Thursday, 28 August 2014

"All quiet on the western front"

Thursday 28 August

Out of the house before 8.30 this morning with the use of the car fr a couple of hours before being back on the mountain to let jenny go to her Spanish class.  Times like this that you miss having the second car.  no sooner round the corner from the drive and the resident Thekla Larks came out on to the track to see me on my way accompanied by a single Sardinian Warbler and then a male Blue Rock Thrush.  Then followed tow surprises, one very large.  Only on very few and far between occasions do I find a Backbird on the upper slopes of our mountain but it was certainly the first time since arriving here eleven years ago that I have recorded a Wren.  What on earth was little Jenny doing up here so high unless she was taking a breather from some lesser or greater migration?

Green Sandpiper Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus
Arriving at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar I was in time to see a departing Heron fly over and assumed that would be the only record of the morning.  But no, in the event there must have been at least a handful at the lower reaches of the river.  With only a solitary Rock Dove to be seen from the bank below the N340 bridge, I decided to drive up and park in the shade under the trees opposite the open hide.  From here I walked back to the bridge and return before making use of the hide to see what was about on and near the meadow and lagoon.  Until a late flurry just before setting off for home via a quick look on the other side of the bridge, there was certainly very little to be seen, a question of not so much "all quiet on the western front" as no birds on the western front.  But I must not complain too much as, having missed the spring arrival, I had a small flock of Willow Warblers feeding immediately in front of me at the hide.  There was also a small number of House Sparrows and looking at some of my photographs on returning to Casa Collado I see that there were also at least two Penduline Tits.  Now that was another welcome surprise for the morning.

Pair o f recently arrived Dunlin Correlimos Comun Calidris alpina

Young Green Sandpiper with very white front?
Other than the terminal lagoon there is presently very little water in the river and birding is certainly not helped by the now thick bamboo barrier.  This is quite acceptable but, with or without the bamboos, very little is going to be seen if cyclists on their mountain bikes decide to use the river bed as their preferred route rather than the track!  Making my way back to the hide I picked up a quartet of Mallards and then a pair of Dunlin in the company of a Green Sandpiper.  The were the only waders to be seen other than another "mystery sandpiper" for which I shall have to access some guidance.  It looked like a Green Sandpiper but the chest markings are not quite correct unless it, maybe, is a juvenile.  I even thought both Wood and Marsh Sandpiper so, Mick, Eric, Steve, John and anybody else reading this take a look at the photo opposite.

Arriving at the hide I found the rest of the resident Rock Doves who were busy feeding and drinking in the area along with a large flock of Spotless Starlings.  I even had a five Collared Doves and, on many occasions, I can visit here and not see a single specimen of this bird.  Just the one Zitting Cisticola but a good number of Serins.  Then I hit upon the feeding Willow Warblers below me to the left.  There were also a small number of House Sparrows and the occasional Goldfinch.  Thinking I had photographed the latter feeding with te Willow Warblers you can imagine my surprise when, on enlarging the photograph, I found myself looking at a Penduline Tit with its long tail.

Penduline Tit Pajaro Moscon Remiz pendulinus

Willow Warbler Mosquitero Musical Phylloscopus trochilus
A Grey Heron flew over which also revealed a few House Martins and more of the former were then found on the edges of the main lagoon along with a single Coot.  Still good numbers of Moorhens about with their now well-grown chicks and with the gulls returning to either roost on the sea or lagoon I was able to pick out Black-headed, Leser black-backed and Yellow-legged individuals.  After a handful of screaming Monk Parakeets had passed overhead I once more experimented with the new mini-scope, this time hand-holding rather than using the lightweight tripod.  Very successful and this little Opticrom gives a very clear view even when the eye-piece is at full magnification.

Also seen on the river was a single,and very handsome, Blue-headed Wagtail whilst resting on the wires I recorded my only Spotted Flycatcher of the day.  Also, late in the visit, I was joined by a trio of Little Egrets.  Departing the hide I drive slowly down the track and under the bridge to park and look at the river bed just upstream from the old metal bridge.  A good number of Collard Doves drinking, far more than you normally see flocked together, and then a single, feeding Hoopoe with another couple moving about on the far side.  The small mixed finch flock feeding below me were mainly House Sparrows but also a number of Greenfinches.  By now not only had I just about run out of time but t was becoming very hot so I set off for home and duly recorded a single Red-rumped swallow.

This Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops was busy feeding without a care in the world

Back up the mountain and the Thekla Larks were still about but had by now also been joined by some of the Bee-eaters that have been with us for the past week or so.

The Collared Dove Tortola Turca Streptopelia decaocto looks immaculate after its early morning ablutions.  Now if only the year was 1964!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Penduline Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

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