Monday 29 April 2019

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Monday 29 April

Off to the airport to collect my birding friend, Marieke so left home early and able to spend a couple of hours at the Guadalhorce in Malaga on way.  A couple of Collared Doves as I approached the river and then the first sighing of a score of Spotless Starlings which seemed to "pop up" all over the reserve during the next two hours as they undertook their foraging activities,  Like the House Sparrow also seen as I approached the footbridge it seemed that the favoured food was grass seed as the birds were always in the grass when approached.  Once on the bridge a couple of resident Rock Doves under the motorway bridge and a Little Egret flew in to land in the reeds below me.  meanwhile, a good number of House Martins flying around and, presumably, once again nesting under the footbridge.

Laguna Grande from the main hide

On to the Laguna Casillas where I was still aware of the good numbers of House Martins accompanied by fewer Barn Swallows and a couple of Red-rumped Swallows.  Indeed, House Martins and Barn Swallows were seen throughout the visit.  On the water a few Coots and a couple of Black-winged Stilts till the Little Grebe re-surfaced.  Just the one pair of Mallard but also a single male White-headed DuckReed Warblers were busy calling both below and behind me.

Grey Plover Chorlito Gris Pluvialis squatarola
The Wader Pool seemed a little quiet, having noticed the pair of Pochard between the two waters, with only a handful of Black-winged Stilts on the water along with a pair of Dunlin.  Checking the banks and sandbars I soon added Little Ringed Plovers and then found more Black-winged Stilts resting away to my left along with a single Redshank.  Calling in on my way back I discovered that not had the Redshank taken to the water but there were two other individuals to be seen along with more Little Ringed Plover

Dunlin Correlimos Comun Calidris alpina

Goldfinches as I made my way to the Rio Viejo (Old River) as a Heron flew over where I found far more small plovers; a good mix of both Kentish and Little Ringed Plover.  At the far end was a single Grey Plover and a pair of Avocet. Lots of Black-winged Stilts and a pair of Shelduck flew off to the main water.  The far island held a quartet of Audouin's Gulls and a couple of Little Stint.

Kentish Plover Chorlitejo Patinegro Charadrius alexandrinus; male left, female right

Back towards the Laguna Escondida noticing that a Moorhen had appeared on Casilla and also a hovering Kestrel above me.  Lots of singing Nightingales and Reed Warblers and even a pair of noisy Monk Parakeet overhead.  The pool itself was very quiet with just two Mallard, a single Little Grebe and maybe a quintet of Coot.

Sandwich Tern Charran Patinegro Sterna sandvicensis with Dunlin behind
So the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande where the water was white with birds.  Lots of Gulls, mainly Black-headed but also a quintet of Slender-billed, a few Yellow-legged and even at least one Mediterranean Gull.  Two juvenile Flamingo and I counted a total of seven Shelduck.  A single Sandwich Tern rested on the scrape in front of the hide whilst a Whiskered Tern was fishing in the same area.  The Sandwich Tern eventually departed joining three of its kind that appeared from the sea.  On the crape a lovely selection of waders that were constantly harried by the Black-winged Stilts.  Two Dunlin and a Curlew Sandpiper along with many Ringed and Kentish Plovers and a single Grey Plover.

Curlew Sandpiper Correlimos Zarapitin Calidris ferruginea

Time to move on to the airport to collect Marieke and passing the meadow I had a male Sardinian Warbler followed by a noisy Cetti's Warbler approaching the footbridge.  Just the bare two hours so all a  little hurried but I did manage 41 species.

Beautiful Slender-billed Gulls Gaviota Picofina Larus genei 
Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audoin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Curlew Sandpiper with Dunlin behind

Our patient Sandwich Tern Charran Patinegro Sterna sandvicensis

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

Friday 26 April 2019

Ventas de Zafarraya & Area

Friday 26 April

Dancing Club concluded and I was out of the door like a demon possessed to head up the mirador  at Ventas de Zafarrya on the Malaga - Granada border.  Arriving at the car park, 862m above sea level, there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was beating some very welcome warmth with only the merest hint of a breeze.  Not exactly ideal weather conditions or the time of the day fr productive birding but I was, nevertheless, made welcome by both Collared Doves and a Blackbird.

Distant Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros hiding in a shady tree
Off towards the old railway tunnel where I met a number of feeding Crag Martins  and the occasional House Sparrow messing about at the tunnel entrance.  Immediately through and I picked up a lovely male Blue Rock Thrush on top of the rocks above the tunnel and then the call and sight of the first Choughs.  Not so many at this time as I expect the majority of the breeding population were either away foraging or sitting tight on soon-to-be-hatched eggs.  A pair of Goldfinches crossed the track and then I came upon a male Linnet busily feeding a well-grown youngster near the top of an almond tree.  Finally, a first Stonechat of the month but having seen one I promptly saw another handful!  Working my way back to the car I cam across a male Black-Redstart resting in a shady tree to try and escape the heat.

What to do?  Head off to the woods at El Robledal where there was bound to be some shade and, with luck, finally find both Blue Tit and a woodpecker or two. House Martins as I drove through the village and Spotless Starlings working my way along the track towards the picnic site at El Robledal.  Wood Pigeon and the largest flock, maybe a score or more, of Rock Doves that I have seen for a while.  A couple of Chaffinches were moving about but not the hoped for target birds but, on the other hand, I did stop and listen to the European Cuckoo close by with its distinctive song.  That's Cuckoo and Swallow so summer must surely have arrived!

Rather than straight back to the main road and on to the "Magpie Woods" I decided to take the nearby track over the mountain which leads to the little laguneta above Alhama de Granada.  First time I have been here for a couple of years and forgot how pretty this site is.  From the hide in the woods I picked up Coot, Moorhen and Pochard on the water and then drove round to the main hide opposite the venta.  From here I also added Little Grebe, Mallard and a single Little Ringed Plover which seemed to be exploring a floating mass of weed.

Distant Nuthatch Sitta europaea
However, before taking this last link I took a look at the adjacent picnic area which was blocked to cars due to recent heavy rain leaving huge, muddy ditches far too deep for a car to pas. However, I walked into this open woodland area full of dead and decaying trees and was immediately rewarded with a couple of foraging Nuthatch.  I suspect they had a nest nearby and then, wonder of wonders, a Blue Tit was filling the binoculars lenses.  Finally, a Robin and then a Mistle Thrush as I crosses the dam towards the second hide as above.

Nothing to add from a walk into the nearby copse but yet another close singing Cuckoo and over the water feeding House Martins and Barn Swallows.  Leaving the laguneta to drive back to the Magpie Woods I noticed that a Grey Wagtail had arrived on the dam wall.

Just before the woods I took a right turn and drove down to the arable fields and stat of the hill up to Salar.  This little detour produced a couple of Corn Bunting and, at last, the much-searched for Azure-winged Magpie.  I was by now more than happy to call it a day and as I drove through the wood, having also found a Calandra Lark on the road passing through the arable fields, a pair of Red-legged Partridge were waiting to cross the road.  So, exactly four hours after arriving I was once more back at the Ventas de Zafarraya, having finally recorded 32 species including three new for the year.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Rock Dove, WoodPigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Calandra Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Azure-winged Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 25 April 2019

Las Norias & Roquetas - Bob

First Curlew Sanpiper Calidris ferruginea of year
Thursday 25 April

The weather seemed to promise rain everywhere local today so I was out of house extra early and up to Las Norias in Almeria in the hope that I could catch up with some of the excellent birds seen by friend Dave Elliott-Binns yesterday.  I might not have topped seventy but I was pleased with eventual morning's total of 53 species , especially given the ever-increasing strong winds that seemed to almost wipe out any chance of seeing and/or hearing the passerines and, like Dave yesterday, I, too, could not find a Collared Pratincole.

Dark for most of the journey but dry and basically calm and as the morning awoke It looked as if I might be in for a cloudy morning.  Approaching the first causeway at Las Norias I had some rough ground with puddles on my left showing a core or more Cattle Egrets opening up their sleepy eyes and, of course, local House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings to be seen.  Turning towards the "lake" I had a lovely view of a Linnet sat on the fence to my right.  The water looked quite choppy as I parked my car and opening the door the drizzle started, more of a damp rather than wet outlet so no deterrent to checking both sides of the roads as scores of both Common and Pallid Swifts fed over the water and verges.  Also present were a good number of Barn Swallows but far out-numbered by the swifts.  Reed Warblers and Nightingales were calling and on the water itself mainly Great Crested Grebes, at least a dozen, but also a pair of Gadwall.  Only the occasional Lesser Black-backed Gull but a good handful of Whiskered Terns were noted.  Finally, also a Moorhen and a few Coots were seen.

Continuing along the road to approach the far end of the water at the back I made my first stop at the far end (from the main road) and immediately picked up my first pair of Red-crested Pochard and a single roosting Night Heron.

Then back towards the main road to park near the bridge but first a stop near the meadow where I found a lone Turtle Dove seeking some shelter from the damp.

Distant record shot of Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur through car window

The waters from the bridge produced more Great Crested Grebes and another pair of Red-crested Pochard along with a couple of Mallard and a handful of Common Pochard.  Sheltering close to the island a pair of Shoveler and then  plenty of Collared Doves near the shepherd's muddy home field.  The path alongside had been cleared so I was able to reach the main lake and added Greenfinch, Hoopoe and Blackbird on my walk back to the car.  Lovely to see the maintenance work that has been done on the small water to clear away all the tipped rubbish but, I suspect, more for the benefit of fishermen rather than birders - but it works.  With the weather looking much brighter and the possibility of some sun I decided to carry on over to Roquetas de Mar and then call back at Las Norias on my way home.  (Must make sure not to be late home as we have tickets for this evening's performance of Verdi's Aida.)  And as I left to take the turn to San Agustin a Gull-billed Tern seemed to keep me company over and at the side of the car.

Male Red-crested Pochard pato Colorado Netta rufina

First call on arriving was to check out the track down to the lighthouse where I could see many Flamingos to my left and close at hand the Mediterranean Gull breeding colony, although not that many, and a quartet of Slender-billed Gulls.  To my left the first of the very many-to-be-seen Black-winged Stilts, a pair of Avocet and on the track in front of me a single Iberian Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail.

Avocet Avoceta Comun Recurvirostra avosetta

Continuing on round I found a small flock of Common Pochard and, almost in front of me, a Marsh Harrier rose from its hidden place in the tall grass and moved slowly away to continue quartering for its breakfast.  Just a few Coots on the water and some distant large gulls so nothing to add so I started my return journey to the road then stopped when I saw a yellow "blob" on the far side of the water to my left.  I thought so and use of the bins confirm the presence of  Squacco Heron but the little so-and-so refused to turn and smile for the camera!

Rear view of Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
I did try to reach the "hidden lake" just off the sharp bend towards the west, passing both a pair of Crested Larks and Magpie and another Hoopoe on the way, but with only a 4 x 2 and no other person seen anywhere near the area if things went wrong, I decided not to risk finding out the depth of the huge lake across the track.  It was bad enough last time I visited this site and this morning was decidedly worse!

So, retrace my steps and drive back towards Roquetas to make a stop at the large fresh water lake.  Again, lots of Coots and a good number of Common Pochard but only a handful at most of Mallard.  However, just like Dave yesterday, scoping the far side of the water found a number of Little Egrets and a singe Grey Heron resting on the edges.

So, finally, on to the end of the road to take the sandy track through the old salinas.  The little picnic pool provided another pair of Red-crested Pochard and a single Little Grebe along with the Mallards.  It must have been some kind of omen as from that point onwards it seem that whenever larger birds put in appearance they were nearly always Red-crested Pochards and I would estimate, on the whole in total, the Red-crested far outnumbered the Common Pochards.

Kentish Plover Chorlitejo Patinegro Charadrius alexandrinus
Very few birds on the main scrapes to the left other than Black-winged Stilts, they were everywhere, apart from a few Kentish Plover.  I had been used to seeing the many Whiskered Terns and they were once again present but now also larger Gull-billed Terns.  Then, in a very short distance, I not only had a trio of Little Tern but also a couple of Common Tern.  To seem them fly pass with their distinctive forked tails as well as red beaks one can well-understand why their scientific name is Sterno hirundo - compared with the Barn Swallow's Hirundo rustica.

Dunlin  Correlimos Comun Calidris alpina with Curlew Sandpiper and Kentish Plover in the middle
A little later I picked up my first Black-headed Gulls of the morning and then it was time to "ignore" the very many Flamingo and concentrate on those very few pools that actually held waders and resting terns.  The first produced a very healthy group of Dunlin and Ringed Plover along with a few Kentish Plover and possibly as many as a handful of Curlew Sandpipers.  It was whilst checking this pool out on my return drive that I witnessed the arrival of a score of Sanderling to join the mixed wader flock but the Gull-billed Terns that I hoped to take from a different angle had mainly moved on.

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica with Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and Curlew Sandiper in water
As I turned to drive down the tack to the old pumping station a Woodchat Shrike sat proudly on top of a bush keeping a beady eye on what might become available for an early lunch and once at the end of the road I had lovely views of the close group of Flamingos in the company of both Coots and a number of Avocet.  A single Black-necked Grebe was recorded as was a were a couple of Little Stint and resting Common Tern.

Small goup of the hundreds of Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus present on the waters
Working my way back not only a couple of Common Kestrel overhead but I could see that there were still a good number of Shelduck in the area.  I also stopped to take a close look at a pair of Slender-billed Gulls and a feeding Redshank that seemed quite oblivious to the car - I remained inside. Also present on one of the pools was a trio of Cattle Egret but, again, difficult to try and get a good view for photographing.

Two of many Slender-billed Gulls Gaviota Picofina Larus genei
So with the temperature creeping up and some blue skies and sunshine I made my way back to Las Norias to revisit the site from the opposite direction.  Amazingly, just approaching the plastic recycling turn I had a Great Spotted Cuckoo fly over the road in front of me but with traffic behind unable to stop.  Getting out of the car it was not so much the scarcity of birds on the water other than Great Crested Grebes but the wind that had really picked up a pace.  So on to the end to find that the Night Heron had departed but happily sitting at the edge watching the very many Red-rumped Swallows and, not so many, House Martins, eating my sandwiches I noticed the Red-crested Pochards sitting on the stone bank just across the water and, close by, a pair of Shoveler.  Had I not been looking in that direction and at that specific time I would not have seen the Little Bittern that flew across the small gap in the reed right in front of me.  What a lovely bird to end on.

Lots of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus to be seen at Las Norias

I did call again at the main causeway where I had started and whilst the swifts and swallows were still very active the wind was blowing like a gale producing very choppy waters and almost impossible to use the scope, both hands being needed just to stop everything falling over.  I had had a good morning so I took the opportunity to head off home for a rest before the evening's opera.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Linnet

Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator
Common Redshank Archibebe Comun Tringa erythropus
Avocets with Coot, Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus, Common Terns Sterno hirundo and a Gull-billed Tern

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

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar with Arboleas Birding Group

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Wednesday 24 April

Should have rained here today but a handful of spots at the worst.  On the other hand, presumably, friend Dave found better weather to drive west to Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar with his sole fellow Aerboleas Birding Group member to enjoy a wonderful day's birding with over 70 species recorded.

Again, the forecast for both Ventas de Zafarraya and the Guadalhorce in Malaga is absolutely horrendous but suggesting it might be sun and cloud further east in Almeria province so I might just drive up to the same sites tomorrow and see what is still about.  Be good to hopefully catch up with another Pied Flycatcher and see a first Collared Pratincole of the year, and even the newly-arrived Little Terns.  Fingers crossed that I will not be disappointed.

Las Norias & Roquetas  -  Wednesday 24th April

Well, it was only Les and myself today going to Las Norias and Roquetas which meant we could use my 4x4 to venture further into the Roquetas salinas.  I picked him up in Los Gallardos and we headed straight for the first causeway at Las Norias forsaking our usual coffee stop!  Above us was a conglomeration of hirundines and swifts.  We nearly got the complete set!  Pallid and Common Swifts.  Red-rumped and Barn Swallows.   Sand, Crag and House Martins.  There was a gusty wind, so we only heard the Great Reed Warbler.  On the water were Red-crested Pochard, Coot and Great Crested Grebes.  A Yellow-legged Gull flew by.  A Night Heron was resting down the left hand reed line.  Les spotted some distant Whiskered Terns and a low flying Kestrel.  A large flock of Little Egrets flew past as did a single Yellow Wagtail.
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved onto the second stop by the rocky peninsula.  A Turtle Dove and a Night Heron flew away, but arrivals included Wood and Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Little Stint.  A Stone Curlew dropped in.  I then spotted two resting Collared Pratincoles.  Very hard to see amongst the rocks. Also seen were Black-winged Stilt, Moorhen, Mallard and a Willow Warbler.  Heard a Sardinian Warbler.
We drove to the far end of the smaller lake.  Was glad to see the piles of discarded plastic and the dumped tyres had been removed.  Well done to the local council or the Junta!  How much the fly-tippers will take notice of the new signs I dread to think!  Les found some Shoveler and Common Pochard whilst I bagged a Gadwall.  On the gravel bank we saw Red-crested Pochard, Mallard and a couple of Night Heron.  A male Pied Flycatcher showed well.  Les was first to see a Little Bittern fly by.  As we turned the truck round we came across a flock of about 20 Yellow Wagtails.  Moving round the corner to the meadow and track, we had a distant view of a Woodchat Shrike.  We wandered down the track but due to large muddy puddles we weren't able to continue.  We drove to the little bridge and were delighted to see a Purple Swamphen.
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
En route to our coffee stop in San Augustin we came across a small flock of 10 Gull Billed Terns feeding over some waste land.  We also saw Black-headed Gull, Hoopoe and Jackdaw.
Little Terns Sterna albifrons (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Suitably re-hydrated we headed for the Salina tracks. We only stopped at one but we were rewarded with a Slender-billed Gull, plus a small group of feeding waders.  Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Little Stint.  A Redshank flew by noisily.  Les found an Audouin's Gull.

Little Stint Calidris minuta, Dunlin Calidris alpina & Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea and a second Dunlin (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
It was then onto the large lake.  Very choppy water but we managed to see the trio of grebes, Great Crested, Black -necked and Little.  There was a line of Little Egrets on the far shore. Amongst them was a single Squacco Heron.  Les found our first Grey Heron of the day.  Les spotted a flight of three Glossy Ibis.
We drove up the very bumpy and puddled track to the small "ex Red Knobbed Coot" pond.  Les was still sorting himself out when I spotted a pair of Marbled Duck flying over the reeds in the distance. The pond only had Coot and Mallard thereon.  We carried on deeper into the reserve.  Lots of standing water.  We were very disappointed not to see any Collared Pratincoles, but we did find some resting Little and Gulled -billed Terns, Kentish Plover, Turnstones and a single Common Tern.  Little birds included an obliging Woodchat Shrike, a Grey Wagtail and a Reed Bunting. 
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At the salina by the pumping station we only added a Spotted Redshank.  The water was very high. On the way back we found a mixed flock of gulls, adding some Lesser Black-backs to our list. Greater Flamingos were in fine fettle.  The last bird was a Zitting Cisticola.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterua roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
An amazing 70 species today. Sunny weather, but spoilt by the wind. Thanks, Les, for joining me on this great day!

Regards, Dave

Have these Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus lost their way? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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

Sunday 21 April 2019

Rutland Water with Chris Bell

Sunday 21 April

Having published my report on the visit to Charca de Suarez, this morning I receive a most detailed report that my birding friend, Chris Bell from Worksop had undertaken to my UK local patch at Rutland Water at the same time.  I thought, perhaps, I would publish same in order that readers might be able to compare the sightings at two lovely birding spots, albeit Rutland Water is a vast size by comparison, over a thousand miles apart.  Interesting also to note that whilst those of us at the Charca in the far south of Spain were birding under dry but cloudy conditions and only the very occasional break for a small blue patch of sky and even a couple of very short, drizzly showers, wearing jumpers and jackets, Chris in the "north" was experiencing clear blue skies, temperatures in the mid-twenties which made it, probably, ten degrees warmer, and had to resort to short-sleeve order.  If this keeps up perhaps the Spanish will start moving to Britain to find some warmth!

Anyway, lovely report to which I have added some of my photographs to help illustrate the literature plus a map of Rutland Water.  Many thanks Chris.

Ruddy rush of Rutland rampups

I made it to Rutland Water Saturday. It was a cloud free, sunny day, and by 11 O’clock it was short sleeve order even for me. I finished up being there for nearly 6 hours. Year ticking commenced from up in the ”gods” at the Visitors Centre with my picking out a Common Tern ( with more later including 6 sat on Lagoon 4) ,and hearing Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. Whilst I heard many more of both these warblers during the day I only saw Sedge Warbler.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
I then made the long walk to Heron Hide the nearest to Manton Bay and there was the target Osprey but it turned out to be an unnecessary hike but one never knows. Realising that probably it wasn’t going to be too good an idea to be walking in the noon sun, I didn’t stay there long heading for Snipe Hide however calling in on a couple of hides on the way, but no year ticks.   On the other hand Snipe Hide provided not only a splendid Greenshank, but a superb breeding plumage Wood Sandpiper.
I hadn’t visited the lieu when I was there so made my way back there and then on towards Lagoon 4.As I approached Shoveller/Bittern Hides area I could see a group of about a dozen people and as I guessed they were listening to a Nightingale making his presence felt for all in the vicinity. Nobody saw it but that is the nature of the beast.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Continuing my way to Plover Hide at Lagoon 4, things were soon ticking again with first Common Sandpiper and then Whimbrel although both species proved elusive. However I did find the Whimbrel again, pleasing other watchers, when I got round to visit Dunlin Hide. Whilst in this hide I found a Yellow Wagtail on island 7.

Whimbrel Numenius tenuirostris
Making my way back to the VC I sat up in the “gods” again and after much discussion I had my 11th year tick of the year (which is now 160) ,however I have to duck out on naming the species lest it prompts the shooters to visit the site. I am only prepared to say that she purported herself extremely well especially to the rear, perhaps too stiffish for some. (See comments at end)
Editor:  Many of you will be aware of the extended culling operation undertaken for almost the past decade to rid the country, and northern Europe of the Ruddy Duck.  The 1953 experiment to see if two drakes and five ducks might survive in the wild having been released from the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge had gone decidedly better than planned with, by the end of the century, numbers measured in the many thousands and the potential risk that they would inter-breed with the then very small population of White-headed Duck, only just beginning to make a recovery from potential extinction.  To date over 5000 individuals have been culled, eggs destroyed, etc and I am not too sure whether or not their existence has now come to an end.  Therefore, it would appear that the Ruddy Duck is now, at best, a very rare species living in the wild throughout Europe and especially Britain.  (No doubt if the above needs correcting some reader will be in touch.)

I probably had a 12th year tick Garden Warbler, that I heard, but didn’t back track to visually check, dismissing it at the time as a badly heard Blackcap, however a local competent birder said he had had 5 during the day.

Of course there was so much more beside the above. Blackcap were the most verbal warbler species, with Willow Warbler, and then Chiffchaff some distance behind, and Common Whitethroat in fewer number.

Female Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla with "ginger" rather then black cap

Wader species included Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover (with the 2 Dunlin seen from Dunlin Hide).

Ducks and Geese species a plenty. Whilst I didn’t have Red Kite there were a few Buzzard about.
A pair of Egyptian Geese had taken over the  nest on the Osprey platform on Lagoon 4 but the Osprey soon turfed them out.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

A cracking day with a cracking boost to my year list.

Further comments from Chris:

1.  I arrived at the VC at just after 10:20 having only walked from the A6003 along Hambleton Road to the VC, and left at 16:20 but walked all the way to Oakham railway station (slow but reliable) ,and still didn't see a Red Kite.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
When I was at Snipe Hide the Wood Sand and Greenshank, like most everything else around, were disturbed by a cream crown Marsh Harrier tracking north being harassed by a couple of Jackdaw, and again when all three tracked south. It did have the result than both Wood Sand and the Greenshank eventually finished up on the sandbank in the middle of the water much easier to view.  Although I didn't see it, a Jack Snipe was seen before and after my visit to Snipe Hide.  I was in a year tick-  hungry mood, so was more interested in going on to Lagoon 4 than to wait to possibly see a great species, but not a year tick.  Anyway the Jack Snipe I saw at Potteric Carr on the 3rd of February was just about as close as one could get to one (say 5 yards from Decoy Marsh), whereas the RW one would have been 50 meters away.

2.   You will see that I have included the Ruddy Duck hinted at in the main report. She was spotted on Lagoon 1 by a gentleman siting next to me up in "the gods".  I suggested female Pochard but said I hoped I was wrong.  His mate suggested an odd-looking Tufted Duck.  Watching it, the duck spent long periods underwater and was making large movements making it difficult to keep track of it.  I said it was acting like a Ruddy Duck might and, eventually scoping it diving, the stiff tail became obvious, so thanks from me to Graham.  It's about 2 years since I last saw one. That was a male and they are dead easy to recognise.  Editor:  Think difference between male and female White-headed Duck out here in Malaga.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Ruddy Duck, Cormorant, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Greenshank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black–backed Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Swallow ,Sand Martin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

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