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 http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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