Monday 29 October 2018

Ventas de Zafarraya

Monday 29 October

A most enjoyable morning up at the old railway track at Ventas de Zafarraya with visiting Swedish birder Hans Borjesson then on round to the "growing fields" in the hinterland.  Lovely, clear and sunny but the bad new was that the very cold wind off the mountains meant that we very much needed extra clothing on as we set off along the track.  Having already recorded Collared Dove as we approached and had White Wagtail at the mirador, we soon added Robin, Great Tit and Meadow Pipit.  Well before the tunnel we had seen many Black Wheatear and then some very handsome Black Redstarts along with Goldfinch, Linnet and Serin.

Next up was the first of a few Blue Rock Thrush and it soon became very evident, judging by the numbers, that not all Crag Martins had disappeared down to the coast for their winter holidays.  A Sardinian Warbler to the right, a trio of Rock Sparrows on the wires and once through the tunnel our first Chough.  Within minutes we had witnessed a very large flock exceeding 60 individuals and then at least ten Griffon Vultures up ahead.  A pair of Sparrowhawk were seen on the cliffs and also the first Ibex.  At the old ruin we finally found our Thekla Larks and many Stonechats on the way back with a very late House Sparrow sighting.

A distant but alert Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius

After a welcome coffee to warm ourselves we headed off to the "Muck Heap" area to check the fields where we found Crested Lark, Blackbird, Greenfinch and our first Sky Lark of the morning.  A Kestrel was sighted in the distance and then up and through the "Magpie Woods" where we dully saw at least a dozen Azure-winged Magpies.  A resting Buzzard atop a nearby small tree was an added bonus.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

Heading off to the growing fields we saw more Crested Lark and our first of two Iberian Grey Shrike along with (Common) Magpie.  Both Wood Pigeon and a huge flock of Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon were recorded and taking the large anti-clockwise circuit we had a couple of Hoopoe and more Azure-winged Magpies.  Nearing the end we managed to disturb a quintet of Calandra Lark close to the road and a little further on a female Chaffinch rested on the fence.  Our next bird was a lone Corn Bunting on the wires as we headed back towards the Magpie Woods.  Finally, dropping down from the the same woods we had not only another dozen Azure-winged Magpies but also a single Jay.  Great company and a total of 37 species before heading back to the coast.

Birds seen:
Griffon Vulture, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit,  Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 25 October 2018

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Wednesday 24 October

Chris to the airport for 11.30 so time for a couple of hours at the Guadalhorce before returning home for a late lunch.  Greeted by a few House sparrows and a dozen or so Spotless Starlings I made my way to the footbridge where I was able to see a pair of soaring Booted Eagles.  Just the one Heron and a couple of Coot on the river itself along with a couple of the resident Rock Dove resting be;low the motorway bridge.  A Cormorant flew into the site as I made my way to the Laguna Casillas where I found much water and few birds.  Just the single Little Grebe and about dozen Coot.  But way up high there were a number of feeding Crag Martins.

Moving on to the Wader Pool this was even worse with the sole birds being a trio of Coot.  I did have a resting Kestrel in a nearby tree and a calling Cetti's Warbler but otherwise nothing.  So onto the old river where I was once again rewarded with much water and little bird life albeit a single Great White Egret took of and re-settled at the far end.  Just a pair of Black-winged Stilt as I made my way to the Sea Watch and noted the handful of Greenfinch.

The sea was calm with deserted beaches.  using the scope I managed to pick out a very small mixed group of Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and at the mouth of the eastern arm three Cormorants and a singe Great Crested Grebe on the water.  A couple of Stonechat were seen on the beach rubbish and making my way back a quartet of screaming Monk Parakeets passed overhead.  On the other hand, a quick call in at the Wader Pool did result in me locating a couple of Snipe and the presence of Ian Kirk out birding.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (front) with Sanderling Calidris alba and Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
At least the Laguna Escondida showed some signs of life with the presence of a score or more Shoveler.  Looking carefully I also added Moorhen then Pochard, Teal and a pair of Wigeon.  Before leaving the ducks had also been joined by a pair of White-headed Duck.  A good number of Little Grebe were present and a Kingfisher was busy working the site.  At the far end we had a lovely view of a visiting juvenile Marsh Harrier by which time visiting birder David Hird had also arrived at the hide.

Black-necked Grebe Zampulin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis
And so on to the Laguna Grande where there was also a good supply of birds including about 40 Cormorant and the same number of Black-winged Stilts.  At least a half-dozen Herons reflecting that both Heron and Cormorant numbers were beginning to build up as winter approached.  Most of the Black-winged Stilts were close to the nearby island along with a number of waders including single Bar-tailed Godwit and Avocet and a small mixed group of Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin.  Further out on the water a constant movement of Moorhen and a what looked like a family party of seven Black-necked Grebes.  To the left both Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings in the bare trees.

Bar-tailed Godwit Aguja Colipinta Limosa lapponica
The island at the far right had three more Bar-tailed Godwits feeding nearby and in the trees at the very back both a resting Osprey and Peregrine Falcon.  With 37 species recorded I then made my way home.

Top left the Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco pelegrinoides and bottom right the Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus

Birds seen:
Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Heron, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Lesser Back-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Crag Martin, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

How many duck species can you find?
Dunlin Correlimos Comun Calidris alpina
Resting Dunlin Calidris alpina and Sanderling Calidris alba
Male Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata
Distant record sht of the Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco pelegrinoides

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

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Charca de Suarez

Sunday 21 October

At last, decent weather and able to spend the morning at the Charca de Suarez along with Derek, his brother Terry and Barbara Etherton.  Lovely to see the Bluethroats and even a very brief exposure by a Water Rail on the Laguna del Alamo Blanco and a final tally well in excess of 40 species.

Very young Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
No sooner on site than we had Kestrel, Collared Dove and Blackbird then off to the Laguna del Taraje where we had a Chiffchaff along with Red-knobbed Coots, Moorhens, Mallard and Common Coot but, on this occasion, no Purple Swamphen.  Both Spotless Starlings and a Cormorant flew over and the Little Grebe with her three very young chicks was still present and seemed to be thriving.  Not so much the singing Robin to our left but the very close appearance of a Bluethroat that had all the cameras
snapping.  A Kingfisher flashed across the top of the reeds and Blackcap was heard before we moved on to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco.

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica

Once ensconced in the now full hide, all the other occupants seemed to be resident photographers, we quickly added the solitary White stork and more Mallard.  At least nine Snipe present and along with the visiting Spoonbill and a small party of Teal.  Two Purple Swamphen and then a Common Waxbill flipped across in front of the hide.  Barbara managed to record a White Wagtail.  Patience is always a virtue and on this visit it was a Water Rail rather than a Spotted Crake that put in a very brief appearance before disappearing once more into the vegetation.

Water Rail Rascon Europeo Rallus aquaticus
On to the Laguna de las Aneas where we could see that Common Coot numbers were once more beginning to build.  Plenty of Mallard but also a handful of Teal, double that of Common Pochard and even a distant Ferruginous Duck.  No sooner had we also recorded the Shovelers than we also found a single PintailMoorhens and Little Grebes on the water and both Cormorant and Black-headed Gull flew over.  Just the one Grey Heron arrived but Derek managed to scope the undergrowth at the water's edge to our right and duly found a late Squacco Heron.

Record shot of Squacco Heron Garcilla cangrejera Ardeola ralloides
In the area around the little spinney we managed to record Geat Tit, Sardinian Warbler and even a Reed Warbler and the path leading to the Laguna del Trebol produced Blue Tit, Stonechat, Robin and Goldfinch.  Other than more Red-knobbed Coots and another Grey Heron nothing to add once we reached the hide.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
Our final stop at the Laguna del Lirio produced more  Red-knobbed Coot, Stonechat and a pair of Grey WagtailHouse Sparrows were nearby as we left the reserve and no sooner back on the road and we added Cattle Egret.  Stopping along Turtle Dove Alley the passing raptor was identified as a Booted Eagle plus a couple of Barn Swallows and so ended the morning and back home for lunch.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, White Stork, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Golfinch


Some type of Cricket
Leaf Frog
Common Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago
Mr & Mrs Mallard Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos
Pintail Anade Rabudo Anas acuta
Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca
Purple Swamphen calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio
Moorhen Gallineta Comun Porphyrio chloropus
Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata
The long-staying Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia (from Holland?)

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

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Brazo del Este: Day Two

Saturday 20 October

Away from Dos Hermanas by 9.15 to reach the meeting point at the venta Casa de Cachopo in time for breakfast before setting off on a day's birding with the Andalucia Bird Society it was a welcome sight to find a dry, calm and cloudy start and even signs of breaks in the cloud with the forecast ed heavy rain not now expected before 11. Nevermind an hour, when the rain arrived it was approaching midday and then just light showers as the nine of us in attendance made our way back to the cars in the northern area of the Brazo del Este.  Many had cancelled so I suspect we hardy souls, or idiots, were present because we had already booked overnight accommodation and at least had the pleasure of some good birding in the area the previous day.

A few of the Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus flock
Leaving our meeting place we recorded Kestrel, Buzzard and Montagu's Harrier before reaching the car park adjacent to one of the already harvested areas.  Lots of standing water with stubble showing through so the expected large number of Little Egret and even Cattle Egret, the latter especially where the rice had still be harvested.  This area also produced numerous House and Spanish Sparrows along with Grey Heron, White Stork and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  The Black-winged Stilts were expected but, perhaps, not so much the number of Cormorants albeit our narrow road had the rice fields to the left and the Rio Gaudaira to the right. ("Brazo del Este" means eastern arm of the the Guadalquivir.)  The car park held a couple of Stonechat as we made our way into the rice fields along a very muddy track we also recorded a Grey Wagtail.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Coconia ciconia
Always plenty of activity in the flooded area and neighbouring areas and a total of four Snipe noted along with a flock of about 30 Dunlin.  A quartet of Black-tailed Godwit were was found and then a number of feeding White Wagtails and a distant Great White Egret.  Twice we had Kingfishers dash across the path and through the low hedges on our left.  Here we also found a couple of feeding Chiffchaff.  Always a delight to see a number of late House Martins and the, of course, the noisy Cetti's Warblers.  Frank managed to find a pair of Green Sandpipers on the far shore of one flooded field and as we made our way back to the car park in the light rain Arthur mentioned that it was a pity we had not seen a Purple Heron.  No sooner spoken than an individual flew over watched by all.

Once back in the car park and dry at the moment it took a long while to try and removed the thick clinging soil from our shoes before setting off along the country road.  And now the rain proper did get started so very much a question of birding from our respective cars.  A stop on a bend on the, now, gritted track produced a Black Stork and a little later the pool on the right had not just Mallards but also a number of Shoveler with Graham actually finding a pair of Shelduck.  Lots of Barn Swallows and House Martins feeding over this water.

A very wet Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra from the car
The next flooded field produced a good number of Flamingo along with Spoonbill and even a flock of about forty Avocet as well as the ever-popular Black-winged Stilts.  Only the occasional Purple Swamphen but then my first Corn Bunting of the week-end.  Ahead, resting on a spar of the third pylon away from us was a rather handsome but damp Peregrine Falcon which remained for some time before taking its leave.

The distant Peregrine Falcon Halcon peregrino Falco peregrinus

On and on along the track getting narrower and narrower plus muddier and muddier until we eventually joined the main track running through the southern area of the reserve.  But not before we came across White Storks and so many Glossy Ibis, there must have been well in excess of a thousand, that it appeared to look like a dark carpet on the rice stubble.  Behind them we could see what looked like a white hedge until looking closer we discovered maybe 10,000 Flamingos in the distance.

A carpet of Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus
By now it was very wet.  Frank, John and Morgot continued on to Pinzon to get something to eat whilst the rest of us with food on board took a closer look at the ponds to our left and right.  Not the birds that I saw yesterday and mainly Mallards and Lapwings plus more Glossy Ibis.  Even the sparrow numbers seemed down in the heavy rain.  There were plenty of Black-headed Gulls resting on the wide, gravelled track and regular sightings of Crested Lark.  My last bird was a Little Grebe before I, too, gave in and retreated to Pinzon for a warming coffee before heading off home before 3pm.  Not only did we all meet up at the same venta but when the time came to depart the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing.  Both Rock and Collared Doves on the wires and roofs and even a pair of Red-legged Partridge, first again for the week-end, on a farm track as we left the village.  For me it was a warming drive home and sun glasses required as I approached Malaga but for those heading south towards the Marbella they were to meet more torrential rain and poor visibility.  The resulting flooding and damage from that area shown on national television the following day was horrendous.

But, being positive, good company and and, despite the weather, and enjoyable visit with almost 50 species recorded.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge, cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glosy Ibis, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Corn Bunting.

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

Brazo del Este: Day One

Friday 19 October

Given the early start tomorrow, I left home just after 9am to drive over to my booked hostal near Dos Hermanas on the south-western outskirts of Sevilla.  The forecast tomorrow is absolutely awful with heavy rain expected by 10 so all the more reason to check out some sites today.  A ninety minute stop at Fuente de Piedra followed by exiting the A92 motorway at Junction 80 near Osuna to take the country road that runs almost parallel with the abandoned high speed railtrack and then on to rejoin the A92 at Junction 65 just east of La Puebla de Cazalla.  Finally and afternoon visit to the rice fields at the southern end of the Brazo del Este Natural Park before heading off to my overnight stop.

Given the amount of rain we have received over the past week or so, Fuente de Piedra was still mainly dry with the smallest of a shallow puddle near the boardwalk.  The main laguna looked damp rather than wet and no sign of any water on the field to the left approaching the car park.  No surprise, therefore, re the lack of birds, especially waders.  The first birds seen were a score or more of Jackdaw and there was possible a flock of less than 200 Flamingo on the main water - but none on the full laguneta to the back of the Visitors Centre.  Stopping at the mirador next to the old tree where I disturbed yet more Jackdaws I picked up a number of House Sparrows along with Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Sardinia Warbler.  However, the most common small bird was the Blackcap and they seemed to be everywhere.  The laguna itself held a small number of Ringed Plover and a couple of Lapwing.

Roosting Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

On round to the laguneta which held very few birds.  A couple of Little Grebe and about a dozen Mallard, the only visible duck.  A small number of both Black-winged Stilt and Moorhen and the occasional Linnet and Cetti's Warbler in front of me.  In the distance I did manage to pick up a few Spotless Starlings and Rock Doves.  However, the main bird was the roosting Little Owl seen from the screen on the way back.

Walking towards the boardwalk I added both Serin and Chiffchaff and on reaching the far side the ploughed field in front produced a good number of both Meadow Pipit and Stone Curlew. A single Reed Bunting and a couple of Stonechat completed the list.

Two fo the score or more Stone Curlews Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus

So on to Osuna and no sooner had I left the motorway than I had my first Buzzard and a pair of Hoopoe.  On the fence I saw three Iberian Grey Shrike and a couple of noisy Ravens flew over.  Surprise, surprise, from the top of the second bridge I picked up a distant trio of Great Bustard along with a number of Stonechat.  The area produced numerous flocks of sparrows, mainly House but certainly plenty of Spanish Sparrows.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

A single White Wagtail landed on top of the third bridge whilst I was scanning the neighbouring fields and a Common Kestrel above. Once back down on the country road I added the first Crested Lark and then, just beyond the turn off to La Lantejuela, I also saw my first Black Redstart for a while.  A Griffon Vulture wandered over.  No sign of any water below the viaduct but a little further on a most peculiar happening.  usually you only have to slow down, nevermind stop, and any resting Buzzard will quickly depart giving no time for a photograph.  Not on this occasion.  So very dark I initially thought it must be a Black Kite, especially given the bird's complete disinterest in e and the slowing then stopping car less then ten metres away.  A record shot taken through the windscreen then I turned the car to face the field so giving a clear view through my window and still he bird did not depart.  Looking at the bird and later checking the state of it when seen as a photographs this was one very bedraggled raptor and had obviously been feeding/resting on the damp soil judging by the state of its talons.

A rather dark Common Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo buteo
Time to move on and once back on the motorway a kettle of White Storks on my right as I passed the local rubbish dump.  Quite a long journey to Los Palacios and then the entrance to the rice fields of Brazo del Este just beyond Pinzon where it was time to stop for my late picnic lunch.  Again, thousands of Spanish and House Sparrows feeding on the rice and another Kestrel above.  Now we had water birds with very good numbers of Little Egret, Grey Heron and even a handful of Great White Egrets.  Similarly, scores of White Storks to be seen and the regular quartering of the local Marsh Harriers.

Lapwings Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus a plenty at the Brazo del Este
Relatively few duck with Mallard being the only species observed and, surprisingly, only the occasional sighting of a Purple Swamphen which are usually abundant here.  The first ponds produced a number of Coots, but no Moorhens, and then the hundreds of both Lapwing and Glossy Ibis.  Similarly, no shortage of Black-winged Stilts.

But even more Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus
Moving on down the main track I noticed, apart for a few Lesser Black-backed, all the gulls were Black-headed.  A small number of Cormorant were moving about the site and then, on my left, a pair of Common Sandpiper.  At the final, largest, water I found a flock of fifty plus Spoonbill and even more Glossy Ibis along with a couple of Little Grebe.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia with Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

Beyond the pumping station the now earthen track became even worse and the lick to the exit was impassible.  A stop on the bridge produced another Great White Egret and lots of Black-headed Gulls and then it was the long return journey back on the same track but not before finding a Black Stork.  However, stopping to take a closer look at the sparrow flocks did produce a female Yellow-crowned Bishop so not all bad news.  Finally, Collared Doves on the lines as I made my way past Pinzon and on to Dos Hermanas.  Ready for a good night's sleep after the long day then kept awake by a noisy Tawny Owl!

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba and three Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Back Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Yellow-crowned Bishop.

Would it help we swimmers if we had the extra eye-lid?

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

Thursday 18 October 2018

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Rio Velez

Thursday 18 October

Well, what can I say?  With the forecast stating there will definitely be heavy rain lots of early emails from members of the Axarquia Bird Group informing me they would give the morning a miss.  Indeed, a message at 8 o'clock from Lindsay up in Competa not only informed me that it was already raining but that they were now forecasting the worst storm for ten years!  But here in Mezquitilla still dry.  A few spots as brother-in-law Chris and I set of a few minutes before 9 and dry all the way to the Hyundai garage near the Rio Velez on the N340 even though passing the bus station in Torre it was obvious that they had received more than a heavy shower judging by the size of the puddles in places.

Storms to the east - lightning to the west

Safely arrived, and still dry, a group of ten screaming Monk Parakeets flew over and, rather than hang around, Chris and I set off under the bridge and down the track towards the beach.  Dry all the way even though constant rumbling thunder on our right towards the west.  Approaching the hide we even had sun in our faces making sighting very difficult.  Having birded the neighbouring area to the hide we decided to check out the beach and mouth of the Rio Velez before the rain started.  All very dark to west and east and the river had burst through its lagoon crating havoc.  As we approached the river a Heron took off and a Moorhen ran down the ban into the water.
Rio Velez basin with break to the right (east)
Outfall from the Rio Velez
All that was seen in the river itself were two Coots.  So with now much lightening and rumbling we made our way back to the hide thinking we might be in need of some shelter.  Once here and all quiet we then decided it might be prudent to continue on back to the car.  Scope in the car, coats off and as I turned on the ignition the heavens absolutely opened up and this was to be the most violent storms I have seen in many a year.  I have a feeling there must be a moral to this story somewhere!  By the way, now well after mid-day and as I write this report the rain is still tipping it down.

And what about the birds; did we see anything?  Too right we did and had recorded 26 species in the hour including two new bird of the year for me!

Serin Verdecillo Serinus serinus

Once under the road bridge and onto the track we had a couple of feeding Great Tits and a pair of Collared Doves resting on tip of the first pylon.  In front drinking form a puddle the first Robin of the morning and a Blackbird.  The birds were then briefly joined by a male Grey Wagtail which returned a few minutes later.  To the left a Hoopoe sat on the fence happily eating its breakfast whilst a second individual foraged below.  In front a largish mixed flock of Goldfinch and Serin and even the odd Greenfinch.  Then the birds were up in the air as a Kestrel passed over before re-settling.  Looking at the newly-arrived water in the river we managed to pick out at least a dozen Mallard and, as far as we could see, all males.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops
A male Stonechat was on the fence as made our way down to the hide with a number of calling Cetti's Warblers to accompany us, we could see a very large flock of hirundines totalling at least a hundred.  Mainly Barn Swallows but also including a fair number of House Martins and a handful of Red-rumped Swallow.  What at first looked like an out of place Chaffinch turned out to be a female Common Redstart on the fence, we think the second of the morning as Chris had previously seen a similar bird further back on the track.  Amongst the small flock of House Sparrows feeding from the fence next to the pump house we also found a pair of Common Waxbill.

One wet and tired Red-rumped Swallow Golondrina Daurica Hirundo daurica

Looking from the hide towards the river we in time to see a Song Thrush fly across the reed tops in front of us as well as a number of Blackbirds and a pair of Robin.  Above us active feeding by the swallows and martins and even a single Common Swift was spotted.  Then, to cap it all, having told Chris that we yet to see one of the local Crested Larks, he said he was looking a little brown bird and was it another Serin?  Scope set up to look at the field about fifty metres distant and two small brow birds close to each other.  The one on the left with its back towards us appeared at first sight to be a possible Linnet but then we looked at the second individual, looking our way, and had the great excitement and pleasure of seeing a Whinchat.  This all in the first hour before we took our walk to the beach.

So we may have been small in number with just the two of us present but, come on, look at the birds we saw and not a drop of rain touched our heads.

Bird seen:
Mallard, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

7 of the hundred plus hirundines
 Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Monday 15 October 2018

Rain stopped play!

White Stork  Ciconia ciconia still on site
Sunday 14 October

Looking forward all week to meeting up again with my old fried Dave Elliott-Binns of the Arboleas Birding Group up well beyond Almeria for a morning's birding at the Charca de Suarez in Motril.  On this occasion I was also able to take newly-met birders Rob and Louise Scheffer from Torrox Costa with me.  However, the forecast was not that brilliant with rain forecast between 11 and 1 o'clock but the journey was dry  with calm and cloudy skies with the odd break.

A little time in hand before the 9 o'clock opening so we made the slight diversion to take in "Turtle Dove Alley" getting a sighting of a lone Cattle Egret on the wires as we approached.  No sooner onto the concrete road than we had both Collared and Rock Dove along with a trio of Spotless Starlings.  On for a hundred metres or so and we stopped to watch the smaller birds picking up grit/feeding on the road amongst some discarded brick rubble.  Up first both House Sparrow and Serin and as the birds moved about they were joined  by a few Greenfinch but ere long arrived the much smaller birds and Rob and Louise had their first sighting of a Red Avadavat.  Looking at the House Sparrow I realised that at least one had a "split" bib and closer inspection revealed it to be a Spanish Sparrow.  Then on to the end of the road with a couple of Blackbirds were recorded before making our way to the Charca entrance where Dave was awaiting us.  Looking back, other than the noisy Cetti's Warblers and the "special" seen from the new hide these were to be our only small birds of the morning.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porpyrio
Collared Doves overhead as we made our way to the bamboo hide overlooking the Laguna Taraje where we immediately had both Red-knobbed Coot and a couple of Purple Swamphens out in the open and giving excellent views.  On the water a pair of Mallard and a handful of Moorhen plus a pair of Little Grebe with three very young, weeks at most, youngsters.  Certainly very late as we were later to see full grown juveniles.  At the far end of this water we picked up Common Coot.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porpyrio off climbing

Next to the large hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco which always seems to attract the photographers.  Good levels of water and still clear weather.  The single White Stork was resting on its usual pile of dead reeds and in front more Moorhens and a number of Teal.  Also present were at least seven Common Snipe and then the arrival of a single Spoonbill showing a number of coloured rings. 

A multi-ringed Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia
A Marsh Harrier flew over putting up just about everything bar the White Stork and when calm returned we were delighted to have a fast-visiting Kingfisher flash over the water.
Look ou!  Marsh Harrier Aguilucho Lagunero Circus aeruginosus overhead

Meanwhile, immediately in front of the hide, a juvenile Bluethroat wandered casually along feeding on the muddy ground and was followed by a second.

Juvenile Bluthroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica

At this point Dave waved me over to him, sitting at the far right-hand looking towards the water, as he was sure that he had seen a crake.  Sure enough, with a little patience, the Spotted Crake put in a couple more brief visits out of the reeds before moving to the back of the water.  Not only a Spotted Crake but one of the resident Water Rail also gave the briefest of glimpses to Dave in the same location.  Next a White Wagtail posed for a minute or so on top of one of the planted perches and a Heron landed at the far end before we made our way to the next water.

Spotted Crake Polluela Pintoja Porzana porzana on the Laguno del Alamo Blanco
The Laguna de las Aneas held a couple of score or more Common Coots and maybe a score of mallard. A lone Cormorant rested towards the far end and a small number of Little Grebe were busy feeding.  On the island a trio of Shoveler and a single Pochard.  However, using the scope we were able to pick up more Pochard beyond the island and even a single Ferrunginous Duck.  My possible sighting of a Pintail proved accurate as the bird started feeding a little further away from the cover of the island. A pair of Little Egret arrived and we found a Heron resting on top of a tree at the far end of the water.  A passing Yellow-legged Gull was the only gull seen on the reserve.

Pintail Anade Rabudo Anas acuta awaiting the coming rains!
Our final stop was to be at the Laguna del Trebor.  The weather had turned much darker and we certainly knew what was coming!  A number of Red-knobbed Coot and a few Mallard along with a tired looking Heron away to our left.  Another Kingfisher, one also seen by Dave at the previous water, flashed by and then the spots of the water told us what was happening.  Looking at my watch I saw it was 12.02 and with rain having been forecast between 11 and 1 it could not have been more accurate!  Nothing to do but wait ten minutes or so for the rain to stop, we thought, and make our way out to complete the circuit.  Or so we thought.  Reaching the entrance to the toilets, about as far away from the exit that we could possibly be, the heavens opened and it absolutely threw it down; nevermind cats and dogs more like cows and horses!  No point in us all remembering the coats and at least four umbrellas resting safely in our cars but we were saved by the warden who appeared in his van to give us a dry lift back to the exit.  And so we bade farewell to Dave and made our way back to Torrox Costa and hardly back on the motorway than the sun came out.  It turned out to be a very warm afternoon but everywhere in the Axarquia seemed to have had a good dousing.

One of seven Common Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago
Nevertheless, some great birding during the three hours of dry weather and some wonderful birds in great company.

Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata
Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Spotted Crake, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purle Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Blackbird, Cetti's warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin, Greenfinch.

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