Tuesday 29 January 2019

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Sanderlings Correlimos Tridactilo Caladris alba
Tuesday 29 January

Up in the dark as Jenny having to leave early so I was a t the Guadalhorce reserve at daybreak (7.55) in the hope that the visiting Scoters might still be about.  Upon arrival the Cormorants were in the process of heading out and a few Herons were noted.  From the footbridge over the western canal I noted the local Rock Doves and a couple of Coots on the water.  passing over I was in time to see a female Marsh Harrier land in the meadow to the right, Would have preferred it to be a Short-eared Owl on the way to bed (!), but no such luck.  A Blackbird flew across the track in front of me and then I was at the first hide.

The Laguna Casillas held a dozen Coot and a dozen Pochard and then I noted the lone Little Grebe. A couple of Mallard drifted in to sight and a male Sardinian Warbler landed in front of me.  On to the Wader Pool with a Hoopoe recorded and from the hide I counted 20 Black-winged Stilts plus a another pair of mallard and a similar number of teal.  Just the one Black-tailed Godwit with a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls passing over before the arrival of the hordes of screaming Monk Parakeets making their way towards the city.  But only the single White Wagtail working the water edges.

Moving on down to the Sea Watch I picked up both Common and Green Sanpiper in the old river ( Rio Viejo) along with more Black-winged Stilts and another Black-tailed Godwit.  Diligent use of the hide found a single Little Ringed Plover and then it was time to scope the sea, not helped by the bright, low level, early morning sun.  No scoters to be seen but there were a number of gulls including Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls and a handful of fishing Cormorants.

The return journey and onwards to the Laguna Escondida produced a small flock of Serin and Greenfinches and a female Shoveler had arrived at the wader Pool.  Also present were a trio of Spanish birders that I recognised and they informed me that, at about 8 o'clock, they had seen three Velvet in the company of three Common Scoters way off the beach further west in front of the hotel.  No need to guess where I would be heading upon leaving the immediate site!

Distant record shot of the White-headed Ducks Malvasia cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala

Wonderful surprise upon arriving at the Escondida, not the roosting Booted Eagle but the return of White-headed Ducks with two pairs at the far end.  Also a couple of Little Grebes and a quartet of Coot plus a MoorhenChiffchaffs were playing about in the bushes as they had been at previous hides and a number of Crag Martins were feeding overhead.

Well-concealed Booted Eagle Aguililla Calzada Hieraaetus pennatus

As usual, plenty to see at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  A reduced number, but still plenty, of Cormorant and a single Little Egret along with a number of Spotless Starling s but also at least five Common Starlings

Total of five Common Starlings Estornio Pinto Sturnus vulgaris with tehor native cousins
Two Greenshanks and 23 Sanderlings increased the wader numbers plus another Black-tailed Godwit and Green Sandpiper.  More Black-winged Stilts.  A second Booted Eagle was seen resting away to me left.  Out on the water itself 13 Black-necked Grebes in a tight pack plus a couple of Little Grebes on the other side of the water.  Shoveler numbers were much reduced from my last visit.

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia

Before leaving a couple of Collared Doves alighted in the trees to my left and right at the back a Peregrine Falcon took up residence in one of the large, bare trees.  Making my way back to the car I quickly added a Meadow Pipit and on the stony bank near the exit a number of Black Redstarts and a single Great Tit.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa with Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Within five minutes I had driven to the hotel just west of the reserve and taken my scope to the promenade overlooking the sea.  Scope up and started by looking from slightly west of the bright sunlight drawing a line across the sea.  Almost immediately I found the scoters and, in the event, the bright sunshine was a help as it seemed to reflect off the white patches on the three Velvet Scoter heads.  Nevermind three, my count revealed at least 27 Common Scoters, all tightly packed and slowly drifting or being pushed westwards by the strong wind.  Almost impossible to see with just the bins but, nevertheless, I took many seascapes in the hope that I might just pick up a record shot of the scoter flock.  I even added House Sparrow before setting of for home to bring the morning's (three hours) total up to 45 species.

"Seascape." And if only I had gone further right I might have obtained a record shot of the 3 Velvet Scoters Melanitta fusca and 27 Common Scoters Melanitta nigra!
Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch.

Most of the Sanderling Correlimos Tridactilo Caladris alba with a couple of Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

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