Friday, 1 August 2014

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Saturday 1 August

Just like the proverbial number 9 bus; go over two weeks without any birding and then get two river trips in in less than forty-eight hours!  After Thursday's morning visit to the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar this morning I was out of the house by 6am to take Jenny to catch her coach for a day trip to Gibraltar (not sure whether or not this will actually also included a further day queueing up to get in and out!) and then carried on to Malaga as morning light gradually appeared over the horizon and was entering the reserve by 7.15.

What a disappointment in many ways.  Unlike here where it was warm and calm, the coast was very windy and with a cold edge.  Just as well I had my sleeveless on as I fought the wind over the bridge to the eastern arm and the Laguna Casillas where I saw - nothing, zilch, nada, b--- all!  Eventually, a couple of Mallards put in an appearance along with a single Black-winged Stilt and Little Grebe.  Just as well I had been greeted by early morning feeding House Martins and a lone Kestrel looking for his desayuna.

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius
The Wader Pool was looking very uninviting with only a small amount of water for those present which included a handful of Little Egrets, a couple of Moorhen, a pair of Little Grebes, at least three Common Sandpipers and a single Dunlin feeding next the flock of twenty resting Little Ringed Plovers.  To my let a marauding band of Spotless Starlings and then a female Sardinian Warbler as I walked down to take a look at the old river, Rio Viejo.  Again, the river itself was very short of water but I did find a number of Kentish Plovers and a few more of the Little Ringed flavour.  To my left a lone Cattle Egret was trying its best to find something to eat beneath the legs of the handful of horses that had been put out to graze.  The first of a few Collared Doves passed over and on towards the main pool.

Up sticks, camera on back and scope over I my shoulder I made my way to the Escondida pool, passing a roving band of ten Monk Parakeets on the way, where there was plenty of water.  This is obviously where the Coots have decided to take up temporary residence with at least twenty present along with a Common Pochard and a couple of male White-headed Ducks.  But nothing else save the occasional Moorhen paddling across the water.

Mediterranean Gull Gaviota Cabecinegra Larus melanocephalus
I finally arrived at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande and, again, water levels were down.  Lots of gull resting here but always, it seemed, on the move.  Much scoping eventually concluded that the numbers of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls were about evenly split along with a few Yellow-legged Gulls.  Still just the one Flamingo, presumably one of last winter's juveniles but now very much approaching full adult plumage.  To my left a Common Sandpiper worked the banks whilst a Little Ringed Plover did the same immediately in front of me.  Not as many Black-winged Stilts as seen on the Wader Pool but yet more evidence o successful breeding with a couple of well-grown youngsters feeding near by.  Is autumn approaching early or was I just lucky to see over a dozen Grey Herons including some very young looking birds?

Common Sandpiper Andarrios Chico Actitus hypoleucos working the edges
Whereas the early hirundines had been House Martins, it was Barn Swallows that fed over the pools albeit in very small numbers.  I even had up to a dozen resting in a small tree to my left who were later joined by a couple of foraging female House Sparrows.  The Spotless Starlings were also in this area and finding something in the trees to draw their attention.

So, come 10 o'clock and the wind still blowing hard but the sun now beginning to really heat up the day, I called it quits and returned home to get on with some other much needed tasks, eventually including preparing this report for publishing.  Back on our mountain it was, once again, relatively calm and the temperature soaring to the high thirties so the much needed swim was called for plus a quick watch of the on-going Commonwealth Games.  Well, that's my excuse for not getting this report published before 6pm!!!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, House Sparrow.


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

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