Thursday 18 January 2018

Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Guadalhorce, Malaga

Wednesday 17 January

Beautiful, sunny morning without a cloud in the clear blue sky as 12 of us enjoyed a morning's birding at the Guadalhorce, Malaga with the Axarquia Bird Group and the day warming up by the hour.  Not only that but over fifty birds recorded before we made our respective ways home just before 1pm. Some lovely birds seen including both Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, White-headed and Ferruginous Ducks, Gannet and very close Booted Eagle.  But for me it was he single Knot right at the close of play as they might say in cricket terms.

Awaiting arrivals at the slope leading up to the river bank the "corner plot" duly produced an assortment of small birds including Serin, Black Redstart, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird and the local, screeching Monk Parakeets.  The odd Yellow-legged Gull was floating around and a good number of Cormorants could be seen on and over the site.  No sooner had we started to walk towards the footbridge into the reserve than we observed the Booted Eagle resting in its usual tree.  A lone Heron was standing on the filed to the left.  From the footbridge we could see Coots on the water and a pair of Jackdaw and a Kestrel resting on the motorway street lights.

Booted Eagle Aguililla Calzada Hieraeatus pennatus
The Laguna Casillas was relatively quiet with mainly Coots, the odd Moorhen and a good number of Pochard plus a handful of Mallard.  But then we picked out the single Ferruginus Duck and a quartet of Teal paddle up the water.  Just a couple of Little Grebe and a few Crag Martins feeding overhead.  A Stonechat fed on the ground below the hide and looking to the scape on the opposite side of the track we picked out a mixed feeding flock of Goldfinch, Linnet, Serin and Greenfinch whilst the distant trees at the back of the laguna were full of resting Spotless Starlings and Cormorants.

Ferruginous Duck Porron Pardo Aythya nyroca
So on to the Wader Pool which was even quieter with just a couple of Teal and Black-winged Stilts and a Shelduck.  the added attraction, apart from the ever-present Chiffchaff, was the single Meadow Pipit feeding close to the water line.

On the old river, the Rio Viejo, where we found a handful of Shelduck and a single, juvenile Flamingo.  A few Black-winged Stilts and then our first Dunlin and Ringed Plover along with a couple of Sanderling and a trio of Lapwing on a small island.  However, pride of place went to the trio of godwit and very strange to see a single Bar-tailed feeding with the pair of Back-tailed Godwits.  Behind us, on the eastern arm of the river, a quartet of Little Egret, a calling Cetti's Warbler and the first Crested Lark as our Booted Eagle drifted past overhead completing ignoring the regular passage of Cormorants whilst a Kestrel put in an appearance at the back of the river.

Little Grebe Zampullin Comun Tachybaptus ruficollis
Once at the Sea Watch we certainly need scopes to pick out the distant Lesser Black-backed Gulls as they trailed the fishing boats but did get a closer look at a pair of Gannets.  A party of fourteen Sanderling occuied the beach below us.  On the other hand, perhaps the best sighting was the pair of Dolphins feeding and/or playing near the strange structure off shore.

Whilst most continued on along the beach to the Laguna Grande Olly and I retraced our steps and picked up a pair of female Shoveler on the old river along with passing Collared Doves and House Sparrows.  Many of the birds seemed to have dispersed for the first two hides so it was on round to the Laguna Escondida for more Coots and Little Grebe along with Chiffchaffs and the occasional Crag Martin and where we met up again with the rest of the group.

Chiffchaff  Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita - but was this individual ringed locally?

Our final call was to the Laguna Grande which produced, in addition to tscores of Cormorants, a second juvenile Flamingo and eight Black-necked Grebes.  We finally caught up with the small flock of White-headed Duck and even had a male Shoveler at the back of the water.  A couple of White Wagtails added to the sightings and then, at last, we found the Knot that had been reported at tis water last Sunday.  Well concealed on a small "puddle" to the right of the distant island behind the temporary hide.

Two of the eight Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuelinegro Podiceps nigricollis
With all of us dispersed to our various homes, Lisette and I stopped for a quick shop at Leroy Merlin and then took the short drive to Zapata entering from the southern, airport, end of the track.  We simple drove slowly down to the ford and back and were gone in about an hour but during this time we managed to record 30 species including nine not previously seen in the morning. Waxbill, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Black Redstart and Crested Lark were certainly expected as was the case with the many White Wagtails and a single Grey Wagtail.  A special treat was not so much the Kestrel, lots of views of the quartering Marsh Harriers but the Osprey that out in an appearance.  The river produced a number of Coots and Mallards but also a n overflying Cattle Egret, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover.  Another lovely sighting was that of a Dartford Warbler just before coming across the Zitting Cisticola and the sight of a quartet of Red-legged Partridge crossing the track in front of us on the return drive.

White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala with blue beak just beginning to emerge

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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