Saturday 28 February 2015

PendulineTit at the Rio Velez

Saturday 28 February

Cormorant Cormoron Grande Phalacrocorax carbo
Last day of the month and last day to try and see my first Squacco Heron and Red-rumped Swallow before March.  In the event neither seen but that might well be due to the fact that i was bust clearing up and did not arrive on site until just after noon.  Good news though was that it was relatively quite with very few walkers although, on reaching the hide, I noticed that the nudist beach now seem s to include paddling in the lagoon.  Bad enough to frighten me off never mind the gulls!  Still, it was a beautiful sunny morning and, at last, we have lost the strong winds of late - but for how long I ask myself?

Parking up I was immediately greeted by a roosting Cattle Egret with its white coat standing out against the greenery of the opposite bank.  Wandering along immediately in front a single Little Ringed Plover followed by a Moorhen with both the resident Rock Doves and a pair of £drying" Cormorants in the trees above.  The first of many Blackbirds flew past and, in doing so, directed my attention to a pair of Mallards.

So on down towards the hide with many stops and soon passing the first of a number of Grey Herons which, on this occasion, seemed happy to remain rather than dash away downstream.  A Little Egret flew upstream towards me and ere long I had another pair in view.  Not just Little Ringed but also Greater Ringed Plovers feeding next to the river alongside many White Wagtails and a single Grey Wagtail.

Just the one Grey Wagtail Lavandera Cascadena Motacilla cinerea

To my right a couple of Crested Larks in the fields and a few small jobs including Greenfinch and Goldfinch with one individual of the  latter species having just completed his morning ablutions judging by the state of his feathers.  Still plenty of Chiffchaffs about and Cetti's Warbler both seen and heard.

A rather wet looking Goldfinch Jiguero Carduelis carduelis

No sign of last week's Spotted Crake but Common Coots present along with more Little Ringed Plovers and a single Common Sandpiper.  A small flock of Spotless Starlings passed overhead and, in the distance, I could see a number of Yellow-legged Gulls in the air.  The first of a few Stonechats posed nearby and I was able to capture a shot of the female.

Female Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Arriving at the hide I quickly found a few House Sparrows and then a rather handsome male Black Redstart along with a couple of Serins.  More Coots on the upper end of the lagoon and the sight of another Heron and a couple of Little Egrets resting in a tree on the opposite bank.  A Meadow Pipit put in a very brief appearance but then all was disturbed by the walkers who insist on following the bank of the river and so disturbing all bird life.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
On my way back I stopped at the large trees half-way back to the car and found a single Penduline Tit busy feeding on the low branches but on the wrong side from a photographic point of view.  But I did manage to capture a few record shots as can be seen.

Penduline Tit Pajaro Moscon Remiz pendulinus with a great hunger

Back at the car I decided to drive under both road bridges and park the car a little upstream so that I could follow the river until I reached the end of the available track.  Good job I did as I not only found more Chiffchaffs, Goldfinches and White Wagtails but also added a pair of Hoopoes, a Green Sandpiper, Collared Dove another Meadow Pipit and a rather lovely "Jenny" Wren that hopped up onto a branch in front of me - but did not stay long enough for me to ring up the camera.

One of the pair of Hoopoes Abubilla Upupa epops seen upstream
Amazing what can be recorded on a public holiday as well as a Saturday.  Thirty minutes to drive down to the river, an hour birding and then the thirty minute return trip during which I also added both Thekla Lark and Chaffinch as I approached Casa Collado, to give a final count of 33 species.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Wren, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

One of many Grey Herons Garza Real Ardea cinerea

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

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Birding Tour: Odiel Marshes and Donana

Monday 23 February

Day 4:  Odiel Marshes and Donana

Up, up and away by 8 o'clock so that I could find a bar for breakfast before spending the morning exploring the Marismas del Odiel (Odiel marshes) with Derek and Barbara Etherton.  Once more we seemed to have lost the sun and clear skies as the day remained calm and dry but very overcast.  I had intended to make an early start back to Lake Vinuela but when told that Derek and Barbara had found a few Long-tailed Ducks and Squacco herons in the Donana yesterday, visiting the main Juan Valverdes Centre which I had decided to give a miss, I decided to make the extra stop with a repeat visit just to try and locate these wonderful birds.  Again, I was to be sadly disappointed for no matter what else I found, the Long-tailed Ducks and Squacco Herons eluded me.  On the other hand, I did finally manage to record 70 species for the day giving me a final count of 102 for my stay down in Cadiz/Sevilla.  Indeed, the four days produced 18 new species for the year to take my running total up to 156.

Approaching the Visitors Centre at the Odiel we had already recorded White Stork, Spotless Starling, Magpie and Cormorant and were soon adding both Yellow-legged Gull and Cormorant. Passing the small adjacent pool we could not but notice all the Shovelers and then the Flamingos over on the salinas so it was time to park up and check out the river.  Whilst the tide was on its way out there was still very little exposed mud so we mad our way round the back to look at the Odiel itself where, thankfully, small waders were in abundance.  Strange to relate, rather than Black-tailed it was Bar-tailed Godwit that we the predominant large wader.  Also running around and feeding on the receding tide were numerous Ringed Plovers, SanderlingKentish Plover, Dunlin and Redshanks.  A couple of Whimbrel put in an appearance and even a Sandwich Tern graced us with its presence. Black-headed Gulls were moving up and downstream and, eventually, we had a single Black-tailed Godwit - but many more were to follow during the course of the morning.  We even found a couple of Black-necked Grebes feeding in the main river.

Continuing our search of both the main river and neighbouring pools near the road bridge we soon added Little Stint, Greenshank and Snipe.  Meanwhile, near the small adjacent fresh water pool, both Robin and White Wagtail were noted along with feeding Barn Swallows.  In addition to the many Shoveler, the pool also held mallard, Gadwall, Coot and Little Grebes.  The same could be said for the Black-winged Stilts and Shelduck that were seen on the neighbouring salina and a small flock of Avocet flew past overhead..

Whimbrel Zarapito Trinador Numenius phaeopus with Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula in front
A hard-working Curlew Zarapito Real Numenius arquata
Continuing down the spit we found many more Redshank and Greenshank along with Herons, Little Egrets and Spoonbills.  Soon after crossing the high road bridge a Wood Pigeon flew in front of the car and we began to see the first of the Crested Larks that frequent this area in general.  It was a very distant Osprey but a little later on we were to get very good views of a yellow-tagged bird resting on a sand bank in the Odiel.

Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus - raptor to savour
One of the particularly dense banks between the salinas held both a number of Linnets and Sardinian Warbler whilst a Cetti's Warbler was bursting its little lungs with song.  Also heard was our first Curlew of the day.  Great White Egrets to the left and then Spoonbills to the right with the occasional Stonechat and Black Redstart.  However, the best views of the Marsh Harriers, along with more sightings of small waders, Grey Plover, Curlew and Whimbrel came when we made our stop at the Juan Carlos viewpoint.  There were also Chiffchaffs flitting around the area and, eventually, we managed to find a single Mediterranean Gull.

A stop further on down the spit near a small corner filled with shrubs and small trees then managed to provide a range of small birds including Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Serin, Greenfinch and Zitting Cisticola but, maybe best of all, a number of Spanish Sparrows mixed in with their close relative, the common House Sparrow.  On the other side of the road we had a lovely view of a Slender-billed Gull and, very nearby, a pair of Hoopoes that seemed to have decided on a drainage hole on an overflow as their prospective nesting hole for the coming breeding season.  We hardly seemed to notice the Common Kestrel that drifted over.

The beautiful Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops at their prospective nesting site
Finally time to make our way back to the Visitors Centre and stopping on the bridge to look down at the now very depleted tributary to the Odiel we eventually found a handful of Turnstone, very well concealed on the stones so thank goodness for Derek's very sharp eyes.  This was where we said our goodbyes with me heading off for a return visit to the Donana to take the long drive down to the Valverdes Centre in the hope that I might find the Long-tailed Duck seen yesterday by both Derek and Barbara.

Distant Grey Plover Chorlito Gris Pluvialis squatarola

Azure-winged Magpies as I approached and no sooner had I entered the track than I was recording many Crested Larks, Stonechats and a pair of Magpies.  A good number of White Storks about and certainly many, many charms of Goldfinches some in quite large flocks.  The Barn Swallow numbers were building up as were the House Sparrows and, again, a few Spanish Sparrows in their company.  Never a shortage of Marsh Harriers including some most handsome adult males and even small groups of Cormorants resting on the arid fields.

Every now and again I would find Chiffchaffs, in almost every group of small trees and/or bushes, and Cattle Egrets away form the water with Little Egrets in the flooded ditches.  By now I had reached the large water reservoirs on the left of the track which were followed just beyond by some seriously flooded fields.  Lots of Shoveler and Mallard, Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts and even the odd Avocet but no, as far as I could see, Long-tailed Ducks.  I was sure that I had a lovely, almost white head in my scope but then moved nearer the bird in question but could find nothing but Shoveler. Did I see an individual?  I thought so but will not record a sighting until I am absolutely positive.

No shortage of Black-winged stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
Moving on down the track i began to see more Coots and even a handful of Great White Egrets along with more Spoonbills, Flamingos and Black-winged Stilts. Purple Swamphen and Gadwall were added but still no Squacco Heron.  No sooner had I seen a few Lesser Kestrel near their favoured breeding site in the old run than I not only began to see more and more Common Kestrels but even a couple of Buzzards.  Five Griffon Vultures passed overhead along with one individual resting on top of a wooden electricity pole.

The magnificent Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba
The area around the end of the track produced a number of Corn Buntings and Meadow Pipits along with more of the same but, this time, also a number of Moorhens.  The waters near the Visitors Centre held Teal and Little Grebe in addition to Mallard and Shovelers an I even found another Purple Swamphen and more Glossy Ibis.

Still more Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus
Driving back towards Isla Mayor in an anti-clockwise direction I cam across many more Kestrels and, Marsh Harriers and even a Black Kite.  Great White Egrets, Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis were in the main ditch as well as more Herons and Little Egrets.  A number of Raven were resting and working the nearby fields and I came across a Black Stork towards the end of the drive.  Finally, I had to wait until I was in the town itself to find my first Collared Dove of the day!  Not sure whether this is good or bad news.

Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra

A long day but very productive and enjoyable followed by the three hours plus journey back to Lake Vinuela.  Good job that Jenny was away in the UK!

Six Griffon Vultures  Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus seen

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

Birding Tour Donana National Park

Sunday 22 February

Day 3:  Donana National Park

After yesterdays rain and cloud this morning, if a little on the cold side, started out bright and sunny with clear blue skies; and so it remained all day whilst I explored the Donana National Park in search of a Squacco Heron, without success, before finally ending up at a pleasant hotel in Palos de la Frontera where I was joined by Barbara and Derek Etherton.

Black-necked Grebe Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis
Driving down the beautiful, scenic valley road from Aznalcazar to the Dehesa de Adajo there was not a car to be seen and fifteen minutes later I was at the latter, my first stop for the day.  Surprisingly cold with the sun yet to warm up the air but already loads of White Storks, Little Egrets and Grey Herons. Jackdaws on the old ruins as I approached and, even ,more exciting, a roost of over sixty Night Herons.  Add on the first Kestrel and Marsh Harriers for the day and I was ready to start looking at the water and neighbouring fields.

Part of the roost of sixty plus Night Herons Martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax including some in juvenile plumage as in the centre picture above, bottom left
Following on from the previous two days it would appear that just about every Shoveler must be in this part of the world judging by the numbers seen and to be seen.  Some Mallards but also both Common and Red-crested Pochards plus a good number of Shelduck and a few teal on the water. No shortage of Grebes with all three species, Little, Great Crested and Black-necked, present. Lots of Flamingo at the back of the water along with lapwings and Black-winged Stilts plus, of course, the large breeding colony of White Storks, this being one of very few sites where the birds actually nest in trees.  No sign of any Red-knobbed Coots to accompany the ever-present Common Coots but I did manage to find a few Purple Swamphen.  Finally, I also managed to record a small number of Gadwall.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia in trees, on nests and up, up and away.
On the fields behind the road a resting group of Cormorant and a few feeding Ringed Plover.  First one then many Glossy Ibis put in an appearance along with the numerous Little Egrets and Herons. A Kingfisher paid a very brief visit to the trees at the side of the road adjacent to the water and there were many House Sparrows and Goldfinches present along with just the two Greenfinches.

Female Common Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus

Leaving the water to drive through Isla Mayor and see the bare paddy fields I passed a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits and a small number of Redshank.  A couple of Snipe were bust feeding in a flooded field ad then I was driving through the above bare rice fields but plenty of water in the ditches and the occasional wet field offering feeding opportunities to the Egrets and Grey Herons. The first of a few Great White Egrets added to the list and, of course, whenever I found trees I also found feeding Chiffchaff.

Great White Egret Garzeta Grande Egretta alba
Eventually I arrived at that wonderful little town of El Rocio; very busy on a Sunday with the masses that visit at week-ends.  On the way I had managed to record many Crested Larks, a few Buzzards, Barn Swallows, Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Serins, Lapwings and Magpies.  No sooner had I arrived and reached the SEO Centre than I was also able to add Spanish Imperial Eagle as the birds went about their nest building on the far side of the lake.  Also present on the water numerous Shovelers and Teal but also a good number of Pintail.

House Martins were bust collecting mud at the side and in the shallows we had Lapwings and a good flock of Little Ringed Plovers.  Lots of Black-tailed Godwits present and the occasional Snipe to add to the Coots, Moorhens and Black-winged Stilts whilst, to the rear, many Flamingos and even a small number of Spoonbill.

House Martins Avion Comun Delichon urbicum busy collecting their building material
The two Interest Centres offered mixed viewing with plenty of water at Rocina but absolutely dry at the further Acebuche site near Matalascanas.  The former produced Purple Swamphen, Chaffinch and even a Short-toed Treecreeper whereas the latter had numerous Azure-winged Magpies, Black Redstarts and the resident breeding White Stork.

Still no sign of a Squacco Heron and even a stop at the Laguna de la Mujeras and neighbouring pool failed to produce the goods albeit there were more Great Crested Grebes, a large flock of Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, a couple of Purple Swamphen and I even found another Kingfisher resting in the reeds.

Yet more Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus - feeding or resting?
Time to call it a day and head off to my hotel for the night at Palos de la Frontera having recorded, as far as I can remember, 59 species for the day.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Night heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Kingfisher, Crested lark, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Short-toed Treecreeper, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Tuesday 24 February 2015

BirdingTour: Bonanza

Saturday 21 February

Day 2:  Bonanza

A rather damp and overcast start with continuous drizzle until early afternoon but then gradually clearing up to become a lovely warm, late afternoon.  On the other hand, at least it was calm all day and by the time those left of us made our way back to or respective hotels over 70 species had been recorded by the group, which at the start had numbered just about thirty members of the Andalucia Bird Society.

Some of the Slender-billed Gulls Gaviota Picofino Larus genei were almost red on the breast
Blackbirds and House Sparrows as we approached the salinas and then we amongst good numbers of Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts and Avocets.  No shortage of either Redshank or Black-tailed Godwits and Chiffchaffs flitting around in the ditch vegetation along with the occasional Back Redstart. On the nearer ponds a few Slender-billed Gulls were looking resplendent with their pure white heads and pink chests and also seen were Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Leaving the Crested Larks to occupy the tracks we made our way through the various salinas adding Little Stint, Sanderling and Dunlin.

Black-tailed Godwit Aguja Colinegra Limosa limosa with Redshank Archibebe Comun Tringa totanus to the right and Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus in the background

A small number of Shelduck along with the odd Spoonbill was an added bonus followed by Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Barn Swallow before stopping at the end of the track next to the pump house.  From here we had good views of the Black Storks that arrived in the area along with many Little Egrets, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, Kentish and Ringed Plover plus the single White Stork that passed overhead.  A couple of Marsh Harriers put in an appearance along with Moorhen and Greenfinches and, I believe, most got a distant view of the Black Kite.  Three Greylag Geese were also on the far water and a further two were to be recorded on the pool near the woods. Similarly, no shortage of Cormorants to be seen.  Again, I think all saw the pair of resting Ravens whilst watching the Marsh Harriers and Common Kestrel.

Common Redshank  Archibebe Comun Tringa totanus
Then it was back to the start of the salinas seeing most of the above birds again and round to the woods of nearby Algaida so that we could check out the fresh water lake.  In addition to both Little and Black-necked Grebes, one of the latter in almost full breeding plumage, there was a selection of ducks including Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Common and Red-Crested Pochard and at least fifty White-headed Ducks.  Apart from the Coots there were also four resting Night Herons were a lovely sight to enjoy.  Overhead we managed to record Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Red Kite and Osprey and, in the woods themselves, Serin, Robin and Blackbirds along with a low-flying single Azure-winged Magpie.

Finally, out at the far side of the wood and on round to the pools alongside the road where we added Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Purple Swamphen and Snipe.  Smaller birds included Goldfinch, White Wagtail, Meadow and Water Pipit.  Looking inland over the rough pasture we added Cattle Egret feeding next to their name-sakes but the two dozen Cranes were certainly unexpected.  A small number of Calandra Larks were also noted.  We, as a group, may have totalled over seventy species but I was relatively happy with my personal total of 55 birds seen.

In murky weather when all else fails you can always look at the roof models!
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, White Stork, Black Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, White wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Azure-winged Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

Friday 20 February 2015

Birding Tour: Osuna and Brazo del Este

Friday 20 February
Day 1: Osuna and Brazo del Este

With Saturday scheduled as the February meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society down in Bonanza just north of Sanlucar de Barrameda in Cadiz Province on the eastern bank of the might Guadalquivir, it seemed appropriate, especially given the distance involved, to make the most of the time and do some additional birding both before and after the meet.  So, on the outward journey a quick deviation at Osuna in Sevilla Province to check out the steppes and then the afternoon wandering through the Brazo del Este before finally arriving at Chipiona for my first overnight stop.  And who know, perhaps even the Little Swifts might be back in town.  Departing the mountain at 9.15 in a clear, calm and sunny weather the day turned out to be lovely and warm and just a few light, wispy clouds in the azure sky by late afternoon.

Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows as I came off the A92 motorway at Osuna to tale the, almost, parallel country road alongside the new high speed rail track and hen the first of a number of regular sightings of Red-legged Partridges.  A pair of Ravens landed to my left and, indeed, these corvids were to put in regular appearances before I re-joined the motorway an hour later.  Stonechats, Cetti’s Warblers and Crested Larks as I made my way to the first new bridge and then scope out to check the fields.  A strange brown “blob” in the centre of the nearest field turned out to be a resting Marsh Harrier with a lovely golden crown.  Then, my side of a distant hedge, a group of twelve Great Bustards working their way along and through the breaks happily feeding.  Target achieved!

Two of the distant dozen Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda
Next up as I approached the turn over the third bridge towards La Lantejuela, a female Hen Harrier soared out of a ditch immediately in front of me showing off both her “ring tail” and white rump.  Common Kestrels on the electricity pylons as I drive up to the first bend and back along with more Crested Larks and Red-legged Partridges.  The journey between here and the motorway then produced a number of Corn Buntings, Goldfinches and a pair of Barn Swallows.  Stopping to check out the temporary pool beneath the new railway track produced a good number of Black-winged Stilts and a small flock of Yellow-legged Gulls.  Closer inspection identified about a score of White Storks huddled together and even a pair of adult Flamingos.  Strange to relate, the shallow water even held a lone Shelduck and on the sandy bank in front a number of Lapwing were bust feeding.

Great Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacocorax carbo
Just before reaching the motorway a Buzzard took off from its resting place on a roadside telephone pole and as I travelled south towards my turn off for Cadiz I also added a flock of Rock Doves, Cattle Egrets and Black Kites as I passed close to the well-known rubbish dump.
Collared Doves welcomed me upon my arrival at the Brazo del Este and by 1.15 I had entered the track leading through the now arid rice fields.  Time for a long drink and some necessary food so I stopped at the nearby first pool on the left.  What a place to stop and what birds were seen.  Chiffchaffs buzzing around all over the place and good numbers of Black-winged Stilts in the water along with very many White Wagtails and Shoveler.  Just a couple of Little Egrets and the occasional Little Grebe but suddenly I was looking at good numbers of Avocet and Glossy Ibis and even had up to a dozen well-exposed Purple Swamphens.  As the Stilts moved away from me one bird took off parallel to the track before crossing the road in front and away to the right; long tail and signs of yellow on its “magpie-like” appearance and I suddenly realised I was looking at my first Great Spotted Cuckoo of the year.  Wow!

Lovely to have close views of the many Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus
Too quick and too late to get a reasonable photo, just a blurred image, but it did draw my attention to the smaller reeded pool on the other side of the road.  A single Snipe was feeding along with more Glossy Ibis, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank and a single Water Pipit.

Distant Water Pipit (?) Bisbita Alpino Anthus spinoletta
The next water produced considerable numbers of Great Cormorants and a few Mallard plus a single Wigeon in with the Shovelers.  There were also very many Avocet in addition to more of the birds seen on the first water.  A number of Grey Herons were present and at least three Great White Egrets were also recorded.  However, by far the largest group were the fifty or so feeding Black-tailed Godwits along a solitary Spoonbill.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia
After all this excitement if was up and away and straight down to the harbour at Chipiona where, at four o’clock, I met up with Gill and Micky Smith for a well-deserved coffee and the hope that the Little Swifts would be back in residence.  As far as we could see they were not but a couple of House Martins had started investigating the traditional nesting site and, of course, there were Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls to be seen.

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba
So ended Day 1 with a total of 49 species recorded including 5 new birds for the year.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Bustard, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 19 February 2015

The Wonder and Joy of the Local Patch

Thursday 19 February 2015

Almost finish writing up yesterday's visit and so on to sort the photographs when I got a telephone call from Mick Richardson.  He was down at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar and looking at the Spotted Crake reported from ;last Saturday and which had been present for quite a while.  No brainer really; everything turned off and locked up, but then had a telephone call to answer before I could depart, and, even so, was on my way within fifteen minutes.  Such a hurry to get under way I forgot my driving licence, wallet, watch and just about everything apart form the clothes I stood up in!

This has to be one of the shortest stays I have ever undertaken at the Rio Velez as it came on "cleaning and preparation day" as I got ready to take off down to Cadiz and the Donana for the week-end.  Arriving at about 12.10, I was gone by 12.40 but what a half-hour.  Initially, I was greeted by Mick with the news that the bird had been present for a couple of hour but less than ten minutes ago a Grey Heron had taken off from the location and flushed the Spotted Crake away; worse than "Murphy's Law!"

Therefore, Mick pointed out the reed clump that the bird had been feeding in and we studied the remaining White Wagtail.  Just beyond a pair of mallards were dabbling in the background with a couple of Common Coots paddling around in front.  A couple of Cormorants passed over heading downstream towards the beach and were passed, travelling upstream, by a pair of Cattle Egret. Continuing to look closely at the area we then picked up single Dunlin and Little Stint and, almost immediately, the Spotted Crake was out and in full view and continued to be sen for the next half-hour.

27F the introduced Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata is still with us at the Rio Velez
Not only the Spotted Crake and the waders but even the collar-ringed Red-knobbed Coot was feeding within five metres; what a delight.  Moorhens wandered in and around giving a good comparison to both size and the similarity of plumage between the Spotted Crake and young/female Moorhens.  And just for good measure a Water Pipit also arrived on the scene; all these species within a three metre radius.

Record shots of the Spotted Crake Polluela Pintoja Porzana porzana at the Rio Velez
At this point Mick commented that a little earlier ha had come across both Penduline Tit and Siskin, yes Siskin not Serin, in the taller trees less than twenty metres away.  A short walk took me to the trees where I not only found a plentiful supply of Chiffchaffs but also a couple of Siskins for myself.

Finally time to go and make sure that the house was spic and span but not before adding both Bluethroat and Grey Wagtail, also in the same area.  Apart from the resident RockDoves at the bridge, I also added another Grey Heron a little upstream from the N340 road bridge.  A truly memorable thirty minutes at my local patch.  A lucky total of 17 species, more than one every two minutes.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Spotted Crake, Moorhen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Stint, Dunlin, Rock Dove, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Chiffchaff, Siskin,

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