Over the past few days I have been receiving reports from my birding friend Nigel to inform me of a very successful birding week based in Nerja over the Christmas period. Indeed, he was so lucky with the weather with only rain on Christmas Day itself and even then it managed to clear up by mid-day so that Nigel could get on a little birding at my local patch, the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar.
I suppose I ought to do a quick count of the number of species seen but, no doubt, that will already have been undertaken by Nigel and the records are below for those interested. Whatever, he certainly seems to have seen some of our favourite birds out here including the wintering Cranes, Black-necked Grebes, Tufted and White-headed Ducks and Purple Swamphen plus a whole range of raptors including Osprey, Red Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Peregrine, Merlin and, of course, our resident Kestrels.
Nigel's records are as follows:
FUENTA DE PIEDRA - 23RD DECEMBER 2013
Shelduck 4, Teal 2, Mallard c20 Visitor Centre + c370 Cantarranas, Shoveler 100's, Pochard 4, Little Grebe 52, Black Necked Grebe 1, Cormorant 1, Cattle Egret 1, Little Egret 2, Grey Heron 1, Greater Flamingo 1000's, Marsh Harrier 3+ around visitor centre + roost at Cantarranas had a minimum of 64 birds, Hen Harrier 2 males at roost, Black Shouldered Kite 1 at visitor centre and 1 at Cantarranas, Red Kite 1 at Visitor Centre, Common Buzzard 6, Kestrel 1, Water Rail calling at Cantarranas, Purple Swamphen 1, Moorhen c20, Coot 7, Common Crane huge flock of c1050 at Cantarranas, Black Winged Stilt c25, Lapwing c20, Snipe 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Black Headed Gull 100's, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1000's, Meadow Pipit c10, White Wagtail c100, Stonechat c25, Cetti's Warbler 6, Chiffchaff c30, Sardinian Warbler 1, Corn Bunting c20, Jackdaw 12, Raven 33.
Had a great day, surprised how dry the area is, obviously highlights being the Common Cranes (amazing sight and sound) and the Marsh Harrier roost. Superb views of the Red Kite near the visitor centre and both the Black Shouldered Kites.
RIO GUADALHORCE - 24TH DECEMBER 2013
Gadwall c10, Teal 4, Mallard c25, Shoveler c50, Pochard c20, White Headed Duck c10, Little Grebe c25, Gannet 11, Cormorant c360, Cattle Egret c850, Little Egret 13, Great White Egret 1, Grey Heron 25, Greater Flamingo 4, Marsh Harrier 1, Booted Eagle 3, Osprey 1, Kestrel 3, Peregrine 1, Moorhen c20, Coot c30, Black Winged Stilt 3, Greenshank 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Snipe 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull 100's, Great Skua 1, Sandwich Tern 1, Meadow Pipit c10, White Wagtail c50, Robin c10, Black Redstart 1, Stonechat c10, Cetti's Warbler c10, Fan Tailed Warbler c10, Sardinian Warbler c10, Chiffchaff c50, Crag Martin c30, Jackdaw c80, Kingfisher 1.
Another great day with the Egret roost a pleasant surprise as they weren't roosting last year. I arrived at the hide at about 4 o'clock and only 8 Cattle Egrets were present. I stayed until dark and birds were constantly arriving (always from inland) in flocks from single figures up to over 100. Interestingly, the c80 Jackdaws were roosting with the Cattle Egrets but the Little Egrets weren't. The Great Skua was another surprise chasing the Gulls and Gannets.
RIO VELEZ - 25TH DECEMBER 2013
Mallard c30, Shoveler 12, Gannet 1, Cormorant c30, Little Grebe 1, Cattle Egret 3, Little Egret 3, Grey Heron 3, Kestrel 1, Moorhen 58, Coot 42, Ringed Plover 1 juv, Little Ringed Plover 1 ad + 3 juvs, Green Sandpiper 1, Mediterranean Gull c2000, Black headed Gull c100, Lesser Black-backed Gull c500, Audouin's Gull 2, Crag Martin c30, Hoopoe 1, White Wagtail c 25, Grey Wagtail 3, Black Redstart 1, Cetti's Warbler 6, Meadow Pipit c10, Stonechat 5.
As you will remember, the weather on Christmas Day was terrible but the rain did stop briefly mid afternoon. The new hide was most welcome providing some shelter from the weather.
VENTAS DE ZAFARRAYA - 27TH DECEMBER 2013
Kestrel 2, Meadow Pipit 2, Robin 5, Black Redstart 8, Stonechat 8, Black Wheatear 4, Blue Rock Thrush 2, Mistle Thrush 1, Blackcap 2, Sardinian Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 6, Southern Grey Shrike 1, Chough c50, Chaffinch 5, Corn Bunting c20.
LAGUNA DULCE - 28TH DECEMBER 2013
Gadwall 24, Teal 6, Mallard 37, Shoveler 13, Red Crested Pochard 12, Pochard 23, Tufted Duck 21, White Headed Duck 48, Little Grebe 15, Black Necked Grebe 15, Marsh Harrier 6, Merlin 1, Purple Swamphen 6, Coot 677, Common Crane c1500, Black Headed Gull 98, Lesser Black-backed Gull135, Crag Martin c250, White Wagtail 1, Black Redstart 1, Stonechat 3, Cetti's Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Sardinian Warbler 3, Southern Grey Shrike 1, Corn Bunting c10.
Today it seemed all the Common Cranes were at the Laguna Dulce, the fields were full of birds. Other highlights being the 21 Tufted Ducks, the Merlin that dashed past the front of the hide and the impressive flock of Crag Martins. The weather was clear and sunny but freezing cold and windy, gloves definitely needed.
ROAD TO FUENTA VIA SIERRA DE YEGUAS - 28TH DECEMBER 2013
Common Buzzard 7, Marsh Harrier 1, Kestrel 2, Peregrine 1.
FUENTA DE PIEDRA - 28TH DECEMBER 2013
Shelduck 7, Mallard c30, Shoveler 100's, Little Grebe c20, Greater Flamingo 1000's, Marsh Harrier 3+ around visitor centre + 45 at roost, Hen Harrier 2 males at roost, Common Buzzard 2, Purple Swamphen 2, Common Crane c100, Black Winged Stilt c25, Lapwing c60, Black Tailed Godwit 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Black Headed Gull 100's, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1000,s, Corn Bunting c20, Raven 2, Red Legged Partridge 3.
Still impressive number of Marsh Harrier's at the roost but birds were disturbed by shooting nearby.
RIO GUADALHORCE - 30TH DECEMBER 2013
Peregrine 1, Gannet 11, Great Skua 1, Shelduck 11, Turnstone 7, Sandwich Tern 3.
Called in for an hour before going to airport, from look out point on south side. The Great Skua was still present.
What a cracking week and, I imagine, no distractions of the human variety reminding Nigel about things other than birding! Sorry, I could not resist doing a quick count in my head and I think I managed to reach 70 without repeating myself; no doubt Nigel will confirm the actual number. And how lovely to see that delightful little resident warbler of ours referred to by its former name, the "Fan-tailed Warbler" rather than the somewhat ugly "Zitting Cisticola". All in all, it sounds an almost perfect week and many thanks, Nigel for sharing your experience with us.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.