Saturday, 22 October 2016

Bonanza, Cadiz province

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Saturday 15 October

A calm and warm start with clear skies as a group of 33 members of the Andalucia Bird Society set off to explore the birding hotspots around the Bonanza salinas, calling first at the two ponds in the village before visiting the main Salinas and then the lake and woods to the north.  No sooner had we arrived at the ponds and we were recording birds all over the place with the smaller pond producing the Kingfisher,  The main pond had Snipe, Little Grebe, Heron, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Moorhen and Coot in full view and quickly followed by the discovery of Purple Swamphen and a Little Bittern.  What a start!

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Then on to the ducks where we found both Mallard and White-headed with Ringed Plovers feeding on the shore behind them.  A Squacco Heron flew over at the back of the pond and then we managed to home in on a small flock of Waxbills.  The Green Sandpiper was lovely as was the Cetti’s Warbler but there, resting on the edge of a small island, was a female Pintail.  Over the water a constant, small supply of Barn Swallows and the occasional Sand Martin.

Female Pintail Anas acuta
Time to move on to the salinas and we were greeted by both a Robin and a Zitting Cisticola and quickly followed by a pair of Lesser Short-toed Larks.  With so many cars from the group heading to the main water on the right we ventured left towards the river where we duly recorded Crested Lark and numerous Stonechats along with a few Sardinian Warblers.  On the neighbouring pools were many Flamingo and then a couple of RuffHouse Sparrows and Common Sandpiper to the left and then the first of many Red Kite sightings.  Nothing we thought over the river itself and then a gorgeous Hobby drifted over and remained for quite a while – but the camera was in the car and by the time I had retrieved it, having enjoyed watching the raptor, the bird was fairly distant. Lovely.

Common Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Thinking the main group would now be moving on we travelled to the large water and passed a small number of Linnets and a resting Common Gull on the way.  On arrival we soon found all the Cormorants, a distant Black Stork and the feeding Caspian Terns.   Similarly, a couple of Great White Egrets were seen and a Sky Lark ascended above us.   Meanwhile, close to shore, a single Slender-billed Gull posed on a small rock for all to see and admire.  As we watched three large flocks of Dunlin moved across the water followed by a small a Spoonbill.  Even a quartet of Griffon Vultures.  Time to make our way out of the Salinas and as we drove we also picked up Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail and both Lesser and Common Kestrel.   Waders were mainly Common Redshank but we did also see Turnstone and Sanderling.

So on to the woods and a visit to the large lake at the end of the village of La AlgaidaCoots and Little Grebes on the water in front of us and to the left, on what we named “Duck Island” a large mixed flock of mainly Shoveler and many Mallards.  The same also on the water where we also noted a few Common Pochard.  Around the edges many Night Herons including juveniles and, immediately opposite, a juvenile seemed to be perched on top of a single Muscovey Duck!  Just the one Squacco Heron but more Grey Herons.  Add on Moorhens and a pair of Black-necked Grebes and we thought we had seen everything but then the “star” was found resting on the edge of “Duck Island” behind an Avocet.  Yes, our first Marbled Duck of the week-end.  But closer inspection not only revealed one had taken to the water behind the island but there were as many as five individuals.

Male Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
Next, a drive through the woods resulted in the sight of yet more Red Kites followed by a Booted Eagle.  I made the mistake of trying to drive along the sand bank separating water from the muddy track on the other side and despite seeing close views of both Spoonbill and Flamingos it was necessary to make a reverse crawl of over 400 metres to regaining safety – and sanity!  Only little consolation to have an Osprey fishing at close quarters.  Working our way back along the track we recorded both Zitting Cisticola and a White Stork.

Slender-billed Gull Larius genel
A short drive along the road to check out the nearby waters revealed mainly Purple Swamphens, Common Redshanks and Cormorants but also a pair of Caspian Terns on the lake.  Finally, re-crossing the short bridge to turn inland I happened to look down to the right as a pair of Barnacle Geese drifted slowly down river.  Then it was back to our hotel for the evening and a sighting of Flamingos flying parallel to the coast and a number of feeding Turnstones.

You've seen me once, move on!

Birds seen:

Barnacle Goose, Muscovey Duck, Mallard, Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little grebe, Back-necked Grebe, Little Bittern, Night heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Common Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Rock Dove, Kingfisher, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Linnet.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis on high

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

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