Wednesday 18 July 2018


Wednesday 18 July

Back in Spain, back in the field at last!  A most enjoyable morning with friends Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Linda Roberts as we explored Zapata before taking the ride up to the confluence of the Guadalhorce and Rio Grande to finish our birding session for the day.  Lovely to see Linda again even if for only a few hours before she returns to Britain.  Whilst waiting near the "arches" we managed to record a couple of small flocks of Common Waxbill along with passing Barn Swallows and the occasional Goldfinch not to mention the resident House Sparrows and Collared Doves.

Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrild

Then it was all into Derek's car and the drive down to the river where we parked just above the ford so enabling us to see what was on and around the river - and we were not to be disappointed.  The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and not a breath of wind as we recorded a number of Little Egrets and Little Ringed Plovers.  Not long before we found the first of the resting Night Herons and, of course, no shortage of Black-winged Stilts.  Both Common and Green Sandpiper were on the far side the tiny mere and even a Moorhen came out to check what was going on whilst keeping and eye on its well-grown chick.  A Common Kestrel drifted away overhead along with the occasional Yellow-legged Gull and, closer to the car, we had good views of Crested Lark, White, Yellow (Blue-headed) and juvenile Grey WagtailsSerins were out in force and we eventually found the sheltering Grey Heron when another Night Heron landed close by.

Night Heron martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax

Never mind the Pallid Swifts overhead or the family of now well-grown Mallards drifting on the upper reaches nor even House Martins, Cattle Egret, Blackbird and even Reed Warbler it was the sudden arrival of a Little Bittern that raised our expectations.  Would the bird come out of the reeds? Yes, along with another and then, a few minutes later whilst actually parked in the rive mid-way across the ford, a weird juvenile Little Bittern walked out with in five metres to "graise" at the edge of the river giving wonderful, clear views to all.  And not a camera in sight and no volunteers to get out into the river to wade to the boot and retrieve same!  This bird looked like a juvenile almost reaching adult male plumage and then deciding that a major moult was required as it presented itself with all sorts of "spiky" feathers - unless, of course, it had been well and truly pecked by siblings and or adults.  Just like a caged chicken!

Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus

A Cetti's Warbler was singing, others saw the Sardinian Warbler land near by and a dark-morph Booted Eagle flew across the river.  Greenfinch, Blackbird and a juvenile Marsh Harrier were added on a short visit to the main drain on the other side of the rover and then working our way alongside the reed-bed near the airport navigation lights we added a Red-rumped Swallow and many more Waxbill along with a Zitting Cisticola.  Near the stream crossing a pair of Short-toed Larks were feeding and making use of the nearby drinking water and our first of a couple of pairs of Turtle Doves put in an appearance. A party of eight Spotless Starlings just about completed the observations before we made our way back to the village for a well-earned cup of coffee.

Suitably refreshed we made our way up to the Rio Grande and collected Chaffinch sightings as soon as we arrived.  Lovely to see the Spotted Flycatchers and the nearby confluence held both Cattle and Little Egret along with a pair of Little Ringed Plovers.  Then a distant Wood Pigeon.  Working our way back to the track to head upstream we stopped to find the, at least two, calling Wrynecks but mainly just quick flashes as the birds moved through the back of the trees but, on the other hand, good, clear sightings of both Jay and Woodchat Shrike.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Always lovely to hear and watch Bee-eaters and today was no exception as the local breeding flock went about its daily routine whilst entertaining us as the same time.  Whilst on the bridge over the upper Guadalhorce we saw brief glimpses of a Golden Oriole and youngster along with a Blue Tit and another Booted Eagle.  A Short-toed Eagle was resting on the far pylon on the horizon and then the well-known call of  a local Raven.  More Grey and White Wagtails along with Serin and Goldfinch before we retraced our steps (can you retrace your steps whilst sitting in a car?) to the nearby petrol station and our respective cars.  However, never mind trying to avoid the Little Ringed Plovers that stood their ground as we crossed the river bed we son stopped to check out the pair of Kentish Plover which then took us well over the fifty mark for the morning.  A really enjoyable day and wonderful company.

Phone capture at Zapata showing reed bed that juvenile Little Bittern appeared and then re-seen on back top left.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Wryneck, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticlola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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