Thursday, 21 November 2019

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Thursday 21 November

Funny old day for the monthly field visit of the Axarquia Bird Group to the Guadalhorce reserve at the mouth of river in Malaga.  Rain promised by 11 o'clock and a short shower as I approached Malaga.  But being over thirty minutes ahead of schedule as a result of no holdups on the motorway I was able to  take a very quick diversion to drive through the Zapata birding area at the back of the airport before till arriving with ten minutes to spare.  A quick check of the entrance site and with no one present I made straight for the Casillas hide on the far side of the reserve so at least I would be under cover before the rain arrived.  Approaching, I noticed Eric and Pat Lyon behind me and once in the hide a short shower.  Then, out of the rain, the arrival of Steve and Elena Powell along with James Moore; just like "old times" with the six of us set for the morning's birding.  And best of all the only rain was a second short shower whilst we were back at the first hide.  Time to depart at exactly 1pm and a light drizzle set in but once in our respective cars and on the way home we received the anticipated, continuous heavy rain - and still light rain until the early evening.  Dull but not unpleasant weather and fifty species recorded during the morning.  Great!

Approaching Zapata from the arches I first encountered Serin before parking up at the ford.  Scores of gulls near the weir, mainly Black-headed and Yellow-legged with a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a good number of Cormorant.  A Heron was watching me watching him and then a White Wagtail flew away from near me.  Moorhens and Mallards to the side of the weir as I made my back up the slope and along the track towards the back of the airfield.  First Crested Larks then a Great Tit followed by a female Black Redstart before coming across a handful of Spotless Starlings.  The cut through the reeds produced a drinking Grey Wagtail at the stream and I noticed that the ringers had a net erected- they, too, obviously decided it was not going to be too wet a start to the morning.  Sure enough, three of the team in one of the cars undertaking the appropriate recording but, when asked, no Penduline Tits seen but they did show me the Snipe being currently processed.  Finally a Sardinian Warbler and then a group of Collared Doves as I departed the area for the short drive over to the Guadalhorce reserve.

Arriving at the Guadalhorce meting point I was greeted by a flock of House Sparrows, over a score of screaming Monk Parakeets and even a lone Raven flew off the site and over the road above me.  Given that rain was scheduled for mid-morning, with no one in sight at 9.30 I set off for the eastern arm of the Guadalhorce and the Laguna Casillas.  The initial walk along the top track produced a number of Serin and a male Blackbird and on the stones to my right a handful of Sardinian and calling Cetti's Warblers before reaching the footbridge.  A number of Cormorants were resting on the banks of the river and many, many more were to be seen during the morning.

The sleepy Booted Eagle Aguililla calzada Hieraaetus pennatus
Once at the Laguna Casillas we recorded a number of Coot and  mixture of Teal and ShovelerChiffchaffs were feeding in the grasses and reeds below us and many Crag Martins over the water.  The first Little Grebe appeared on the water and then a Moorhen on the far side.  Just in time to look up and see the local Osprey fly past us but no photograph taken at this time, not least because of the lack of decent light.  Below the hide another Black Redstart and this time chased off by an aggressive Robin.  Once the Hoopoe had disappeared we then had the pleasure of a long-staying Zitting Cisticola.

Turnstone Vuelvepiedras Comun Arenaria interpres
Moving on to the Wader Hide we had our first Black-winged Stilts of the morning ad a quartet of Teal.  A Stonechat was seen below and in the distant bear trees a resting Booted Eagle.  Having already recorded a single Black-tailed Godwit we moved on down to the Sea Watch to check out the beach.  In the old river (Rio Viejo) we found a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Little Stilt.  Just the single Turnstone on the beach and a small number of Black-headed Gulls on the water itself.

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia
Returning in the same direction we picked up a Kestrel before once more arriving back at the Wader Hide.  Here we found a lone Greenshank being harassed by a bigger Black-winged Stilt and a pair of Jays arrived to rest awhile in the bare tree on the island.  Below us on the bank a pair of Greenfinches.

Mix of Shoveler Anas clypeata and Pochard Aythya ferina but note the pair of Wigeon Anas penelope (top)

And so on to the Laguan Escondida which never seems to let me down.  Lots of ducks on the water, mainly Pochard and Gadwall with also a mixture of Teal, Shoveler and Mallard.  But best of all the pair of Wigeon towards the back but no sign of a single White-headed Duck.  Maybe all these stiff-tails were over at Laguna Dulce near Campillos on an annual WHD convention!  Also on the water both Coot and Little Grebes and below the hide not just the Chiffchaffs but a Bluethroat busy washing itself and even a visiting Kingfisher.

Common Sandpiper Andarrios Chico Actitishypoleucos
Finally, a stay at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Scores and scores of Cormorants on site along with a few Herons and a resting Booted Eagle.  A few Collared Doves in the trees to the left and on the water mainly Shoveler and Mallard along with eight Black-necked Grebes.  Whilst not seen by we last two, Steve and Elena had also seen the single Avocet and a juvenile Flamingo that flew from the far island.  Having let the visiting cyclists look at the Booted Eagle through my scope I then checked out the feeding pole at the back of the water and found that our Osprey had returned and was enjoying his lunch.  Just as we packing up to depart our cycling friends returned and so they were also able to take an enhanced look at the Osprey.  So back to the car in the very light drizzle and on the meadow to our right eight resting Herons.

Record shot pf the distant Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetusin poor light
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Snipe, Back-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Jay, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

The hiding Kingfisher. Why here when there is a lovely bare branch just two metres away?

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