Tuesday 28 April 2015

Osuna with the Andalucia Bird Society

Saturday 25 April

Buzzard Buteo buteo
Following a very good day's birding on Friday (see previous blog) I spent the night at a quiet hostal in Los Corales in readiness for the relatively short drive over to Osuna to join the second field visit this month of the Andaucia Bird Society.  The twenty minutes or so drive over the mountain produced a gorgeous Red Kite, the only one seen all day, and a Griffon Vulture and then we twenty-two set off on the "Osuna triangle" in search of Great Bustards, Collared Pratincoles and Rollers amongst others. Great news, all three were seen on this calm and cloudy day with just the occasional brief period of hazy sunshine.

Taking the country road westwards alongside the new, unfinished high speed railtrack we soon saw numerous Corn Buntings and Crested Larks along with House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Goldfinch and even a Zitting Cisticola.  A small number of Bee-eaters were heard as they passed high overhead.  Naturally, whenever we came across human occupation we also found both Rock and Collared Doves.  Our first stop was at the first high bridge over the above track and we soon picked up the seven or more ravens that were flying around.  A couple of Marsh Harriers but then at least six Black Kites resting on a rocky outcrop not too far distant and then a Griffon Vulture drifted across the far side of the neighbouring olive grove.  There seemed to be no shortage of Red-legged Partridges and a local Common Kestrel went through his hovering procedure as he sought out his morning breakfast.  Finally, hidden in the distant wheat field, we found our first Great Bustard.  Fortunately it was on the move or we would never have found it even with our massed ranks of scopes.  As it was, what we saw was just a head showing about the cereal crop.  This and the following bridges seemed to be playing host to a large number of Red-rumped Swallows, presumably nesting below.

The hiding Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
Time to move on to the second bridge and as we last two cars came down to take the road we stopped to watch the Stone Curlew that was resting under an olive tree.  Then it was on to catch up the other five cars and see our first Montagu's Harrier of the day, a most handsome male.  A very high Booted Eagle was seen along with the first of the Gull-billed Terns and a Sky Lark was soaring and giving us a sweet flight song.  Looking over the distant fields towards the third bridge we then found a small, exposed flock of distant Great Bustards including at least a couple displaying males. Now a question of how much nearer to the birds we could approach with our cars on the way to the third and final bridge.

Part of the distant flock of Great Bustards Otis tarda
Whilst the other cars took to the track alongside the new railway, I followed the road in the hope that we might find the Collared Pratincoles.  Indeed we did and in good numbers along with at least an hundred Gull-billed Terns, some wheeling around above us and the majority resting on a farrowed field.  Also seen were more Corm Buntings and a few Calandra Larks.  Whilst watching the Collared Pratincoles a single Blue-headed Wagtail leisurely walked past without a care in the world.  Them, taking aright turn to drive up to the final high bridge a quartet of Lapwings in the sky along with a handful of Lesser Kestrels.  From the top of the rise we had much closer and better views of the Great Bustard flock and managed to count at least fifteen.

Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola found on the expected site

Just before we were all once more together, in addition to more Montagu's Harrier and Raven sightings we saw a quick flash of a Turtle Dove, heard it singing and then it reappeared to perch on a nearby electricity wire; the first of the year.  We were to hear at least two more during the day.  Our final stop in this area was at the turn to the ruined farm where we came across a large flock of Spanish Sparrows and a second Roller having found one on the pylon as we drove along the road.  Also present were numerous Rock Doves and a couple of Common Swifts flew over.  Whilst listening to, and finally sighting, a Nightingale we also had the pleasure of seeing a Melodious Warbler but could not find the suspected Sedge Warbler.  However, the final bird on this corner was the sudden appearance of a Green Woodpecker that flew from the olive grove into the dense trees on the pother side of the track.

Not only gorgeous Montagu's Harriers Circus pygargus but a first Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (below)

We then headed off to La Lantejuela where arrangements had been made for a private, escorted, visit to the local reserve based at the ponds collecting the grey water which is normally shut to the general public.  Not just Serins and Barn Swallows on the way but both a Southern Grey Shrike and a lone Little Owl resting on the roof of an old barn as we passed the farm.  No sooner had we entered than we had a sight of our first Little Egret passing over and a pair of Glossy Ibis rose out of the long grass on the right.  A good number of Flamingos were resting on a pool to our left but as we approached they took to the air to join their "friends" on a neighbouring, larger pool.  Also on the original water were a couple of Little Grebe, Mallard and the odd Black-necked Grebe.  Calling in the tree to our immediate left and eventually seen was a rather lovely, if somewhat shy, Olivaceous Warbler.

The Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus change pools
The next pool held a flock of Black-necked Grebes and the opposite pool provided Gadwall, Common and Red-crested Pochard.  By now we were seeing many Cattle Egrets as we approached their nesting colony and also found were a few Night Herons.  No shortage of either Coots or Moorhens and a couple of dozen White-headed Ducks.  A distant view of one of the resident White Storks was achieved.  Overhead numerous Barn Swallows and fewer House Martins but also a single Sand Martin was spotted.  There were also a few Yellow-legged Gulls and Black-winged Stilts plus at least a couple of Common Sandpipers. Cetti's Warblers were screaming their heads off at the last hide where we also obtained a better view of the Night Herons along with more Spanish Sparrows, a Greenfinch and a Hoopoe as we made our way to the cars.

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricolis in almost full summer plumage
Our final stop was at the Laguna Verde de Sal where we found a number of Flamingos but precious little else in the almost dry pool.  We did eventually find both a Little Ringed and a Kentish Plover and both Sardinian Warblers and Southern Grey Shrikes were flying around the edge of the area. And so time to make our way back to the starting point and our respective journeys home but not before adding yet another lovely Marsh Harrier, more Spotless Starlings, Blackbird and a Jackdaw.  A long day and very tiring but thoroughly enjoyable in good birding company and a total of about 70 species recorded.

Male White-headed Duck Oxytura leucocephala (Come late autumn the beak will have turned almost black)

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, White Stork, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Red Kite, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Lessser Kestrel, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Olivaceous Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinelus

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Friday 24 April 2015

Fuente de Piedra and neighourhood

Friday 24 April
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Lovely sunshine on the mountain breaking through the thin cloud base and no sign of a breeze.  Different story down on the coast at Torre del Mar at 8.30 when I took Jenny to meet her travelling companions as they set off for four days in Morocco.  Thick cloud.  As she headed south, a flock of Cattle Egrets headed inland overhead and i split the difference by heading towards Malaga and Funete de Piedra via the motorway.  As expected as soon as I moved away from the coast the sun broke through and it became a rather war, very warm if somewhat humid day, with a mix of full and hazy sunshine.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta and part of the large flock
Nevermind the Spotless Starlings and Collared Doves as I approached the reserve, the flooded fields and scrapes were full of waders.  Where were all the waders during the winter?  I have no idea but I certainly know where they were this morning/.  There must have been upwards of 100 Curlew Sandpipers and many sporting their best breeding colours along with three score or ,more of Little Stints.  A single Spoonbill was energetically working the water  and at least thirty Flamingos were also present. Just the single Avocet and a handful of Black-winged Stilts, more of all these were to be seen as I explored the various waters.  Another small wader making its way north was the Ringed Plover; loads of them but only the odd Little Ringed Plover and the pair of Kentish Plovers were not found till near the end of my stay.  Meanwhile, feeding overhead, we had both Barn Swallows and House Martins plus a few Whiskered Terns which rather made the Rock Doves look somewhat out of place.

There were over an hundred Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea
Although I had seen a single Moorhen, more were found on both the scrape and the laguneta at the rear of the Visitors Centre.  Also on the scrape, as well as most of the above, were both Common and Green Sandpipier along with a couple of Wood Sandpipers and both Ruff and Reeve (female Ruff) to add to the mix.  By now I had located a few Dunlin and a trio of Redshank whilst he Jackdaws seemed to appear out of nowhere. I was also able to add both Kestrel and Crested Lark.  Isn't it lovely to have the place to yourself save a couple of other birders before the first coach arrived - fortunately as I was leaving!

Ruff  Philomachus pugnax
A scan of the main water with the scope produced thousands of distant Flamingos and diligent searching of those nearer to me produced a single Lesser Flamingo - which became two when checking on way back.  To the right a trio of Shelduck and resting Whiskered Terns whereas the Gull-billed Terns seemed to have booked in on my left for their morning slumber.

Lovely to watch the acrobatics of the Whiskered Terns Childonias hybrida
Ignoring the small charm of Goldfinches I pushed on round to the laguneta hide to check the duck situation.  More Greater Flamingos, Coots and Moorhens along with a Little Grebe and the breeding Avocets.  Ducks included a good number of Red-crested Pochards plus Commmon Pochard, Mallard, a pair of Gadwall and a single Shoveler.  Wonder of wonders,my first real treat of the day when the long-sought after Squacco Heron flew past me along the water.  The Black-headed Gulls seemed to be on this water but not in great numbers.  And away to my right a couple of Grey Herons were patiently waiting for breakfast to move within range of their darting spear-like bills.

My return walk towards the mirador and then down along the edge of the scrape produced a surprise before I had even reached the open hide.  Had I been a photographer who went birding rather than a birder who takes photographs, I might have captured a shot of the Cuckoo sitting on top of a small bush.  As it was, I just enjoyed the privilege of watching the bird, which then cleared off when he saw that saw what I was doing.

The very close, unringed, Spoonbill Geronticus eremita and with Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
More Avocets and Black-winged Stilts plus even more Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints, not to mention Ringed Plovers and the pair of Kentish Plovers as I crossed the boardwalk.  I had been busy photographing a Ruff when I notice a "moorhen-like" shape wander out of the reeds to my left. Turning my bins I watched as a Water Rail strode out and then disappeared into the next clump of short reed and before I could get the scope out of the way to try and capture a photograph.  Onwards to the end of the bridge where I picked up my first Blue-headed Wagtail (Yellow Wagtail of the Iberian persuasion) of the day.  Returning to the other end I was in time to see the Willow Warbler flit over the bridge and onto a nearby tree.

Yellow Wagtail (Blue-headed) Motacilla flava iberiae
The Mirador de la Canterranas produced a gorgeous male Marsh Harrier having seen a few Corn Buntings on the approach road and a closer view of the distant Flamingo breeding colony.  On round the loop and back to the village where I stopped for lunch passing a quick sighting of my only Litttle Egret of the day.  Following lunch I returned the way I had just arrived and recorded House Sparrows, Chaffinch and Linnet before coming across the Buzzard resting on top of a pylon near the level crossing then more Corn Buntings.  Both Great Tit and Serins were seen before taking the main road towards Campillos and finding a Southern Grey Shrike on the wires as I approached.

Laguna Dulce seemed back to normal with hundreds of Coots on and at the side of the water making it seem difficult to find anything else.  There were a good number of Flamingos on the far side and then I found the ducks; on this occasion nearly all were Gadwall save a few Mallards.  I also found a pair of Great Crested Grebes and all the gull s were Black-headed Gulls and the same applied to the Gull-billed Terns.  Just a handful of Moorhens but plenty of House Sparrows.  I had seen a distant Marsh Harrier but the a second individual relatively close with its lovely golden head came to rest nearby.  As if this were not good enough, my second special treat of the day as a magnificent male Montagu's Harrier drifted over the water from right to left.  As I left I had more Goldfinches and calling Cetti's Warblers and then another handful of Collared Doves as I approached Campillos itself.

Three Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus including a distant male in middle shot

From here it was the mountain road over to Los Corales and my overnight stop.  First a Hoopoe, then yet more Corn Buntings and finally a Blackbird, my first and only of the day, as I approached the village.  However, before checking in  I made a quick trip over to the nearby Laguna Gosque at Martin de la Jara.  Very overgrown compared with my previous visit but there was a small mixed party of finches in the tree in front as I parked including Greenfinches, Serins, Goldfinches and Spanish Sparrows.  I even had a couple of Stonechats as I drove down the track and a Wood Pigeon was active away in the olives to my left.  On the water itself, having to try and scope through the dry rushes that were partly obscuring my view, were more Flamingos, a handful of Gull-billed Terns, Black-winged Stilts and a pair of Mallards.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
A very pleasing tally of 63 species and now quite tired and ready for bed!

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Wednesday 22 April

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great to be back home and my first birding outing for the month was at the Rio Velez, Torre del Mar with the Axarquia Bird Group's monthly meet.  Lovely weather with the promise of mainly cloud by mid-morning when, in reality, it simply got warmer and warmer with glorious sunshine.  Great to see old friends again from far and wide even of the birds were in somewhat short supply albeit we eventually topped the thirty-five mark at the meet itself before dispensing and almost 60 in total.

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

John and Jenny Wainwright managed to encounter several Bee-eaters, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons, Corn Buntings and House Sparrows, I had to be satisfied with Thekla Larks, Chaffinches and Collared Doves.  Then, further of with their journey, they even ,managed to turn up a quartet of Lesser Kestrels, Calandra Larks, Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds.

Blackbird Turdus merula

No sooner had we nine members gathered at the start of the track near the N340 road bridge than, never mind the resident Rock Doves, we had Nightingales singing here, there and everywhere along with Goldfinches and Serins.  A handful of (iberian) Yellow Wagtails flew over followed by the first of regular sightings of Zitting Cisticolas and the calling Cetti's Warblers and Blackcaps. Strange how one visit produces no Blackbirds and another, like this morning, seemed to have a passing Blackbird at every step of the journey.  Overhead we had numerous Common Swifts with a small number of Barn Swallows, the occasional House Martin and even a Red-rumped Swallow.

Nightingale Luscinia Comun (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Working our way to the hide a rapidly departing Green Sandpiper was a pleasant change of species and even a couple of Reed Warblers. A male Mallard flew overhead and a lone Woodchat Shrike was found resting on the nearby canes whilst, on reaching the hide, we were able to find another Mallard along with both Grey and Purple Heron.  Also recorded were both Coot and Moorhen and from the beach, looking up the river, a few Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls and, on the far bank, a single Little Ringed Plover which was later joined by a pair of Common Sandpiper.  Meanwhile, a Sanderling circled above us trying to decide where to land and then thought better of it and flew off east.  House Sparrows were in good number and even a single Cattle Egret flew over.  John even managed, just in time, to get a glimpse of the distant Raven disappearing beyond the headland north of the N340.

Working our way back to the start point we had a trio of Crested Larks and a very close Monk Parakeet feeding on thistle heads whilst perched in a tree but, perhaps, even better was the single Common Waxbill found by John amongst the "gang" of Serins and Goldfinches (and there were many juveniles on the wing),  Similarly, a lone Night Heron disappearing upstream was also a pleasant bonus.  Again, no shortage of Spotless Starlings and another Woodchat Shrike.

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

A short walk upstream beyond the bridges produced little new although on our return Susana managed to see our only Hoopoe of the morning.  However, in addition to more Blackcaps, Barn Swallows, Nightingales, Serins and House Sparrows John also managed to hear the calling Quail in the field adjacent to the chimney factory - trying to actually see the bird was an altogether different matter!
Serin Serinus serinus

And that was just about it as we bade our fond farewells.  Whilst a number of us retired to the new home in Mezquitilla, John and Jenny made their way up to Ventas de Zafarraya on their way back to Salar.  here follows John's description of birds seen on this final part of their journey:

Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestria (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Back at the cars we parted company with the group and headed for the old railway line at Zafarraya, where parking up at the tunnel, we found Crag Martin, male and female Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Blue and Great Tit, a male Black Redstart and of course the resident flock of Chough. As we progressed along the track we noted Sardinian Warblers, Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Blackbirds, Bee-eaters, another male Blue Rock Thrush and then from the bushes a Melodious Warbler started singing, he flew  back and forwards from there to the tree were were parked under, then another was heard and as I walked on up the tracked two more males were heard.

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
(PHOTO: John Wainwright)

On our return journey to Salar we saw more Bee-eaters, Mistle Thrushes, a Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie and Crested Larks. And as we approached the village a Raven was disturbed feeding on road-kill and a Short-toed Eagle took off from a pylon on our left, to finish the trip a pair of Common Magpies were logged.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Quail, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Moorhen, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sand martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Melodious Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Rock Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Old Zafarraya Road beyond the "Magpie Woods"

Tuesday 21 April

Once John and jenny are off birding you can usually guarantee that there will be a rapid follow-up and today was no exception.  Weather nor perfect for sunbathing bur seemed fine for birding and yet more Hawfinches seen.

Old Zafarraya road  Tuesday 21 April

A day of sunshine then cloud and back again, quite a cold breeze about also.

As we headed out of Salar a Bee-eater and two Hoopoes were seen as well as Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings. Turning off at km16 down the old road we saw Calandra and Crested Larks, Serins, House Sparrows, Corn Buntings and Common Kestrel.

Hawfinch (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
We turned off in the direction of Sierra Loja and spotted Common Magpies, Thekla Lark and Common Cuckoo. Down at the ford we noted Greenfinches, Sardinian Warbler, more Goldfinches and Corn Buntings and searching around found a Megarian Banded Centipede_Scolopendra cingulatus.  Moving on to the farm I stopped abruptly hearing a Quail, so we spent a few minutes while it repeated itself for Jenny who hadn´t heard it at first.  We then heard another at the other end of the meadow.

Megarian Banded Centipede_Scolopendra cingulatus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Up to the almond groves and three Hawfinches were seen as they flew across our front into another almond grove.  We did get some good views, but too quick for really sharp photos.  Another Sardinian Warbler was seen as we moved up the mountain and six Chough came from over the ridge as did two Jackdaws a tad later which where seen mobbing a Short-toed Eagle, which had just come off a rocky outcrop.  Then a couple of Stonechats and four Red-legged Partridges, followed a little later by two Black-eared Wheatears. 

Distant Short-toed Eagle (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we dropped down the mountain a Little Owl was noted as were two Blackbirds and a Southern Grey Shrike, and, as we started back to Salar, a Booted Eagle was seen fairly high up.  Just along by kilometre marker 24 five Lesser Kestrels were seen hunting over the fields and as we drew nigh to Salar a single Bee-eater was seen.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Arroyo de Marin with John and Jenny

Tuesday 21 April

Great to be back home again and some good birding in the offing.  What more could I ask for than to receive another report from John and Jenny to keep me up to date with what's about and where.

Arroyo del Marin  20 April

A beautiful Spring day with a few breezes.

Another grand day so we decided to go on a search for Hawfinches at the local beauty spot called Arroyo del Marin, this is a very well known spot for them and Nightingales. 

As we stopped to unload our binos and cameras, Nightingales were singing as was a Sardinian and Cetti´s Warbler.  Lots of Goldfinches about as well as Spotless Starlings and a few Collared Doves.  We drove down to our usual parking area we noted Serins, Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens and as we parked up a Common Cuckoo was 

Male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Walking the back path and upstream we found Nuthatch, Blue and Great Tits and Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Lots of butterflies about especially Large Whites, Clouded Yellows, Provence Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Cleopatras and Spanish Festoon. Getting back to our avian species we saw more Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens and  a couple of Greenfinches.

Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Returning to the car I looked down and saw an adult Ladder Snake just over a metre long; it stayed long enough for us to get some great photos. Then wandering downstream we found Hawfinches, Chough, Bee-eaters, a Rock Bunting, Stonechats, Sparrowhawk,Chaffinches and a Short-toed Treecreeper.  As I walked back to the car I could hear a Wryneck calling and finally found him on top of the old skeletal tree just past the ruin.

The metre-long Ladder Snake Rhinechis scalaris (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Again back at the car I could hear a Blue Rock Thrush singing and found him on the upstream track on top of a rock face.  The Common Cuckoo was flying along the ridge above and to the left of the former, and while I looked again at the Blue Rock Thrush, two Hawfinches flew through my line of vision and above me.  I just managed a very quick snap (hence the quality) of a female Pied Flycatcher.

Moving down to the ford we located another three Hawfinches, a Yellow Wagtail (iberiae), Nightingales, Long-tailed, Great and Coal Tit, Wren, Serins, Red-legged Partridges, Nuthatch and Chaffinches.  The Wryneck was calling quite regularly now, but no more sightings. Then two Spanish Ibex were noted and only two slender stalks of the Man Orchid Aceras anthropophorum remained from the river flood clearance.

Man Orchid Aceras anthropophorum (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Great report John and lots of exciting birds to look forward to when I next visit this site.  Good to read that the Nightingales and Pied Flycatchers are back along with, possibly, over-wintering Wrynecks but, as yet, presumably no sign of a golden Oriole.  And what about all those Hawfinches!

Distant record shot of Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Rutland Water

Saturday 18 April

Ospreys Pandion haliaetus back on their nest in Manton Bay
Another beautiful start to the day with clear blue skies and lovely sunshine, albeit a cool breeze if you were out of the sun.  With cases to be packed this afternoon, and watch the F1 "Pole" race, in readiness for a very early start to the airport in the morning, just time for a fond farewell to Rutland Water so off to the reserve by 8.30 for a couple of hours.  Crows, Wood Pigeons and a gorgeous Red Kite as I approached the Water and then straight to the road bridge at Manton Bay to check out the Osprey nest.  Both adults were present, even if the light was against me, and on reaching the Visitors Centre I read the notice that there were now 19 individuals in residence and that the Manton Bay pair, as below, had already produced two eggs.  I knew that the reservoir was just about full but I was very surprised to see how deep the water was here where, under normal circumstances, there is always a little exposed banking and mud to attract waders.  Not today, just deep water which produced Mute Swans, Tufted Duck and Shelduck along with a couple of Teal and a Moorhen on the pool on the other side of the road.

As ever, numerous Jackdaws Corvus monedula all over the area
Back to the Visitors Centre where I was greeted by the resident Jackdaws and the ever-increasing Rooks from the adjacent rookery along with a solitary Collared Dove.  Very little at the feeding station but I did pick up both Great and Blue Tit along with a trio of Mallards and a couple of Chaffinches.  The occasional Blackbird flitted about and then a short walk down to the Mallard Hide produced a Marsh Tit.  On the water a good number of both Canada and Greylag Geese along with Mallards and Teals plus Coot, Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls.  Before returning I also managed to find a few Lapwing.

Even a Rook Corvus frugilegus managed to present itself in a relatively clear view
Walking back through the woods I could hear both Pheasant and Great Spotted Woodpecker calling/drumming respectively and then I made my way a little to other side of the Visitors Centre where I found both Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff.  Still very many Jackdaws and regular Blackbird sightings and my visit to just the one hide produced a Great Crested Grebe.

Was the Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita ringed this year or last?

Time to go home and a final revisit to the feeding station manage to add both Greenfinch and Dunnock.  As I drove back towards Stamford I pondered on the thought that I had NOT seen a Robin, Magpie, Starling or House Sparrow all morning!

Just the one Dunnock Prunella modularis this morning.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Osprey, Red Kite, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Backbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, Chaffinch, Greenfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.