Saturday 30 June 2018

Rutland Water

Great Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopus major
Saturday 30 June

With the continuing hot weather back in the UK and still not adjusted to the "hour behind", I was up at 5 and arrived at my local patch, Rutland Water, a few minutes after 6.  The hope was to get in a couple of hours birding before it became unbearable hot.  It seemed a good idea at the time as I passes a Red Kite and also recorded Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws along with local Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons but, upon arriving and reaching the Shoveler Hide overlooking lagoon 3 where a Bittern has reported a couple of days previously I realised my folly.  Not only was the very bright sun low in the sky but shining directly into the hide.

Nesting Common Terns Sterna hirundo
Arrival on site and a visit to the feeding station produced Great and Blue Tits along with Robin and a Moorhen with two well-grown chicks.  Lots of Jackdaws, Wood Pigeons and Blackbirds about along with a couple of Collared Doves.  A pair of Magpies gave me a cursory look as I made my way to Lagoon 3 and Blackcaps were singing loudly in the neighbouring bushes and trees trying to out-sing the local Chaffinches.  A Green Woodpecker was heard calling as I approached the hide.

Mute Swans Cygnus oloe and signs of domestic bliss
On the water itself a number of Mute Swans with their young of the year and a noticeable difference in the size of the respective cygnets.  Mallards and young  along with a few Shoveler and scores of Coots plus the breeding colony of Black-headed Gulls and chicks.  More Moorhens were seen. Next up came the feeding Sand Martins and then the appearance of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Teal.  The first of a few of the breeding Common Terns flew past and as I adjusted to the raucous singing of the breeding Reed Warblers I noticed a handful of Common Pochard and then a good number of LapwingLagoon 4 held a Little Egret and pair of Heron along with more Black-headed Gulls and Common Tern plus also the local Great Black-backed GullsLapwings were feeding/resting on the islands.

Male Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Back at the feeding station a few great and Blue Tits, mainly juveniles, and then the visit of a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  As I headed back to the car park I was able to observe the single Spotted Flycatcher in the Hawthorne Tree where, I believe, the bird successfully nested last year.  Barn Swallows were now flying above the neighbouring fields.

A total of three Great Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopus major at the feeding station

A quick stop at Burley Fishponds produced a number of Cormorants, Tufted Duck and a couple of Greylag Geese in addition to the hen Peacock and her five off-spring that were walking along the lane.  Leaving, a Pied Wagtail moved off the road.

Then it was back home taking the anti-clockwise circuit which produced an Osprey perched on the platform above its nest in Manton Bay and a brief stop at the Lyndon Centre confirmed Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Tree Sparrow feeding on the feeders.  All in all, a relatively successful visit which saw me back in Stamford before 9 o'clock before the sun got too hot, and I still had to tackle the back lawn which now resembled a jungle with grass standing over 50cm high, having recorded 42 species and not a Common Starling nor Dunnock in sight.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Red Kite, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

Friday 29 June 2018

John and Jenny Wainwright

Friday 28 June

I arived back in Stamford to see that each day this week has been hotter than the day before but 28C here is a lot less pleasant that the thirties in Spain; very humid once the temperature gets up to the low twenties.  But John went up the mountain and it was probably hotter at the top that here in Lincolnshire!  Interesting that John's report contains no mention of Rock Thrushes, I thought that by now there might be early juveniles moving about and still being fed by their parents.  Perhaps they,too, dislike the heat and were hiding in the rocks out of the direct sunlight.

Sierra Loja: Thursday 28 June

A very warm day but a nice refreshing breeze above the tree line.
As we left the village a Little Owl was noted sitting on top of a telegraph pole - lets hope it doesn´t end up like its mate of three days ago, a casualty on the road.  Also about were Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves, Azure-winged Magpies and House Sparrows.

Nothing more seen until we entered by the Guardia Civil barracks, here a couple of Chaffinches and a Blackbird were logged.

More Chaffinches and Blackbirds were seen as we passed through the tree line, up to the first cliff face where we saw Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings, Crested Larks, Linnets and a family of Stonechats.  As we watched the Stonechats feeding their young a small number of Jackdaws made themselves known before diving down into the fields by the Venta del Rayo road.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Leaving the cliffs and nearing the quarry a Little Owl was logged as were a pair of Thekla Larks. Nothing more until we came to the sub-station valley where we found our third Little Owl of the day, while in the trees here we located a family of four Hoopoes,  More Blackbirds and two Red-legged Partridges with their twelve chicks.   As we climbed out of the valley, Jenny spotted a juvenile Montagu´s Harrier hunting  along the mountain side - we presume it is one of the birds from the Venta del Rayo patch.  Also here a Northern Wheatear landed on the track to pick a bug up, before disappearing back into the rocks.

Distant Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Three Black-eared Wheatears were seen in three different places as we reached the Charca area.  Lots of Linnets here, as well as Rock Sparrows and Rock Buntings, while above us a dozen or more Chough were wheeling.  Lots of butterflies here today including Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines), Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias hyale), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhami), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and good numbers of Grizzled Skippers (Pyrgus malvae), plus two Spoonwings (Nemoptera bipennis) such a beautiful insect.

Spoonwing Nemoptera bipennis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Moving along to the fossil cave area, our first Black Redstart and Black Wheatear of the day was logged, as were more Chough.   At the climbing area two more Black Redstarts were seen, as was a Woodchat Shrike and a huge flock of Chough - over a hundred birds this time, a bit further down the road a large male Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) was noted.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
On our way back down Blackcaps and Woodpigeon were heard, and one Barn Swallow was note

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

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar withthe Arboleas Birding Grouop

Friday 28 June 

Finally back in my little Stamford, Lincolnshire house, basic domestics completed and time to catch up with the reports i received during my drive back to the UK from Spain.  (I must also get my own photos uploaded to the previously written blogs.)  Like me, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group managed to find the blazing hot sun so will, no doubt, now be looking forward to a summer break.  Nut I bet he is out again within a fortnight - even if only on his own or with the lovely Gilly!  Looking at Dave's report, for me it was interesting to read, and see the photo, of the group's encounter with a Common Tern; still waiting to see one this year.

Las Norias & Roquetas  -  Wednesday 27th June

As there were only three Englishmen and no mad dogs, we, that being Paul, Alec and myself, headed early towards Las Norias hoping to miss the midday sun.  Having coffee'd at the Jct 420 service station, we made our way to the first causeway.  We were greeted by a Turtle Dove on the power line. Later there were four which was great to see.  Paul spotted an overflying Cattle Egret and I saw a Squacco Heron.  Alec found a Serin on the power line.  On the water we saw at least 8-10 Great Crested Grebe. 

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Also saw a pair fly over the causeway.  Down the far end I spotted some Grey Heron amongst the Black-headed Gulls.  On the other side Paul found a female Red-crested Pochard.
We moved round to the next stop.  We had to tread carefully through the mounting piles of rubbish to get a view. We found some Cattle Egret, but then saw a flying Night Heron. We could hear numerous Reed Warblers.  Paul spotted three Black-necked Grebe and, oh yes, a Mallard!

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We drove round to the second smaller pool.  On one of the leafless shrubs were an adult and three juvenile Night Heron plus a Little Egret.  Also had more female Red-crested Pochard with ducklings and Great Crested Grebes.

Adult and juvenile Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Driving towards Roquetas we added Bee-eater, Magpie and a Kestrel on the wires.  We did the Lighthouse end first.  From the causeway we saw Black-winged Stilt, Slender-billed Gull, Avocet, Little and Gull-billed Tern.  We parked up round the corner.  A flight of 6 Glossy Ibis flew by and Paul spotted a flying Common Tern.  There were more as we returned over the causeway.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At the next stop we disturbed a female Shelduck with about 10 offspring.  I spotted a female White-headed Duck with young.  Then I found a pair of Collared Pratincole on the track.  Also seen were 100's of Greater Flamingo.  Paul added a Sardinian Warbler.

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove over to the hotel side and negotiated the very bumpy track.  We came across a Collared Pratincole on it which refused to move!  The pools are beginning to dry out.  Only saw Little Tern beside them . At the far end, by the old pumping station, we arrived to see a Red-rumped Swallow on the power line and a Yellow-legged Gull on the pylon.  

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
With the drop in water levels, there was more visible sand bank.  On it were Black-winged Stilt, a Kentish Plover, Little and Gull-billed Tern.  Having eaten our picnic lunch we returned to the hotel end only adding a House Martin. We drove round the Collared Pratincole again!

Little Tern Sterna albifrons (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Considering the rising temperatures, we had a really good day.  41 species.  We now have a summer break......unless I venture out sometime!
Regards, Dave

Here's looking forward to a bumper Autumn with lots of waders.

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

Monday 25 June 2018

Anso Valley and Road up to the border above Canfranc

25 June 2018

Given that I had to move my car before 9.30 and hat Estacion Canfranc was only fifteen miles up the valley from Jaca, I decided after all to make the twenty minute journey along the N220 to Berdun and the valley up to Anso.  Hoping that the earlier arrival might prove worthwhile, my intention was only to travel the first ten kilometres up the valley to the far end of the magnificent and narrow, steep gorge (the Foz de Binies).  What a good job I did and an hour well spent!

Lots of magpies as I left Jaca and once off the main road and travelling away from Berdun I soon added House Sparrows and Spoltess Starlings near the farm and then a resting Buzzard on the wires opposite.  Crested Lark and Collared Doves also added and then I reached the gorge and its narrow , twisting roads with short tunnels.  A number of stops to check the area (hearing aids turned up to full blast!) and picked up both Serin and Blackbird.  A pair of Crag Martins exited as I drive in to the longer tunnel and looking up I was able to see the resting Griffon Vulture high on the cliff edge.  lots of singing Blackcaps and a stop at the far end of the gorge to check out the opposite cliffs revealed a couple of silhouettes in a bare tree on the opposite summit.  Bins then scope to confirm and, yes, a pair of Egyptian Vultures.  One of the five target birds for the area confirmed.

Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus
Working my way back I was able to add both Goldfinch and Chaffinch and once near the farms before Berdun added a trio of Raven, a similar number of Black Kites and, finally, a single Red Kite just after returning to the N220.  However, as i joined the main road back to Jaca at Berdun I stopped to take a photograph of a Common Buzzard resting on the wires immediately in front of me.  Strange that the bird not, as usually happens, fly off the minute I lowered the window and it looked some what different from your usual Common Buzzard.  However, once back in the UK I had time to tale a closer look at the bird and, noting the classic identifier, was able to establish that the bird was in fact a Long-legged Buzzard.

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
With a smile on my face I returned to Jaca and carried on up the N330 towards the Spanish/French border for my intended visit to the remains of the old International Station at Estacion Canfranc. Nevermind the on-going fiesta in Jaca, the Tourist Office does not open on a Monday and the station itself is open to visitors at 5pm every day except Mondays!  By 5pm tomorrow I would hope to be at or very near to my final resting place in Poitiers prior to the ferry crossing from Le Havre to Portsmouth on Wednesday evening!  Having already seen more Magpies and also added Carrion Crows, I checked out the channelled river for the local Dippers but without success.  A numbed of Black Redstarts and also White Wagtail with feeding House Martins overhead.  Time for a break and a coffee in a local bar.  before continuing on p to the summit a quick visit across the road for a final check of the river and not only Black Redstarts present but, at last, my Dipper happily feeding in the shade quite close to my viewing point above.  Back to the car to fetch the camera and now, fingers crossed, that I have a half-decent shot to add once back in Stamford.

Dipper Cinclus cinclus
So, two out of five target birds as no sign of a Lammergeier, Alpine Chough (keep my eyes peeled tomorrows as I drive up to the border to cross the Pyrenees) or Red-backed shrike.

Birds seen:
Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Dipper, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Blackcap, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Sunday 24 June 2018

The Hecho and Anso Valleys

Sunday 24 June

All packed and ready to go so was away from the hotel in Zuera by 8.30 and a couple of hours later working my way up the Hecho Valley to the west of Jaca off the N220.  An uneventful drive north and for almost twenty miles moving north of Huesca I did not pass nor see another vehicle of any description; now that's what you call having the road to yourself.  Birds seen en route included red Kite, Blackbird, Raven, Buzzard and Carrion Crow.

But I have to say that the first valley was very disappointing in bird terms albeit very, very scenic and a joy to behold.  A stop at the "Inferno Gorge" to take a photograph on the phone also produced a pair of Cirl Bunting and a couple of Alpine Swifts were seen overhead along with a number of distant Griffon Vultures. I ventured to the very to the valley and then on up the track but all rather a waste of time only adding Serin as I crossed the bridge near the car park before the above track began.

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

Having made my way back to Hecho I then turned right and made my way across to the Anso Valley for the return journey back to the main road.  Again, all very quiet once back towards Berdun near Binies I did see Crested Lark, Jackdaw, lots of House Sparrows and Corn Buntings to add to the Chaffinch further up the valley.  Once back on the main road I almost stopped as a Black Kite drifted low over the car and a final sight of a rather lovely male Black Redstart.

Black Kite Milvus migrans
The only consolation was that I was able to book early into the hotel and watch the England v Panama football match on the TV.  Turns out Jaca is the middle of one if its annual fiestas so nowhere to park the car, everywhere busy and, no doubt, much noise well into the night!

Birds seen:
Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 20 June

I am off back to the UK at the end of the week so hoping to pick up some good birds on my first stop at the Tablas de Damiel  and it looks as if this month will also see the Arboleas Birding Group starting their summer break as the temperatures begin to soar.  But the penultimate visit certainly produced some lovely warblers, three of which I am still waiting to record this year.  Perhaps I am visiting with the wrong group!  On the other hand, that's the same as saying that you are having no luck in Southampton so, perhaps I had better join the Birmingham group for the day - such is the size of Andalucia and the distances we birders out here seem to travel which, I suspect, we would not dream of doing back in the UK.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 20th June

For our penultimate trip before our enforced summer break, I decided we'd try and avoid the heat by heading into the mountains.  I picked up Paul and a new member, Alec, from outside Humbugs cafe in Arboleas and headed for Maria.  We met up with Trevor, Ann, Brian and Mary at the Repsol Garage cafe, enjoying a coffee watching the House Martins feeding their broods under the forecourt canopy.  We made our way to the chapel car park where Jacky and Steve had already arrived and had seen Hoopoe.  We checked the area and saw Serin, Chaffinch, Linnet and Willow Warbler near the water trough.  Jacky spotted a passing Short-toed Eagle carrying an unfortunate lizard.  Some Blue Tits were near the water deposit.  Walking up towards the Botanical gardens, I spotted some Griffon Vultures the far end of the mountain ridge.  Jacky then found a pair of Woodchat Shrike guarding a shrub in the middle of the field.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving into the garden, we had Bonelli's Warbler, Crossbill, Crested, Great and Coal Tit all loitering near the small water pools.  Some Bonelli's Warblers showed really well.  I spotted a distant Raven and Brian had heard an Eurasian Cuckoo.
Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Some of us started to do the lower walk.  At the far end we heard, then eventually saw a Melodious Warbler.  I also had a brief glimpse of a flying Western Orphean Warbler.  We also saw a Jay and Paul possibly had a Subalpine Warbler.  As we got back to the garden area, a female Sparrowhawk flew over. Brian, Mary and Ann, who'd stayed in the gardens also had Rock Bunting and had heard Golden Oriole.  Meanwhile, Jacky and Steve, who'd done the high walk, later told us they'd also heard a Golden Oriole and managed to see it after some stalking!  On the way back to the vehicles, the Woodchat Shrikes were still guarding the shrub and we had a good view of a Woodlark.
We made our way to the ruined farm buildings. We added White Wagtail, Blackbird, Barn Swallow and a Thekla Lark.
Moving on to the sheep's water trough area we saw more Serin and Linnet.  A family of 5 Hoopoe showed well.  A Turtle Dove sped past and Brian spotted a far away Rock Sparrow.
Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
It was then onto the plain.  We spotted a Northern Wheatear flying onto a barn roof and a pair of distant Carrion Crow.  Paul saw a flying Lesser Kestrel heading to the hamlet.  When we got there, there were two Lesser Kestrels on the barn roof and another Northern Wheatear on another roof. Brian and Mary had seen a Little Owl on the ruined building further which we'd missed.  We picked it up on the way to the La Piza forest cafe.  Very few birds now coming to the bird feeders, only the odd Great and Blue Tit.  We did see, briefly, a Great Spotted Woodpecker.  On the way out, us in my truck had a Cirl Bunting next to the approach driveway.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 43 species. Temperatures are rising at last. Good for swimming but maybe not for the birdwatching!
Great company. New member, Alec, seemed to enjoy the day!
Regards, Dave

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

Damiel Wetlands

An early morning Fox
Saturday 23 June

Driving back to the UK on my own so the first night, Friday, spent in Damiel which gave me two opportunities to visit both the Tablas de Damiel and the even closer Laguna Navaseca.  However, having left home about 8.30 I first called in at Velez de Benaudalla to check the apartment and then fifteen minutes at the local picnic area.  Lots of Spotted Flycatchers, Chaffinches and even at least three calling Golden Oriole but not a Dipper in sight.  Have to keep my fingers crossed that I might pick one up at Canfranc in the high Pyrenees before crossing the border into France.  Then, on the way north to Damiel, the journey produced Azure-winged MagpieKestrel and a Carrion Crow as I approached my destination.

Roller Coracias garrulus at first light

First to the Tablas de Damiel at about 2pm and by jove it was hot in the clear blue sky and the sun blazing down.  Not the best of times but I did have a handful of Bearded Tits fly across the reeds almost as soon as I started out on the boardwalk.  Forget the Greylag Geese and numerous White Stork, I was more interested in all those singing Reed and Great Reed Warblers.  The Purple Heron was a rather pleasant addition.  Unlike previous visits at about this time of year, the latter were keeping very low in the reeds but regular sightings of both.  Most of the Nightingales were, presumably, on their second brood judging by the number of juveniles seen.  In addition to Cattle and Little Egret I also recorded successful breeding Red-crested PochardsPurple Swamphen, Roller and numerous Corn Buntings.  Did I mention that I finally found Stonechats for the month's record.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Then it was back to the "new" hotel to check-in and wait until the heat dissipated a little before visiting the Laguna Navaseca.  With a bus load of visitors at the main car park I drove on and parked by the little hide overlooking the small water on the right.  Even as I walked to check out the water I could see the scores of Flamingo and Black-headed Gulls on the main water on the other side of the road.  On my pool, I quickly found both Little Grebe and Purple Swamphen plus more of both Reed and Great Reed Warbler.  Across the road to check out the main water I could see that were were many Black-winged Stilts along with a good number of breeding AvocetBarn Swallows and Common Swifts feeding over the water and ducks included Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested and Common Pochard, Ferruginous and White-headed Ducks along with breeding Shelduck.  In addition to more Little Grebes there were also Black-necked Grebe in full breeding plumage.  before leaving I also added Bee-eater, Hoopoe and House Martin having also previously seen a pair of Sand Martin.

Female Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
Setting my alarm for 6am I was awake, showered, dressed and out by 5.45 so the first time I have started the day by filling up the car with diesel and the garage next door,  Even had time to clean front and back windows before heading back to the the Tablas where I arrived just after six and the first signs of light.  A great couple of hours and I had to smile at all he early birders arriving for 8 o'clock as I was departing!  Yes, all the expected birds put in an appearance and before finding my Savi's Warblers I was treated to a couple of Great Spotted Cuckoos.  Even better, in the early morning light, almost dark, as I arrived a party of thirty plus Black-bellied Sandgrouse were taking their departure from, presumably, having visited as is their custom for a pre-dawn drink.  A pair of Ferruginous Duck beat a hasty retreat before I had chance to get the camera up but the pair of Marsh Harriers quartered as I moved along the boardwalk.  Not just Great White, Little and Cattle Egrets but also a small number of Night Herons roosting in the dead trees on the small island.  Once again I was able to add Bee-eater and Hoopoes and on this occasion also added Tree Sparrow, Linnet and a juvenile Woodchat Shrike.

A closer view of a Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius - just, as it beat a hasty retreat
Having got ahead of myself I made the turn to Laguna Navaseca to take a second look at this water.  Approaching the water a Little Owl posed nicely on the corner of a fence and rather than make a hasty stop decided I would photograph the bird on my back as I was only expecting to spend about fifteen minutes at the water.  The bird had flown when I returned!  All the ducks, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Flamingos present long with both Little and Black-necked Grebe, Reed and Great Reed Warbler but also a pair of Little Ringed Plovers.

Good numbers of Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber on navaseca
  As the Cetti's Warblers let me know of their presence so the first Barn Swallows and Swifts put in an appearance.

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

All too soon to return to the hotel for breakfast and prepare for the long drive up to Zuera just short of Huesca for the coming night.

The drive was not without incident as I recorded Kestrel, Buzzard, Raven and Black Kite but, most strange of all as I passed Jaen, a Red-legged Partridge sitting on the crash barrier at the side of the motorway without a care in the world. Seventy species recorded including thirty new for the month.

Is that a Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax I see creeping through the bushes?

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Little Owl, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Bearded Tit, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Golden Oriole, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

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

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Wednesday 13 June 

Looks as if Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group found sun and sun-bathers to interrupt their birding today but, nevertheless, some great sightings.

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa:Wednesday 13th June

Richard, Steve and I were kindly picked up in Arboleas by Paul. We joined the Rambla de Almanzora near to the Desert Springs golf complex and headed slowly towards the ford.  There was no water in the rambla until we were virtually there, but we did managed to see Bee-eater, Spotless Starling, Blackbird, Magpie, Goldfinch, Black Headed Gull and Woodpigeon.  At the ford we only saw Moorhen, Mallard and Black-winged Stilt.  Brian and Mary were already there.  We were joined by Barrie and Beryl​.  We walked onto the embankment overlooking the water-filled channel and were joined by Jacky.  Lots of Black-winged Stilt.  I spotted a Green Sandpiper and Paul found a Little Ringed Plover nearby.  Barrie added some more Green Sandpipers and a Ringed Plover.  Overhead we had Common Swift, House Martin, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows.  Richard checked out the channel further towards the bridge as the rest of us, now joined by Trevor and Ann made for the sewage works.  We could hear Reed Warblers.  A Hoopoe posed well.  I thought I had taken some photos of it, only to discover, once on the computer, I had very sharp images of the vegetation behind it!  We added Sardinian Warbler before we got to the larger pool.  I added a Common Pochard to the list.  Only other birds were Mallard and yet more Black-winged Stilt!  We heard a Stone Curlew calling from the rambla very close to us.  It eventually flew up the rambla on the far side. 
Resting Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Leaving the car park area about last, us in Paul's car had a close encounter with a perched Roller on a power line.  We retreated to the Lucky bar in Villaricos village for refreshments.  On the table next to us was Steve, a holidaying birder from Buckinghamshire who might be moving out our way.  I've added him to my e-mailing list. 

Roller Coracias  garrulus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After a short detour back to where we'd parked at the ford as Paul's rubber knob had come off the bottom of his crutch, we joined the others on the beach......with the increasing numbers of sunbathers! The harbour rocks produced a single Cormorant and a few Little Egrets.  Trudging over to the estuary as it was getting a bit hot now (31c predicted on the weather forecast this morning!), we saw a female Common Pochard, 3 Shoveler, a male and 2 females as well as Coot and Mallard. I spotted a distant Kestrel perched on a telegraph pole adjacent to the road. Jacky was first to hear an overflying Zitting Cisticola.  Moving further towards the beach we saw more Coot and lots of jumping fish.  A couple walking with two dogs removed any chance of seeing much along the estuary's beach end.  I did briefly see a Sanderling.  Barrie managed to find a Kentish Plover.  Paul saw a Yellow-legged Gull. On the walk along the beach back to the vehicles, Barrie spotted a small flock of feeding Greenfinch. 

Female Common Pochard Aythya ferina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera Playa.  It was not a shock to hear the numerous Black-winged Stilts, some with chicks.  The Black-headed Gull colony seems to have had a successful breeding season.  Moving a bit further along I found a single Slender-billed Gull.  Barrie saw some interesting birds on a sandy spit even further along.  We walked onto a flattened area where we could get a closer view.  A Little Tern was diving for fish.  A wader proved to be a Curlew Sandpiper.  We also saw White-headed Duck and Little Grebe.  Barrie found a sitting Mediterranean Gull with a last year juvenile nearby.
We ended up with 41 species.  Due to the increasing heat and the numbers of people on the beach, I think we shall return here in the autumn.  Still a good days birding in good company.  We wish Barrie and Beryl good luck on their future holiday to Outer Mongolia looking for Snow Leopards.  They've promised to send me photograph!
Regards, Dave

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

Axarquia Bird Group Visit to Charca de Suarez

Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus
Tuesday 12 June

A lovely sunny morning, despite some finding it a little on the breezy side as they left their respective homes, for the Axarquia Bird Group's private visit to the Charca de Suarez resrve on the western outskirts of Motril.  Great to see long-standing members Marcus, Gerry and Patrick again along with Derek, Micky and Jerry who had driven over from west of Malaga, Olly who put in the kilometres to drive west from Roquetas de Mar and Steve from, in this company, the relatively close proximity of Frigiliana.  A great mornings birding in good company; not so much the quantity as the quality of species.

Arriving close to the site to take the short drive along "Turtle Dove Alley" I had a Cattle Egret fly over the road and away and, naturally, there were Spotless Starlings, House Sparrows and Collared DovesTurtle Doves heard in the ally of their name and then, at 9.30, into the reserve as a group before individuals deciding where they would like to visit first.  Lots of House Martins about and many Pallid Swifts but not until nearly the end of the morning did I record my first Common Swift.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio (note the pinheads on the primaries showing that the bird's main wing moult is almost complete)

With all quiet and no other visitors, six if us headed straight to the Laguna del Taraje in the hope that the Little Bitterns might be about.  We were not to be disappointed.  Two on show the whole time and a total of four individuals recorded.  Not only did a Purple Swamphen put in an appearance but we also had a Red-knobbed Coot with a single chick; don't often see this bird on this particular water.  Also present Coot, Mallard and Little Grebe, all with their youngsters, and the deafening sound of both Nightingales and Cetti's Warblers. A single Hoopoe flew across the back of the water above the tress and we had a  a couple of sightings of Reed Warbler. Our first Turtle Doves were seen although their calling was almost continuous.  I suspect I may be way out if I suggest hat there must be at least a dozen breeding pairs in the immediate area.

Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus
On to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where the local White Stork was still present along with a single Snipe.  More Coots and Moorhens with an older group of Mallard ducklings but, perhaps, the pick of the birds were of a smaller size.  Pallid Swifts, House Martins and both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows  with, in the tall grasses at the back, a male Reed Bunting.  But then, not only a flock of a dozen or more Common Waxbill but also maybe as any as four of the local Black-rumped Waxbills.  I wonder if these two related species inter-breed? More Reed Warblers and a Zitting Cisticola along with  the occasional sightings of Blackbirds were also noted.

An absolute delight to these these lovely little Common Waxbill  Pico de Coral Estrilda astrild
Walking to the Laguna de las Aneas we recorded both Goldfinch and Sardinian Warbler but also had the first Bee-eaters fly over with their usual plaintiff calling.  The water itself was relatively quiet with very few Mallard, the only duck species present, and Common Coots.  A pair of Red-knobbed Coots very close to the hide with a couple of chicks confirming that these uncommon birds may have had an excellent breeding season with most surviving predation from the roving Yellow-legged Gulls.  Just the one Heron resting in a tree to the right.

Red-knobbed Coots Focha Moruna Fulica cristata which are thriving well at Charca de Suarez
As we expected, we picked up Spotted Flycatchers and many Nightingales walking down to the hide overlooking the Laguna del Trebor from where yet more Red-knobbed Coots were recorded.  A juvenile Greenfinch and a pair of Serin offered something a little different for the morning.  Then, as well as the few Common and many Pallid Swifts it was time to make our departure at 1 o'clock but not before Jerry had noticed the resting Common Kestrel.

Serin Verdecillo Serinus serinus

Four of us decided to drive up to the picnic area at Velez de Banaudalla in search of the breeding Dippers.  Both Grey and White Wagtails, lots of Spotted Flycatchers and Chaffinches, singing Golden Orioles and loads of House Sparrows but not a Dipper to be seen.

One of very many Spotted Flycartchers papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Then off on the homeward journey with a slight detour to take in the hills above Cerro Gordo to discover if the White-rumped Swifts had returned.  A  beautiful male Blue Rock Thrush was on almost constant display, often with food in its beak so a successful nest somewhere near the building site.  The odd Pallid Swift noted as we scanned the skies we eventually found more and more of these lovely swifts. Not just one Common Kestrel flying overhead but suddenly the appearance of a second as he harried the much larger female Peregrine Falcon.  All this excitement led to our eventually finding  a White-rumped Swift, very high initially but later a little lower, but still high, altitude.  Having brought a smile to our faces Derek then pointed out the Black Wheatear which suddenly appeared in the trees below and as I drove back to Mezquitilla to collect bits and pieces to take into Jenny at the local hospital, a few House Martins arrived on the scene and a pair of Red-legged Partridges casually walked, at their very slow leisure, across the road in front of the car.

Male Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, White Stork, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Barn swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Black-rumped Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.
Recently fledged Nightingale Ruisenor Comun Luscinia megarhynchos
Lots of Turtle Doves Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur to be seen this morning

And still the White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia remains at the Charca de Suarez
A last look at one of our two very patient Little Bitterns Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus at the Charca de Suarez

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