Friday, 25 March 2016

Zapata, Malaga and the Rio Grande

24 March 2016

A dark, early start at 6.30 when picked up by Steve and Elena Powell so that we could meet up with Barbara and Derek Etherton for a morning visit to Zapata and, after a very tasty breakfast, on to the Rio Grande, despite the pubic holiday bringing out the picnickers to enjoy the morning sunshine at the latter.  If you add on the steep climb up a mountain side a few kilometres away to see the female Bonelli's Eagle sitting on her new nest along with both Blue Rock Thrush and a Jay followed by a small party of Long-tailed Tits as we walked down through the trees.  By the by the time we returned to the eastern Axarquia at about 2pm we had recorded a very encouraging 51 species.

Very distant Blue Rock Thrush Turdus solitarius

Arriving at Zapata we immediately had House Martins and Cattle Egrets and parking mid-stream watched a Little Ringed Plover happily working away at trying to break up a small worm before digesting along with both Common and Green Sandpipers.  Both Little Egret and Grey Heron along with Cormorants in the river itself with Yellow-legged Gulls overhead.  Having driven on across the weir we quickly added Sardinian Warbler before re-crossing the river to park up and explore the immediate area where we also picked up Goldfinch, Serin and Chiffchaff.  By now we also had Mallard, Gadwall, Moorhen and Coot on the water and a couple of Night Herons made their departure.

Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius
Moving in to stop at "Short-toed lark Corner" we added Robin, Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticola.  No Short-toed larks this morning but we did have a late Bluethroat.  The walk to the end of the track and back duly produced both Spotless Starling and many Collared Doves along with House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Greenfinches and Corn Bunting.  No sooner had we stopped to admire a Buzzard feeding on the ground in the far corner of a meadow on the other side of the arroyo than the resting Peregrine Falcon was pointed out by Derek.  Again, no shortage of Blackbirds and the occasional Cetti's Warbler.

Returning to the cars we had a Common Kestrel and Red-rumped Swallows overhead and then a Woodchat Shrike on the fence next to the car.  However, as we left the site Elena picked up the strange bird on a bush n the opposite side that looked like an overgrown Woodchat Shrike as I looked at all the ginger colouring whereas Elena had a better view of the larger shape, pale colouring and barring and we able to easily confirm the first Great Spotted Cuckoo of our summer.

Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Hinantopus himantopus
A short drive to the golf course produced both a White Wagtail and amongst the Goldfinches and Serins drinking in a puddle immediately in front of the car on the track, a rather lovely male Siskin.

Male Blackcap Curruca Capirotada Sylvia atricapilla
The Rio Grande with flowing clean water and lots of bright green plants along its edges looked like a mini paradise in the morning sunshine; it really was beautiful and a pleasure to see.  The public having driven upstream the birds had moved down so we were very quickly looking at many Back-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers.  An odd Green Sandpiper and then the first Greenshank only to be surpassed when we found a Wood Sandpiper.  A very large looking Snipe sat opposite us and a male Blackcap was moving around close to the car.  Also on the river itself a small number of Mallard.  A Jay crossed in front of us and above a large mix of House Martins and Common Swifts along with a passing Short-toed Eagle before a handful of Monk Parakeets put in a brief appearance.

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios Bastardo Tringa glareola
Many thanks to Derek and Barbara for reminding me about these two delightful sites and also introducing them to Steve and Elena.


Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Corn Bunting.


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

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