Wednesday 26 September 2018

Rutand Water

Wednesday 26 September

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
First  of our twelve days back in the UK and lots to do before visiting sons down south tomorrow.  But, never one to miss up an opportunity, not before just popping over to nearby Rutland Water for a little over an hour to see what was on the the North Arm and the feeding area, plus a quick check on Lagoon 1 from the Visitors Centre.  Only a quick visit but still managed to record 35 species.

Approaching the North Arm I had already seen Rook, Crow and Wood Pigeon and the first sight of this water quickly added Mute Swan and all three local geese, Greylag, Canada and Egyptian.  Good numbers of Coot and, my word, the Wigeon have turned up in hundred since last here about six weeks ago.  Also present a number of Cormorant and a few Moorhen plus Lapwing and a single Great Black-backed Gull to add to the dominant presence of the Black-headed Gulls.  Apart from the Wigeon, there were also Mallard, Gadwall, Teal and Tufted Duck along with absolutely scores of Great Crested Grebes and a handful of Little Grebe.

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus

The narrow road back toward the turn for Eggleton produced both Blackbird and a male Pheasant but next to nothing when I arrived at the car park.  No scores, just less than a handful of Jackdaws but I did find more Collared Doves.  Once seated overlooking the feeding area the small birds came in droves to feast on the feeders.  The larger were mainly Greenfinch and Goldfinch, with slightly more of the former, along with a good smattering of Chaffinch.  So many juvenile Goldfinch yet to to receive their red faces. less than a dozen House Sparrows but I did eventually find a couple of Dunnock and a single Robin.  Of the tit family, mainly Great Tits,now looking rather resplendent in their new feathers but also regular visits by Blue Tits.

Great Tit Parus major

A quick visit to the now open Visitors Centre meant that I was looking almost directly into the sun but it did not prevent me from watching the Great White Egret fly along the back of the water and come to rest on the mud to my right.  Similar good fortune away to my left where I watched the arrival of a female Marsh Harrier.  And that was it as I quickly made my way back to Stamford to complete my appointments.

Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Hopefully, I shall find time to return next week as well as pay a visit to either Norfolk or Frampton Marsh near Boston.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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

Monday 24 September 2018

Axarquia Bird Group Visit to the Charca de Suarez

Sunday 23 September

Seven of us at the monthly meet of the Axarquia Bird Group.  Leaving early so that I could take the slight deviation via "Turtle Dove Alley" at the back of the Charca de Suarez I had a pair of Kestrels pas overhead as I entered the narrow concrete road along with many Collared Doves and House Sparrows and a few Blackbirds and Spotless Starlings quickly followed by a feeding male Sardinian Warbler and then a pair of Red Avadavats at the side of the road.  A Crested Lark was put up from the road a hundred metres or so along and then a handful of Serins on my right.  Arriving at the entrance I could see John and Jenny Wainwright already in place and waiting for the gates to be opened.

Once opened I went on my usual clockwise walk starting in the bamboo hide overlooking the Laguna del Taraje whilst John and Jenny headed straight for the new hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco.

Another fine, sunny day with very little breeze.

We arrived at the site with about ten minutes to spare before opening, but there was nobody around, were we here on the right date?? Then Bob turned up, a relief to say the least.

At nine o'clock on the dot Mano arrived to open up the reserve and the day started.  Plenty of Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, House Sparrows and Blackbirds about on the walk down to the new lagoon (by the butterfly house).  Just prior to this a Sparrowhawk cruised overhead but was gone from sight in an instant.  At the hide we settled in to watch at least eight Common Snipe, three Teal, a few Mallard, and a Green Sandpiper.  A Kingfisher flew onto a far post but quickly left but below the post a Chiffchaff was noted (singing also).  To the left of the hide and up the channel a Little Egret was feeding as were several Moorhens (juveniles and adults).

Moorhen Gallineta Comun Gallinula chloropus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Two Purple Swamphens came out of the reeds to our right – one carrying a reed, half again the length of the bird itself.  A Little Grebe was heard in the back of the reeds, but I never saw it here.  Cetti´s Warblers were in full voice all over the reserve and a White Stork continued its position on the centre reed pile.  As a Shoveler and a Mallard were feeding in the front of the hide, a Water Rail was spotted, running into the reed bed, it appeared sporadically until a flurry of action and two of the latter came out of the reed bed and then back in.  One of the birds did appear quite often during our 40 minute stay in the hide.  Two White Wagtails were seen but only for ten minutes or so as did two Red Avadavats (one of them had a feather in its beak so we can only assume its nesting somewhere close by).

Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Passing a Hoopoe on the track in the opposite anti-clockwise direction, there were lots of vociferous Cetti's Warblers about and even a first Chiffchaff at the Taraje.  Mainly Moorhen and a single Red-knobbed Coot till the Purple Swamphen was noticed in the reeds opposite going about its personal ablutions.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio
On leaving and calling in at the small hide at the far end of the water, I found a couple of Common Coot. Son on to the large hide overlooking the Alamo Blanco in which I found John and Jenny and able to share most of the sightings described above, indeed, all but the Sparrowhawk.   the Snipe seemed very obliging and the single Little Egret flew into the main pool area along with six of his friends.

Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago
We had presumed that the Water Rail had moved nearer to us and so giving better sightings.  Here it remained for ages but when it eventually regained its original sighting there was an almighty scuffle and we realised that there were, indeed, two individuals present and so the battle commenced.  probably at about this time, around 9.30ish, we were joined by Steve and Elena Powell along with John Ross.

Little Egret garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

Leaving the hide, John and spotted a female Marsh Harrier came quartering over the laguna, putting up the Teal and all of the Snipe, but they quickly returned after it had passed over. As we left the hide a Common Buzzard was seen.  We then moved on to the "Bamboo hide" where we saw another Kingfisher, Common and Red-knobbed Coots, Moorhen and Common Waxbills. 

Water Rail rascon Europeo Rallus aquaticus
Making my way to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas I was able to record another Chiffchaff and once ensconced with John Ross take note of the large number of Common Coot, mainly resting on the island immediately in front of the hide.  we were soon joined by Lesley Laver who had appeared for the opposite direction.  The usual number of Moorhen and Little Grebes about along with a handful of Cormorant and at least three Grey Heron.  A Blackbird made a brief appearance and then I concentrated on the resting ducks which were mainly Mallard with a few Teal and Shoveler.  A couple of Common Waxbill visited the island and then the Kingfisher flashed by to land on the water gauge. Back to the island where further study revealed a first then second Ferruginous Duck along with a dozen or so Common Pochard.  Strange how the latter seemed to have sorted themselves out by sex leaving a few centimetres gap between the two sets!  A pair of Red-knobbed Coots, neither with ring collars, were so close to the hide it would have been easier just to walk in and make their introductions!

Birdy island at the Charca de Suarez
Ferruginous Duck Porron Pardo Aythya nyroca (centre) with Pochard Porron Europeo Aythya ferina (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Leaving the main hide to move on to the Laguna del Trebol we stopped at the recently-created spinney where one can usually find some interesting smaller birds.  We were not to be disappointed.  A Spotted Flycatcher was quickly found along with Blackcap and Great Tit.  A closer look at the phylloscopus warbler quickly confirmed it as a Willow Warbler with its pale legs prominently in sight.  But then the large mystery warbler.  We had great, clear sightings but could just not, immediately, identify the bird.  Was it a Reed Warbler?  Too big.  No distinguishing identifiers, could it be a garden warbler?  Wrong shaped beak.  The bird moved further away as local birder Juan arrived.  He immediately found a Reed Warbler, but not our bird.  We thought Great Reed Warbler as one had just been recorded back at the Alamo Blanco but not big enough.  Time for some further research and the description completely validated the idea running through the minds of both John and myself, Western Olivaceous Warbler, "...rather like a washed-out Reed Warbler; same size and has same pointed head..." or ".. only confused with Reed Warbler but appears slightly larger with larger beak.."

Before continuing on the Laguna del Trebol, Lesley and I made a quick return to the Aneas to check out the pair of female Gadwall that we had missed amongst the other ducks resting on the island.  Job done, on to the next hide but very little else to see so on round to the southern hide looking back over the same water.  A Marsh Harrier was seen by John and Jenny and many more Common and Red-knobbed Coots along with the occasional Moorhen and Mallard.  Having seen our first Barn Swallow of the day over the main water we now saw at least a score feeding both here and over the previous laguna.  Leaving the hide we stopped to check out the usual bushes for the resident Chameleon and successfully found the larger of the two seen last week.

So back to the Laguna del Taraje where we had close views of a pair of Common Waxbill and a Greenfinch.  The last stop to spend the remaining fifteen minutes was at the large hide overlooking Alamo Blanco but all seemed very quiet and almost deserted.  Just the odd duck, a single Snipe and Green Sandpiper.  Even the White Stork had moved on to pastures new.

Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrild (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

As John noted in his report, "Moving along to the Trebol Laguna hide we noted Blackcaps and House Sparrows in the bushes, while at the hide a small group of Barn Swallows flashed past (only hirundines of the day).  Another Grey Heron here as well as Common and Red-knobbed Coots, Common Pochard and two Kingfishers, a nice surprise was the female coming to rest in the reed bed, she showed herself twice before we left the hide." A group of five Yellow-legged Gulls were logged as we walked back to the exit."

Water Rail rascon Europeo Rallus aquaticus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
All in all, a most enjoyable morning, especially the many close sightings of the Water Rail and, between us, a total of 45 species recorded.

Water Rail Rascon Europeo Rallus aquaticus

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Colared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow,  Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Serin, Greenfinch.

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

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 19 September

A wonderful day out in Cabo de Gata by the Arboleas Birding Group and evidence that the Honey Buzzards are still making their way south.  I thought migration started a little earlier this year and yet here we are in mid-September and still the raptors keep coming in good numbers.  Some excellent birds seen and it just goes to show what a birding hot spot Cabo de Gata can be at almost any time of the year.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 19th September

Well folks, what a good day we had! Us Arboleas lot, me driving Alec followed by Mike, Diane and Richard behind in their 4x4 left a little bit earlier than usual so we could check out the Dotterel spot once more.  We arrived at the north end of the Cabo de Gata reserve and duly had a look around. No Dotterels seen, but we started our day list with Greenfinch, Thekla Lark, Hoopoe and Barn Swallow.
We headed for the Pujaire cafe where Barrie & Beryl were waiting for us. We were joined by Kevin, Troy and new member, Peter.
After a cup of coffee we made our way to the first hide.  First thing I noticed was that the single Oystercatcher was still here, but Kevin had seen 6 Spoonbill at the other end of the rocky causeway. Apart from the usual plethora of Greater Flamingos, there were in the wader department, Kentish and Ringed Plover, Black Winged Stilt, Black Tailed Godwit and Redshank.  There were lots of Slender Billed Gulls plus a few Mallard. Barrie spotted a Little Grebe and an Iberian Grey Shrike.  Troy then found a Kestrel but trumped her sighting with a Honey Buzzard head south against the wind direction.  Eventually we saw 11 of them.  Kevin then spotted some Eurasian Curlew, 6 in all.  Behind them on the savannah, Barrie had a fleeting view of a flying Stone Curlew. Richard spotted what turned out to be a Glossy Ibis.  A Grey Heron flew over.
Moving on to the beach opposite the second hide.  The sea was as flat as a tack so everything was on view.  Around the various fishing vessels were at least a thousand gulls, but too far out to give a definite ID.  However, amongst them were smaller black looking birds, some occasionally flying. Balearic Shearwaters!  We walked to the hide and were pleased to see two juvenile Woodchat Shrikes plus another Iberian Grey Shrike.  Suddenly a flock of large black birds took to the air on the far side of the salina.  15 Black Stork accompanied by two smaller Glossy Ibis.  They headed towards the lighthouse but soon returned as the wind was against them.  No chance of reaching North Africa today.  Richard was first to notice a yellowish warbler in a shrub in front of the hide.  A Melodious Warbler.  A tired looking juvenile Barn Swallow posed well on the fence.
Juvenile Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Moving onto the public hide, the first birds we spotted was a pair of Northern Wheatear on a fence who were joined by some Thekla Larks.  Just beyond the wire gates to the right of the hide was a Spotted Flycatcher first seen by Diane, I believe.   In the water to the right were some Avocet and a Redshank.  Amongst the gulls on the rocky causeway were some Sandwich Terns.  On the left hand side the shallow waters brought in the smaller waders.  Dunlin, Kentish and Ringed Plover and later Barrie found a Little Stint.  He also found a large raft of Black-necked Grebes and some Shelduck.  I found a Greenshank on one of the islands.
Spotted Flycather Muscipapa striata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then made our way to the Rambla Morales.  I was leading the convoy along the beachside track. As I was failing to get a photo of one of the half dozen Yellow Wagtails, Barrie behind me in his car spotted a Marsh Harrier.  A Short-toed Lark species flew over.  Arriving at the car park, Keven found a Greenshank at the estuary end with some Coot.  There were hundreds of Sand Martins flying around.  We heard Cetti's Warblers as we walked to the "hump".  On the far side of the water were at least 6 White-headed Duck plus two or three very young ducklings.  There was also a female Teal and Shoveler with some Mallard.  Barrie spotted a Reed Warbler and some distant Magpie.  Another Glossy Ibis was seen.  Barrie's Marsh Harrier was seen near the desalination plant and a female flew over the opposite reeds.  We could hear a helicopter high above.  If I hadn't been scanning the sky for it, I'd have never seen the first 4 Honey Buzzards heading south.  Then more kept coming.  In total we counted 23 and a Kestrel.  Feeling well pleased we retreated to the Cabo beach side cafe for lunch.  I only had a coke before having to leave for a meeting.  After their lunch Barrie and Beryl drove up to the lighthouse where they saw 12 Honey Buzzards heading south plus two Booted Eagles circling.  Incredibly on their way back they counted a further 68 Honey Buzzards over Pujaire!
We ended with 55 species in total, but what a cracking days birding in great company.  The weather gods were kind to us as well!
Regards, Dave
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Monday 17 September 2018

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Monday 17 September

Awake early so up and down to the Rio Velez outside Torre del Mar arriving at 7 o'clock and still completely dark.  No sign of any Nighjars on the track and, as the light slightly improved, I could see the Cattle Egret roost from the hide with at east 100+ individuals present.  As expected, Blackbirds were first on the scene as daylight broke followed by some very noisy Cetti's Warblers and the occasional sight of a bird moving between the reeds to the front.

Cattle Egret Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis roost with Mallards Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos on the water
A walk to the beach revealed that there was a good-sized lake at the mouth of the river with at least 50 Mallards present on the water.  Again, over 50 House Martins seemed to take to the air from the reeds (or were feeding on mass) and then the low-feeding Pallid Swifts with at least twenty present.  The first Black-headed Gulls appeared overhead and a single Common Coot put in an appearance.

So back to the hide to see what might be moving about to discover the owners of the parked car at the site when I first arrived.  As I suspected, the local ringers were present and on this occasion it was Juan Ramirez and his trainee Anna from Malaga.  They were retuning from the nets with three birds; a Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and a Bluethroat already wearing a Dutch ring.  Having completed the ageing, sexing and measuring, the birds were released and we three took a walk back down to the beach passing a small charm of Goldfinch on the way.  Juan then informed me that he often finds Red-necked Nightjars resting on the warm beach, picking out their red eyes with a torch - but not this morning.

The already Dutch-ringed Blethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica behing processed and released
Feeding over the water we now had good numbers of both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows along with the occasional Sand Martin and a few House Martins.  In addition, there were still Common Swifts to be seen.  A Purple Swamphen made a fast and heavy flight across the top of the lake where the waters narrowed.  Meanwhile, out at sea, a couple of large fishing boats were making their way back to their home port of Caleta de Velez and followed by many gulls, mainly Yellow-legged but also both Lesser Black-backed and a number of Black-headed Gulls.  Also with the gulls were at least 20 Balearic Shearwater and Juan also manage to find a Cory's Shearwater.

No sooner had Juan commented on the lack of recent sightings/hearings of Little Bittern than one called from the reeds to our right as we looked up river.  A Kingfisher crossed from the left and then the Little Bittern flew across the water to rapidly disappear inside the reeds.  Above us a couple of hovering Common Kestrel and then a score of Rock Doves wandering westwards.  A handful of Sanderling flew westwards close to the shore and then a Night Heron at the far end of the lake making its way upstream and a dozen Little Egrets arrived from the coast.

Back at the hide we had close views of a couple of Hoopoe and a score or more of Spotless Starlings were feeding in the immediate area.  Time to re-check the nets and then bring back almost twenty more small birds for scientific analysis.  Walking back to the hide we had three Honey Buzzards circling overhead.  Mainly Reed Warblers but also a good number of Cetti's Warblers, a second ringed Bluethroat, this one bearing a French ring, a single juvenile Subalpine Warbler, a female Greenfinch and a juvenile Penduline Tit.  These small tits look very small when seen in the wild but in the hand they appear even smaller with a weight of just a fraction over 8 grams.  Behind us we had the sighting of the first of about eight Short-toed Larks and a trio of Serin.

Honey Buzzard Abejero Europeo Pernis apivorus high overhead in the cloud

Then the rains started.  Juan went back to the nets, almost complete protected from the wind and light rain by the high reeds and bamboo, and returned with a few more warblers including a Blackcap.  He also reported that on arrival he found both a Snipe and Teal sheltering from the rain under the reeds at the water's edge.  A Collared Dove flew over and, as might well be expected, we had an overfly from five of the local Monk Parakeet population.

A very wet Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis

Time to finally say goodbye and make a quick check in the fields upstream of the  road bridge.  Greeted by a Great Tit and on reaching the track above the dry river bed a good view of a female Pied Flycatcher.  Similarly, a quick circuit of the arable fields produced both Crested Lark and a wet Zitting Cisticola trying to preen and dry itself on the adjacent fence.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Teal, Balearic Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Honey Buzzard, Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Pallid Swift, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Bluethroat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Blackcap, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Serin, Greenfinch.

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

Sunday 16 September 2018

Charca de Suarez, Motril

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
Saturday 15 September

The first visit by the Andalucia Bird Society to this lovely enclosed site at Charca de Suarez just west of Motril in Granada province.  Greeted by light rain, sufficient to have most entering in either raincoats and/or with umbrellas, the weather soon cleared up to leave a cloudy and ever-increasing humid morning.  Shame we were still carrying the now unnecessary rain gear!  Given the fact that this was a very early start and a distance away from most of the regular field visit participants, it was lovely to see 17 members join me for the morning including some from west of Malaga and Barry and Jan Avis who had travelled all the way west from Murcia province.  Again, a special delight to see Dianne Cockayne with us after her recent bereavement and looking so positive, determined and (relatively) happy given her recent experience.  Look forward to seeing Dianne again when she returns from her Sheffield home back in the UK.

Distant Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Steptopelia turtur
Perhaps a little too early for the winter waders with just the one Snipe seen and not a single Cattle Egret and with just the one Little Egret and a single over-flying Grey Heron before a second took up residence splendidly poised on a large post in front of the hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco.  At the same hide, in addition to long-residing White Stork, we also had a very special visitor.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia with accompanying Mallards Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos

On arriving at the hide a I had a very brief sight of what looked like a diminutive Moorhen until I realised I was looking at a crake, possibly a Little Crake.  Less than five seconds in view then gone before anyone else could be alerted.  Who would believe me?  But patience is always a virtue and eventually the bird not only wandered out from the reeds but decided to take a short walk through the water giving excellent views to all present.  Photographs taken and with a better, longer sight the bird was confirmed as a Spotted Crake.

Spotted Crake Polluela Pintoja Porzana porzana
Our morning had started at the "reedy" Laguna del Taraje where Barry, first to arrive, was greeted with a brief sighting of a Water Rail as it crossed a gap at the back of the water but immediately in front the hide.  No Little Bitterns but we did record our first Purple Swamphens and Red-knobbed Coots along with Little Grebe, Mallard and Moorhen.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata
So on to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco as above where we also added a number of Mallards, Teal, Common Coots and, overhead, both Common Kestrel and a passing Booted Eagle.  A single Night Heron was circling above the trees before disappearing from sight but found later along with six others as they roosted in a dead tree at the back of the main water.

The gathering of Night Herons Martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax mainly juvenile
Walking to the Laguna de las Aneas we added Blackbird and heard Turtle Dove.  Driving down "Turtle Dove Alley" I had already record and photographed a pair along with a Hoopoe and another of the latter was added a little later on during the morning.  A small flock of Serin were feeding in a tree just before the main hide and, once inside, we quickly added a number of both Mallard and Common Pochard.  Another Grey Heron was on the island and, at the back, a couple of Ferruginous Ducks.  At the front the island amidst the Mallards we also managed to pick up a couple of Shoveler.  Paul saw the only White Wagtail of the morning and both Cetti's and Reed Warblers were singing/calling.  A Kingfisher, having already flown across the previous water, presented itself by perching on top of the depth marker post for a lengthy time and then, seen as well as heard, a small number of Bee-eaters, presumably making their way westwards towards their final destination before crossing over to Africa.  Not a single gull or hirundine on or over the main laguna so just as well I recorded a few Barn Swallows whilst waiting for the reserve gate to open and also a handful of Audouin's Gulls on the neighbouring beach.

Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis
More calling Turtle Doves then the first of a number of sightings of Spotted Flycatcher.  But, whilst watching a number of Red-knobbed Coots on the Laguna del Trebol followed by brief sightings of both Cetti's and Reed Warbler we had another Kestrel pass overhead.  And so on to the hide on the other side of the water.  Nothing new to add but as we made our way back to the main track we stopped to admire the two resident Chameleon, as pointed out to us by one of the wardens.  Whilst watching these lovely, on this occasion bright green, cratures we had a visitation from a small brown warbler.  Lucky for us it hung around long enough to pick out the very white throat and back markings to confirm the obvious sighting of a Common Whitethroat.

One of the two Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon on site
Nothing new to add in the remaining thirty minutes so we assembled at the main gate to say our farewells and eight of us carried on up to the picnic area at Velez de Benaudalla.  Our journey took us down "Turtle Dove Alley" but no birds of the same name on this occasion.  We did have a flock of Serin and just past the old ruin we finally came across a trio of Red Avadavat.  Then, to my right, a lone Northern Wheatear beat a hasty, low retreat through the neighbouring bushes of Pampas Grass and our final bird was a Spotless Starling as we approached the main road.  As for the picnic area itself, the very heavy rain and thunderstorms of the previous evening and night had drenched the site and covered the track to the site with enormous puddles stretching from side to side.  Indeed, the only bird recorded was a Chaffinch.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Time to return to our respective home after a very pleasant and interesting morning's birding in great company.

Additional photos:

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops
Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

Northern Shoveler Chuchara Comun Anas clypeata
Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Teal, Little Grebe, Night Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Spotted Crake, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Audouin's Gull, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collard Dove, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap. Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin

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

Friday 14 September 2018

Cabo de Gata with dave Elliott-Binns

Friday 14 September

Looks like Dave did nor get enough birding in yesterday as he was back out again this morning to make the trip down to Cabo de Gata, a place I have yet to visit at this time of the year.  Whist I would certainly have enjoyed the birding I am certainly not so sure about all the hiking up and down the steep hills - even to see the selection of raptors.  For me, I am placing my money on seeing Dotterel on their return journey next February/March when I , probably, next visit Cabo de Gata.

Cabo de Gata   -   Friday 14th September 2018

Today I made a private visit to Cabo de Gata to combine birdwatching and keeping fit.  I left home before dawn and it was my intention to try and find the newly arrived Dotterels as reported last week. I went to the likely sites.  There were numerous Common Swifts and Barn Swallows flying over but alas no sign of the Dotterels.  They could easily have been there, but the area was festooned with flowering Sea Daffodils!  I then checked out the savannah near the public hide with the same result (minus the flowers!).  Barrie had seen some Trumpeter Finches nearby recently, so I followed the track beside the chain-link fence towards the church.  I saw a female Stonechat and a female Black Eared Wheatear plus Greenfinch, Thekla Lark and Collared Dove. 

Female Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hisanica (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I made my way down to the far end of the reserve and navigated the track round the rear.  Recent rains made it muddy and wet in places.  There was a small group of Audouin's Gulls at rest.  Slender-billed Gulls were feeding in the salinas.  Waders included Kentish and Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Avocet and a few Curlew Sandpipers.  Some Shovelers had arrived to join the resident Mallards and Shelducks.  As I reached the hedge beside the planted field a young Sparrowhawk flew in 10 metre stints as I "pushed" him/her towards the end.  It then circled behind the truck grimly hanging on to its deceased prey.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I then drove towards the lighthouse.  I turned left towards the steep hill heading towards San Jose.  I parked at the bottom of the hill and commenced the walk upwards. 

View from half way up the hill. Truck bottom right!
(PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
An Iberian Grey Shrike was perched on a power line as I left the truck.  There only other birds I saw on the ascent was a covey of Red-legged Partridge, a Black Wheatear and a Sardinian Warbler.  Once at the peak I walked down the other side probably for about 2 kilometres.  About half way down I saw a bird of prey high above me, stationary in the easterly wind.  A Black Kite.  Next I saw a pair of high flying Raven.  After elevenses of a banana and drink, I began the second ascent of the day.  After seeing a female Blue Rock Thrush flying across the valley, things began to get exciting.  Looking up I saw 3 adult Booted Eagles.  Below them was a Peregrine Falcon gliding north.  Minutes later there were 4 Honey Buzzards being harassed by, presumably, a second Peregrine.  The excitement may have been short, but it was very sweet!  I completed the ascent followed by the descent to the truck. As I drove back towards the lighthouse road, I saw another female Black-eared Wheatear.

Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
29 species in all, but some crackers in there.  Back to Cabo on Wednesday next with the group, weather permitting!  Lovely day.  Fitness regime going well. Lost 16kg so far.
Regards, Dave

Black Kite Milvus migrans in silhouette (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

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Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 13 September
Another interesting outing by the Arboleas Birding Group and especially liked the reference to Whinchats and Orphean Warbler.  Be good if I got to record these two species in the next few weeks along with the Common Redstart that I missed back in the spring.

Sierra de Maria   -   Thursday 13th September 2018

A Thursday for a change as I had a dentist appointment yesterday.  I picked up Alec in Arboleas and headed for Velez Rubio.  The road between the autovia and the town from the east is closed for roadworks, so we were diverted back onto the motorway to get off at the next junction.  Wasn't that far, so not much of a delay.  We met up with Barrie, Beryl, Les, Richard, Mike & Diane at the usual cafe.  The weather was sunny and pleasant so we had our coffee outside watching Barn Swallows and hearing Bee-eaters.  Suitably refreshed we headed to the chapel where we parked up.  Due to his mobility problems, Mike took Richard up to the gardens.  The rest of us checked out the chapel area. Barrie spotted a passing Raven.  Also seen were Chaffinch & Great Tit.  Jacky joined us.  The water trough was being used as a lure by a cat, so I encouraged it to move.  Still nothing took the risk of a drink, but we did see 2-3 Willow Warblers flitting around the shrubs.  They were joined by a Blue Tit. As we commenced the walk towards the Botanical Gardens, we spotted a larger warbler at the base of a shrub.  It eventually flew to another shrub giving a brief view.  Barrie identified it as a Western Orphean Warbler.  Very nice!  

Dragonfly (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We reached the gardens.  A lot of Crossbills were flying around.  Richard had also seen a Crested Tit. A Coal Tit was seen.  Les stayed with Richard as the rest of us did the lower walk.  We saw a small flock of Long-tailed Tits before Jacky headed up the hill side to do the high walk.  She saw a Jay just after leaving us.  I managed to find a distant flock of about 50 Bee-eaters way over towards a hill's ridge.   The only other bird we saw was a Sardinian Warbler.
At the farm buildings, Barrie spotted an adult Booted Eagle as we got out of our vehicles. Les found a low flying Red Rumped Swallow amongst a few Barn Swallows. I scanned the distant horizon above the pine forest and spotted some Griffon Vultures. I think we saw about 20 in all plus another possible Booted Eagle.
At the farm water trough, there were about half a dozen Carrion Crows hanging around.  I checked out the rugged hillside over the road and found a brown bird on a pillar and another bird on some distant fencing.   Les zoomed in with his scope.  The brown bird was a Rock Sparrow & the perched one was a juvenile Woodchat Shrike.  I then spotted a Turtle Dove in one of the trees.  A juvenile apparently.  Barrie & Les combined to find a pair of Whinchats.  Another nice find!  Also saw a Crested Lark.

Juvenile Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Convoying down the plain, we saw an Iberian Grey Shrike, a posing Black-eared Wheatear and a Northern Wheatear.  Being in the lead car it's always disconcerting when the vehicles behind you all stop.  You've obviously missed something.  I arrived at the hamlet flushing about 6 Short-toed Larks. The others arrived saying a group of about 12 Short-toed Larks had shown themselves on the plain as I passed them.  All's well that ends well!  We only added a pair of distant Kestrels (assumed all Lesser Kestrels have well gone by now!)
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthehispanica (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We retraced our steps to the La Piza forest cafe to eat our lunch watching the tits and Crossbill feeding and drinking.  They were joined by Jays & chaffinches.  We didn't see the Nuthatch that had been feeding on bread most of the morning!  Jacky joined us.  She added Robin, Spotted Flycatcher and a probable female Black Redstart to the days list.
In total we saw 36 species, some good ones amongst them.  A great days birding in good company & weather!
Bush Cricket Tettigonia hispanica
(PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Remember I told you Barrie & Beryl were off to see Snow Leopards in Mongolia.  They had distant views of one and Barrie managed to see a closer one.  No chance of any photos though!  Also just to let you know Heather Murrell has moved back to the UK.  We wish her well and hope to see her back in Spain for a holiday sometime.

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Wednesday 5 September 2018

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 5 September

Good to see that Dave & CO are back from their respective holidays and that the Arboleas Birding Group is once again up and about.  The first visit of the season saw them at Cabo de Gata and neighbouring Ramble Morales where birds a plenty were awaiting their arrival.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

After a long hot summer it was great to be out with the lads and lasses of the Arboleas Birding Group once again.  Us from Arboleas region, Richard, Mike, Diane, Paul, Alec, Gilly and myself met up outside the Humbugs cafe.  We convoyed down in two 4x4s to the Pujaire village cafe where we met up with Les.  We made our way to the first hide.  The water level was a bit low, but there was plenty to see.  There was a wide selection of waders. Avocet, Black Tailed Godwit, Black Winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, and a single Curlew Sandpiper.  The star was an uncommon bird here, an Oystercatcher.  

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
There was a steady stream of Barn Swallows passing and Les spotted a Red Rumped as well.  I spotted a Northern Wheatear on a fence to the right and then found a juvenile Woodchat Shrike on a bush behind us.  There were numerous Greater Flamingos (Gilly later counted 725 from the 2nd hide).  Les found some diving Little Tern further up the salina and I spotted a Sandwich Tern on the rocky causeway together with Black Headed, Yellow Legged and Slender Billed Gulls.  On the island beyond the 2nd hide we could see Grey Heron, Little Egret and Spoonbill.  Gilly did well to spot a distant perched Kestrel.  Common and Pallid Swifts, Greenfinch and Iberian Grey Shrikes were also seen.
Juvenile Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving on to the 2nd hide, the beach had a small group of resting Yellow Legged Gulls thereon. On the way to the hide I manged to get some photos of a Thekla Lark and another juvenile Woodchat Shrike. A female Marsh Harrier showed well. We confirmed at least two Spoonbill on or near the island opposite. A Cattle Egret was also seen. An Audouin's Gull flew by.

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At the Public Hide we added an Eurasian Curlew and Les also saw a Little Stint amongst the plovers and Dunlin. Richard saw a pair of Red Legged Partridge near the vehicles.
Lizard with unlucky Dragonfly meal (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then made our way to the Rambla Morales. I spotted a flying Hoopoe as we drove along the beachside track. There were no waders at the beach end of the lake, but there were a few hirundines hawking around, mainly Barn Swallows but also a few Sand Martins as well. We, apart from Gilly, walked down to the "hump". Les was first to spot the male Common Pochard. Also seen were about half a dozen Coot and 80 odd Greater Flamingos. I spotted some flying Goldfinch. Meanwhile Gilly had seen another female Marsh Harrier making its way along the beach. On the way back along the track we disturbed some Yellow Wagtails.
(PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We lunched at the beachside cafe in Cabo village, only seeing passing gulls as we ate. We ended up with 47 species. We had a great time, not only birdwatching but catching up as well. Our best wishes to Paul as he heads off to Norway for a job. Hopefully he'll be back Christmas time with tales of Eider Ducks & White Tailed Eagles!
Regards, Dave
Sea Daffodil Pancratium maritimum (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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