Friday 30 January 2015

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Meadow Pipit Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis
Friday 30 January

A wet and windy night on the mountain but signs of clearing up as I headed down to the local Rio Velez to meet up with Steve and Elena Powell.  Imagine my surprise when, on arriving, I found the track dry and Steve reported that they had had no rain in Frigiliana!  Indeed, the morning was quite pleasant but with distant clods and a rainbow even if the wind did pick up after an hour or so.  And then, on returning back to the mountain home, I discovered that Jenny had continued to receive intermittent showers all morning and as I write this the wet stiff is again making its presence felt in between the gusty blows.

On arriving their were a small number of Crag Martins feeding overhead and the resident Rock Doves in the trees opposite.  Mallards were to be seen along with a few Moorhens whilst Chifchaffs flitted about all over the place.  No shortage of White Wagtails here and even a single female Grey Wagtail.  Walking down towards the hide we soon added Grey Herons and Little Egrets plus the many Cormorants that seemed to be drifting up steam to make use of the tall trees opposite to dry their wings. in the sunny breeze.  The first of the Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls were swirling around overhead and, on reaching the hide, we would see very many more in a flight condition.

Midway down the track we soon found the first of a number of Bluethroats and , also, no shortage of Meadow Pipits plus a single Water Pipit.  Just the one Ringed Plover so no chance of recording a variety of waders this morning.  Elena managed to find one of the wintering Reed Warblers and we to see a second when we eventually returned to our cars.  More Mallards and Moorhens with a Robin on the river side of the track and both Goldfinches and Serins on the opposite side.  Cetti's Warblers were in full song (scream?) all morning and we even had the occasional view of a bird along with a passing Blackbird.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula

Once at the hide we had opportunities for close views of a couple of feeding Meadow Pipits and a pair of Stonechats on the far side of the river.  A solitary Wren "popped up" onto a low branch before quickly disappearing back down into the undergrowth before we could lift our cameras.  On the opposite side of the track a stunning male Black Redstart was foraging near the near drainage channel.

A very bold Meadow Pipit Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis
Not only Coots and Cormorants could be seen from the hide but we also got an idea of the large number of gulls present, mainly Yellow-legged and Black-headed but also Mediterranean and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A walk to the beach, where the waves were crashing in from the rough sea, confirmed the sightings along with a number of Moorhens and more Herons, Little Egrets and a single Cattle Egret but also a handful of Gannets feeding close in to the shore.

Nothing new on the walk back to the car other than a pair of Sardinian Warblers seen by Steve but lovely to find more Bluethroats, including some winter individuals, Meadow Pipits and both the Grey Wagtail and a second Reed Warbler opposite the cars.  As the Goldfinches moved off so did we having recorded a rather refreshing 30 species.

First winter Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica

Birds seen:
Mallard, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Crag Martin, Wren, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Alcaucin in the Sierra Tejeda

Firecrest Reyezuelo Listardo Regulus ignicapilla
Wednesday 28 January

Another lovey sunny day and what better way to spend the morning than take a quick trip over to Alcaucin and up to the Alcazar picnic area on the lower slopes of the Sierra Tejeda.  Not a sole in sight so able to just sit and wander slowly around with out being disturbed - and it paid off in less than an hour.

Chaffinches as I approached and in the main picnic area along with a couple of Rock Buntings before walking along the narrow water channel.  A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming away to their hearts' content and a Blackbird made a very vocal departure.  However, little to see on this normally productive route and I began to wonder where all the Crossbills had gone until I returned to the above picnic area.  First a couple of Nuthatches then, on looking up at the movement that caught my, I found a rather handsome male Crossbill.  Not only a Crossbill but a couple of foraging Firecrests and more were to be found in the lower area.

Male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra coming into breeding plumage
Having been joined by first a Blue Tit and then the first of a number of Great Tits, I made my way down through the site finding another Blackbird and a couple of Robins.  Meanwhile, overhead, a trio of Crag Martins were busy feeding on the available insect life whilst a pair of Red Squirrels chased each other up and down the neighbouring trees; spring must definitely be in the air.  But before returning to the car park I also managed a female Cirl Bunting by way of a change along with more feeding Rock Buntings.

Not only birds in the trees as can be seen by this Red Squirrel  Ardilla Roja Sciurus vulgaris
The final birds before driving back down the mountain were a small number of Chiffchaffs, a single male Blackcap and a pair of Goldfinches, "Putters" to my Belgian friend Marieke. A very brief stop at the lower "El Rio" picnic site produced more Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Great Tits and another male Blackbird.

Birds seen:
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Firecrest, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting.

"Nuts to the lot of you.  You can't catch me!"

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

Monday 26 January 2015

Three early summer migrants

Shoot me if you dare Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Sunday 25 January

Up at 5 o'clock to get my brother-in-law to the airport and with the forecast set fine for the day what better excuse than to carry on down to La Janda for a day's birding.  Duty one by 7 so round the corner to the nearby Plaza Mayor where I collected friends Derek Etherton and Mari de la Torre and we set off westwards in dark and windy conditions arriving at La Janda by 9.15 where we were greeted by clear blue skies and full sunshine but the temperature had dropped from an original 9 to zero degrees!  Not to worry, the birds made up for the chill and the temperature soon started to warm leaving us shedding various outer garments.  By the end of the day, arriving back in Malaga, once again in the dark, we had recorded 68 species including eight raptors and thirteen waders but, best of all, four early summer migrants (if you include Barn Swallow), Black Kite and with Northern Wheatear and Rufous Bushchat vying for "Bird of the day" along with Black-shouldered Kite.

One of many Lapwing  Avefria Europea Vanallus vanenllus to be seen
With a female ("Ring-tailed") hen harrier our first bird of the day you always had the feeling that we would be on to something special in the coming hours.  A small number of early-feeding cattle Egrets int he bovines as we passed through "windmill land" and then the usual stop after the bend at the top of the track leading down to the canal having arrived at La Janda proper.  No shortage here of Corn Buntings and Stonechats and soon we were adding Serins, Goldfinches and even a male Blackcap along with both a couple of Greenfinches and a  Black Redstart.  The first of many Red-legged Partridges had also been seen just before leaving the main road as had a couple of Cormorants but more of both were to follow during the morning.  Before reaching the canal we had our first Kestrel and there were to be many more; all Common rather than a site of an over-wintering Lesser Kestrel.  Also in the damp and sometimes very wet fields neighbouring the canal, we observed a good number of feeding Lapwings.

Record shot of the distant, solitary Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra

Once at the canal time to stop and scan the area where, in addition to good numbers of White WagtailsLittle Egrets and Grey Herons, we found a solitary Black Stork and the first of a trio of Great White Egrets.  The occasional Zitting Cisticola in the canal-side reeds and a calling Cetti's Warblers before the first of the Kingfishers flashed by.  Crested Larks on the flooded fields and both Moorhens and a pair of Mallards on the water rapidly added to the growing species list.  Then time to actually find the large Crane flock that we had heard for the previous five minutes or so and yet more Lapwings plus a small number of Spotless Starlings and the first of the many Jackdaws.  A Black-headed Gull drifted over and a short distance down the track on a large wet area we came across a small number of Yellow-legged Gulls in the company of eleven resting Spoonbills.

Not so much "Sleepy Lagoon" as sleep Spoonbills Espatua Comun Platalea leucorodia
Some considerable time was spent checking one area before the small overbridge to try and relocate the Rufous Bushchat seen by Derek.  The bird crossed the track from the reeds near the canal then briefly rose out of the grasses before disappearing again and for the last time.  But it was in view long enough to see the red back end and the diagnostic facial markings for Derek whereas, for me, I only managed the last sighting as it disappeared from view.  Surely the "bird of the day?"

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba
Travelling on down towards the bridge on the right we had regular sighting of the above members of the heron family along with more Serins and Goldfinches plus the addition of numerous Chiffchaff and Kestrels.  But no other raptors and no Spanish Sparrows on this occasion until almost at the bridge when we recorded our first Marsh Harrier. Near this point we also found a handful of Linnets and the single Purple Swamphen that made the briefest of appearances as it crossed the canal.  Also seen in the flooded ploughed fields near the bridge a single Snipe up and then disappeared beneath the stubble.

Distant view of a male Linnet Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina

The drive up through the "avenue" towards the "smelly farm" produced a Great Tit and huge charms of Goldfinches, there must have been literally hundreds.  A few more Red-legged Partridges then a single Pheasant as we approached and passed the farm.  Checking the bushes on the right just after the farm we had a single Dartford Warbler and two Black Kites overhead.  A lot of Jackdaws in this area along with both Rock and Collared Doves plus a couple of Wood Pigeons.  Nothing else until we started the return journey back to the bridge when we picked up a trio of soaring Buzzards, another resting on a very small bush to our immediate left and then an immature Golden Eagle.

A Common Buzzard  Basardo Ratonero Buteo buteo at rest and at work
It seemed that every birder we met along the route from start to finish had found a Black-shouldered Kite but not us, even though all had described the area in which the bird had been seen and photographed.  Turning right at the bridge towards the main road we picked up more White Storks and Little Egrets and even another Great White Egret but no Glossy Ibis or the sort-after kite.  Then well beyond the expected location, we found our quarry as an individual took off form a pylon with its iconic V-winged silhouette and landed on a further pylon.  Trying to reach and pass the bird so that we would have the sun at least to the side if not behind us, the Black-shouldered Kite was joined by a second individual; a true pair.  What a way to end our La Janda visit.  Just as we had started with a Hen Harrier so we finished with a beautiful Black-winged Kite.

Distant views of Black-shouldered Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus

What to do next; obviously a quick trip down to the local golf course to find one of the Bald Ibis that reside in the vicinity.  Chaffinches and more Wood Pigeons as we entered the trees and then, a very pleasant surprise, a Green Woodpecker.  More Cattle Egrets but no Bald Ibis so off towards Barbate for a coffee and tapas before checking the river and ponds along with the grassy area often associated with these ugly ibis.

The ugly Bald Ibis Ibis Eremita Geronticus eremita found at Barbate
The tide was well out as we crossed the causeway but looking inland we soon found a number of waders along with, potientially, one of the day's special sightings.  At east five Grey Plovers along with both Redshank and Greenshank and a number of Ringed and Kentish Plovers before finding the single Oystercatcher and a couple of Dunlin.  Similarly, along with the few Yellow-legged Gulls we also found a resting Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Checking the grassy area immediately in front of me I suddently had a trio of Northern Wheatear "jump" up into the neighbouring bush not five metres away; wow!

Driving towards the track leading to the waters at the rear of the road I happened to notice three Bald Ibis feeding in a paddock on the left.  So, along the back track for a closer (and safer!) look at the birds where we actually found four individuals before they took flight.  Then it was on to the flooded pits where we found a score or more of Black-winged Stilts along with at least 150 Dunlin, all in best winter uniforms.  More Redshank and Greenshank along with a good number of Spoonbills and Little Egrets before realising that most of the resting gulls in front of us were actually Audouin's Gulls!  To our right on the track and neighbouring grass we not only had Crested Larks and Meadow Pipits but a single Lesser Short-toed Lark.  Finally, a last detailed study of the Dunlin flock also found a solitary Curlew Sandpiper in their midst.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia over La Janda
Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Bald Ibis, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh harrier, Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Crane, Oystercatcher, Back-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Rufous Bushchat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti's warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chafinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Lovely to see so many early Orchids

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

Friday 23 January 2015

Laguna Dulce & Fuente de Piedra

Wednesday 21 January

Whilst I was down on the sunny coat at Fuengirola, John and Jenny Wainwright were exploring the delights of both the Laguna Dulce near Campillos and nearby Fuente de Piedra.  Having seen the snow on the mountain tops following Tuesday's rain, I must admit, weather wise, I was probably a lot warmer on the coast.  It seemed as if there was a white pelmet all round the mountain top from east to west.  I wonder how cold it must have been!

This is what happens when you head upwards for your birding!
The snowy countryside above Salar. 
(PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Lagunas Piedra and Dulce  21st January

A foggy day to start but sunshine and a very cold wind later.  We started off for Torre del Mar first of all but as we got climbed out of Salar the snow got deeper and deeper, so we turned back - and headed for Piedra instead!

Before we reached the autovia we had seen Goldfinches, Jackdaw, Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.  It was very foggy until we reached the Antequera valley, where no sunshine was available but at least we could see about us.

As we drove along the road to the reserve a huge flock of mixed gulls took off from the field to our right, whilst on the left we could see Shovelers, Teal, Mallard and Black-winged Stilts.  After parking  and walking down in the direction of the boardwalk a Great Tit was calling from a tree top.

From the boardwalk we located White Wagtails, Common Snipe, Black-winged Stilts and Teal, lots of Chiffchaffs and Stonechats were about in the small bushes and in the cut down reeds.  Moving along the stream a Water Pipit was noted along with a small group of Greenfinches, another Common Snipe flew off and this made three Meadow Pipits fly away also.  A couple of female Black Redstarts were perched on the fence posts and a Cetti's Warbler called.

Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
As we approached the mirador by the centre and looking out onto the main laguna two Grey Herons flew leisurely across and put all the Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls up as well as a few Lapwings.  At the lagunetta we found Shovelers, Teal, Gadwall, Moorhens, Common Coots, Common Pochard, a lone Greater Cormorant and a large group of Little Grebes, which were preening themselves on one of the islands - they are so ungainly on land and kept falling over.  Three Crag Martins flew back and forth over the lagunetta, until a male Sparrowhawk tried to have of them for lunch - but failed - so he perched in a tree for a while and then came back for another try, resounding in another failure.

As we left the reserve a flock of Jackdaws came out of the yellow tower building and a Common Sandpiper landed directly opposite us but not for more than ten seconds, another Common Snipe and a Meadow Pipit were seen here also.

Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
We drove round to the Cantarranas mirador where we noted nineteen Common Cranes feeding in the fields to our left, and at the mirador we found three more groups of them but only totalling fifty (if that).  Also about here were Sardinian Warblers, a Southern Grey Shrike, Goldfinches, another flight of seven Common Cranes, Cetti´s Warbler and a Hoopoe.  Looking out from the mirador a group of Greater Flamingos were feeding along with a single Shelduck, Gadwalls and Shovelers.  A male Marsh Harrier flew over the reed beds and then landed behind some grasses then a female Marsh Harrier came into view and the pair flew about the reed beds putting up five Purple Swamphens.  Four of these birds flew into the reeds but one stayed out in the open.  Whilst we watched the remaining bird, two Egyptian Mongoose came out of one reed bed and disappeared into another.

In the trees to our front several Sardinian Warblers were seen along with a small flock of Spanish Sparrows, Cetti´s Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Linnets, Goldfinches and Black Redstarts.  More Crag Martins came over us and headed for the lagunetta.

Spanish Sparrow Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
The wind was freshening up now, and although the sun was shining, there was no warmth to be had, so we drove over to Laguna Dulce, on the way seeing several Ravens, a Buzzard and two more Marsh Harriers (one juvenile and a female).

Record shot of male Marsh Harrier Aguilucho lagunero Circus aeruginosus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

At Dulce the wind had dropped and the sun was spreading its warmth for a while.  As we settled into the hide for a cup of tea and a bite to eat, we could hear Common Cranes calling from the olive groves across the road.  On the water I counted a flock of thirty two Red-crested Pochards (at least eighteen of these were males), good numbers of Gadwalls, a few Shovelers and Mallard and a nice surprise was seeing two male Wigeon here - mixed in with a large raft of Common Coots.  Only one Black-necked Grebe and several Little Grebe were noted along with three Moorhens.  A juvenile Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds at the back of the laguna and in the reeds and bushes to our front House Sparrows, Cetti´s Warblers, Goldfinches, Black Redstart, a Blackbird and a Great Tit were seen, while on the foreshore here a Lapwing and more Gadwalls were about.

Wigeon Silbon Europeo Anas penelope with the Coot Focha Comun Fulica atra raft  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As Jenny walked back to the car a Short-toed Treecreeper was spotted in the corner of the picnic area and as we drove back to the autovia, the Common Cranes were spotted, as were a Mistle Thrush and a Southern Grey Shrike.

Pleased to see that you,too, found the Wigeons that were spotted by the ABS members on their visit to Laguna Dulce the previous Saturday.  But it sounds as if the three dark-bellied Brent Geese that were on the "mud" immediately in front of the Visitors center at Fuente have moved on.

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

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Purple Sandpiper

Wednesday 21 & Thursday 22 January

In Fuengirola for four days and this afternoon, in perfect sunshine following yesterday afternoon's continuous rain, off to Mijas Costa to find the wintering Purple Sandpiper.  Did we find the bird?  No, the wretched wader picked today to take a day trip somewhere!  Maybe I will get chance to have another look tomorrow.

Turnstones  Vuelvepiedras Comun Arenaria interpres and Sanderlings Correlimos Trdactilo Calidris alba
Meanwhile, we did see a total of 40+ Sanderling along with at least twenty Turnstone, a couple of Whimbrel, half-a-dozen Kentish Plover, a handful of Ringed Plover and a pair of Black Redstart.  Numerous Cormorants feeding and resting off shore and a small mixed flock of (mainly) Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls.

Sanderling Correlimos Trdactilo Calidris alba

Turnstone  Vuelvepiedras Comun Arenaria interpres

Kentish Plover Chorlitejo Patinegro Charadrius alexandrinus

Whimbrel Zarapito Trinador Numenius phaeopus

Gannet, Cormorant, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Spotless Starling, Serin

More Turnstones Vuelvepiedras Comun Arenaria interpres and Sanderlings Correlimos Trdactilo Calidris alba
Black-headed Gull Gaviota Reidora Larus ridibundus

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

Monday 19 January 2015

Laguna Dulce & Fuente de Piedra

Saturday 17 January

Strange old day on Saturday.  Jenny and left our mountain top at Casa Collada in clear blue skies and sunshine, collected Quentin and Judith Hill at Casabermeja and then travelled on tot he January field meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society commencing at Laguna Dulce on the outskirts of Campillos.  Thick mist as we came over the hills towards Antequera and then found a cold laguna with the light far from good and not much better when we later drove on round to Fuente de Piedra. However, following lunch in the village itself, our afternoon anticlockwise drive round the man laguna at Fuente was completely in clear skies and very warm, sunny weather. Mind you, the temperature certainly dropped as we eventually made our way back home!

Chaffinches and Thekla Larks as we drove down the mountain and an electricity wire-perched Southern Grey Shrike as we approached the Laguna Dulce and an over-flying Kestrel.  Looking a little on the "murky" side as mentioned above, the water seemed to contain very few birds with most sheltering on or very near to the respective shores around the water.  The majority of the Coots were to the far left along with some Mallards but, searching the waters, we did also find Shovelers, Common Pochards, a few Gadwall and on the far side along with the small number of Red-crested Pochards a handful of Wigeon, a most pleasant sighting.  Also on the water were a few Little Grebes and a small number of Black-headed Gulls.  A lone Little Egret hugged the far shore and even the lone Marsh Harrier looked miserable sitting in his large bush on the far side.  Finally, almost in front of the left, outside, viewing window, a single Song Thrush hidden in a small bush and almost near to it on the waters edge, a well-camouflaged Snipe.

Moving on to Fuente de Piedra via the back roads we had soon recorded Spotless Starlings, House Sparrows and Blackbirds.  A pair of Red-legged Partridge were debating whether to stay on the road and be flattened or move into the cover of the neighbouring olive groves.  A Buzzard on the an electricity pole, another Kestrel followed by a Great Tit and Wood Pigeon before we were at the Mirador Cantarranas.   But where were the expected Cranes?  Not on the fields or the water below the mirador as we looked out.  A single juvenile Flamingo then the main colony off to the distant right.  A couple of Marsh Harriers quartered the large pool in front and we also recorded a single Grey Heron.  However, we could hear Cranes and, on returning to the car, saw four fly over and then found a further total of just twenty birds.

Moving on down, passing another Little Egret, to the area around the Visitors Centre we soon picked up a score of Jackdaws near the flooded field along with very many Chiffchaffs and White Wagtails plus Coots, Shovelers and Teal.  The Laguneta at the back held a juvenile Flamingo and a number of Shoveler, Teal, Pochard and Mallard along with both Little and Black-necked Grebes. Chiffchaffs, Black Redstarts and Stonechats busied themselves in the nearby bushes, along with a number of rabbits, and a few Black-headed Gulls paid irregular visits to the water.  Also noted with a few Moorhen, Black-winged Stilts and a number of Lapwings.  On the muddy shores of the main water along with many Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls a very special sighting of three visiting black-bellied Brent Geese.  What a sighting was this, my first in Spain!

The final circuit of the laguna duly found many of the Cranes with a large flock of 113 counted before the road split to take us left and on round the lake but not before we had also recorded both a Hoopoe, Kentish Plover and a Green Sandpiper on the flooded field at the front of the main entrance to the Visitors Centre.  Near the Cantarranas we recorded more Goldfinches and Serins along with Crested Lark and a Meadow Pipit.  However, even better, no sooner had we found a pair of Ravens than we recorded about twenty Barn Swallows flying above us.

No Stone Curlews at the usual site as the local farmers were drilling the field but  a little further on a Peregrine Falcon resting on a stone in the middle of a field caught our eye and, having made its departure, we relocated it further away on the skyline where, once again, it used a large rock as its preferred resting spot.

A great day then in lovely company and, for w four, a magnificent total of 52 birds including five new species for the year.

A part of the Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus flock at Fuente de Piedra

Follow me lads!

You eat, I'll keep watch.

Birds seen:
Brent Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh harrier, Buzard, kestrel, peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

Friday 16 January 2015

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Female Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
Thursday 15 January

The first field visit for 2015 of the Axarquia Bird Group was at the Guadalhorce reserve in Malaga and with a super attendance of twenty-two members in glorious, sunny weather - if a little on the chilly side when we first arrived.  Great to see many regular supporters plus "old" friends from as far away as Almeria and Sevilla plus Ceri,  presently staying in Nerja.  In addition, also lovely to welcome a new member, Mari de la Torre from Malaga, who is presently studying in Granada to become an accredited wildlife guide.

Quite a few minutes were spent at the top of the entrance track to the site as we recorded Blackbirds, Black Redstarts, Stonechat and Robin as the group gathered.  Monk Parakeets made a short fly-by along with Collared Doves and, above us, there was a continuous movement in and away from the Laguna Grande by the wintering Cormorants.  White Wagtails, there were plenty on show this morning, were on the road below, the track and on just about every area of the reserve.  The same could also be said of the Chiffchaffs and what a winter it has been for this little Phylloscopus warbler, perhaps more seen than in many, many past winters.

Only a couple of the resident Rock Doves below the motorway bridge as we made our way towards the eastern canal and the Laguna Casillas but there were  many Coots to be seen.  No sooner there than we were presented with White-headed Ducks, Shoveler and Teal along with Little Grebe and the first Heron of the day.  Chiffchaffs and Sardinian Warblers below us which led to the discovery of the first Snipe and then a Little Egret made a rapid exit to the neighbouring water.  Meanwhile, We had a Marsh Harrier quartering behind us towards the sports stadium and then a female Kestrel came to visit us, posing very obligingly on the top of a relatively nearby tree.

Female Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
Moving on to the Wader Pool we were greeted by a trio of Black-winged Stilts, which became five when the birds moved along to the old river, and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers.  A Kingfisher darted down the water then back to pose, first on the old hidden hide below then on a distant tree.  A single heron was at the back of the water and the Little Egret remained for a few more minutes before moving off.  Hidden behind the far island were four Greenshank, the same birds and place where seen last Monday and, once again, we found the Snipe.  Great fun watching a preening Meadow Pipit below us but even more exciting when we found the second Bluethroat of the morning; some searching in the grass but, I think, most if not all managed to see the bird.  naturally there were both Chiffchaffs and House Sparrows present.

Distant shot of Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis

Walking towards the beach we had Crag Martins above us and, again, (I think) the same female Kestrel keeping an eye on us.  Both Blackcaps and a Robin in the bush below and a number of Crested Larks and Meadow Pipits on the open ground to the left.  The large overflying gull flock was mainly Black-headed and Yellow-legged but also included at least two juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Indeed, at this point a few of the group spotted a tern above the canal but were unable to get a positive identity.  On the old river, Rio Viejo, to the right a pair of  Flamingos and both a Common and Green Sandpiper.  A couple of Kentish Plovers were also seen and, nearer the beach, a single Hoopoe.  Cetti's Warblers were calling and seen along with the first Goldfinches of the morning.

Very little on the calm sea other than a single Black-necked Grebe so the majority took to the beach to walk to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Another four Kentish Plovers were seen along with our "tame" female Kestrel now sitting on the fence and looking very damp as if she had recently bathed, whether by accident or design.  before reaching the Laguna Grande we recorded our first Zitting Cisticola and a small mixed flock of Goldfinches and Serins.  On the water itself were very few birds, just the odd Little Grebe and a pair of Mallards.  However, scattered all around the edges and trees were over an hundred resting Cormorants and a single Grey Heron.  Similarly, good numbers of Spotless Starlings and the lone Booted Eagle resting in his usual tree well camouflaged from prying eyes as it tried to get the proverbial forty winks.

Booted Eagle Aguililla Calzada Hieraaetus pennatus at rest and in the air

leaving the hide to make our way round to the Laguna Escondida we had more Blackbirds and the sight of the Booted Eagle in the air.  Both Meadow Pipit and Crested Larks were on the move and once at the hide we also had a good sighting of a Zitting Cisticola behind us. On the water, more Little Grebes along with Coots and Moorhens and both Mallards and White-headed Ducks. The main excitement came when an Osprey was seen behind us approaching the roosting Cormorants in the trees at the back of the Laguna Grande.  Too quick for anyone to grab a photograph but the bird landed at the back of the Cormorants and could just be made out by use of scopes,  In the bushes on the field to the front left of the hide we had a large mixed flock of mainly Linnets along with more Serins and Goldfinches.

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica (PHOTO: Arthur Oliver)

Then we were joined by David and Ann Jefferson along with Arthur Oliver who had decided to return from the beach by same outward journey for a further look at both the Wader Pool and Laguna Casillas.  And very well rewarded, too, they were managing to see, and only them, the small party of Penduline Tits feeding next to the Bluethroat.  What a lucky and privileged trio!

Penduline Tit Pajaro Moscon Remiz pendulinus (PHOTO: Arthur Oliver)

And that was just about the end of the  morning.  Gerry Collins and a few others managed to see the only Cattle Egret as it flew over the reserve and most of us had a good look at the Greenfinch as we approached the footbridge.  Once over the water, we, again, had another Kestrel but this time a male by way of a change.  Goodbyes exchanged most made their respective ways home whilst ten of us retired for a Menu del Dia in nearby San Julian.

Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis

But the story does not end here.  Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Linda Roberts were returning home via Zapata and wanted to take a look at the Guadalhorce behind the northern perimeter of the airfield.  Thank goodness I took up the invitation to join them at this very pleasant little site where the river is shallow, fast running with a number of small, grassy islands.  In addition to seeing more Cormorant, Cattle and Little Egrets, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Coot, Common and Green Sandpiper, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, many White Wagtails, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Serin and Goldfinch we were also able to add both Ringed Plover and Grey Wagtail to the day's tally.  And then, time to depart and our very last bird of the day.  Flying low over the water a single feeding Barn Swallow, our first of 2015.  Does this mean that summer has arrived, although judging by recent temperature it seems not to have departed from last year!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Teal, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Snipe, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Back-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnet.  PLUS: Ringed Plover, barn Swallow and Grey Wagtail.

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