Sunday, 18 September 2016

Rio Guadalhorce, Malaga

Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis
Saturday 17 September

The second field visit this September for the Andalucia Bird Group and, on this occasion, nineteen members in attendance led by local professional bird guide, Luis Alberto Rodrigues.  However, before the meet proper eight of the above including Luis Alberto and myself were up in the middle of the night to be at Zapata, on the Guadalhorce just above the airport, in the dark at 7 am to see the nocturnal specialist, the Red-necked Nighjar and a total of five recorded along with an early-rising Crested Lark.  Then, as the light improved, we had a quartet of Night Herons fly over followed by many arriving Little Egrets and, after them, the scores of Cattle Egrets moving away from their overnight roost.  Naturally there was the odd Grey Heron and we even had a pair of Mallard then early feeders on the river's edge including Green and Common Sandpiper along with Little Ringed Plovers and a single Grey Wagtail.

Other early birds included Blackbird and Sardinian Warbler along with both Coot and Moorhen on the water.  Overhead, good numbers of Red-rumped Swallows, Spotless Starlings and a small passage of Common Swifts.  A handful of Jackdaws passed by and a single Kestrel managed to disturb the local Rock Doves under the motorway bridge.  Nevermind the calling Cetti's Warblers, the few Yellow-legged Gulls or even the lovely sight of a quartering female marsh harrier, it was the male Little Bittern in the reeds below that was probably the star bird of the post-Red-necked Nightjar experience.

Leaving the river bank and a few newly-arrived House martins, we made our way through the site to take breakfast in San Julian before gathering together for the main meet.  On the way we added more Serin, Stonechat, House Sparrows, Collared Dove and Common Waxbill.  Near the underpass a large flock of Red-rumped Swallows was gathered on the fence but closer inspection also revealed both a Barn Swallow and a single Sand Martin.  Stopping at Derek's favourite "Short-toed Lark corner" we duly recorded a couple of the species along with what could only be described as a croaking Purple Swamphen before also adding Chiffchaff and Greenfinch.  A couple of Hoopoes moved across the neighbouring field to complete this first part of the day.

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios Bastardo Tringa glareola

Walking up to the western canal of the Guadalhorce between here and the footbridge into the reserve five birds record of which only the Grey Heron had previously been seen this morning.  Distant views of a couple of Cormorants on the Laguna Grande, overflying and screeching Monk Parakeets, a very secretive Turtle Dove and, best of all, a hunting Sparrowhawk.  Once over the bridge we soon added a Melodious Warbler and at the Laguna Casillas added both Little and Cattle Egret along with a number of Little Grebes, a pair of White-headed Ducks, a female Common Pochard, Moorhen and Coot.  No shortage of Spotless Starlings moving about and we did eventually locate the "local" Kingfisher.

Hiding Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

On to the Wader Pool where we soon found the main party of Black-winged Stilts along with a small number of Little Ringed Plovers.  A couple of restless juvenile Flamingos were on the move and we were to find the main handful when we reached the old river and, in turn, they even turned up on the Laguna Grande at the end of our visit.  Once settle in at the hide we had time to watch and observe the newly-arrived Greenshank which was quickly followed by a Wood Sandpiper.  Immediately in front both Cetti's and Reed Warblers but then the added bonus of a pair of Sedge Warbler and a single Bluethroat.  Larger birds here included both Mallard and a couple of Teal with a Chiffchaff in the fringes and a passing Blackbird.  But before moving on we also saw the arrival of a Ringed Plover and feeding alongside his smaller cousins gave an ideal opportunity to compare Greater with Little Ringed Plover.

Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus
The Rio Viejo (Old River) seemed very busy with good-sized flocks of Gulls, mainly Yellow-legged and Black-headed but we did also locate both Lesser Black-backed and Mediterranean.  In addition to the Little Ringed Plovers we managed to find a couple of Kentish Plover, Dunlin and a quintet of Bar-tailed Godwits.  Whilst watching the Flamingos we also became aware of the "stranger" as a Ruff mover through the gulls in front of us and we also locate a female (Reeve). Walking further along the track we also managed to locate Greenfinch and Goldfinch plus a couple of Black Redstarts on the eastern side of the track.  Indeed, it was here that a male Northern Wheatear presented itself and remained long enough to get the scope focused on the bird.  In the sky Common Swifts, many Red-rumped Swallows, a Barn Swallow and both House and Sand Martins whilst, on the bend in in the river, we also noted the juvenile and eclipse-plumaged Shelduck.

Bar-tailed Godwit Aguja Colipinta Limosa lapponica
Little to add at the Laguna Escondida apart from the visiting Kingfisher so on to complete the circuit at the Laguna Grande.  As expected, Cormorant numbers are beginning to pick up along with a number of both Grey Herons and Little Egrets - but also a handful of Cattle Egrets.  In addition to more Little Ringed Plovers a Common Sandpiper was added to the list along with two Avocets. Finally, as we made our way back to the footbridge, we added our last bird of the day, a rather lovely Zitting Cisticola.   Considering that others also saw Shoveler and Tree Pipit (at least) then the total for the morning, including the Zapata visit, reached a rather rewarding total of a minimum 69 species.  Not bad for a mixture of darkness and very hot weather!

And then the Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis suddenly arrived

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Red-necked Nightjar, Common Swift, Kingfisher, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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