Sunday 5 March 2017

Fuengirola Faro

Saturday 4 March

All through the night nothing but rain which seemed to alternate between heavy and very heavy!  But come Saturday morning and, having overslept so that I was eating breakfast in the hotel rather than down at the Faro (lighthouse) the sea looked almost calm and there was even a hint of brightness in the western sky.  So, everything in the car, including camera, and off down the coastal A7 to said lighthouse.  But then, passing the castle at the western end of Fuengirola and hitting the end of town reminded me that , not only was my hotel in Las Boliches at the eastern end of the town, but that the resort itself is in a bay.  What confronted me on the left as I came off just past the lighthouse, crossed the motorway and parked outside the restaurant at the bottom of the slip road, was the raging sea with waves crashing in onto to the shore and very dark clouds over the water.  Oh dear, what have I done!

On the other hand the rain had stopped and, on land, it was not as windy as the waves might suggest.  So passing the local SEO chaps who were almost finished with their monthly sea passage count, it being the first Saturday of the month, I pressed on and settled in at the hide below the lighthouse.  By settled in I mean sitting on the bench at the back of the shelter with the scope suitably adjusted.  What a sight, tyring to pick out any bird in the dull light and crashing, deep waves.

Northern Gannet Alcatraz Atlantico Morus bassanus (Internet Photo)
But then a lovely male Gannet moving westwards closely followed by a juvenile and a second adult.  The adults were close enough to fill the frame but who, especially not me, is going to carry both scope and camera in these weather conditions?  Just when I was think is anything else likely to turn up a large brown "blob" seen near the surface not so far out to me left and making very slow but steady progress westwards.  Yes, at last, a first Great Skua of the year.  This rather quite made my morning and ere long I decided, what's the point of sitting in the cold looking at empty seas so decided to call the whole thing off and head back to the warmth of the hotel.

Great Skua Pagalo Grande Stercoranius skua (Internet Photo)
That was when I realised that something had gone terribly wrong!  Having closed up the scope and got myself organised I took the two steps that took me outside the shelter and then almost disappeared over the cliff.  During the, no more than, ten minutes that I had been in the hide the wind had more than picked up and was now coming hell-for-leather straight at me accompanied by driving rain.  And I had a 500 metre walk back to the car directly into the storm.  You could say that I was something on the damp side when I finally staggered back to the car.  The Spanish lads had just about finished their observations and were also packing up and they informed me that not only had they, too, seen the Great Skua but it was one of a few along with Gannets, a couple of Turnstones on the beach below and even a pair of Hoopoes had flown in off the sea.  No real consolation to mention that I recorded both Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach almost opposite the hotel!

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