Wednesday 29 January 2020

Montes de Malaga & More

Tuesday 28 January

One of many Siskin Lugano Carduelis spinus
An early arising and up in the Montes de Malaga to meet friends Barbara and Derek Etherton and Barbara and Jerry Laycock at the Eco Museum for 9 o'clock so we could check out the wooded valley below.  Bulfinch have been reported in the area and, for me, a good chance to catch up on some of our smaller feathered friends along with other new species for the year.  Passing both Thekla Lark and a small flock of Crossbill as I arrived at the turn down to the museum I was immediately greeted by thee drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  With all of us now present we set about trying to find the nearest individual.  Wood Pigeon on the far side and both Great Tit and Chaffinch below but where was the GSW?  Looking behind the museum I was in time to see the bird fly slightly down to a dead tree.  Whilst pointing out where the bird had landed we were surprised to see the arrival of a lovely male Siskin come to perch on top.  Ere long we had seen a number of these lovely little  yellow finches with, probably, an even split by sex.
Red Squirrel Ardilla Roja Sciurus vulgaris enjoying its morning snack of pine seeds

More Crossbills and then we mad our way down the steps to walk along the lower path.  Not only a plentiful supply of Siskins and more Crossbills and Chaffinches but a solitary Mistle Thrush huddled up in a tree before departing and then the first of many Blackcaps.  A Robin put in an appearance and, best for me, we all got to admire the newly-arrived Firecrest as it fed in the tree immediately in front of us.  Meanwhile we had a Red Squirrel above us enjoying a breakfast of pine seeds and Derek had a magnificent view of a male Hawfinch on the other side of the stream.  For the rest of us, we had to make do with the flight across and above us accompanied by the female Hawfinch.  In addition, Jerry and a few others heard the distant call of a Tawny Owl from the higher slopes opposite where the bird is known to root.  Returning to the cars after our ninety minute visit we had a Coal Tit in the trees above and as we departed more Crag Martin sightings above.

Following a refreshment stop we then made our way to Fuente de Piedra where we found much more water with flooded field and scrapes and even water on the main salina.  An immediate stop as we entered the site revealed a good number of Stone Curlew in the filed to our right and  handful of Jackdaws behind them near the old electricity tower.  The flooded approach field on the left held a handful of Shoveler, female Teal and single Black-winged Stilt at the back. To the right a single Lapwing and Chiffchaffs feeding in the nearby trees.  A large flock of Greenfinches flew out and back over the water and then a Blackbird before reaching the car park.

First to the boardwalk where we found more Black-winged Stilts and a Meadow Pipit busily preening following it s early morning ablutions.  A couple of Stonechat in front of us and the first Moorhen of the day.  At the back towards the main water we had a pair of Kestrel and then a Marsh Harrier gently drifted across in search of a meal.  A handful of Linnets moved across the reeds before we started our walk back along the edge of the stream towards the entrance to the laguneta recording Crested Larks on the way.

Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus and company
Having heard we the saw a Cetti's Warbler and in the distance the raptor turned out to be a Red Kite.  More Moorhen and another Teal on the scrape plus a Black Redstart behind us.  From the mirador we could see hundreds of gulls, mainly Lesser Black-backed but also a good number of Black-headed Gulls.  Hundreds of Flamingo to our left and then round to the screen overlooking the small pond where we not only found many Blackcap but also Serin, Sardinian Warbler and more Blackbirds.

Mainly Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata
Arriving at the hide overlooking the laguneta we had scores of Shoveler plus a smaller number of Mallard and Common Pochard along with a few White-headed Duck, a pair of Gadwall and a female Red-crested Pochard.  Lots of Little Grebe on the water plus both Coot and Moorhen.  A Marsh Harrier finished its quartering and came to rest near the water's edge.  Once again, close views of a small number of Flamingo and Black-headed Gulls.  Leaving the centre we took the side track behind the reserve towards our next port of call and came across, first, very many Feral Pigeons on the buildings opposite and a small number of Spanish Sparrows before picking up a Wood Pigeon and both House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings at the large farm.   Derek and company in the former's car also managed to find a distant pair of Raven.

Preening Spanish Sparrow Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis

What a change from ten days ago when we arrived at Laguna Dulce.  Lots more water following the recent rains but, although lots of birds still to be seen, numbers had been drastically reduced from our previous visit.  Goldfinches and Chiffchaff flitting about the neigbouring trees then to the hide.  Most of the bird life was on the far side but we did have nearby Little Grebe and Mallard plus the odd Coot.  At least four Marsh Harriers on site and to the far right a small number of Famingo and maybe two score Red-crested Pochard plus a small number of Teal.

Resting Marsh Harrier Aguilucho Lagunero Circus aeruginosis at Fuente watched by Little Grebe Zampullin Comun Tachybaptus ruficollis on water hoping he's not the next meal!

A good number of both Mallard and Shoveler at the back along with over an hundred Coot.  Derek and Barbara managed to find a distant pair of Great Crested Grebes and we all saw plenty of both Little and, not so many, Back-necked Grebes.  Still probably fifty plus White-headed Ducks on the water and to me extreme left I found a quintet of Avocet swimming away from the bank.

Female Common Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus

In the scrub below the hide we had a single Snipe, the occasional Moorhen and a few White Wagtails.  The score or so Crane were in the far field towards the ruined farm and I thought I had found a male Hen Harrier but as  it started to hover we all realised it was a Black-shouldered Kite; not just one but a pair.  I ought also to clarify that in addition to the many Crag Martins feeding over the water, the large number of gulls seemed to be solely Black-headed Gulls.  We even had a Hoopoe visit the nieighbouruing hide.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa pops

Leaving the water to start our journey home via Malaga we made a brief stop at the Penarrubia cliff to record both Griffon Vulture and more Crag Martins along with a soaring Sparrowhawk noticed by Jerry.  Derek found a very distant Blue Rock Thrush near the top of the cliff face and there was a good-sized raft of Coot on the lake below.  What a way to end a great day's birding in wonderful company and a final list of over 60  species.

A trio of Stone Curlews Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus as we approached Fuente de Piedra reserve
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Griffon Vulture, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dive, Wood Pigeon, Tawny Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Crossbill, Hawfinch.

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

Monday 27 January 2020

Charca de Suarez

Sunday 26 January

 A very enjoyable morning's birding at the Charca de Suarez, Motril in the welcome company of my birding friend, George Lamb from nearby La Heradura.  Following the recent days of storm and tempest it was lovely to be in very welcome cal,, blue skies and sunny weather, even if at first a little on the cool side.  well past mid-morning when the light breeze arrived but in the sunshine lovely and war.  Even better, upon arrival and entering "Turtle Dove Alley" I was greeted by expected Collared Doves and House Sparrows but within ten metres the track off to the right was flooded and being utilised by a dozen Mallard and a single Green Sandpiper.  Moving on to the far end I found my first flock of Common Waxbill and take a right turn, rather than left, I fund another good-sized flock along with a quartet of Red Avadavats.

Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrid

Time to turn round and make my way t the entrance to the reserve recording the first trio of a half-dozen Blackbirds that there to be seen during the morning, a few White Wagtails and  the first Black Redstart. More Collared Doves in the trees an then on to the Laguna del Taraje which as very full following the recent trains.  Indeed, all the water levels were very high and yet, perhaps surprisingly, the paths themselves not as muddy as might have been expected.  A number of Mallard along with Shoveler and a quartet of Red-knobbed Coots plus some very quarrelsome Moorhen.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita

Arriving at the Laguna Del Alamo Blanco the lone White Stork was once more in situ along with a resting Heron perches atop the bare stick.  In the background a number of Mallard plus a handful of Shoveler and a pair of Gadwall.  Two pairs of Teal drifted into sight and then a single Purple Swamphen put in an appearance.  The first Chiffchaff were recorded and a Cetti's Warbler was singing away behind us.

Purple Swamphen Calemon Porphyrio porphyrio

Waling to the large hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we stopped to both admire and photograph the feeding Common Waxbills and, at the same time, also found both Great Tit and Blackcap.  Once in the hide  we counted seven Cormorant but only the single Little Grebe.  Loads of Common Coots and more Mallards and Shovelers.  Another Heron was found away to our left and just the single Yellow-legged Gull on the water.  Above the ware a score of more feeding Crag Martins and then a close White Wagtail as well as more Red-knobbed Coots.  Away to the back we found a female Marsh Harrier drifting left and to the far right at the back of the water about eight Common Pochard.

Cormorant Cormorant Grande Phalacrocorax carbo with resting friends -you identity all three!
Moving on to the northern hide overlooking the Laguna del Trebol we were not to be disappointed by finding the resident Bluethroat along with a Grey Wagtail and a dozen or more Chiffchaffs.  Not so much the Robin that came to feed in the same area but the sudden appearance of a male Kestrel suddenly dropping down to take a Chiffchaff as his luncheon - but, on this occasion, without success.

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica

Nothing else to add until we reached the last hide overlooking the Laguna del Lirio where we found just the one Ferruginous Duck along with a pair of Mallard and a quartet of Red-knobbed Coots along with a Serin at the far end of the water.

Ferruginous Duck Porran Pardo Aythya nyroca

leaving the site for a quick coffee we could but not notice the large, circling flock of mainly Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A most enjoyable morning and many thanks to George for his welcome company.  Safe journey back to Blighty a the week-end and look forward to your return in March.

Grey Wagtail Lavandera Cascadena Motacilla cinerea

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, White Stork, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Serin.

More Photos:

Crag Martin Avion Roquero Ptyonoprogne rupestris

Robin Petirrojo Europeo Erithacus rubecula

The dancing Purple Swamphen Calemon Porphyrio porphyrio
Our resident White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia

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

Thursday 23 January 2020

Almeria and Cabo de Gata - Day Two

Record shot of Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Wednesday 22 January

Up early, must have been a little rain overnight, but a beautiful, sunny start.  A cold wind but very pleasant when in any form of shelter.  Straight to the first hide at Cabo de Gata on the bend as you approach the village where a number of Flamingos were seen along with Slender-billed Gulls and a close Little Egret.  Close by I had a single Redshank and Dunlin and,resting on a distant post a lovely Peregrine FalconHouse Sparrows near the road, Crag Martins feeding over a small pool opposite the hide from where a lone Mallard beat a hasty retreat and to my right the first of the morning's Stonechats.

Distant view of Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco peregrinus
About this time my friend Dave Elliott-Binns turned up with his merry band from the Arboleas Birding Group, very pleasant and friendly group, and with the extra eyes we were soon picking up new species including a skulking Black-winged Stilt, Black Redstart and a few Spotless Starlings along with the odd Common Starling.  A couple of Marsh Harriers were quartering the scrub land behind us and a Gannet was seen approaching from the sea.

Moving round to the first hide we soon found a quartet of Curlew which led directly to us finding the apparently close-feeding Stone Curlews. Not just the first Crested Lark  but also the first of a number of Cormorant were also recorded.  A lone Sandwich Tern put in an appearance and looking at the salina away to our left we managed to add a distant Great Crested Grebe followed by a quartet of Pintail.

From the Public Hide we could see that the forty or so Spoonbill were still in residence accompanied by a handful or so of Cormorant and a lose Curlew giving good views.  Also on the water Shelduck and both Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls.  leaving the hide, a few of us took the well-puddled track down to the village where we found plenty of Greenfinch, Meadow Pipit and both Crested and Thekla Lark.  Strange who this lowland site seems to attract mainly Thekla rather than the expected Crested Larks.

Common Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
On up and over the steep hill, where I was just in time to see the Corn Bunting disturbed by Dave in the lead car, to the light house.  A Kestrel was seen but very little else by myself other than more Crested Larks and Black Redstarts.  On the way back to Cabo for a coffee break I drove  a few hundred metres down the track to the back of the salinas where I found a pair of Black Wheatears.

Black Wheatear Collalba Negra Oenanthe leucura

Following the comfort break time to drive along the beach track to the Rambla Morales where I found a single Black-necked Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Little Egrets and Heron.  Feeding Crag Martins over the water and then on the return drive back to the road I stopped to look at the small number of Kentish and Ringed Plovers.   Jenny did ask if I attempted to drive across!

Record shot of Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

Finally, driving back through the village to take the exit road out of Cabo de Gata I added both Collared Dove and White Wagtail before driving by the camp site to check out the wet area of the dry river bed in search of a wader or two.  Dry river bed?  Good job it was light and I was not visiting the farm on the other side as the river was now twenty yards across and a raging torrent rushing down stream!  But I did add a Sardinian Warbler as I took the coast track back towards Retemar.  However, no sign of either Trumpeter Finch nor Dotterel on this occasion.

Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea (left) with Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta (right)
More information can be found by reading Dave's report as seen by him and his fellow members as we were together most of the time.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew,  Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales with the ABG

Wednesday 22 January   

As part of my two days birding up in Almeria Province I was able to join my friend Dave Elliott-Binns and his Arboleas Birding Group for their weekly visit, this time at Cabo de Gata.  Great day in glorious sunny weather, but a strong cold wind blowing, despite the awful weather to both west and east of us!  What a lovely group of birders Dave had and it was both a pleasure and privilege to be out with the.  As usual, Dave's report follow and all being well will be able to add my own contribution as soon as possible,

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:  Wednesday 22nd January 2020

I was on the point of cancelling today's trip to Cabo de Gata, but I was assured by Alan that the weather was going to be okay.  As I headed south on the A7/E15 I drove through heavy rain and a hail storm, but by the time I came off the motorway the sun was out.  I logged Collared Dove, White Wagtail and Spotless Starling before I stopped at the cafe in Pujaire.  There I met Alan, Les, John, Val, Trevor, Jim, Michael and Karen.  After a coffee we headed for the first hide.  Bob Wright was already there, immediately telling me we'd missed a perched Peregrine Falcon by 5 minutes....Don't you just hate it when that happens!  We were joined by Jacky,  Dave and Myrtle.  A scan of the water in front of the hide produced the usual Greater Flamingos and Slender Billed Gulls.  I found a Spotted Redshank on the nearly water covered causeway.  Little birds included a Blackcap seen by Trevor, Northern Starlings, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff and the first of many Stonechats.  John wandered down the car park to observe the pool.  He saw Black Winged Stilts and a Redshank.  I spotted an adult Gannet out to sea.  Also seen were Yellow Legged and Black Headed Gulls.  John saw a Barn Swallow amongst the tens of Crag Martins.  A pair of Marsh Harriers were quartering the land behind us, the female giving us reasonably close views.  Trevor added a Black Redstart before Alan spotted some flying Shoveler.

We then headed towards the second hide.  I saw an Eurasian Curlew on the way as well as a Thekla Lark.  Once parked up we saw another 4 Curlews feeding on the savanna.  A Sandwich Tern was patrolling the shallows.  As we walked over towards the hide we saw a number of flights of Stone Curlew, some giving good, but distant views in the sun.  John had an Audouin's Gull whilst Alan found a distant Great Crested Grebe.  The Spoonbill were still in their usual place.  We later counted 40 of them.  Cormorants were close by.  I spotted a pair of flying Shelduck whilst Val found some other ducks which were eventually identified as Pintail.  Alan and I both saw a Bluethroat flitting around the dyke to our right.  Les saw an Iberian Grey Shrike and some Greenfinch.  Jim and Karen then saw a "bird chase" over the right hand scrubland.  A sky scan revealed a pair of Peregrine Falcons heading back towards the mountains.

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandviensis (PGHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved onto the public hide where we caught up with Dave and Myrtle.  They had had a good view of a Dartford Warbler.  They, the warblers, seem to like the shrubs in front of the hide.  Les added a Dunlin.  An Eurasian Curlew showed well.  A few Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen.  We left via the church track.  I found some Meadow Pipits down the far end.  Bob did a more thorough check and found the flock to contain about 40 individuals.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus with Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (PGHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Hoping for coffee break in the village, but alas everywhere was closed so we made for the lighthouse.  I added a Corn Bunting and a Red-legged Partridge en route.  Checking the sea from the lighthouse, John spotted what is now called a Yelkouan ( Mediterranean) Shearwater travelling east.  A Gannet showed well.  A line of four low flying duck was seen flying east but not identified.

We headed back to the salinas and stopped off at the 3rd hide but didn't add any new species.  We had a closer view of the Spoonbill albeit from the side.

Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia with a few Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo (PGHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then stopped for lunch in Cabo village.  We saw a number of Crag Martins and as we left Les saw a Barn Swallow.

We then convoyed along the beach-side track towards the Rambla Morales.  Alan and co in the leading vehicle stopped when they found a group of small waders on the rough land. Mostly Kentish Plovers but also Ringed Plover and Sanderling.  At the lake we added Coot, Moorhen and Little Egret.  Bob found a Black Necked Grebe.  We also saw a Great Crested Grebe.  John added Mediterranean Gulls to the list.

We ended up with 53 species for the day.  Was great to catch up with Bob.  We escaped the worst of the weather by a whisker!  As I passed the BP garage outside Pujaire, the nearby rambla was in full flood.  Heading north up the motorway, there was evidence of heavy snow near Nijar and Los Gallardos....phew!
Regards, Dave

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

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Almeria and Cabo de Gata - Day One

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis
Tuesday 21 January

The present forecast is all about percentage chance for rain and yesterday we hardly had more than a five-minute spit!  So, given that Jenny would be out most of tomorrow, I took myself off for two days birding in Almeria province.  Leaving home at 9.45 it was mostly cloudy with the Sun contemplating whether or not to puts its hat on and come out play as I made my eastwards through the Axarquia and then Granada province on the A7 Mediterranean motorway. Literally, as I entered Almeria province a few spots on the windscreen and arriving in Las Norias, home of the plastic re-cycling plant, loads of plastic greenhouses and generally filthy conditions with all the discarded rubbish, a light drizzle started.  However, it was less than fifteen minutes and by and large the day remained cloudy and dry if somewhat murky.  Indeed, as I arrived in Cabo de Gata at about 4pm the cloud was breaking exposing some blue sky and even a little watery sunshine.

Red-crested Pochard Pato Colorado Netta rufina
Leaving the motorway I quickly recorded both Rock and Collared Doves on the wires along with a few Spotless Starlings and a small number of House Sparrows.  The small green patch on the left with the big puddle as you enter the village held its usual supply of Cattle Egrets, twelve on this occasion, along with a couple of Glossy Ibis. Taking the first crossing of the water I was greeted by scores of feeding Crag Martins, a number of Cormorants and little else.  I did record a Little Grebe, Heron and couple of Moorhens along with a few Black-headed Gulls before continuing on and through the plastic greenhouses to the meadow at the end of the road down from the plastic re-cycling facility.  A few White Wagtails on the way and when I arrived but my word what a difference.  This road has been widened, edges given support, re-surfaced and lined so, in theory, nowhere to stop and park up if more than a single car.  Even the usual parking spot near the bridge seems to have been halved.  On the water itself eight Red-crested Pochard, a few Mallard and a dozen Coot along with more Cormorants.  A second Heron was found in the dense reeds opposite.  At the factory end four Little Egret and a single Great Crested Grebe whilst on the opposite side of the road I was able to watch a feeding Purple Swamphen from the bridge. Not only a good number of feeding Crag Martins but also a single Barn Swallow,  Just as I was about to leave I found the single Great Crested Grebe and, of course, a good many Chiffchaff.  

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio

Off to Roquetas de Mar, and found a very cheap place to fill up with fuel near San Agustin, with the first stop at the lighthouse track where I noted many Flamingo, another Purple Swamphen and a few Yellow-legged Gulls plus a distant single Slender-billed Gull.  Approaching the site I passed a massive flock of about 300 Spotless Starling, more Collared Dove along with both White Wagtail and the first of many Stonechat sightings.  The pool at the back held a number of Shoveler, a quartet of Gadwall as well as Coots.

Working my way back to take a look at the “secret Pool” further on I found very little apart from the flooded track.  The return drive to the road produced Crested Lark, Kestrel and Serin. The preening Hoopoe was a welcome sighting.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops
And so to Roquetas itself, noting the large flock of over thirty Common Starlings, where the fresh water pool was full of Coot and mainly Black-headed Gulls but very few duck, just a handful of Mallard and a couple of Red-crested Pochard.  Nothing other than Mallards on the “feeding pond” and very little on the track down into the salinas. 

Common Starling Estornino Pinto Sturnus vulgaris
Lots of Flamingos, Shoveler and Coot but eventually a pool that turned up both single Redshank and Greenshank and the next produced a half-dozen Black-winged Stilts.  Just before my turning point I found three Crested Larks and on the water side a whole raft of Lesser Black-backed Gulls but closer inspection with the scope also found the four Audouin’s Gulls.  

Find the Audouin's Gulls Gaviota de Audouin Larus audouinii

Working my way back to the road I recorded a Great White Egret and then stopped to check out the strange “lumps” to my right to discover about thirty resting Golden Plover.  The final species was a pair of Blackbirds as I entered the town itself.

Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvialis apricaria
A different route to Cabo de Gata on this occasion as I took the road from Retemar straight down to the front and then worked my way along the beach track before joining the country road to my destination.  Hardly onto the track when I found ten Sanderling feeding on a small pool on the sea side of the track which was quickly followed by both Greenfinch and more Stonechats.  Lots of Greenfinches in this area plus more Chiffchaff and a single Dartford Warbler followed by a male Sardinian Warbler as I made my way back to the main road along with a pair of Magpie.

Entering Cabo de Gata I stopped at the first hide on the bend and noted more Flamingos along with Stonechat and a second Iberian Grey Shrike just in front of the hide. Also present one Greenshank and a couple of Slender-billed Gulls. A single Black Redstart and more Greenfinches as I made my way down to the Public Hide from where I noted, to my right, the raft of Lesser Black-backed Gulls which included a quartet of Sandwich Terns, many more Flamingos and a dozen Shelduck.  To the left, in addition to the gulls and another Great White Egret, I found the score or more of Spoonbills resting with the Cormorants.

The very wet and puddled track away from the hide running parallel to the road produced yet more Greenfinches along with Crested Larks and a small number of Meadow Pipits along with at least one Tree Pipit.  A very quick trip up to the lighthouse and back before checking in at the hostal also found more Crested Larks and House Sparrows along with a couple of Black Wheatear.

Well-concealed Tree Pipit Bisbita Arborea Anthus trivialis

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Golden Plover, Sanderling, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch

More photographic records:
Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio
Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus

More of the Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvialis apricaria flock

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

Sunday 19 January 2020

Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra

Saturday 18 January

Arriving at Laguna Dulce about 9.15 this morning it was calm but cloudy and dull with a hint of rain in the air.  Intermittent short drizzles followed soon after and by late-morning it was more of a continuous light rain.  Rubbish weather for photographs as will be seen below with many taken from within the car as record shots.

Approaching the laguna I had a Buzzard on top of pole and then five Crane in a field to the left and close to the road and lots of birds to be seen on the water with a roosting gull flock made up of Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls totalling well in excess of 500.  Similarly, still over an hundred White-headed Ducks to be seen and almost as many ShovelersMallards were well represented and probably a score of Red-crested Pochard.  Nearer to the hide a handful of Gadwall.  Also present many Little and a few Black-necked Grebes.  A number of White wagtails were foraging the shore to my left, but no Jack Snipe on this visit, and to my right a sudden movement caught my eye and I was in time to see a couple of Song Thrush.  Both Collared Doves and Chaffinches in the trees near the lay-by and even a couple of Snipe were hiding in the road-side verge and took off to the laguna as soon as the car approached.  Also on the water  a very large flock of Coot at the back and maybe as many as thirty Flamingo away to the far right. A quartering Marsh Harrier over the back of the water resulted in the expected rush to take to the air.

Only 15 Common Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus seen

Leaving the hide to drive round to the back of the laguna before the rains arrived I found another Buzzard resting on the wooden shed on the right just before the Ronda turn.  Entering the track to the fields I was welcomed by over a score of House Sparrows and in the very first field on my left nine feeding Golden Plover.  What a shame it was so dull that the photographs could not do justice to this lovely wader.

Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvius apricaria in the dull light

Continuing on I cam across a very flighty flock of over an hundred Calandra Lark followed by Stonechat, Crested Lark and Meadow Pipit.  I took the chance to follow the track to its end, well almost, and as on the last visit that dip with its water and mid filled base was too much to contemplate without at least a four-wheel drive vehicle.  Just a hundred metres away I could see the road to Fuente and the big farm, with a good number of Rock Doves and Spotted Starlings laughing their heads off as I turned and retraced my drive!  The return drive produced Goldfinch and Linnet and a quick call back to the lay-by then produced both Blackbird and a Hoopoe.

Making my round to the car park at Fuente de Piedra in a clockwise direction I had a very large flock of Feral Pigeons at the large farm and a similar number of Spotless Starlings resting on the wires leading into the olive grove.  This was quickly followed by another Buzzard atop a pylon and then a couple of Wood Pigeons.  Approaching the Visitors Centre the area on the left was dry but a single Lapwing at the back.  With a light drizzle falling and very limited time before moving off to the Camping Bar for the annual meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society in forty-five minutes, it was straight round the back to the laguneta.  The main salina, now basically dry with a damp gleam, held hundreds of distant resting gulls and to the left maybe up to 400 Flamingo.

Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus and Shovelers Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata at the laguneta

Once at the laguneta a dozen or more Flamingos accompanied by a good variety of duck including many Shoveler, Mallard, Common Pochard, a couple of White-headed Duck and a similar number of Teal. A quartet of Little Grebe and many Moorhen and Coot were also recorded.  Most of the gulls were resident Black-headed but there were also a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Away from the water in the surrounding vegetation I found a number of Chiffchaff, Spanish and House Sparrows, Blackcap, Blackbird, Great Tit and a few Greenfinch.  I also added Jackdaws which, on this occasion, seemed to have preferred the town itself rather than the reserve.

Very distant female Blackcap Curruca capirotada Sylvia atricapilla

Following the ABS meeting I made a fleeting return visit to the Visitors Centre but was unable to locate the Redwing seen earlier in the day so back to Laguna Dulce for a final visit before heading off home via Ardales and Malaga.  The country road away from Fuente produced a small number of Serin and Goldfinches, another couple of Kestrel and then a single Red-legged partridge standing in the road and waiting to be ht by a passing car!  On arrival at Laguna Dulce I was able to add a single Bluethroat and the scores of Crag Martins that had turned up to feed now that the temperature had risen and the weather much improved.

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica at Laguna Dulce

A short stop at the Penarrubia duly produced a couple of Griffon Vulture using the thermals to drift along the cliff face and then on towards Malaga where I decided to stop a the Rio Grande just in case
Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba
there were any wintering Siskin.  My drive downstream alongside the small private airstrip produced White Wagtails and Chaffinch and then, at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Guadalorce, a preening Common Sandpiper.  Driving back and then upstream before crossing the river and stopping at the small bridge produced a quintet of Black-winged Stilt and a few mallards along with a lone Little Egret.  Whilst at the bridge I watched a couple of Cormorants and then a Great White Egret took off from below me and settle further down stream.  By the time I returned to Mezquitilla I had recorded well over 50 species for the day which was most pleasing especially giving the dullness, cloud and wet weather.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochatd, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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