Thursday, 23 January 2014

Guadalhorce, Malaga

"Pepe" the Superb Starling Lamprotornis superbus
Thursday 23 January

Off from the mountain at daybreak and up to Nerja to collect English birder Chloe Reeves from London so that we could spend a very full session at the Guadalhorce, Malaga plus a quick detour on the way home to the Malaga Golf Parador to see if "Pepe", the remaining Superb Starling, was still in residence.  It was.  As we left Nerja to head west there were scores of newly-arrived House Martins above the houses and the promised sunny day had yet to arrive, with much cloud and a cold breeze to see us on our way.  A coldish start to our visit but as the morning progressed and the cloud broke up the day became quite warm and very pleasant.  By the time we got back to Nerja we had had a very good biding day with 46 species recorded including to more for my year total to date, Gannet and Penduline Tit, and very pleasant company.

No sooner out of the car and we were greeted by a male Blackbird quickly followed by our first Robin and a small charm of GoldfinchLittle Egrets were seen on the river along with a couple of Coots and a male Sardinian Warbler was exploring the rocky bank.  Making our way to the eastern canal and the Laguna Casillas we were very much aware of the comings and goings of the wintering Cormorants and the occasional Grey Heron.

Mainly Common Pochard Porron Eeuropeo Aythya farina with the odd White-headed Duck Malvasia cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala at the Laguna Casillas
Casillas contained a good number of ducks in addition to more Coots and the odd Moorhen, including Pochard (mainly), a pair of Mallard and Gadawall, a few Teal and also a small number of White-headed DucksChiffchaffs chased around the shrubbery below the hide and numerous Crag Martins were feeding over the water.  A single White Wagtail was on the scrape and then a pair of Little Grebes put in an appearance.

One of many Crag Martins to be seenAvion Roquero Ptyonoprogbne rupestris
Moving on to the Wader Pool we found the water level very high and, probably as a result, very little bird life other than six Black-winged Stilts.  The first of the many Monk Parakeets then out in an appearance and a distant Booted Eagle was recorded.  Not satisfied with also adding a pair of Kestrels, a search of the trees on the opposite bank then produces a Buzzard hulking low down in the branches.  Chiffchaffs and Crag Martins to the front we also had a few Serins behind us. A female Black Redstart put in an appearance and a little later on we were also able to record a most handsome male.

Walking down to the Sea Watch we had a small number of Black-headed Gulls above us and, upon arriving, we soon found a larger number of gulls, mainly Lesser Black-backed but also a fair number of Yellow-legged Gulls.  Further out to sea, using the scope, we were able to watch a couple of adult Gannets busy feeding.  A little closer to the shore we had a single Black-necked Grebe.

Returning to the Wader Pool we noted that the Black-winged Stilts were still present and had been joined by a Little Egret.  Then, beautifully concealed, we were able to find the first of two Snipe.  So on to the Laguna Escondida with a Crested Lark as we approached.  Lots of White-headed Ducks here along with both Teal and Pochard but also both grebes and a few Coots and Chiffchaffs below us.  But not just Chiffchaffs as they were joined by a female Penduline Tit.

Common Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca
As expected the main water, the Laguna Grande, was a mass of both Cormorants and Grey Herons with over sixty of the former ans almost thirty of the latter counted.  To the back near the island the three juvenile Flamingos were still in residence and there was the occasional Little Egret.  This was the water that also held the Shoveler but less than a dozen on this occasion.  A single Redshank was found on the far bank and a single Common Sandpiper visited the mud flats immediately in front of the hide.

Common Sandpiper Andarrios Chico Actitis hypoleucos
Leaving the reserve we drove round to the Golf Parador and had very close views of the Superb Starling as soon as we arrive along with a good number of Monk Parakeets and House Sparrows.  It must have been approaching feeding time for suddenly, as we were about to leave, the Spotless Starlings arrived to join in the frenzy along with some very fat looking Collared Doves.  Siting in the car and about to depart we watched the antics of a Magpie as it followed drivers as they approached their respective cars and then, almost by magic, the bird was sitting on our door wing mirror as if waiting to be fed.  We duly obliged!

"Where's our dinner?"  Superb Staling Estornino Soberbio Lamprotornis superbus and male House Sparrow Gorrion Comun Passer domesticus
The drive back to Nerja, following the coast road as we approached Torre del Mar, not only produced a number of Cattle Egrets but also a very large flock of Mediterranean Gulls.  All in all, along and enjoyable day.

Monk Parakeet Cotorra Argentina Mylopsitta monachus at the Mirador Golf

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Snipe, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested lark, Crag Martin, House Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Magpie, Spotless Starling, Superb Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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