other hand, all the drainage ditches are overgrown with weeds, the concrete channels filled with rubbish so the same problem with trying to find Bluethroats and Reed Buntings during the coming winter.  Perhaps matters might be a little better on the western fields.
Little Stint  Correlimos Menudo  Calidris minuta
Little Ringed Plover  Chorlitejo Chico  Charadrius dubius

A short way down the track I stopped to watch a couple of Common Sandpipers depart, more Mallards and the first Moorhen.  Then, a few metres further on, the first of the waders, a Little Ringed Plover and a handful of Ringed Plovers along with a Turnstone and a Little Stint.  The single (I originally thought) Redshank was wearing coloured labels on both legs and was feeding in the company of its larger relative, a single Ruff.  However, when looked at through my bins I could see that the smaller bird was indeed a Ruff as well giving the impression of Redshank with Greenshank.  Once the one had been proved wrong it did not take seconds to realise that both were wrong; they were indeed both Ruffs.  But why was the second bird so much bigger and with dark rather than light legs?  Only the single Barn Swallow seen but more Blackbirds crossing the river and a pair of noisy Monk Parakeets.

One well-marked Ruff Combatiente Philomachus pugnax
Spotless Starlings were moving about above me and, nearer the water, a small flock of House Sparrows and a charm of Goldfinches.  As I approached the pumping station I had a small flock of Serins and a single Blue-headed Wagtail moved off from the meadow quickly followed by a Hoopoe.  However, the biggest surprise was the newly-constructed stone platform with concrete floor opposite the pump house where all the vegetation on both sides of the track had been cleared away.  Hardly a loading bay but looking suspiciously like the foundations for an observation hide.  If the latter, it will not have the best of views over the water and given the nefarious activities that seem to go on down bear the beach, and not just at night, one wonders how long a potential building might survive.  And if it did, would it be fit to use!

Three Turnstones Vuelvepiedras Comun Arenaria interpres recorded during the morning
Very little on the lagoon itself save for twenty Yellow-legged Gulls, mainly immatures, and a dozen Coot on the now deeper water with a pair of feeding Turnstone on the edge.  Returning in the same direction I recorded first a calling Cetti's Warbler followed by a female Black Redstart that dashed across the track into the trees and a Pied Flycatcher was bathing in a convenient puddle on the path.  The last bird seen, other than more Little Egrets, was a single Grey Wagtail that flew across the river to rest on a low, waterside branch.

When you got to bathe, you got to bathe as represented by this Pied Flycatcher papamoscas Cerrojillo Ficedula hypoleuca

Then, jobs done, it was back home to be welcomed by a good number of hirundines, mainly House Martins but also a few Barn Swallows and a pair of Red-rumped Swallows.  The Thekla Larks continued on in their normal way and a couple of Chaffinches retreated to the neighbouring almond trees.

Naturally, there were also a number of butterflies to be seen along the river and track.  Mainly Large and Small White, constantly on the move, (what I always refer to as "Cabbage Whites" from my previous gardening experience back in the UK), but also lovely to see a few Orange Tips by way of a change.

Orange Tip Butterfly Anthocharis cardamines

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Redshank, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Yellow-legged Gull, Hoopoe, Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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