Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Wednesday 30 May

A most enjoyable morning at the Guadalhorce, Malaga with visit US birder Mary Dockery from Birmingham, Alabama and which resulted in over 40 species during our almost four hours.  Mary had set her eyes and heart upon seeing both Bee-eater and Hoopoe and I had promised to add a White-headed Duck.  Upon collecting Mary at the Plaza Mayor (what a mess this is with every car space closed off and nowhere to park) there were resident House Martins flying around their newly-restored breeding colony and, whilst awaiting my arrival, Mary had already had a Hoopoe fly past to make it sound like a very promising start to the day.  And before reaching the entrance to the Guadalhorce reserve we had also also added Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet and House Sparrow.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops in flight
Crossing the footbridge there were a few resident Rock Doves under the motorway bridge and numerous House Martins flying around our bridge and visiting their nests below.  Posed nicely next the bridge was a Red-rumped Swallow so very confirmed the earlier photograph taken by Mary.  Slightly upstream a lone Little Egret waited patiently at the water's edge as we continued on to the eastern arm of the Guadalhorce and the Laguna Casillas.  A rather pleasant group of birds here including very many Black-winged Stilts, some incubating, others just starting to lay their clutch whilst some already had chicks ranging from days to weeks old.  A pair of Mallard along with a handful of Common Pochard but just the one pair of White-headed Ducks and a single Coot.   Overhead very many House Martins with the occasional Barn Swallow but these were joined by scores of Swifts, mainly Common but a few Pallid.  A Nightingale was singing to our left.

Male White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala
Moving on towards the Wader Pool we had a couple of Serins on the track and a small number of Goldfinches feeding in the vegetation below. A second Hoopoe put in an appearance, and there was to be a third whilst at the Escondida hide, and then we were once more looking at many Black-winged Stilts along with a sole Crested Lark on the sandy island below.

However, it was the Rio Viejo (the Old River) which really turned up trumps.  Not jut the small mixed flock of gull-like birds which included, mainly, Audouin's Gulls, juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich, Little and a single Caspian Tern but also a couple of Grey Plovers in beautiful summer plumage, a Redshank, quartet of Dunlin, three Avocet and very many Little Ringed Plovers.  It took a short while but we eventually also found a few Kentish Plovers.  A Sardinian Warbler dashed between the bushes below us and, on the opposite side of the track, a male Blackbird arrived as a quintet of Spotless Starlings moved on.

Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius
A visit to the Sea Watch produced a calm sea and eventually about a dozen resting Mediterranean Gulls.  Returning to the Wader Pool we added a Bonelli's Warbler and manged to find a quite large Chameleon in a distant Tamerisk.  A Common Waxbill landed on the top of the same bush and yet another Nightingale was singing before we continued on to the Casillas Pool which produced a Zitting Cisticola and a couple of Moorhen.

Walking towards the Laguna Escondida Mary stopped having seen a small bird a the bottom of a bush which turned out to be a second Sardinian Warbler but almost next to her bird was a female Subalpine Warbler and then the female Sardinian Warbler put in an appearance.  But, hark, what was that we heard overhead?  Yes, our first Bee-eater of the morning but it was gone before Mary could raise her bins.

Bee-eater Abejaruco Europeo Merops apiaster in flight

Not to worry, a hundred metres further on we found the bird, or another one, resting on top of a bare tree so Mary able to take photographs.  The Escondida itself was very quiet with just a pair of White-headed Ducks and many swifts and hirrundines above but then a trio of Bee-eaters arrived and posed very obligingly near the hide in a bare bush.  Wonderful views.

Bee-eater Abejaruco Europeo Merops apiaster

Again, the Laguna Grande was relatively quiet with a few Black-winged Stilts and their families.  To the back a small group of Back-headed Gulls and then a couple of Whiskered Terns arrived to help make our day even more exciting.  Below us a pair of Kentish Plovers were, presumably, approving of their nest scrape when before we could blink mating took place; full frontal nudity.  We assume that copulation was successful albeit we both laughed when the the male fell off backwards taking the female with him and the undignified scramble that followed as they tried to recover their feet; what a way to remember the morning!  Walking back to the car a flight of four Monk Parakeets, not so raucous and noisy on this occasion, passed overhead.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops

Birds seen:
Mallard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Little Ter, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Goldfinch.


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

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