Wednesday 22 March 2017

First Woodchat Shrike, Pallid and Common Swift of the Year

Wednesday 22 March

An interesting morning down at Zapata on the Rio Guadalhorce with Derek and Barbara Etherton in warm sunshine but quire breezy which resulted in us recording our first Woodchat Shrike of the year along with both Pallid and Common Swifts.  A short follow-on visit to the Rio Grande found the river much changed, as with Zapata, following the recent heavy rain storms and resulting flooding.  Nevertheless, good to record almost 50 species between us.

No sooner had we entered the site than we were recording Red-rumped Swallow, Collared Dove, Serin and House Sparrow and our first riverside stop added Little Egret, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot and Greenshank.  Not much scoping required to quickly add Little Ringed Plover along with both Green and Common Sandpipers.  Meanwhile, all around us, there seemed to be "swarms" of Barn Swallows feeding low over the grasses and, again, with a little extra care we soon also picked up both Sand and House Martins.  Both Greenfinch and Goldfinch were recorded before we saw our first Pallid Swift of the year to be followed shortly afterwards by both another and a couple of Common Swifts.

Blue-headed Wagtail Lavandera Boyera Motacilla flava iberiae

After watching a couple of Jackdaw fly out from under the motorway bridge and a pair of Cattle Egret pass overhead, we left the newly-arrived Grey Heron and Cormorant and made our way towards the main reed bed.  No sooner had we reached the higher track than we found the Woodchat Shrike sitting quietly on the fence and close by both Corn Bunting and StonechatCrested Larks on the track itself and then under the airport approach lights to discover that the field on the right behind the fence had been recently moved and the grass removed leaving a very inviting, insect field for the score of mixed White and Blue-headed Wagtails along with more House Sparrows, Corn Buntings and Spotless Starlings.  Whilst here we also watched a rather lovely Marsh Harrier quartering the reeds up ahead and a Blackbird flew past along with the first of a number of Zitting Cisticolas to be seen during the morning.

keep yur windows closed as the Marsh Harrier Aguilucho lagunero Circus aeruginosus passes by
Moving between sites we had a Monk Parakeet fly over the car and, upon arrival at the Rio Grande, were greeted by a number of both Cattle and Little Egrets along with the odd Cormorant and a handful of Black-winged Stilts.  A Hoopoe crossed in front of us and then a male Chaffinch sitting on the track itself.

One of verry many (Blue-headed) Yellow Wagtails Lavandera Boyera Motacilla flava iberiae
From the far bridge over the newly-created "dam" we had first views of a pair of Raven and then no less than five Buzzards overhead.  Lots of Little Ringed Plovers about and, as with Zapata, no shortage of singing Cetti's Warblers.  Our final bird of this site was a male Spanish Sparrow and then a female Stonechat and Black Redstart when we stopped to look at the nesting Bonelli's Eagle - but neither Mum nor Dad were at home!

Spanish Sparrow Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis
Spanish Sparrow with House Sparrows Gorrion Comun Passer domesticus
Accidental photo of a House Sparrow Gorrion Comun Passer domesticusin glight!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, WhiteWagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

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