Monday 20 January 2014

El Robledal and the Guadalhorce, Malaga

Monday 20 January

It would appear that whilst I was wandering around the hinterland just north of Ventas de Zafarraya others were also out and about and making the most of the beautiful sunny weather, even if here was a somewhat cold and chilly strong wind. Eric and Pat Lyon chose to visit that lovely woodland setting of El Robledal and the start of the mountain track up to La Maroma, Malaga province's highest peak at 2078 metres, whilst John and Jenny Wainwright headed in the opposite direction from Salar to take in the coast at the Guadalhorce reserve in Malaga.  John's report follows at the end.

Meanwhile, Eric and Pat not only completed the "usual" long anti-clockwise circuit from the car park up through the picnic area but actually climbed a length of the Maroma trail.  Indeed, high enough to be at the same level as the handsome Golden Eagle they were able to observe.  During their circuit they managed to find a selection of finches including Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Crossbill and, even more lovely, a Hawfinch.  Just about all the small resident passerines were recorded including Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest and all the tits; Long-tailed, Crested, Coal, Blue and Great Tit.  No doubt they gave up trying to count the numerous Chiffchaffs.  No doubt I will hear about other sightings but I can record that Greater Spotted Woodpecker was seen and Green Woodpecker heard.

Eric's report received today includes a lovely shot of Maroma itself and Pat reflecting all the delights of birding at high altitude; it must be the lack of oxygen!

Robledal: Monday 20 January

After a coffee and tostada at the hostal at the Robledal turnoff we ventured down the track with the 3deg warning light flashing.  Once passed the farm there were lots of the expected bird species in the fields and tress along the track.  But we knew it would be a good day as soon as we stopped by a bush and had great views of a Hawfinch until it realised we were just too close.

The car park area had Mistle Thrush and a departing Green Woodpecker.  And at intervals all along the walk we kept wandering through flocks of assorted tits ... mainly Blue, Coal and Crested but plenty of Long-tailed Tits as well.  Eventually Firecrests and Nuthatches joined but it was only back at the car park woods that I saw Great Spotted Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper.
Looking up to the summit of Maroma
Possibly the bird of the day was seen from the viewpoint half way round when walking up to the cairn we had an adult Golden Eagle - only a tiny bit of white on the base of the tail - at eyeball level.  It soared around for some time but then within seconds disappeared.

Girls will be girls!

We saw about 34 species, had a nice walk and snowball fight before getting back to the coast and 16deg sunshine.  By the way, the blob on one of the pics is Pat's snowball missing me as usual.

John's report from the Guadalhorce is as follows:

Guadlahorce 20th January 2014

A bright, warm day, but a very biting wind.

The run down from Salar gave us a few House Sparrows, Wood Pigeon and Spotless Starlings.  As we reached the riverbank footpath, seven Monk Parakeets screeched overhead. In the bushes lining the riverbank we saw Sardinian Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Black Redstarts. It was then quiet until we entered the reserve proper, where we found Crested Larks, Goldfinches, more Sardinian Warblers and Chiffchaffs.

Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Lots of Cormorant movements around the reserve as well as gulls, namely Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed.  We headed for the Laguna Grande seeing Shovelers, Mallard, Common Coots and Little Grebe on the way.  At the hide, several flocks of Serins were feeding just below us as well as White Wagtails and a Common Sandpiper was also noted.  The banks of this laguna were lined with numerous Grey Herons, Cormorants and the lone juvenile Greater Flamingo was here too.  Across the laguna a pair of Shelducks were feeding and on a bare tree a female Common Kestrel was seen - the male was hunting further over the marsh.  Good numbers of Crag Martins about here,  a few Stonechats, but only two Blackbirds seen (or even heard).  A very bright male Black-necked Grebe graced us with its presence as did a female Teal, while below us on the mud a Meadow Pipit and another Common Sandpiper were feeding.  As we left the hide a Hoopoe flew from out of the trees.

Serin Verdecillo Serinus serinus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
At the Escondida hide the wind was full in the face here and we could only find Little and Black-necked Grebes, Pochard, White-headed Ducks, lots more Crag Martins and a couple more Stonechats.

Crag Martin Avion Roquero Ptyonoprogne rupestris (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
The Casilla hide was pretty barren except for a group of Pochard and the now iniquitous Crag Martins. So we moved onto Viejo hide.  Here we added Black-winged Stilt and a Redshank to our list.  Also here we saw Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipits, Common Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Goldfinches and Serins.
Back onto the track - heading for the sea view, luckily the wind is at our backs now, which made for a bit of comfort (if that´s the word).  En route a Glossy Ibis was noted - flying quite high and fast - over the reserve, we never saw it again today, but we did see more Crested Larks and Black Redstarts.

At the Sea View we had our lunch and watched at least eight adult Gannets diving - they were very close in today - a lone Sandwich Tern came past us and two Turnstones flew past in the opposite direction.  The only other bird on the sea - apart from the gulls - was a Black-necked Grebe.

Turnstone Vuelvepiedras Arenaria interpres with (left) Redshank Archebebe  Comun Tringa totanus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We then retraced our steps to the car and drove round to the old gas installation - demolished now - and here we found a small flock of Sanderlings, another Turnstone, a Redshank and over a dozen Ringed Plovers.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
I am told that a Short-eared Owl has been seen early this morning by the ranger.

From both of the above reports and my own sightings it can be seen that, despite the very strong wind which only offered limited shelter at a few of the inland sites, a very wide selection of birds was recorded during the day.
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