Friday 30 November 2018

Rutland Water

Thursday 29 November

Back in the UK for ten days - in pouring rain!  But come this morning it was cool, cloudy, dry and very windy.  But having gained an extra hour in the morning I managed to slip down to my local patch at Rutland Water for 90 minutes before having to pay a late morning visit to banks, etc in nearby Peterborough.  I knew there was an advantage to living so close to this wonderful birding site.

Great White Egret Egretta alba

So well dressed up to keep out the howling wind I made my way to North Arm and was suddenly confronted by what looked like a completely deserted Burley Fishponds; did not see a single bird form the car and beginning to think that it was a good job that I had seen both Rook and Crow as I left the main road!  However, there were birds a plenty sheltering just the other side of the stone  fishing limit on the North Arm.  My first sighting was a single Great White Egret and using the scope noticed that there were a further five just to the left sheltering under the stone work whilst on the spit itself there must have been a sheltering flock in excess of 100 Lapwing.

Great White Egret Egretta alba with Little Egret Egretta garzetta and many Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
The ducks here were mainly Wigeon with a few Gadwall and the occasional Mallard.  A couple of Moorhen wandering about on the far side and below the Lapwing a good number of Little Egret.   Just a few Cormorant moving about and a handful resting near the Lapwing.  I looked up to see the Wood Pigeon fly over and then noticed the lone Redshank walking the nearby shore.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor with Teal Anas crecca

Out on the main water but still close to hand must have been hundreds of Tufted Duck with a few Great Crested Grebe sharing their company.  Nearer to the shore a couple of Mute Swans and accompanying Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal.  But wait, not just Wigeon but also a score or more of Pintail.  More use of the scope found the score or more of Canada Geese and then a smaller number of Greylag.  Strange to see the pair of Egyptian Geese keeping the Mute Swan company on the shallow water.  Very few gulls about other the Black-headed and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls.

Hundreds of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Whilst at the site one of the local ringers returned with a brace of Teal top process and ring and he mentioned that Lagoon 3 was virtually empty of birds as was both lagoons 1 and 2.  However, he did inform me that, if I had time, there was an immature Scaup amongst the Tufted Duck and that he had recently seen the "strange" falcon in Lagoon 3 which had passed over him minutes ago and disappeared behind the far road.  It would appear that the general consensus of opinion was that the bird was a cross between Lanner and Peregrine Falcon.  Perhaps something for me to look out for next week, weather permitting.

Pintail Anas acuta (top centre) with Teal Anas crecca
Good job, therefore, that I was only making a very brief visit!  As I set off I noticed the Heron arrive on the far side and also picked up a Magpie as I turned towards Egleton and the Visitors Centre.  calling first at the Centre I confirmed that, indeed, there was very little bird life on the water, just a few Cormorant and Lapwing but also a couple of resting Pochard.  And not one single Coot to be seen.

Moving over to the feeding area I began to think that this, too, would be a disappointment but within five minutes the little fells arrived in their droves.  Mainly Blue but some Great Tits along with many Goldfinch, a few Chaffinch and even a single Greenfinch.  However, pride of place went to the Brambling that stayed just a few seconds short of me getting the camera on the bird.  A couple of Dunnocks foraged about the ground and a Blackbird or two chased across the back completely oblivious to the Grey Squirrel working away at one of the suspended nut feeders.  A noise to my left revealed a visiting hen Pheasant and, of course, a handful or more of House Sparrows arrived to join in the feeding frenzy.  Two Jackdaws paid a visit but many more were seen as I left the shelter where I also picked up both Collared Dove and Starling.

Dunnock Prunella modularis
Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus
With just enough time to get me home in time for the 11.45 bus to Peterborough I drove round the Water and noticed passing the Manton Bay end that this water, too, appeared almost completely deserted.  A Red Kite alighted on the top of a telegraph pole as I passed under the railway bridge so that it could take a closer look at the dead Pheasant on the road to my left.  Then ,turning left to drive down to the Lyndon Centre I had a pair of Jays but also confirmed that there was practically no bird life about on the water.  A few Mute Swans on the far side and the occasional passing Cormorant and Black-headed Gull just about summed it up till I found a pair of resting Egyptian Geese and the odd Wigeon on the edge of the deserted pool down on me left.  Again, no Coot to be seen during this very brief stop.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Moorhen, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor with (mainly) Wigeon Anas penelope
Wigeon Anas penelope and Teal Anas crecca plus a Pintail Anas acuta

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

Monday 26 November 2018

Lynx Trip with John and Jenny Wainwright

Sunday 25 November

Following on for our visit to the Sierra magina yesterday, John and jenny wainwright spent another day birding in the Andujar area in the hope of catching up with the local Lynx population.

Lynx trip 25th November 2018

A wet and very cold day.

We started off from the hotel going to Linares then to Andujar and stopping for coffee at Los Pinos. Gaining the rustic track to the "site", we  saw a large flock of Azure-winged Magpies and then a Common Buzzard.  An Iberian Shrike was spotted on the power lines as were Magpies.  A group of four Ravens came over the trees while on the track at the puddles a small flock of Chaffinches were drinking. 

The lower we drove the thicker the mist and it wasn´t until we got to the new viewing shelters, that the mist started to lift. It was then we spotted a large flock of Griffon Vultures which passed by the viewing shelter quite close.  Followed by a Spanish Imperial Eagle, a Black Vulture and a Green Woodpecker down in the valley.  Lots of Woodpigeons and Magpies about but no Lynx.  The mist closed in again so we headed for the embalse where we saw Black Redstart, Chaffinch, Blackbirds, Grey Heron, Cormorant and Collared Dove.

On the way back up the Red and Fallow Deer were in good numbers and a nice spot of the day were male and female Mouflons in amongst the oaks.  Apologies for no bird photos, but Jenny took the ones submitted.

The rain started on the way back so timings worked out well.

Shame that few birds but what birds you did see along with the deer and Mouflon.  Must have been a local "thing" re the weather as we had lovely sunshine almost all the way back to the coast necessitating the use of sunglasses! 

Fallow Deer Dama dama (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Red Deer Cervus elaphus hispanicus  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Mouflon Ovis orientalis musimon (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

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

Sierra Magina, Jaen

Saturday 24 November

Wait out the rain and you will be rewarded!  An absolute cracker of a day for the Andalucia Bird Society's visit to the Sierra Magina up in Jaen province and then on, in the late afternoon, to the Laguna Grande not so far away from Baeza.  early morning mist as we 35 members set off from Ubeda under the guidance of local guide and ABS member Jose Luis Sanches but it soon cleared and for most of the morning whilst we traversed the mountains the temperature ranged between 3 and 5C.  But, despite the lack of birds in great numbers, absolutely beautiful scenery and a pleasure to be out in the fresh (read "cold") air in good company.

Working our way up the mountain our first stop produced a very close sighting of both immature male Crossbill and a pair of Black Redstarts.  The sound of gunfire diverted our attention upwards in time to see a distant Ibex being chased by dog.  (Later we were to see a magnificent buck with two very proud horns silhouetted on the skyline during our picnic lunch break.)

Immature male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra
Moving on up and over the top many sightings of Chaffinch flocks one of which also contained a quartet of Brambling.  Yesterday's large flocks of Ring Ouzels were conspicuous by their absence but I think most participants managed to get at least a fleeting glance at one of a handful of individuals recorded.  Not so much the Rock Buntings or Choughs but the two Golden Eagles that seemed to capture the attention of most and then a quartet of Griffon Vultures along with Jays and Cirl Buntings on the way down added to the observations.

One of many Chaffinch Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs seen on the sierra
For me, perhaps the thirty minute drive over to the Laguna Grande provided the most comprehensive birding of the day as we saw numerous Mistle Thrush and then both Corn Bunting and Crested Lark on the wires as we passed through an intensive olive grove.  Buzzards up in the sky and on the telephone post followed by both a very late Booted Eagle circling above us before the Black-shouldered Kite low down over threes.  No sooner had we recovered from this excitement than we had a resting Iberian Grey Shrike on the wires as a Kestrel drifted by.
And so to the Laguna Grande where, upon arrival, the dropping sun was immediately opposite us and offering no assistance at all.  The now heavily-grassed water seemed to be alive with, mainly, Coot but also the odd Gadwall and Mallard, Little Grebe and even a couple of Teal dropped in for the evening.  A late arrival was the Heron but then, on the far side as the light began to fade, Jose Luis was first to pick up the two Goshawk drifting low over the trees.  Nearer to us the low vegetation seemed to be alive with Chiffchaff and White Wagtails but still we managed to see many Stonechat along with both Reed Bunting and Reed Warbler.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Griffon Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Goshawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot,  Snipe, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Chough, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 22 November 2018

Ventas de Zafarraya and its hinterland

Thursday 22 November

Just me and me alone for this month's Axarquia Bird Group visit to the old railway track up at Ventas de Zafarraya having warned members about the present weather and horrible forecast for the day.  Not surprisingly, all the regulars made contact with their apologies.  I only went up on the off-chance that somebody might just turn up but expected to be home just after 10.

So, leaving the house in the rain I made my way over towards Lake Vinuela and the drive up the mountain.  By the time I started the climb the rain had stopped and on arriving at the mirador at exactly 9am I was greeted with calm, dry and not-too-cold conditions under an overcast sky.  Having recorded both Collared Dove and Spotless Starling as I approached the summit the first birds seen on the track was a trio of Rock Buntings with another four before returning to the car after walking up to the tunnel entrance and back.  Needless to say, I added Black Wheatear,  a handful of House Sparrows, female Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird and a Blue Tit.  The light rain arrived at 9.25 whilst sitting in the car and ten minutes later I set off in the car along the track, through the tunnel and up to the old ruin.  A quartet of Chough flew over and a very wet female Black Redstart was trying to look less distressed that she might actually have been. More Rock Buntings and a small group of Rock Sparrows on the wires further on a male Stonechat perched five metres away from the car.  Even a small number of Linnets as I drove back to the village.

Beautiful Goldfinch Jilguero Carduelis carduelis
Turning towards Zafarraya itself I then headed to the small pond next to the Ventas de Zafarraya football ground.  Eighteen domestic geese and a over a score of Mallards on or near the water.  But the adjacent hedgerows and fields held very large mixed flocks of Goldfinch and Chaffinch along with more House Sparrows. But sitting all lone above me was a Mistle Thrush and joined almost immediately on the other side of the telephone poll by another.

Mistle Thrush Zorzal Charlo Turdus viscivorus
 So on to the small road alongside the "muck heap" site but very little to be seen here.  A drive to the small pond produced a few more Mallard and a single Coot along with a White Wagtail.  Then it was on through the "Magpie Woods" (none to be seen) and off to the growing fields of the hinterland.  Now approaching 11 o'clock and the rain stopped but no help to see the number of cars reflected those out in search of the wild mushrooms.  This road was very productive picking u numerous Corn Bunting and maybe a dozen Crested Larks.  Do I count the local Rock Doves/Ferral Pigeons?  Also on the wires a number of Greenfinches and a single male Kestrel along with a small flock of Serin.   Even a Zitting Cisticola gave me a concentrated stare as I drove by. Amazing how many (Common) Magpies were in the vicinity and then the first of the Red-legged Partidges.  Five to start with and at least another dozen before I completed a circuit at the bottom of the hill up the old road to Salar.  The short stretch on the main road produced another couple of Mistle Thrush plus a very wet looking Iberian Grey Shrike.  I also made a very brief stop to confirm that there was a single Common Starling resting with its Spotless Starling cousins.

A Red-legged Partridge Perdiz Roja Alectoris rufa that has so far avoided the hunters!
Back down the now-repaired road towards Ventas de Zafarraya and I made a short detour to my right where I managed to find my Azure-winged Magpies; a total of at least fifteen.  Also here both a Great Tit and a Jay.

One of the quartet of Jays Arrendajo Garrulus glandarius
With the sun having come out between the broken clouds at midday and no rush to get home having brought an emergency picnic with me, I decided to call in a the picnic are at El Robledal where I added more Chaffinches, a pair of Nuthatch and four more Jays before finishing with a single Robin that came to site beside the car.  Then it was home after filling the car with fuel in time to receive the next lot of rain!

Lovely to see the feeding Chaffinches Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Coot, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Record shot of the departing Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
Distant shot of one of the many Magpies Urraca Pica pica

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

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Algarrobo Costa to Caleta de Velez

Tuesday 20 November

After the seemingly continuous rain for the past three days the sun finally came out in the late afternoon so Jenny and I took a stroll along the seafront paseo from Algarrobo Costa to the fishing harbour at Caleta de Velez in the Axarquia.  With both Black Redstarts and the first of very many House Sparrows as we set off we soon added a small flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the beach and crossing the footbridge over the now in-flood Rio Algarrobo added a small charm of Goldfinch feeding below.

Record copy of Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba

Then it was on past the many palm trees along the front holding scores of screaming Monk Parakeets and through the marina to the fishing port, recording both Rock and Collared Dove on the way.  The adjacent small beach held a good-sized flock of Yellow-legged Gulls and a quartet of Sanderling playing "Canute" as they chased the incoming waters.  A couple of White Wagtails were also recorded before we took the path down to the lighthouse.  Having exchanged greetings with local birder Kirri and a couple of visiting Spanish birders from Malaga, we were then able to pick out three Cormorants and at least a couple of diving Gannets out on the open sea.  Looking back towards the shore we saw more Yellow-legged and added Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed along with a quartet of Mediterranean Gulls.  However, pride of place must surely go the additional 20 Sanderling that were feeding at the edge of the main beach to our left.

Making our way back we added a lone, ringed, Little Egret on the rocks alongside the path in the marina and then a sole Chifchaff before sighting the small flock of Spotless Starlings.

The lone Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta in the marina
 No bins or camera with me but at the last moment I realised I could use the new mobile.  Perhaps not the best timing given that the sun was beginning to set.  However, a couple added as record shots.

Birds seen: 
Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, White Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Black Redstart.

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

Monday 12 November 2018

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Sunday 11 November

Off to the airport to collect visiting son so time for a couple of hours at the Guadalhorce before the flight's arrival.  Greeted on arrival by a male Blackbird and another couple seen as soon as I reached the eastern arm.  On crossing the footbridge just the single Little Egret and a solitary members of the resident Rock Dove community under the motorway bridge so straight on over to the eastern arm.  As I entered the nearby avenue a White Wagtail on the track and a quartet of Stonechat to my left.  Just the one, initial, Cormorant flying into the reserve but a Hoopoe was flying north low over the vegetation opposite the Luguna Casillas.  The water itself held almost a score of Coot along with a trio of Shoveler and a pair of Little Grebe.  Resting in the bare tree to the back right was a lone Booted Eagle which departed before I could extract my camera having been disturbed a by a couple wandering along the back.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
Moving on down to the Wader Pool I had a small number of Chiffchaff foraging in he nearby trees and, right on time, a fly past a group of creaming Monk ParakeetGoldfinches were heard and seen as I approached the hide but the water proved to be very disappointing with just a single Black-winged Stilt, a couple Shoveler and three Little Grebe.  Plenty of Spotless Starlings in the distant trees along with a single Peregrine Falcon in the "Osprey tree."

Moving on down towards the Sea Watch the old river level was very high as had been both previous pools so not surprising that no waders to be seen other than a quartet of Black-winged Stilts.  A Cetti's Warbler was calling and at the back of the stony ground to my left both a Crested Lark and single Meadow Pipit were recorded. A Grey Heron drifted in to the sheltered water and a male Sardinian Warbler put in an appearance.  The sea itself was calm and bathed in brilliant sunshine with a quartet of Black-necked Grebes at the mouth of the eastern arm of the river and a very large raft of Lesser Black-backed Gulls to my right (west).  Whilst checking out the the distant sea I had the joy of a couple of jumping Dolphins about two-thirds of the way to the horizon  - but still a very pleasant experience which I was able to share with a small group of visiting cyclists.

Male Common Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca

Working my way back and on to the Laguna Escondida a handful of Serin caught my attention opposite the Wader Pool and a Buzzard drifted over, barely five minutes later than having watched the circling Booted Eagle.  Approaching the hide two female Black Redstarts and a House Sparrow were feeding on the ground and once ensconced I could not but notice the handful of feeding Blackcaps to my left.  On the water a Moorhen, a couple of Little Grebes, four Teal, a single female Mallard and at least a dozen Shoveler plus a well-concealed Heron at the back of the water.

Two of the Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis are missing!
So on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Here we had approaching a hundred Shoveler and a handful of Gadwall plus another single Mallard.  A dozen Black-necked Grebe were on the far side of the nearby island and to their left the main resting colony of Cormorant which totalled at least thirty individuals but also including six Flamingo.  A Kestrel rested on the pole to my left along with a few Spotless Starlings and a couple of Collared Dove but immediately in front of me the feeding quartet of Black-winged Stilt along with a similar number of both Sanderling and Ringed Plover and a single Greenshank.  A pair of Common Pochard drifted across the back of the water and, at last, a couple of feeding Crag Martins skimmed down in search of an early lunch.

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia and with Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba below
So, about two and a half hours and a total of 42 species recorded.  Yet again, no sign of a White-headed Duck and the Wigeon seen last month were no longer present on the Escondida.

Female Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus in contemplative pose
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Greenshank, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius jiaticula
Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba quintet
Northern Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata

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

Friday 9 November 2018

Do you fancy a visit to the Pyrenees?

Friday 9 November

Following on from a very enjoyable day up in the mist and clouds of the Sierra Loja and an afternoon visit to the Huetor Tajar Major fields on Wednesday with local professional guide Mick Richardson, readers might very well be interested in a tour that Mick is leading up in the north of Spain including the Pyrenees and the area around Belchite, which is noted for its Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Dupont's Lark amongst other exciting birds.  More details can be found on from the message below taken from Mick's website.  There is an underlined link below that readers can utilise.



This tour will start on the 22nd June and run until the 29th June 2019.
For more information follow the link below, numbers are restricted to 7 so please get in touch as soon as possible.

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

Thursday 8 November 2018

Sierra Loja & Huetor Tajar

Wednesday 7 November

Just over 20 of us turned up at the Abades Service Station on the A92 for the first of this month's field visits of the Andalucia Bird Society lead by local guide and ABS member, Mick Richardson.  The plan was to ascent to over 1500 metre on the Sierra Loja in the morning to find the newly-arrive Ring Ouzels and, hopefully,  some of the resident Alpine Accentors with just the possibility of an early Fieldfare or two.  A continued visit to the fields of nearby Huetor Tajar was designed to find the wintering flocks of Stone Curlew and Little Bustard.  In the event, we record all five species with most members happy to see them all along with a lovely range of other birds which gave a final tally of at least 55 species for the day.

A few of the newly-arrived Little Bustards Sison Comun Tetrax tetrax
The day started clear and sunny on the coast wit a temperature of 12 which reduced to 9 as soon as I reached Punta Don Manuel and then on down to 4C as I took the country road beyond Zafarraya.  Mick told me that the local temperature had been a miserly 2C in Loja! So on to the meeting place recording Collared Dove, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch and Chaffinch along the way to be greeted by the local House Sparrows. Those arriving a little earlier than I had recorded good-sized flocks of Azure-winged Magpie but I had to wait until a couple crossed the motorway as we travelled on to Huetor Tajar. A few members also saw/heard a Robin in the car park area.

Having organised the group into as few cars as possible, we set off up the mountain track to go directly to the best area for the wintering thrushes.  Just the occasional stop on the way up and Blackbird, the first of two Dartford Warblers seen during the morning, Rock Bunting, Thekla Lark, very many Black Redstart, Corn Bunting, Stonechat and Black Wheatear recorded.  Once in the designated area we quickly added Goldfinch, Serin and Linnet and then the search began.

Stonechat tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Having found the first pair of Ring Ouzel we then, as usual, simply added more and eventually recorded at least a score of individuals.  Interesting to see the visitors from both northern Europe and the paler sub-species arriving form the Pyrenees.  Mick and others could hear the Alpine Accentors calling and eventually most, I think, managed to catch at least a short glimpse of this handsome little bird.  As an added bonus, a single Fieldfare was disturbed and a few of us caught sight of his rather rapid disappearance to the right.

Three of the score of Ring Ouzel Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus
Whilst spending some time in this area we also added a small covey of Red-legged Partridge and a single Chough flew over.  Lovely to see small flocks of Rock Sparrows but no Crag Martins this morning.  On the other hand, Derek and party found a Blue Rock Thrush and then Lindsay identified the first Little Owl of the morning.  Starting to work our way slowly back down the mountain a stop for a quick view of a Cirl Bunting before an approaching car on the narrow track forced us all to move on so resulting most missing this sighting.  A not infrequent sighting of the occasional Meadow Pipit but nothing "special" found at the Charca del Negra ponds or the old quarry save another Dartford Warbler.  However, passing through the final trees before arriving at our starting point we were able to add Great and Blue Tit, more Chaffinches and a Mistle Thrush.

Obviously a favoured drinking sot for the Ring Ouzel Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus
Once at the start point we added a passing Raven above the trees and a small party of Wood Pigeon whilst an Iberian Grey Shrike was working the field's edge.  Picnic lunches completed we moved off to Huetor Tajar and took the small footpath through the fields at the edge of the town.  A single White Wagtail and more Black Redstart along with a few Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and Crested Lark before we saw a flock of about 25 Little Bustards fly in to graze a few hundred metres further on.  A Sky Lark was seen and then the Stone Curlews.  Not the 100 plus we expected, only a handful but, on the other hand, we did have a party of almost thirty Little Bustards so saving a drive to the far end of the area in search of these lovely visitors.  Also close to this mixed flock were eight Cattle Egrets and a single Lapwing.  However, on the other side of the path there was a feeding Lapwing flock of well in excess of 100 individuals!  Making our way back to our respective cars most of us also picked up a couple of Chiffchaff as well as the mixed sparrow flock of mainly House but also a few Tree Sparrows feeding on the stubble along with both Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon.

Meadow Pipit Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis near the Little Bustards

And so to our final stop on a muddy track near a favoured site for Bluethroat.  A female Sardinian Warbler and then the Bluethroat itself was observed.  In the far distance a Buzzard was resting atop an electricity pylon.  Cetti's Warblers were calling as we made our way through the neighbouring field towards the railway line.  A good number of Corn Buntings here but also at least eight Reed Buntings and a few Stonechat.  A Zitting Cisticola was seen and amongst all the Spotless Starlings on the wires above the railway line we also manage to observe a single Northern (Common) Starling.  This area also produced a pair of (common) Magpie.  A walk back along the track towards the road produced a distant Kestrel and Lindsay, walking behind Mick and I, saw the Snipe fly up out of the ditch as we passed by.  A few Cattle Egrets were recorded and the final bird of the day was the departing Grey Wagtail picked up by Mick, Pauline and Lindsay.  Or should I include the small number of free-breeding Muscovy Ducks on the river bank on the edge of the town that seem to have take refuge amongst the small population of domestic/hybrid geese?

Little Bustards but also Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus and Catte Egret Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis
A really wonderful day despite the low cloud with a friendly group of supportive birders and with many thanks to Mick for his expertise and local knowledge.  And we even manged to be in our cars and setting off for our respective homes just before 6pm when the promised rain looked very much as if it was about to start.

Birds seen by the group:
Muscovy Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Buzzard, Kestrel, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Alpine Accentor, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Saturday 3 November 2018

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Saturday 3 November

The forecast said to expect rain but upon waking twas a beautiful clear and sunny start to the day and the temperature rapidly approaching the low twenties.  So what better way to celebrate than take the short trip down to the Rio Velez just west of Torre del Mar for a couple of hours birding.  Upon arriving I had a gorgeous Grey Wagtail descend to the river bank and then a White Wagtail on the track leading to the beach beyond the road bridges.  Add on both House Sparrows and Blackbird and I thought I was in for a great birding walk.  Not so.  Plenty of water in the river which has attracted a score or more Mallards to join the few resident Moorhens but so much bamboo and reed growth that it was almost impossible to see the water, even more so as I moved along.

Male and femal Mallard Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos
Cetti's Warblers were calling and at least a handful of Black Redstarts recorded.  A solitary Green Sandpiper landed on the mud below me and a small number of screaming Monk Parakeets flew over.  Upon reaching the hide all seemed very quiet.  A single Cormorant flew low upstream over the reeds and next to the pumping station I picked up half-a-dozen Spotless Starling before spotting the male Sardinian Warbler.  Above me a few wandering Black-headed Gulls and maybe a dozen or more distant Crag Martins down from the nearby mountains.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba
A short walk to the beach revealed nothing and with a mixture of the deep channel cut through the beach and the very high vegetation it was impossible to actually see the river.  Even a walk upstream failed to provide a gap to reach or even get a view of the water so back to the hide.  A Serin landed opposite and ion the fields a pair of Crested Larks were bust foraging.  Nothing for it but to make my way back to the car picking up both Robin and Chifchaff on the way.  A Goldfinch posed on top of a gate and at the bridge only a few of the resident Rock Dove flock.

Goldfinch Jilguero Carduelis carduelis

The short drove to the other side of the bridges through the fields presently being planted with either lettuce or greens revealed more Goldfinch and even a Chaffinch.  Just the one Collared Dove and then the muck heap.  Who said nobody likes a muck heap?  This was one that had attracted a dozen Cattle Egrets and many House Sparrows and White Wagtails.  So, less than two hours for a total of 24 species.

Cattle Egrets Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis making the most of the muck heap

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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