Friday, 21 March 2014

More from the Axarquia Bird Group

Thursday 20 March

No sooner had I published my report of today's Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar followed by the relatively short trip up to the Alcaucin picnic area than I received a similar report from from John Wainwright.  As I had previously said, no sooner do you publish than somebody informs you about a missing bird.  And so it was with John.  From John's report you will note that a Willow Warbler was also recorded early on at the Rio Velez, making his migratory journey north from sub-Sahara Africa whilst, from the beach, a distant Gannet was recorded.  Upon leaving Alcaucin, John and Jenny also managed to find a single Wren on the track down to the village having also recorded Sardinian Warbler at the site.  Forget fifty-six, we are now up to 60 species for the meet.

A very busy Nuthatch Trepador Azul Sitta europaea (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Then we could, perhaps, note some of the birds mentioned as recorded on either/both the outward and return journeys to the meet.  Steve and Elena manage to come across a pair of Short-toed Eagles on their way from Frigilliana to Torre del Mar and John had Cattle Egret, Magpie and Mistle Thrush in the Ventas de Zafarraya area.  As John reports below, rather than drive straight back to Salar he and Jenny took in a short visit to Robledal where they duly recorded Green Woodpecker, Azure-winged Magpie, Jay, Cirl Bunting and Long-tailed Tit.  To cap it all, they even managed to see both a Southern Grey Shrike and a couple of Lesser Kestrels when they finally set off for home. Me?  All I managed was a pair of Thekla Larks as I drove back up the mountain to Casa Collado.

Now, by my reckoning, that makes a grand total of 71 species for the day and, who knows, what else might eventually be reported back to me. All in all, a fabulous day's birding.

John's report follows:

Quite a warm day, a very light breeze.

A warm day greeted us as we headed for the Rio Velez meeting, en route we saw Jackdaws, Mistle Thrushes, Corn Buntings were in good numbers along the telegraph wires, a few Spotless Starlings and a couple of Barn Swallows, as we came through Venta de Zafarraya we found a few Cattle Egrets, two Hoopoes along with Common Magpies in the lettuce fields.

After meeting up and saying general hello´s in the proximity of the road bridge we saw here Cetti,s Warblers, Goldfinches, White Wagtails, House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Moorhens, Mallard, Serins, Rock Doves, Barn Swallows and a group of five Cormorants flew over us.  In the fields opposite a Zitting Cisticola was very plainly heard and a few Meadow Pipits were seen in amongst the grasses. A Blackcap was heard in the reeds but we didn´t locate one until later and a Willow Warbler was noted in the area.

In the Velez estuary we came upon Mallard, Moorhens, a lone Sanderling and four Little Ringed Plovers; one of the ladies spotted a Snipe - but this disappeared into the lush greenery before we could scope it. Further down a Grey Heron was having quite a time swallowing a Grey Mullet - probably due to being the wrong way round in its bill. Here also a Redshank was pointed out just to left of the Heron.

Above us we saw Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, Sand and Crag Martin, lots of gulls wheeling around - being put off of the beach by some walkers.  A good number of Sanderlings flew in and one Dunlin was found amongst them as well as a Kentish Plover.

At the hide a Yellow Wagtail (Iberia race) was seen, as well as more Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaffs, Serins, Blackbird, Stonechat and a Crested Lark.  On and around the river banks we found more Sanderlings, Little Ringed Plovers, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Little Egrets and Common Coots.

On the sea we found six or seven Mediterranean Gulls, a few Black-headed, some Yellow-legged and one Lesser Black-backed Gull.

From the beach we spotted a Black-necked Grebe and a couple of adult Gannets.  Walking back through the reed beds, two Ravens were seen over the distant hill and in and around the small bushes we saw Stonechats,

Zitting Cisticolas, Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits and atop a group of tall bamboo a Corn Bunting was noted.

As we arrived back at the hide a Common Kestrel and more Serins were located.

Sierra de Tejadas:Picnic sites.

Not a lot to note on the journey up to the picnic sites but there was a lot of forestry work being carried out here.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Pico Picapinos Dendrocopos major  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
At the first picnic site we found Great Tit, Chaffinches and Serins. Onward to the second site where we a tad more fortunate seeing Nuthatches, Crested Tits, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Blackcaps, Rock Bunting, Short-toed Creepers, Crossbills, Coal Tit, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Chough, Woodpigeons and Chaffinches.

Crested Tit Herrerillo Capuchino Parus cristatus  taking a well-earned bath (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we (Jenny and I) descended back to have lunch we saw Wren, Collared Doves and a Common Kestrel.

After lunch we headed for El Robedal, with a few Crested Larks and Spotless Starlings on the way.  No sooner had we parked than the yaffle of a Green Woodpeckers was heard - one on either side of us, the not to be outdone a Greater Spotted Woodpecker had a drumming session. More Nuthatches were seen as well as Long-tailed, Coal, Crested and Great Tits, Serins, a Cirl Bunting was calling but we couldn´t find it.  Several Jays were seen as well as Azure-winged Magpies,a Mistle Thrush, House Sparrows, Stonechats and a few Chaffinches.

On the way home three Lesser Kestrels, a Southern Grey Shrike, Corn Buntings and more Mistle Thrushes were seen.

A great day and nice to see so many friends again.

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

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