Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Bee-eater Abejaruco Europea Merops apiaster
Sunday 13 April


How many times have I suggested that you should try and avoid the Guadalhorce reserve on a Sunday, especially a sunny Sunday afternoon when the mass public is in attendance undertaking their own rec recreational activities?  I can only lead to frustration, annoyance and down-right anger.  So why was I at the Guadalhorce for a couple of hours early Sunday afternoon?  My excuse is that I had just delivered the lady wife to the airport and the site seemed so near that it would have been a shame to just straight back home to the empty house, no company ,lots of jobs to be done, etc, etc, etc.  Now might be the time to get out the violin and either take pity or throw up!

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

It might have been very warm on the mountain but it was even hotter down at the coast with the Guadalmar road thermometer showing 30C and not a cloud in the sky.  But the Cetti's Warblers were singing away as I walked up and along the track to the footbridge.  Screaming Monk Parakeets had just passed over and there was certainly no shortage of House Martins.  Just the occasional Barn Swallow but no sign of either Red-rumped Swallow or an early Swift.   A few resident Rock Doves were under the motorway bridge and a couple of Coot paddled away in the river.

Female Common Pochard Porron Europea Aythya ferina
Approaching the Laguna Cassilas I had more Barn Swallows and a small charm of Goldfinch whilst, on the water itself, a single male Red-crested Pochard took its ease on the far right-hand side and a couple of White-headed Ducks were noted.  Thinking that the pochard might move close I decided to press on to the Wader Pool, take a look at the Rio Viejo and then return to the first hide. A Mallard flew over the track and away, there were relatively few on site but I was to make up for that on the 'morrow, and a couple of Black-winged Stilts in the linking water between the two hides.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

But upon arriving the hide, other than the above stilts, there was not a bird to be seen.  Why?  Then I saw the two-legged reason.  Right in front of me walking from the back of the pool towards the hide was a chap carrying a baby and holding his four-year old son's hand.  I could not believe what I was seeing!  There he was, as bold as brass, just wandering along like a holiday-maker taking a Sunday stroll along Blackpool beach; it was a wonder they did not stop to make sand castles!  I had seen the Junta car parked just round the bend and a couple of wardens strolling along but, it seems to me, nobody ever sees what they need to see  - unless its Trafico looking for urgent cash and stopping every car they can lay their hands on.  Time, me thought, to take a photograph of this rogue fellow and, lifting the camera, noticed that he was not alone., his wife having just reached the bank below me.  Presumably they had walked right through the back of the reserve disturbing everything.  With insufficient Spanish to say what I would have like to have said and surrounded by other "tourists" rather than nature lovers, I gave up in disgust rather than confront this indulgent, ignorant idiot and set off to take a look at the old river in the hope that when I returned perhaps the birds, too, might have come to the same decision.

Avocet Avoceta Comun Recurvirostra avosetta

Not a lot in the Rio Viejo but scoping did produce some results including a single Dunlin, a good number of Black-winged Stilts and all three small Plovers, Little Ringed, Ringed and Kentish.  A few Sanderlings at the far end and even a distant Turnstone.  The first of a couple of Common Kestrels passed over the track.  The bushes below produced a few Greenfinches and Serins and Reed Warblers were singing below me as I made my way back to the Wader Pool.  Some birds had now returned including a pair of Avocet and a Redshank.  Once again, the Little Ringed Plovers were walking their favourite sandbar.  A quick look in at the Casillas produced many more White-headed Ducks, a good number of Common Pochard but the Red-crested Pochard had disappeared from view.

White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala
As I approached the Laguna Escondida a trio of male Blackbirds darted into low cover a the side and a Zitting Cisticola took to the air.  There were a good number of White-headed Ducks on the water along with a couple of Little Grebes.  Off to left-hand side a flock of a dozen or so Bee-eaters were resting in the bare trees and taking the odd, short flight.

Those beautiful Bee-eaters Abejaruco Europea Merops apiaster on display by the score
Finally, to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande where I met up with a trio of very keen young Spanish birders who were only too appreciative of any help offered.  You must be keen to take the coffee table edition of the local guide out on your birding visit!  perhaps Jose will join the Axarquia Bird Group when we visit the site this coming Thursday morning.

Kentish Plover Chorlitejo Patinegro Charadrius alexandrinus at the Laguna Grande
This pool produced a good number of resting Grey Herons along with a few Cormorants.  There were a couple of Avocets at the back (recently arrived from the other side?) which eventually came much nearer to the hide,  As well as Little Ringed Plovers a pair of Curlew Plovers spent the whole period with us along with a single Wood SandpiperSpotless Starlings in the trees and a pair of Gadwall at the back of the water whilst, overhead, numerous feeding hirundines, this time mainly Barn Swallows but also House Martins in good numbers.

The Curlew Sandpipers Correlimos Zarapitin Calidris ferruginea - also at the Laguna Grande
With lots of good company at the final hide I managed to forget the awful experience at the Wader Pool and departed for home in the best of moods and a smile on my face to think that, despite it being a hot Sunday afternoon, I had actually managed to record 36 species in my approximate ninety minutes.

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios  Bastardo Tringa glareola
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Spotless Starling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information. 

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