Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata
Wednesday 30 July

Jenny off down tot the local village to have her hair "done" so a chance, at last, for me to grab the car and spend almost an hour and a half at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar.  No sooner out of the house and we had Sardinian Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting before even started the descent into Los Romanes.

What a treat to be back at the local patch where the weather was warm and sunny but, I must admit, a little on the humid side for my liking.  But then I did have all that green vegetation and whilst very little water in the river itself there was a considerable lagoon at the approach to the beach.  Parking the car near the N340 road bridge I noticed a feeding Spotted Fycatcher low down in the reeds on the far side of the bridge and the local Rock Doves were all either in the air or feeding in or near the water in front of me.  A White Wagtail walked the river's edge and a couple of Blackbird busied themselves in and under the neighbouring bushes.  On the far side, a movement onto the reeds drew my attention where I quickly found a feeding Reed Warbler.  No Common Kestrel in the trees, rather it was resting on the cross beams of the nearby electricity pylon.  This led me to check out the two "pigeons" on the wires where they were also quickly identified as a pair of Turtle Doves.  The pair were happy to remain even though the appearance of about thirty Spotless Starlings on the same stretch or wires and post caused quite a stir.

No sooner had I started to walk down the track than a Grey Heron saw me coming and decided to make a hasty retreat.  This in turn, drew my attention to both the Common and Green Sandpipers that were also feeding nearby in the shallow waters.  A little further on I could also make out a Little Egret that also moved away, this time down stream where I knew that it would reappear in due course.  Meanwhile, the Barn Swallows continued to feed over and near the water and a couple of Mallard could be seen hiding under the far bank.

Two Egrets: Cattle Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis (lower left) and Little Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta (above right)
The Little Egret was duly relocated alongside a Cattle Egret with another of the former nearby.  Nearer me, the first of very many Serins and a a number of Goldfinches along with a healthy supply of House Sparrows.  The first of the breeding/visiting Little Ringed Plovers was noted on the far bank before arriving at the hide which gave the first opportunity to really check out the river bank.  The final stretch of the track now has a dense hedge of bamboo making sight of the river almost impossible and, I must admit, there was also a lot of vegetation restricting viewing from the hide.  I wonder when the "authorities" will give this some thought in terms of site management or has the building of the hide and creation of the lagoon completed their wildlife acyivities?

Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius (adult above and juvenile below)
From the hide I watched more Little Ringed Plovers and the feeding flock of local Rock Doves accompanied by numerous Barn Swallows and, eventually, the sight of a single Coot.  More Serins and Goldfinches and then the sight of waders in the river slightly upstream.  There must have been at least five Dunlin along with a Purple Sandpiper in very smart uniforms beside the single Black-winged Stilt.  Judging by the summer plumage of the Dunlin I would think that they were all of the alpina sub-species from the Arctic which winters in our region and has longest bill and richest rufous when seen in such plumage.

Curlew Sandpiper Correlimos Zarapitin Calidris ferruginea and with feeding Dunlin below

A pair of the alpina sub-species Dunlin Correlimos Comun Calidris alpina
Immediately in front of me a small number of feeding House Sparrows and then a single Zitting Cisticola.  On the lagoon itself a number of mixed gulls were taking their rest and then being put up every time a "beach walker" strolled along the shoreline ridge.  Not really a prety sight as every time I tried to focus on the gulls a naked body seemed to appear; perhaps it was same chap just walking up and down hoping not to be cra**** on from above (although I would have preferred the opposite!).  A very mixed group which appeared to be mainly Audouin's plus a small number of both Black-headed  and Mediterranean Gulls.  Accompanying them were a mixed age group of Yellow-legged Gulls.

A lovely little Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis
Time to work my way back upstream to the car where I duly saw more Spotted Flycatchers and a couple of Greenfinches.  The Barn Swallows were now joined by the occasional Red-rumped Swallow and on the wire above the car a juvenile Woodchat Shrike.  Finally, I heard the call and then found my first Moorhen of the morning.  Driving under the bridge to park on the other side in the shade and record what had been seen in my notebook, I watched yet more Spotted Flycatchers and a pair of Collared Doves on the far side along with a Wood Sandpiper and juvenile Moorhen on the only small puddle to be seen in the area.  But right in front of me, having left the camera in the car, was a most handsome Hoopoe.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator
Just when I thought it could not get any better, driving up Los Romanes from the lake I pulled over to watch a gorgeous Short-toed Eagle as it drifted slowly overhead on the lookout for a scrumptious snake that make a good midday snack!  Thekla Larks were also recorded as I drove back up the mountain so bringing the species tally for the morning to 40.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

Common Sandpiper Andarrios Chico Actitus hypoleucos

Birds seen:
Mallard, Short-toed Eagle, Kestrel, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler,  Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, Hoouse Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Rock Bunting.

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

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