Saturday 28 May 2016

More Photos from Charca de Suarez Visit

Thursday 26 May

A few more photos from the Axarquia Bird Group visit to Charca de Suarez and then on up to the picnic area at Velez de Benaudalla.  No end of Spotted Flycatchers to be seen and the Dipper parents put in an awful lot of activity as they flew downstream and back to collect food for their growing family and so give all eleven of us present some magnificent sightings.  Just a shame that when ether parent did pause for breath on the sticks below the nest site it was in shadow and, looking at the resulting photographs, none of us seemed to have got the exposure anywhere near correct.  But the main thing was that we watched and observed the birds and their whirring activity so giving much pleasure and memories that will remain in the mind for many months to come.

Spotted Flcatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

European Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur

The ever-captivating Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun  pPorphyrio porphyrio
The dancing White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba

Is this the same or both parent Dippers Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus?

Lovely to see a good number of Monarch Danaus plexippus butterflies about the reserve but when they finally land they invariably have their wings closed.

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

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Charca de Suarez

Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus
Thursday 26 May

Lovely to see 18 members of the Axarquia Bird Group at this month's private visit to the Charca de Suarez reserve on the western outskirts of Motril, our last filed visit before the summer recess.  No doubt, however, most members will continue their birding on every available opportunity so I look forward to some interesting reports which can be published on this site.  Great weather, lovely company  and some interesting birds including, for most if not all, a first hearing and/or sighting of a Golden Oriole.

As ever I am grateful to John wainwright who always sends me a report of his birding activities with the lovely Jenny even if, as on this occasion, I am actually there myself.  Rather than start a new report, I have based the finished article on John's original and just added where I think a comment might be needed.  Thanks John and also to Jenny for sending in some accompanying photos.

Arriving with Bryan Stapley at the same time as Derek Etherton and his four passengers along with David and Ann Jefferson, I was surprised to see Malcolm Austin cross the road and disappear into the reserve. Obviously, the gate had already been unlocked and some members were taking advantage of their early arrival.  Lovely to see that friend Arthur Oliver (Olly) had travelled all the way down from Roquetas de Mar and, as might be expected, John and Jenny Wainwright had already checked out the nearby beach before entering the reserve.  Add on Gerry Collins and new member Gerry Bennett along with Pat and Eric Lyon and were ready to spend the whole morning exploring the this lovely site before our expected departure at 1pm.

John and Jenny arrived at the reserve rather earlier than required, so they ventured down to the beach area hoping to get a few day ticks from the sea, but alas nothing was moving seawards, although they did get four Little Ringed Plovers in the small scrape midway along the boardwalk, plus a Crested Lark, Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, House Martins and lots of Common Swifts.  As they headed back for the reserve they picked up House Sparrows, a Chaffinch, Serins, a singing Blackcap and two Blackbirds.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We (John and Jenny) were joined at the gate by Ollie (nice to see him again), then the reserve gateman came up and offered us entrance to the site, which Jenny and I took while Ollie waited for the rest of the group.

As we walked down to the first hide (Laguna del Alamo Blanco), we saw Reed Warbler, Great Tit, Zitting Cisticola and a Sardinian Warbler and getting ensconced in the hide we saw Cetti´s and Reed Warblers, Blackbirds and a couple of Linnets flew over.  On the big pile of dead reeds a pair of Little Ringed Plovers were noted  and to their left three Black-winged Stilts were feeding although one of the latter took exception to the presence of the former and made them fly off, but they just did a circuit and re-alighted in their previous position.  A group of Bee-eaters flew over as did a Little Egret, while in the back stretch of water two Grey Herons were noted.  Three Mallards were feeding behind the Little Ringed Plovers as was a Moorhen and in the reeds above them several Spanish Sparrows were spotted along with a few Greenfinches.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio

Meanwhile, a few of us made the Laguna del Taraje our first stop in the hope that we might see the resident, presumably breeding, Little Bitterns.  Approaching the hide we watched a Hoopoe working ts way down the track but all appeared quiet at first with just a few Common Coots and the odd Mallard but then a couple of Little Grebes and three chicks paddled into view.  Whilst trying to photograph the first of very many Spotted Flycatchers that we were to see all over the reserve, the Little Bittern flashed down the water and disappeared into the reeds quicker than it had arrived.  Similarly, a very brief glimpse of a nearby Purple Swamphen then a second came out to feed giving longer and better views.  Mainly House Martins overhead but all around us the continuous song of Reed Warblers, which were also seen, and Nightingales along with a very vocal Blackcap.
Little Grebe Zampullin Comun Tachybaptus ruficollis chicks chasing after Mum

Then it was on to the new hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where we met most of the other members and discovered what had already been seen and managed to add a Common Sandpiper.  And so onto the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas.  Had we take the longer route a little earlier we would have heard the Golden Oriole that was calling and heard by a group of members and Pat and Eric Lyon actually managed to get a brief sighting.
Recently fledged Reed Warbler Carricero Comun Acrocephalis scirpaceus?

Making our way round to the main hide we saw lots of Spotted Flycatchers, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit, a Golden Oriole was heard as were Blackcaps.  Good views of the Great Reed Warbler were had by several of the other members as we met them on the track.  At the hide, three Red-knobbed Coots were seen (one of them uncollared).  Lots of Mallard here, but only the one Common Pochard seen, as well as Little Grebe, Common Coots and Moorhens, while in the bushes about here we saw Blackcaps, Nightingales and more Spotted Flycatchers. Moving on to the Laguna del Trebol we logged  a Turtle Dove and a few Goldfinches that were perched in the bare tree by the hide, while from the hide we saw White Wagtail, Little Grebe, House Sparrows, a Sardinain Warbler and another Red-knobbed Coot.  Very few gulls seen today with no more than a handful of Yellow-legged Gulls.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Very little at the Laguna del Lirio but we did see a Purple Swamphen, albeit perched halfway up a reed bed and only partially visible, except when it moved its head,  More Red-knobbed Coot chicks in a nest, plus a very, very young one with its mother at the far end of the water.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba with, it would seem, a large family to feed

So around to the Laguna del Taraje (some of us for the second time), where a Spotted Flycatcher gave everyone present some good photo opportunities.  We also added a Purple Swamphen, Little Grebe and, just as we were about to leave the hide, two Night Herons and a Little Bittern flew in but landed out of sight in the reeds.  Just time for  a final visit to the new hide overlooking the bottom of this water and then back for a final visit to the Laguna del Blanco.  All the previous birds were still on show, there were now four Black-winged Stilts, but Jerry Laycock noticed the movement in the nearby reeds to the right as a small party of Black-rumped Waxbills flew in and disappeared down the stems but occasionally still giving a brief view.  Whilst here, Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Micky Smith told us about the the family of Penduline Tits that they had recorded in the reed on their first visit to this hide.

Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Time was against us here so eleven of us moved on to "Turtle Dove Alley" where the first major sighting was of a Little Owl atop a ruin ad a second flew out of the tree opposite and landed in a tree across the meadow where it was joined by the other Little Owl. While we were here we heard at least three Quail calling, then some waxbills  and apparently these are not the Common Waxbill (with blackish/brown vent) but Black-rumped Waxbill (rump not vent), as we have been informed by the Spanish birders at the reserve.  Also about here we saw White Wagtails, Cetti´s, Reed and Sardinian Warblers.  Also noted were Jackdaws, a Common Kestrel, Blackcaps, Goldfinches and House Sparrows.  More Bee-eaters were heard but not located.

Then it was a fairly long drive down to the picnic site at Velez de Benaudalla where we hoped to find (and succeeded) the breeding Dipper.  After parking up and having a look around we heard a Golden Oriole calling, this was followed by a very quick sighting, although I believe others were located and seen later.  As we moved down to the look for the Dipper it flew off downsteam, it had been bathing in the shallows  un-noticed by us, Regardless of this it was seen ample times during our stay here.  In fact both of the adults were noted and one bird even posed on the floating canes for its photo to be taken.  Other birds here were Grey and White Wagtails, Chaffinches, Blackcaps, Nightingales, House SparrowsBlackbirds, Melodious Warbler and Long-tailed Tits.whilst all around there was a constant supply of Spotted Flycatchers.

Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

As John said, a very successful day and it produced 50 species.
For the Lepidoptera enthusiasts among us there were really wonderful views of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), plus Large White (Pieris brassicae), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias hyale).

Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dipper, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Black-rumped Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Rufous Bushchat to order!

Avocet Avoceta Comun Recurvirostra avosetta
Wednesday 25 May

Having been confined to quarters whilst painters redecorated the exterior of the house since first thing Monday morning, I almost followed off the premises when work was completed just after 10.30 in order to get out once more into the glorious sunshine.  With so little time left before I depart back to the UK for a lengthy stay i was determined to see if I could find the pair of Rufous Bushchats that had moved to the other side of the village near Fuente de Piedra.  Food and drink with me (just as well given the fifteen minute delay due to roadworks on the motorway) I was expecting to settle down, be patient and wait for one of the birds to expose itself having been informed that the wires wee a favourite perch.

Working my way through the village I had Collared Doves and Barn Swallows plus many House Sparrows and then found a shady spot opposite, what I hoped, was the designated vineyard. Window down, bins and camera to the ready and I took a first look across the road.  House Sparrow on the parallel wire to the road and then , I don't believe it, there on the wire stretching sat a very lovely Rufous Bushchat.  I'm not sure who was the more surprised!  I tried a shot at a very awkward angle through the window and knew i would have to either move the car or try and slip out of the door. This bird was not stupid and knew exactly what I was trying to do so made a hasty exit left and down to disappear out of sight into the well-grown grapes.

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus with Common Pochard, Aythya ferina and Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Ant that, as they say, was my only sighting.  I tried moving up and down the road in the car, waited, searched and all to no avail.  On the other hand, it was not so much the odd Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows that put in an appearance but, first the Hoopoe that flew in front of me with food for the nest to be quickly followed by a ghostly white shape over the trees near the farm to my right; a most handsome male Montagu's Harrier.  Next up a Linnet on the wires and the final bird before departure the first Corn Bunting of the day.

Moving on to Fuente de Piedra itself I parked next to the flooded field on the approach road and was immediately rewarded by a small number of feeding Whiskered Terns.  Then many more Gull-billed Terns put in an appearance and all the while the Barn Swallows were feeding overhead.  On the water itself a number of Coots and Black-headed Gulls along with the Black-winged Stilts and delicate Avocets.  At the far end a mallard and a couple of Shelduck and I noticed many foraging Jackdaws.

Water below the boardwalk but rapidly disappearing and, again, just a few Avocets and Black-winged Stilts, so it was on up and round the Visitors Centre to the laguneta at the rear.  It was very obvious by the blinding white that the main laguna was just about dry with the salt reflecting the strong sun but, away to the far left, there was a little water which held as many as a couple of hundred or more Flamingos.  On the other hand, immediately below me, a damp area was being used as a roost by scores of Gull-billed Terns who seemed to take it in turn to go screaming away on an exploratory mission.

Amazing, given the lack of water on the main laguna, how much water was in the laguneta with the islands almost submerged.  Lots of Avocets to be seen along with Black-winged Stilts (presumably these birds have had a successful breeding season) and on the water a number of Little Grebes and even more Black-necked Grebes.  Relaxing on the shore immediately below the hide a single Lapwing surrounded by both Common and Red-crested Pochards and a quartet of Shelduck.  I finally found a wandering Moorhen and all around me the Nightingales were in full voice; beautiful. Working my way back to the car park below the  mirador I listened to numerous Reed Warblers singing away, took in the Little Ringed Plover from the boardwalk and then looked up in time to see a passing Black Kite.

Black Kite Milano Negro  Milvus migrans over the boardwalk
Rather than return straight home I took a very roundabout journey via the Cacin Valley area where I hope, just hoped, that I might find both the local Black-bellied Sandgrouse and the breeding Rollers. After my previous success I was to be doubly disappointed.  On the other hand, I had good views of a Woodchat Shrike and both Wood Pigeon and Crested Larks were to be seen.  A couple of Magpies flew over and as I set off for home I came across what looked very much like a not too recently-fledged Short-toed Lark.

Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator
A long old journey back to Mezquitilla but it started with a Blackbird and was followed by Cirl Bunting, Thekla Lark and House Martins as I drove through Ventas de Zafarraya.  Finally, as I drove under the old railway bridge and entered Malaga Province and the Axarquia, a Chough rose up from the road immediately in front of me just to remind me that I was now in "Chough Territory."

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Back Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Rufous Bushchat, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw,Spotless Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch,Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Shelduck Tarro Blanco  Tadorna tadorna

Red-crested Pochard Pato Colorado Netta rufina with Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

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

Monday 23 May 2016

El Torcal

Saturday 21 May

A beautiful clear and sunny day for the May filed meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society which, today, was centred on the amazing rocks and dips that make up the very popular spot known as "El Torcal de Antequera Nature Reserve" and the surrounding Sierra de la Chimenea.  An enthusiastic party of twenty-nine members, many as fascinated by the rock formations as the birds seen, albeit six hardy souls from the group, or were they simply insomniacs, also set off on a short pre-visit tour at 6 am to checkout for calling Eagle Owls (not seen or heard) and the dawn chorus.

Wonderful El Torcal with an Ibex "perched" on top
With such a large number, the group split into two to cover the same trail but walking in opposite directions to complete the circuit.  Not a large number of birds seen but certainly good quality.  And all the while we were searching the rocks and crevises, scattered bushes and grassy banks there was a constant stream of Griffon Vultures soaring across the cliff tops along with House Martins, Barn Swallows and Common Swifts.  Indeed, the only other raptor seen was a lone Common Kestrel.

Of the smaller birds, most saw the relatively close views of both Melodious and Subalpine Warbler whilst others heard but many also saw the Bonelli's Warbler.  Nighingales were seen near to the Visitors Centre along with Serin, GoldfinchBlue Tit and House Sparrow but, perhaps, the most common species during the circuit was the Black Redstart.  They were always popping up here, there and everywhere. Just the occasional Blue Rock Thrush and only a single Black Wheatear recorded but it was, nevertheless, lovely to find a small flock of Rock Sparrows and close-by both
Rock Buntings and a Spotted Flycatcher.  Also recorded in the area were BlackbirdGreatTit,and Wren. The icing on the cake, for my group, was probably the Cirl Bunting near the end of the circuit.

More amazing scenery - the rocks that is!
In addition to the birds, we must have seen at least a dozen Ibex, mainly females and kids,either sleeping, resting on the narrowest of ledges or simply looking down on we mere mortals.  Either way, it was difficult to choose between watching these amazing animals with their incredible sense of balance or simply admire the views and amazing rock shapes.

Ibex Cabra montesa Capra pyrenaica with kid hiding behind the rock
Moving on from El Torcal we dropped down the mountain to circumnavigate the sierra and back to Villanueve de la Comcepcion, stopping for a welcome picnic on the way where many picked up the calling Cetti's Warbler.

Obviously, not all the birds were of the feathered variety!
Two stops at the back of the El Torcal range where the first produced Red-rumped Swallows, StonechatCrested Lark, Sardinian Warbler and, best of the day, a pair of Honey Buzzards which were, presumably, resting rather than breeding, on their northern return from Africa.  Lovely clear views of a very pale individual as it soared immediately overhead an both picked out with scopes when they came to rest at the top of a peak; but all managed to have a good view.

Moving on to our second stop on a track over the range, we had first another Kestrel then a variety of smaller birds including many Corn Buntings and Stonechats along with a pair of Melodious Warblers, Blackcap, more Goldfinches and Crested Lark.  One member managed to eventually find a Spectacled Warbler to accompany the Black-eared Wheatear also discovered late in the afternoon.

And then it was back to Villanueva de la Concepcion to collect our respective cars where necessary before setting of for home.  A lovely day in super company and a final total of 35 species recorded plus the Jackdaws that I saw approaching the meeting point.  Not a large total but some absolutely wonderful and amazing scenery which was just as enjoyable.

Birds seen;
Honey Buzzard, Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Bonelli's Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Serin, Golfinch, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Friday 20 May 2016

Rivers and Mountains

Thursday 19 May 2016

Early morning Night Heron Martinete Comun Nycticorax nicticorax
Up very early to collect Chris bell, birding friend visiting from the UK, so that he could enjoy his final day in Spain in search of raptors.  Next it was to the "usual" breakfast haunt to meet up with Barbara and Derek Etherton, all into the one car, and off to Zapapta for a couple of hours before returning to feed the inner man - and lady.  The rest of the day was pent in glorious, very warm sunshine and clear skies as we took in the Rio Grande, the back fields between Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra before heading off towards Ardales where we enjoyed some magnificent scenery on the mountains above the lakes.  Finally back to the original "breakfast bar" before returning home like the tired little teddy bears who had been down in the woods or evening!  But not before ratcheting up almost 70 species for the day.  What a glorious time in splendid company.
Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus

Before Chris had got off his 7.15 train at Plaza Mayor I had recorded very early Blackbird, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and Sardinian Warbler and a soon as we all arrived at the Guadalhorce in Zapata we were inundated with calling Nightingales and Cetti's Warblers.  The odd Crested Lark on the tracks along with the first of very many Goldfinches and, not so many, Serins.  Obviously there had to be the odd Collared Dove about but approaching the ford we enjoyed the sight of an adult male Night Heron whilst his Grey Heron cousin took to the air.  No shortage of Little Ringed Plovers here or, indeed, all over the site, but pride of place went not to the pair of nearby Black-winged Stilts but the two Little Bitterns that took off upstream and were later followed by another, female, happily resting in the thickness of a small tree at the far end of the site.

Other birds picked up at the site included a small number of Common Waxbill, lots of Zitting Cisticola, just the single Little and Cattle Egrets along with an Iberian sub-species of Wagtail. Overhead mainly Barn and Red-rumped Swallows but later on the Common Swifts did put in a welcome appearance.  A single Turtle Dove was very welcome but perhaps not so the handful of screaming Monk Parakeets.  Eventually the Reed Warblers began to sing and call but the single Short-toed Lark was very secretive and difficult to spot.  Not unusual to find a pair of Mallard making the most of a large puddle left over from last week's heavy rains and then the arrival of both Bee-eaters and a good number of both Linnets and Greenfinches along with a Great Tit.  Not to be left out we must mention the good number of Sardinian Warblers seen along with the first Jackdaws of the day.

Bee-eater Abejaruco Europea Merops apiaster through the car window

Moving on to the Rio Grande after a very brief stop to check out the local Bonelli's Eagle nest (have chicks now fully developed?) one of the adults was sen high above the rock face with more Jackdaws lower down on the grassy edges.  On arrival at the river there were good numbers of Black-winged Stilts and a handful of Little Egrets.  A single Cattle Egret flew over and nearby we had both Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Serins and Linnets to accompany the singing Blackcap. Chris managed to find the Great Reed Warbler and then it was up to the bridge to be rewarded with the sight of a couple of Golden Orioles.  A distant Corn Bunting was seen on the wires and below us both White and a juvenile Grey Wagtail plus Moorhen.  "Hooked beaks" made themselves know with both Common and Lesser Kestrels and a single Woodchat Shrike.

Lovely to drive through fields of beautiful red poppies
Moving across to Campillos we stopped at the cliff face mirador near the Teba turn and picked up Blue Rock Thrush along with an adult Peregrine Falon and one of its juveniles perched at the nest entrance.  Overhead, a handful of Honey Buzzards continued with their migratory journey whilst both Choughs and Crag Martins skimmed along the cliff face.  Moving on, the "lump" on the pylon eventually took off to confirm a Common Buzzard.

Young Peregrine Falcon Halcon peregrino Falco peregrinus at cave entrance way up on the distant cliff face
From Campillos we took a circular route along a couple of tracks through the arable fields and olive groves where we had wonderful views of both male and female Montagu's Harriers along with a very close Booted Eagle.  Near the ruined farm we managed a handful of Black Kites along with a single Little Owl accompanied by a number of JackdawsSpotless Starlings and a single Red-legged Partridge.  As we made our way back another male Montagu's Harrier along with our only Raven of the day.In addition to the more "common" Crested Larks, this area also produced a number of Calandra Larks and also a family of Hoopoes.

Much closer and this Booted Eagle Aguililla Calzada Hieraaetus pennatus would have been  in through the roof light!
And so, finally, to the sierras above the lakes near Ardales where we duly found a number of Griffon Vultures along with many Choughs and House Martins.  Lovely to be able also to find some of the local Alpine Swifts whilst lower down we had both Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheatear.  No shortage of Corn Buntings here and Derek managed to see the only Rock Bunting whist we other three had to walk a short stretch of the bad track.  Looking down at the lake below we were able to pick out a familiar Little Grebe and, as we descended, another Woodchat Shrike and Blue Rock Thrush.

One of very many Corn Buntings Triguero Emberiza calandra
Finally, it was whilst we enjoyed a refreshing drink before setting off towards home that we watched not just the local Chaffinches in the pine trees but also a couple of Nuthatch.  Lovely way to end a marvellous day - and still the sun shone on.

Distant view of male Montagu's Harier AguiluchoCenizo Circus pygargus quartering the corn field

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Little Owl, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Chough, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

A rather subdued Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius

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

Monday 9 May 2016

John and Jenny at Fuente de Piedra

Monday 9 May

Another very wet start to the day albeit the rain has now ceased - for the moment.  What better way to cheer yourself up then than read the report from John and Jenny Wainwright following their visit to Fuente de Piedra on Saturday and, yes, those lovely terns were still about.  Much more of this rain and, hopefully, we shall once again has decent water levels on the main laguna and, maybe, even some water at the nearby Laguna Dulce; we can but hope.

Saturday 7 May:  Laguna Fuente de Piedra

An overcast and misty day, with showery intervals.

As we drove into the reserve we could see Avocets, Greater Flamingos and Black-winged Stilts, with a few ducks and waders in the background.  So after parking and setting up my scope we walked down and found a Redshank, lots of Curlew Sandpipers, Gadwalls, Mallard and three Jackdaws.  While in the surrounding reeds and bushes we saw Nightingales, Zitting Cisticola, Corn Buntings, Goldfinches and a Hoopoe.  Just then a White-winged Tern came into view then a Black Tern.  We managed to get a few photos before a gas-gun report put everything to flight.

White-winged Tern Childonias leucopterus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Moving across to the boardwalk area we saw more Curlew Sandpipers, Pochard, two Ringed Plovers and two Little Ringed Plovers, several Linnets and in the reed bed a Reed Warbler started singing and a Snipe took flight.  It started spitting with rain so we hurried along to the open hide, we could hear the Great Reed Warbler before we even got to the hide and we settled down the bird was seen moving about in the reed bed to our immediate front, it then flew over to the reeds to our right giving us good views as it sang from the reed heads.  Also about here were Little Grebe, Moorhens and Coots.  Lots of terns passing over mostly Gulled-billed with a couple of Whiskered and three Black-headed Gulls.

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

The shower had stopped so we walked across to the Lagunetta hide where the first thing spotted were two Squacco Herons, perched in a small bed of reeds to the right of an island.  We also logged Red-crested (at least forty of these birds here today) and Common Pochard, Shovelers, Mallard, a single White-headed Duck and some Gadwall.  Black-winged Stilts were in good numbers and voice as they quarrelled amongst themselves, as were Avocets and Little Grebes, and on the foreshore a Common Sandpiper was located.

Distant White-winged Tern Childonias leucopterus over Flamingos, Avocets and Coot (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
A movement about fifty yards in front of the hide gave us a Great Spotted Cuckoo feeding in the grasses, much to the chagrin of a pair of Blackbirds who repeatedly harrassed it, but the bird never blinked an eyelid.  It flew up onto a small branch and watched the antics of the Blackbirds with disdain.  We had two Spanish photographers in the hide with us and when we pointed the cuckoo out to them we nearly got trampled in the rush, but I must admit they took some really beautiful photos of it.  In the bushes surrounding the hide we saw Nightingales, Sardinian and Cetti´s Warbler before another gas-gun explosion and all the birds again flew off, including the cuckoo.

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Leaving the hide we had a Night Heron pass over us and then at the mirador a male Montagu´s Harrier flew low across the laguna, putting to flight the Moorhens that were feeding there.  Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, House Martins and two Common Swifts were noted here, while on the laguna we saw Greater Flamingos, Black-headed Gulls, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, a few Redshanks and a couple of Dunlin.  It started spitting again so we headed back to the car.  As we reached it a Grey Heron flew over.  We noted that one of the terns had returned to the flood meadow so we walked down to try to get better photos of it.  We did get a couple more but the bird kept to the back half of the meadow.  We did however log a Wood Sandpiper here.

Linnet Carduelis cannabina feeding young (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

As the weather was getting no better we moved across to the Cantarras mirador, where there is still no water, but we did see Sardinian Warbler, Crested Larks, a Common Kestrel, Raven, Buzzard and Red-legged Partridge and as we drove off heading for home a Bee-eater and a Black Kite appeared, as did the sun.

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Lovely report John and so pleased to read that you could still find four tern species at the week-end (I wonder if Steve and Elena also saw all four?) and what about your Great Spotted Cuckoo!

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