Thursday 29 December 2016

El Fondo, Elche with Dave Elliott-Binns

Thursday 29 December

Christmas has come and gone and whilst I will get the bionic eye under way tomorrow when I drive up to Cabo de Gata with Steve and Elena Powell, my close friend Dave Elliott-Binns has been out on his own with a visit to a very special site near Elche which is close to Alicante.  No doubt Dave was up and out well before dawn with a couple of hours driving in the dark.  So the post Christmas birding activity starts up again.  Many thanks for the following report Dave.

El Fondo, Elche 29 December
Gilly was doing a 12 hour shift down at Almeria hospital so I took the opportunity to visit El Fondo near Elche for a couple of reasons.   Obviously the main job was to check out the birds, but the second was to arrange further visits for the Group into the restricted area. On the way up there, I stopped for fuel and a coffee at Cox.  It's about 11km south of the Crevillent Estacion turn off.  On the approach road to the Information Centre I managed to see White Wagtail, Serin, Magpie, Spotless Starling and Jackdaw.  I got to about 100 metres from the gate when I spotted dark birds in a water sodden field to my right.  I stopped. Firstly there were hundreds of Cattle Egret perched along the power line and there feeding in the field were at least 40 Glossy Ibis with a few Moorhen.  A very good start!

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I parked up in the car park and began to walk around the shallow lake to the left of the buildings.  A Hoopoe showed well.  There had been good reed management with the large clumps, where the Great Reed Warblers had sung from in the spring and summer, being cut back.  New growth had commenced.  Above me were numerous Crag Martins.  Walking round I had many little birds. Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Greenfinch and a calling Cetti's Warbler.  I saw the first of hundreds of Chiffchaff, all of which needed checking to see that they didn't have Yellow Brows!  The reeds in the fenced off pool adjacent to the Information Centre had also been cut back giving clear views of the Purple Swamphen, Red Knobbed Coot, Moorhen and normal Coot feeding on the far bank.  Also seen there was a Zitting Cisticola.

Chiffchaff  Phylloscopus collybita (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I then moved round onto the raised wooden path over the far end of the lake.  A bamboo roof had been erected over the viewing platform.  From here I saw Shoveler and a couple more Red-knobbed Coot.  Obliging Chiffchaff were landing on the banisters!  At the end of the walkway I had a view over the far end of the field I'd seen the Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret in.  I saw more of both species plus about half a dozen Grey Heron, Little Egret and Black Winged Stilt.  There were also some Lapwing which caught my interest as the reported Sociable Plover was usually found in Lapwings company. 

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata with the seemingly obligatory neck collar (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
As I walked towards the first hide a number of smaller birds were flitting between the shrubs and reeds.  I had a good, but brief, glimpse of a 1st winter Bluethroat.  It was also nice to see Reed Bunting.  At the hide I added Black Necked and Little Grebe.  There were a couple of male Red Crested Pochard and a female Teal amongst the numerous Mallard.  A passing female Marsh Harrier put them all to flight. 

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I then headed towards the second hide.  Unfortunately the track was completely flooded, but I did flush a Green Sandpiper.  Walking back I again saw the Bluethroat.  I stopped to check out the Glossy Ibis field.  The Marsh Harrier also had the same idea as it put everything to flight.  The vegetation must have been quite high as suddenly at least 100 Glossy Ibis took to the air!  I added Greenshank to the list.  

Hoopoe Upupa epops (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Heading back to the Information Centre I found a small group of waders on the lake side, Dunlin, Little Stint and a Little Ringed Plover.  A Stonechat was also seen.  Having booked up two visits at the Centre I returned to my truck.  I stopped in the next village for a brunch and coffee before heading towards the southern hide.  On the way I spotted a bird of prey on one of the pylons.  An adult Booted Eagle.  

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Alas further along, the road was taped off, presumably for floods. Not knowing the route round I headed home.  A disappointing end to a good morning's birdwatching!  43 Species in total.  Weather was fine and sunny.     Regards to all, Dave
There comes a point when you can drive no further! (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

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

Christmas Cheer - if not birding!

Thursday 29 December

Following my request to let me know if any exciting birding happened on Christmas Day it looks very much as if the most common bird seen were the farm-reared Turkeys, followed by Chicken, Duck and, possibly, a Goose or two.  A few Quail eggs may have put in an appearance but certainly no pies containing four and twenty Blackbirds!  Indeed, all the birds seen seemed to have been in a resting mode and lacking any sense of concern or fright nevermind flight.  Given that these birds feed close to the ground it will be no surprise to read that the main vegetation seemed to consist mainly of sprouts, potatoes, and a variety of other green produce.  Likewise, rather than clear drinking water there seemed to be a varying degree of what can only be described as a standing brown liquid.

On the other hand, Petrea from Competa took a walk into the hills of the Sierra Almjara near Nerja and came across her first orchid of the season, a rather lovely dark Bee Orchid Ophrys fusca at an altitude of between 400 and 500 metres.

Dark Bee Orchid Ophrys fusca (PHOTO: Petrea Fastrup)

For me part, I took a walk along the front with Jenny towards Caleta harbour and from Lisette's apartment window overlooking the sea was delighted to see a small pod of Dolphins easing their way westwards.

Now on towards the New Year with just a couple of days to go.

Sunday 25 December 2016

Christmas Birding

Sunday 25 December

It's Christmas morning so a very happy and enjoyable Christmas to all readers.  I suspect that most will only see the one bird today and that will almost certainly be reclining on its back with legs in the air and something stuffed up its backside - but it really ought to go in the neck!!!

But, on the other hand, how many of you will venture forth for a little birding exercise even if it is only to the local park or river rather than somewhere like La Janda, Fuente de Piedra or Cabo de Gata?  If you do get out today, then please drop me an email so that I can pass on the good news and what seen to other readers.

Not a pear tree in sight!

                    A Happy  Christmas and New Year to you all


Thursday 22 December 2016

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Bird Group

Wednesday 21 December

Good to see that even with the Christmas festivities just a few days away our birding friends can still get out in the field, probably very wet fields at the moment, for some profitable birding.  For me, my cataract operation was successfully completed on Monday so i can sit back and enjoy the exploits of others whilst I await the eye to settle so that I, too, can once again join the fray.  Bit of a mess at the moment so it looks as if I will be excused bins, scope and camera until after the Christmas break.  No bad thing, especially as I am trying to limit the amount of time I spend on the computer - if only to stop "'er indoors - she who must be obeyed" from complaining even more!

But good for Dave for getting his Arboleas Bird Group out to one of my favourite birding and scenic sites in Andalucia and judging from the following report it very much looks as if they all ha a cracking good time with lots of species recorded.

So here's a big thank you to all the readers and members of the various bird clubs and groups and may I wish you all a very peaceful Christmas and a happy, healthy and great birding New Year.

Bob Wright

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales
Wednesday 21st December

Today I was supposed to be going to the Sierra de Maria with Richard H for a bit of a bird photography session, but he had to cancel and what with the rain & snow I decided not to take the risk. However Les, John & Alan had already said they were going to go down to Cabo de Gata with a friend. He was unable to go so I cadged a lift down there with them. Also a Marabou Stork had been seen! They picked me up from Los Gallardos. Before we got to Pujaire, we'd already seen Jackdaw, Southern Grey Shrike, Crag Martin, Cattle Egret & Black Redstart. Les had also spotted a perched Common Buzzard and a Sardinian Warbler. After a coffee we made our way to the first hide. The water level was very high on both sides of the road. I found a Spotted Redshank. Alan saw Little Stint. Also seen were Avocet, Black Winged Stilt,Redshank,Grey Plover & Black Tailed Godwit. Chiffchaff, Dartford & Sardinian Warblers were flitting around the bushes. Small rafts of Slender Billed Gulls were feeding. I spotted some distant Spoonbill. Les found White Wagtails, a Water Pipit & a Grey Wagtail amongst the roadside rocks, John spotted an Eurasian Curlew. We had a long discussion regarding what turned out to be a Sanderling. A flock of Serin flew by. Alan spotted a Kestrel.
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We drove to the beach and did a small sea-watch, with a negative result , before walking towards the second hide. Les spotted a flying Stone Curlew. Numerous Stonechats were on the fencing & shrubs. Alan found a Robin & a Cormorant flew by. At the hide we were closer to the Spoonbill. There were 15 in all as well as hundreds of Greater Flamingo. John saw a Little Egret just before I got a Great White Egret. I also managed to find a distant Kingfisher, an usual sighting here. Further Eurasian Curlews plus another or the same Stone Curlew were on the savannah. Also seen were Shelduck & numerous Black Necked Grebe. I found a Grey Heron. A small group of Wigeon was a good find...they were right under our noses actually! Alan & I followed a flying Godwit. No wing bars or black tail so a Bar Tailed Godwit. Two Spanish birders arrived and asked if we'd seen the Marabou Stork. They understood it had been between the village & the lighthouse. Off we trundled over the pass. At the lighthouse I spotted a Black Wheatear. 
View towards the beach (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
A Thekla Lark wandered around the turning area. As we approached the village on the way back, having been unsuccessful, Alan suddenly shouted "Stop"! Beside us on a mud bank were two Trumpeter Finches who obligingly posed! We then went to the public hide. Most of the action was to the right. There on the shoreline were Dunlin, Spotted & Common Redshank and Black Winged Stilt. John also spotted a Greenshank. On the causeway we had numerous Lesser Black Backed Gull, some Audouin's Gull and Sandwich Terns. Some Slender Bill Gulls were close by.

Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We then went for a lunchtime snack at the Cabo village beach cafe. A sea-watch produced a single Gannet spotted by John and some Sanderling. We then drove along the beachside track. We stopped to look at some Lesser Black Backed Gulls on the water. Alan found a pair of Black Necked Grebe nearby. The torrential rains of the passed week had caused huge disruption at the Rambla de Morales. There had obviously been a serious breach in the beach sand bar. The water level was incredibly low which created lovely scrapes on the far side. there were numerous small waders....Kentish & Ringed Plover. Larger ones included Grey Plover & Black Tailed Godwit. Also seen were Coot, Moorhen, Shoveler & Teal. Our final bird was a Cetti's Warbler heard!
View of the Morales scrape (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

We ended up with 63 species. The weather gods were very kind to us. Sunny with hardly any wind.
Regards, Dave

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

Thursday 15 December 2016

Axarquia Bird Group visi to Fuente de Piedra

Thursday 15 December

What a start to the day!  I left Mezquitilla with the sun breaking through a few thin clouds as the car climbed up towards Antequera; first drizzle, then fairly heavy rain plus mist and finally a thin fog.  But by the time I arrived at Fuente de Piedra for the monthly visit of the Axarquia Bird Group it was at least dry, if somewhat cold, albeit the sun did break later in the morning.  Just the five of us today, and we had all travelled from Algarroba -Frigiliana, with Steve  and Elena Powell taking in the boardwalk first and recording a rather lovely Wryneck at the far end of the bridge whilst I met up with our latest members, Oliver and Corrinne Hibbert, from Cambridgeshire and who will be spending three months in their rental above Algarrobo Puebla.

On arrival I was greeted by both Spotless Starlings and Collared Dove and, approaching the Visitors Centre a couple of Jackdaws took of from the "puddle" on the entry field to the left.  A good number of Chiffchaffs were feeding in the roadside trees and White Wagtails were also on the hunt for breakfast.  Judging by how over-full the lagunetta was, I imagine that this field will have a good-sized lake within the next fortnight or sooner and even the scrape will begin to develop a watery outlook and the promise of many more waders to come.  Looking down at the damp area of the scrape the limited water did hold both Teal and Black-winged Stilts along with a "flock" of Moorhen.  On the main laguna a good number of both Black-headed and Lesser Black-headed Gulls along with what, I would imagine, to be a growing number of Greater Flamingos.  Checking over the nearest large flock of Flamingos I was delighted to actually pick out a single Lesser Flamingo in their midst.  Finally, a large flock of resting Lapwing near the shore and a lone Shelduck.

Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros

On round to the main hide overlooking the lagunetta and from the start very obvious that there was too much water with the islands well covered other than the vegetation growth.  On the water a good number of both Mallard and Shoveler plus at least a quintet of Little Grebes along with the Coots.  Feeding on the ground and the small trees were a number of Linnets and Greenfinches plus, best of all, a pair of winter-plumaged Reed Buntings.  Naturally,  both Stonechat and Black Redstart were also on display.  Amongst the grasses on the shore's edge a pair of Snipe and away to the right a pair of resting Cattle Egret.  A Grey Heron glided in to land on the island and away to the left we found a resting Buzzard.  The neighbouring hide proved a success for both Steve and Elena.  As I watched a Moorhen trundle over the embankment with my one eye my friends happened to be looking in the right direction as a Merlin screamed over the bank and away; no wonder Rolls Royce used their name for the Spitfire engine.

Eventually back to the mirador overlooking the lagune with Crag Martins flying overhead and called back by Elena  to show me a roosting Little Owl.  Lovely.  On the main water below now a number of Shelduck visible and, on closer inspection, also revealed Avocet and both Dunlin and Ringed PloverGoldfinches were feeding around us as we made our way to the boardwalk.  Regretfully, we could not find the Wryneck seen earlier by Steve and, even worse, no sign this morning of any Cranes as we made our way round the water.  A Crested Lark and many small flocks of House Sparrows drinking from the puddles in the road and, finally, a single Hoopoe in the adjacent olive grove.  So, all in all, despite the weather on the way and the cold start a most rewarding morning in great company.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Buzzard, Merlin, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, White wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

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

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Now that's a "twitch"

Wednesday 14 December

Our Dave is not one for giving up so easily!  Hoping that the Steppe Grey Shrike might still be about Dave Elliott-Binns and friends set off  at first light this morning with fingers crossed and bins at the reasy.  (I wonder how they manage to focus in this position?)  Read on to see ifthey were successful or not.

Twitch update plus Villaricos and Vera

Yesterday (Tuesday, 13 December) I returned to the Antarax river mouth near Almeria to catch up with the Steppe Grey Shrike that we missed out on last week.  I was only there about 15 minutes when it made an appearance. Here are a couple of photos....not the best as it was only just light!
Steppe Grey Shrike  Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

So today I took new member Richard H down to the Almanzora river rambla near Villaricos.  We approached the "ford" from the opposite bank seeing Mallard, Moorhen and a Snipe before checking out the pool.  Here, apart from more Moorhen and Mallard, was a solitary Redshank.  Kevin was already there.  We were joined by Trevor, Ann, Colin, Sandra, Richard S, Les, Alan , John and later Val.  Taking a stroll up towards the sewage plant we saw the first of many Chiffchaff.  A Cormorant, Magpie and Hoopoe flew over.  Also at least two Blue Rock Thrushes and a Cattle Egret.  Near the settling pools we had White Wagtail and a Green Sandpiper.  I spotted an Iberian Grey Shrike and Blackbird on the wooden fencing.  On the bigger pool there were Mallard and Shoveler.  We heard Cetti's Warbler and Kevin also had a Sardinian.  The odd Crag Martin flew by. 

We then walked back to the vehicles and commenced to check out the pools further up the rambla.  In the pool by the ford in addition to what was seen earlier was a female Teal.  On the route up to the pools we added Dartford Warbler, Serin, Kestrel, Stonechat, Back Redstart and Greenfinch.  Then we got to the pools....or the area where they were supposed to be!  Workmen were still laying a pipe line and there were only one or two what can only be described as large puddles.  Mind you, one had Little Stint and a Snipe in.  Les then spotted a Jack Snipe.  It flew up the rambla.  We retreated to the cafe in Villaricos.
Once refreshed we headed to the beach.  The sea was as flat as a tack.  On the harbour rocks we saw the resident Whimbrel, Sanderling, Cormorant,Grey Heron and Turnstone.  Out to sea were Yellow Legged Gulls, a distant Gannet and some Sandwich Terns.  The group made their way to the estuary pool.  John spotted Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin.  On the water were Cormorant, Little Grebe and Common Pochard.  Les found two Purple Swamphen and Richard H spotted a Kingfisher. Another Blue Rock Thrush was spotted.  Kevin added a Common Sandpiper. 

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving to the beach we had better views of the gulls.  They were mostly Black Headeds with a few Audouin's and Mediterranean Gulls.  Small flocks of Turnstones were seen.  I managed to spot some Kentish Plovers on the rocky spit.  A Robin was also added.  A walk back along the beach didn't add anything to the list.  Sanderling, Whimbrel and Turnstone were seen.

Sanderling Calidris alba (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Some of us then ventured down to the Laguna at Vera Beach.  There were numerous Mallards and a large gull presence.  John counted 45 Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black Headed Gulls.  Four Sandwich Tern were resting on a sandy spit.  A Sanderling, with an injured leg, posed nicely.  Richard S added Crested Lark to the list.  We ended up with 53 species today and the weather was good as well. Regards, Dave

Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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

Monday 12 December 2016

Charca de Suarez

Sunday 11 December

A beautiful, clear and sunny morning and just right for a few hours at the Charca de Suarez on the western outskirts of Motril with Steve Powell.  Driving down "Turtle Dive Alley" provided both Zitting Cisticolas and House Sparrows but, sadly, the low sun was right in our face so no point stopping.  Onwards then to the Charca where we started off at the Laguna del Taraje.  Here we had a pair of Shoveler and Mallard along with the odd Moorhen and Coot plus a good supply of Chiffchaff anda single White Wagtail.

One of many Chiffchaffs Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita
Then it was on to the ever-productive Laguna del Alamo Blanco and the start of the big debate - and not really helped when we came to look at the resulting photographs!  Three snipe with half a metre; one resting in the open, one partially hidden and one very much hidden behind the reeds next to the first.  The snipe, at first appearance, looked simply like a Common Snipe but others gathered around were alinkiung Jack Snipe.  Eventually, the bird removed its beak from its backside so confirming the shorter length and straighter, narrower size that the bird was indeed a Jack Snipe.  But, somehow, all looked most odd with its markings very much suggesting, according to "Collins" that the bird was a Common Snipe complete with very distinct barring on its lower flank.  Most strange and, hopefully, some with more expertise will be able to clear up the matter.

Jack Snipe Agachadiza Chica Lymnocryptes minimus it would appear - especially judging by the beak length

Meanwhile, lovely to see the small flock of Teal and even a Purple Swamphen put in an appearance at the back of the water.  Not just the one Little Egret but a handful of Cattle Egrets appeared on the island and whilst photographing the former a Kingfisher flashed through the viewfinder - as can be seen in the accompanying photograph. But we were not finished as a Water Pipit appeared from behind the said reeds, did a little walk along the base of the island and then disappeared from view once more.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta with surrounding Cattle Egrets Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis
Note the Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis whirring its way to the backof the water

On to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas where we found the water somewhat less occupied than I had expected with only a few Coots and Moorhens accompanied by a handful of Little Grebe.  A Cattle Egret on the island and mainly Cormorants taking their rest.  Not a single raptor or gull in sight and mainly Shoveler on the water accompanied by Mallard and Pochard.  But the lone White Stork was till in residence.

The ever distictive Purple Swamphen Calamon Porphyrio phorphyrio
Round to the Laguna del Trebol where the reeds certainly seemed in need of a little cutting to give a better view of the occupants.  Mainly Common Coot but finally a collar-ringed Red-knobbed Coot seen in the distance.  Again, plenty of feeding activity form the Chiffchaffs and viewed form the other side of the water better views of the Red-knobbed Coots including birds in their natural state.  At the far side of the water, amidst a handful of Mallard, a single female Pintail revealed itself when deciding to take a stretch.  Back to the other side and, finally, a couple of Herons found hidden amongst the tall grasses.

A reserve known for its small breeding population of Red-knobbed Coots  Focha Mortuna Fulica cristata
290 prepearing the nest site for the coming season
Returning to the entrance a Black Redstart was seen and a lone Stonechat posed on the island when returning to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco - but the snipe and most of the ducks had long since departed following the arrival of two stray dogs than ran wild across the pool and disappeared out the back somewhere.Perhaps a gun-totting warden might solve that problem!

Lovely to see the gentle Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Jack Snipe, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Ziting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow

A sort of why did the terrapin (Spanish Pond Terrapin Mauremys leprosa) cross the road?

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

Saturday 10 December 2016

Sierra Loja

Thursday 8 December

Cold but clear and sunny when I met up with Derek and Barbara Etherton, Micky Smith and Barbara and Jerry Laycock at Loja Service Station to check out the Sierra Loja.  Having fought our way past about a dozen off-roaders blocking the track entrance (I wondered what they would be up to later on?) we set of in two cars to the picnic quarry where we recorded a number of Chaffinches and then on up to the main quarry finding Mistle Thrush and the first sighting of a number of Red-legged PartridgesBack Redstart now seemed to be the most common species on view so back to the main track where we watched the off-roaders go storming up the track and, hopefully, well out of way and not to be seen again.  Whilst waiting we were able to pick up both Great Tit and Robin.

Male Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Working our way up to the Charco del Negro turn it was not so much the Black Redstarts and Stoenchats that were the dominant species but rather the regular sightings of small groups of Thekla Lark and often accompanied by a few Meadow Pipits.  No sign of any Alpine Accentors as left the tree line but we did have a very distant Raven in the valley below whilst, above, a couple of Choughs gave their familiar call as they flew over.  Approaching the turn we had a single Dartford Warbler on the left and a White Wagtail flew across the sheep pen opposite along with more small charms of Goldfinches.  In the bare tree t the back of the little white finca a small flock of Rock Sparrows were taking a short rest.

Resting Rock Sparrows Gorrion Chillon Petronia petronia
A stop at the ponds revealed water but no birds.  Having also been passed by a number of cars on the way up, comes of birding an on a public holiday, we also encountered the first of the family groups but did manage to pick up a Black Wheatear on top of the nearby cliff.  Approaching the power station we had a Little Owl posing on a rock at the side of the track which, upon our arrival, took flight to a pile of rocks a little further back.  The short circuit to the back just beyond the fossil cave also added Blue Rock Thrush to the list and here we came to a stop.  I joined Barbara and Jerry whilst Derek took Micky back down the mountain for a check-up at the local hospital.

Very little to add as we discovered where most of the cars were heading; rock climbers who had selected our favoured area to try and find wintering thrushes amidst the hawthorn bushes.  A quick lunch at the second group of hawthorns where more Black Redstats and Blackbirds were noted and only a possible Redwing sighting.  Then the phone call from Derek to ask for translation hospital so we, too, left the mountain and ended our birding venture.  On the way down a Little Owl was sitting on the same rock as previously seen and then flew to the same pile of rocks a little further back.  Same individual?  Almost certainly.

Distant Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

As for Micky, great news.  After undertaking all the necessary tests Derek and Barbara were able to bring him back to Benalmadena where, if necessary, any further tests could be undertaken and is now resting.  Get well soon Micky as by the time we next meet I should be able to see you with both eyes.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Little Owl, Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstat, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Dartford Warbler, Great Tit, Chough, Raven, Rock Sparrow, Goldfinch

Note:  As can be seen by the above photos using the "wrong" eye is not really working so very much looking forward to the arrival of my new, all-seeing wonderful lens, hopefully later this month.

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

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Cabo de Gata & Twitch with the Arboleas Bird Group

Wednesday 7 December

Now that the rains have hopefully ended we can start birding agaion and Dave Elliott-Binns and his Arboleas Bird Group have been out and about at Cabo de Gata as can be seen from the following report from Dave.

After last weeks rain in our area and the deluge in Malaga Province in which sadly two people lost their lives, a change in the weather was gratefully received.  Today was a sunny day with a few clouds as Val and I headed down towards Cabo de Gata . Having notched up Hoopoe (notice presenter on BBC pronounced it Hoopee), we met up with Dave, Myrtle, Richard, Les, Colin, Alan and Kevin at the Pujaire cafe.  Duly refreshed with coffee, we made our way to the first hide.  There were numerous Black Tailed Godwit with a single Grey Plover.  Les found 4 Dunlin and Kevin was first to spot some Slender Billed Gulls.  The visibility was not good down the left hand side due to the low bright sun.  So well done to Myrtle for finding a Great White Egret.  Also seen were Mallard, Avocet, Eurasian Curlew and Ringed Plover.  Out over the distant sea I spotted an adult Gannet. Richard found a Zitting Cisticola.  An Iberian Grey Shrike was seen.  Alan spotted numerous Spoonbill way in the distance.  Both Spotless and Northern Starling were in a medium-sized flock. The last bird listed was a Black Winged Stilt.
The drive to the beach added Stonechat and the walk to the hide added Goldfinch and Greenfinch. From the hide I found two or three more Eurasian Curlew on the savannah.  A Little Egret was seen and Kevin spotted numerous Black Necked Grebe.  The Spoonbill seen earlier were closer and  obliged by taking flight so we count their number. Twenty five.  I didn't count the numerous Greater Flamingo.  Colin and I found a male Sardinian Warbler before Les spotted a female plus a Dartford Warbler in the same bush.  Also seen were some Crested Lark.
We convoyed to the public hide, the ladies doing the walk along the track.   We had Chiffchaff whilst Kevin found a Shelduck.  Dave had a Dartford Warbler and Serin from the hide.  To the right Sandwich Tern, Sanderling, Kentish Plover, a Spotted and Common Redshank were seen.  Alan had a Little Stint whilst Kevin found a Turnstone.  Just as we were about to leave I spotted a group of flying birds.  11 soaring Common Crane.  A Kestrel was hovering below them.  Colin spotted a Crag Martin.
Eight of the soaring eleven Cranes Grus grus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We then went to the beach side cafe in Cabo village, doing a sea-watch as we had refreshments.  We had Gannets, Black Headed, Lesser Black Backed and Yellow Legged Gulls.  A couple of pairs of Mallard were seen as was a Black Tailed Godwit and a small flock of what appeared to me to be Golden Plover.
We ended our time at Cabo de Gata with 47 species.  Normally we'd then go to the Rambla de Morales, but today we were going on a "twitch"!  On the 29th November a Steppe Grey Shrike was discovered at the mouth of the River Andarax which is just east of Almeria.  It was still there a few days ago.  So Colin, Alan, Les, Richard, Val and I headed along the coast to see if we might be lucky. The short answer is we weren't!  We had a good look round, but as they say in twitching circles, we "dipped" out.  I was going to download a photo of one but was concerned about copyright so you'll have to "google image" it to see what one looks like.  Only have one photo to show you. 

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