Saturday 29 February 2020

Charca de Suarez

Saturday 29 February
Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica

Glorious weather and a joy to spend a couple of hours at the Charca de Suarez, Motril with friend Dave Elliott-Binns who had travelled down from Arboleas in Almeria province via Cabo de Gata yesterday.  Approaching the reserve via "Turtle Dove Alley" I managed to record Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, Serin, Zitting Cistcola, Spanish and House Sparrow, Robin, Black Redstart and Stonechat before meeting up at the gate with Dave, who had also seen a Black-headed Gull.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata with male Mallard Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos
Once inside the gates we headed straight for the bamboo hide overlooking the Laguna del Taraje where we found Shoveler, Mallard, Moorhen and both Common and Red-knobbed Coots.  A very friendly Robin kept us company along with Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and  a few very vocal Cetti's Warblers.  A Great Tit joined in before we moved on to the photographers' hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco seeing our third Blackbird of the morning.

Female Shoveler Cucharda Comun Anas clypeata

Our resident White Stork seems to have found a new resting place and on the water a half-dozen Teal along with a few Mallard.  Two Herons were recorded and a Marsh Harrier quartered the back of the water over the vegetation.  Always amusing to see a Purple Swamphen in flight and we were not to be disappointed whist at this site.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia

On the way to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we stopped to admire the soaring Booted Eagle and once at the water noted the large number of Common Coots along with a few of their Red-knobbed cousins.  A few Gadwall, Mallard and Shoveler but also three Ferruginous Ducks at the back of the water.  Also on the far side a single White Wagtail whilst to our left we found a male Grey Wagtail.  Two resting Herons and a lone Little Egret but just the one Little Grebe on this occasion.  A couple of Cetti's Warblers pout in an appearance along with a single Yellow-legged Gull - albeit their were more above us making their usual "racket!"

Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca (female above)

The little spinney just beyond produced Chaffinch, Serin and Goldfinch before reaching the Laguna del Trebol where we found more Red-knobbed Coots and a couple of Little Grebe. Both Black Redstart and Chiffchaff were recorded and even the "regular" Bluethroat paid a short visit to have its photograph take. 

Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica
Viewed from the opposite side of the water we had both Collared Doves and a second Purple Swamphen.  WE also managed to find a rather large Cameleon walking the track to this far hide.  With nothing extra to record at the Laguna del Lirio we made our way to say farewell to each other; Dave back to Arboleas, a 250km journey, and me to prepare for a fortnight back in flooded Britain!

Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Spotless Staring, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

More Photos:
Early morning Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita
Robin Petirrojo Europeo Erithacus rubecula

Immature Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

Dave gets to see his Bluethroat!

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

Friday 28 February 2020

El Torcal and Laguna Dulce

Thursday 27 February

Beautiful early morning sunshine in clear blue skies and not a breath of wind as I left the coast at 7.25 with the temperature showing 12C and hot weather to follow.  However, ten minutes away from my meeting point with Derek and friends up at El Torcal whilst all outside seemed the same and the temperature had only dropped two degrees, the wind had picked up to gale force and the chill factor must have brought the real temperature down to between four and five centigrade.  My word was it cold and I can't remember the last time I wore three coats over my my long sleeve jumper!

Once suitably dress, along with Barbara and Derek Etherton who had brought Jerry and Barbara Laycock with them, we took stock of the bushes at the bottom of the entrance drive and large cliff face in front of us.  I had already seen the first Stonechat, White Wagtail and House Sparrows approaching the car park and no sooner parked up added Crested Lark. The bushes immediately above us seemed to be alive with small birds including Greenfinch, Serin, Linnet and Sardinian Warbler.  Checking the cliff face we soon added a resting Kestrel right at the top and then a pair of Chough eased their way from right to left which revealed the Crag Martins feeding in front of the lower rock face.  A "weird" call drew our attention to the two Red-legged Partridges that made the same flight as the Chough mentioned above.

Onwards and upwards to the half-way point to check out the bushes so favoured by warblers later in the year where we immediately found a number of Chaffinches and very many Blackcap busy feeding on the available berries.  A very brief appearance by a Wren, spotted by Derek, the a Thekla Lark which seemed to perched on a high rock for ages.  Meanwhile, the bushes were attracting both Robin and Sardinian Warbler and a little further up the road our first Song Thrush of the morning.  This area also produced both Blackbird and Spotless Starling before we recorded our first Blue Rock Thrush.

Arriving a the top we then explored the area beyond the car park where we found the bushes still contained a healthy supply of berries.  Whilst no Ring Ouzels were seen, we did see more Song Thrushes in an hour than we normally see in a full year.  Another Blackbird and Blue Rock Thrush and a couple of Black Redstarts before also recording both Great Tit and a couple of Rock Buntings.  With visitor numbers increasing time to leave and make our way down the mountain with a mid-way stop producing Black Wheatear, Black Redstart and Rock Bunting.  Once on lower ground and back on the main road we even had a resting Little Owl as we made our way towards Antequera.

Given that it was school half-term week and Fnete de Piedra full of visitors we decided to spend the rest of our time at the Laguna Dulce near Campillos.  Passing the hide we made a clockwise "figure of eight" around the lake with the middle loop taking in the now growing cereal fields.  Entering the track from the main road we immediately had a quartet of Cattle Egrets on the left and then not only  a couple of Crested Larks but also a single Calandra Lark. A few Barn Swallows were feeding over the fields and Collared Doves as we approached the from on the left.  Our first sight of the water on our right, and looking into the sun, confirmed Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, LapwingSnipe and a large number of Black-headed Gulls. A Greenshank took off to our left and whilst we were able to pick out a few distant Red-crested Pochard the closer view of the Marsh Harrier was more appealing.

Very distant view of the Little Bustard Sison Comun Tetrax tetrax

Continuing on we stopped to observe a Blue-headed Wagtail on top of a small stick and, crossing a drainage channel, I noticed the pair of Mallard.  Those in the front car saw the quintet of Cranes fly overhead and Stonechats were on display along with a single Corn Bunting before stopping near the ruined farm for our picnic where we watched a pair of Ravens up in the sky above the old buildings and both White Wagtail and Greenfinch near to the water's edge in front of us.  The loop through the fields was to prove most productive with Derek first to find the male and two female Little Bustards about 300 metres away to our right at he back of a field.  Great views albeit very distant for a decent photograph.  Working our way back to complete the visit to the rear of the water we also recorded Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Red-legged Partridge and a very close Calandra Lark resting on the track immediately in front of us.

Once back at the hide we could certainly confirm the large number of both Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls but these were far surpassed by the hundreds of Coot including two very long, thin rafts; most strange.  Not just Black-necked Grebes in breeding plumage but also many Little Grebes.  Barbara E. found the sole Moorhen and their were scores of White-headed Ducks.  Once the scopes were in full action we also noted the many Common and even more Red-crested Pochards.  A handful of Gadwall but only the occasional Mallard and then Derek was able to get his scope on a very distant pair of Teal before they disappeared behind the reeds to the far left.  A pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes was seen on on the far side and at the very back to the right about a score of Flamingo and hiding in the reeds I managed to find our Purple Swamphen along with a Heron.

Distant Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis

Just when we thought all had been discovered, including another sight of the quartering Marsh Harrier, a Hoopoe flew in front of the hide and in the bushes below we also recorded Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Barbara L. drew our attention to the three non-Coots away to the right in front of us.  Well done Barbara for finding the three Ferruginous Ducks.  What a way to finish a good day's birding in excellent company.

Ferruginous Duck Porron Pardo Aythya nyroca

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Little Bustard, Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Snipe, Redshank, Green sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

Thursday 27 February 2020

Almanzora and Vera Playa with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 26 February

Yet again, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have beaten me to a birding hotspot this week. I enjoyed reading Dave's report, especially the mention mention of  both Long-eared owl and Wood sandpiper, two species I am yet to see this year.  It certainly sounds a great day's birding with a good species total and well-attended.  Now look forward to catching up with Dave at the Charca de Suarez on Saturday when, just perhaps, I might find both Wood sandpiper and Kingfisher.

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 26th February

This weeks report actually starts yesterday when I took Gilly to Corvera airport near Murcia.  On the way back I popped into see my friends near Lorca who have the roosting Long Eared Owls in their garden.  Two were present, but slightly obscured by leafed branches.

Long-eared Owl Asio otus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Right, back to today. I picked up returning holiday birders, Phil ans Sue near to the Consum supermarket and headed to the Rambla Almanzora.  We drove slowly down the left hand embankment, seeing Moorhen, White Wagtail and a flushed Green Sandpiper. Crossing the ford we added Black-winged Stilt, Mallard, Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper.  

Common Sandpiper Actitus hypoleucos (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We met up with the 10 other members, including new boy, Jan from Flanders, at the parking area.  John had also seen Dunlin en route.  Checking the ford area more closely and from above, Alan found a Greenshank and a Little Stint.  Phil spotted Spotless Starling, Magpie and Serin.  He also saw a yellow-coloured wagtail flying past. A flock of Greenfinch flew over.  Also seen were Collared Dove, Crested Lark and Chiffchaff.  We walked slowly towards the sewage works.  Phil's wagtail appeared in the form of a Grey Wagtail.  There was not anything on the small pools apart from the wagtail.  The large pool had only Mallard thereon, but over the far side of the rambla the winter resident Blue Rock Thrush was still around.  I heard the distant sound of Stone Curlew.  I did spot an Iberian Grey Shrike.  For a change we drove further up the rambla to check out the shallow pools there.  The first area we checked gave us a small flock of Teal plus Meadow Pipit.  Alan found a Shoveler.  Driving slowly back, we checked other pools and were rewarded with a Barn Swallow, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, another Greenshank and a small covey of Snipe.  John also had a Black Redstart.

It was now coffee time. As we supped a cuppa a pair of House Martins flew around the Villaricos square.  Moving onto the beach, the only bird on the harbour entrance rock was a Yellow-legged Gull.  A small flock (8) of Sanderling was on another outcrop.  The embankment work at the rambla end of the estuary was still ongoing, so we checked out the middle section.  John found a nice Mediterranean Gull in full breeding plumage on the opposite bank with some others.  Phil added a Sandwich Tern.  Also seen were Coot, Moorhen and Little Egret.  Karen then found a lovely Purple Swamphen.  The walk along the beach did not trouble the scorer!

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We made our way to the dual carriageway behind Vera Playa.  We had more Black-winged Stilt, Shoveler, Teal and Mallard plus a Little Grebe.  Phil counted 21 Grey Heron and I, 45 Cormorants.  Alan found a small number of White-headed Ducks. John added Red Crested Pochard and Kestrel to the list.  I think I heard Phil mention a Gadwall.

We then ended up at the viewing area near the water park.  There were more Shoveler, White-headed Duck, a Red-crested Pochard, a pair of Gadwall and some Common Pochard to complete the days list of 50 species.

A great days birding in good company!
Regards, Dave

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

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Zapata and Rio Grande

Monday 24 February

Wonderful morning's birding with friends Barbara and Derek Etherton at Zapata followed by a visit inland to the confluence of the Rios Grande and Guadalhorthe.  Lovely clear blue skies and blazing sunshine when I left Mezquitilla but soon found out that there was a low-lying mist in Malaga which seemed to hang around till mid-morning before the temperature rapidly climbed - but not enough to dampen the birding.  Approaching the river from Zapata we had our first Greenfinch of the day quickly followed by a range of small birds including Zitting Cisticola, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Crested Lark and very many Serin.  No shortage of Collared Doves and a quartet of Cattle Egrets flew over as we reached the shingle banks of the river.

Goodbye Osprey Aguila pescadoa Pandion haliaetus, happy hunting

No sooner had we seen our fist over-flying Little Egret than we picked up the quartet of Mallard on  the water along with a few Moorhen.  A Green Sandpiper was seen landing on the weir upstream and then both Greenshank and a very close Osprey as it started its search for morning breakfast, gradually moving away up river.  A Common Sandpiper on the far bank and a second Green Sandpiper as we prepared to drive through the ford.  At this point we also got a clearer view of the newly-arrived quartet of Little Ringed Plovers.

Little Ringed Plovers Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius
A visit to the "drain channel" produced both a further Green Sandpiper and a rapidly disappearing Snipe.  Having seen a couple of Kestrel on the way into the site, our next sighting was most strange with an individual resting on the side of a large earth pile.  Making our way back to the ford we found a feeding Meadow Pipit and above the water many feeding Barn Swallows along with a small number of House Martins.  Lots of Chiffchaff feeding in the nearby bushes and even a handful of Monk Parakeet flew over.

Green Sandpiper Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus

So on to the reed bed passing both Crested Lark and Blackbird along with more Serins and Stonechats on the fence.  Only a very few Common Waxbills noted but we did manage to find a Robin and whilst checking out a female Stonechat a lovely Bluethroat walked into view with a vibrant blue throat and no white spot.  Indeed, a second individual "popped up" from behind the grass before both moved off to the other side of the track.

Male Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius

An even stranger, for me, sight was that of a male Blue Rock Thrush at such a low altitude behind the airport and as we finally departed to partake of our breakfast at a local venta we recorded both House Sparrows and a single Corn Bunting.

Suitably refreshed we st off for the Rio Grande and, upon arrival, made our way through the tres to the confluence with the Guadalhorce.  Many Chaffinches seen in the wood and then a long stop to both listen to and watch the movement of a Great Spotted Woodpecker

Very distant record shot of Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major

At least three Jays were moving through the trees and on reaching the water we could see nearby White Wagtails, a handful of Cormorants resting in a dead tree on the far side of the Guadalhorce and upstream a distant Great White Egret.  Ere long another couple of Great White Egrets flew past heading downstream.

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba

Lots of feeding Chiffchaffs along with a couple of Blackcap and Black Redstarts.  A Raven was heard calling away to the back of the trees and, once more, the Great Spotted Woodpecker seem to arrive to check out on what we were up to!

Water Pipit Bisbita Alpino Anthus spinoletta

Driving up the Rio Grande we soon recorded Little Egret and a closer look at a Great White Egret. A Common Sandpiper was feeding at the water's edge and then we found a pair of Water Pipits and a nearby Meadow Pipit.  Just a few meters away a first summer sighting of a Blue-headed (Iberian) Yellow Wagtail.

Blue-headed (Iberian) Yellow Wagtail Lavandera Boyera Iberica Motacilla flava iberiae
From the road bridge we also found more Mallards and Little Ringed Plover plus  a few Cormorant resting on the large, upstream  water pipe.  A very distant Buzzard was confirmed atop a pylon but unable to positively identify the distant soaring raptor.  Whilst we added Blackbird, Stonechat, House Sparrow and Goldfinch along with another Kestrel and a couple of Cattle Egrets, I think we were all rather surprised at the very small number of Barn Swallows on site.  Finally, as we set off back to Malaga a lone Raven passed the road
Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Osprey, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jay, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Male Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Friday 21 February 2020

Granada Province

Lovely Little Owl Athene noctua
Thursday 20 February

What a lovely day, brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies with almost no sign of a breeze, for a car tour of Granada province east of Loja.  Most enjoyable but the intent had been to try and find both Little Bustard and Black-bellied Sandgrouse!  Indeed, very few birds to see in terms of quantity but, nevertheless, a most enjoyable few hours and I did have lovely close views of both Little Owl and an Iberian Grey Shrike.

The "tour" started at 9.30 with a brief stop up at the old railway track at Ventas de Zafarraya.  Still a little mist above the high cliffs but , yet again, not a single Chough to be seen.  On the other hand, I had a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes and single Black Wheatear and Rock Bunting.  A number of Crag Matins were feeding near the old tunnel and caves and the walk along the track also produced Greenfinch, Serin and Great Tit

Leaving the area I took the the main road up and through the "Magpie Woods" and on over to the arable fields and the old road up towards Salar.  naturally, I had many of the usuals such as House Sparrow, Collared Dove and Spotless Starling but also a very early sighting of a Red-legged Partridge and a good number of (Common) Magpies. A White Wagtail and many Corn Buntings before reaching the hill but the special sight was that of a resting Little Owl on the rocks where it had been seen on many precious occasions.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua having turned its head rightround to give me the "evil eye"

Apart from the occasional Barn Swallow and Goldfinch as I climbed the hill I had good views of the local Calandra Larks and once at the top also added Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, both Thekla and Crested Lark and a single Mistle Thrush.  From here it was on to Salar to take the A92 motorway eastwards towards Huetor Tajar.

Arriving at the back of Huetor Tajar I forst walked the footpath through the growing fields encountering House Sparrow and Spotless Starling before my first Black Redstart.  A Greenfinch landed on the path in front of me and a handful of Tree Sparrows were making use of the dead tree.  Whilst a Meadow Pipit washed itself in the irrigation ditch then preened on the footpath, a male Serin came to visit.  The bushes to the left produced a small flock of Linnets and both Blackbird and Magpie were recorded by the time I reached the end next to the railway line fence.  With lots of activity in the fields around the town I was unable to locate any Little Bustards but did find White Wagtail, Chiffchaff and Goldfinches.

Very distant, and high, Linnet Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina

So on to the upper Cacin valley in search of the local  Black-bellied Sandgrouse flock.  Arriving on site I found a male Stonechat peched on the fence next to the two massive aviaries which still held between 20 and 30 raptors.  Difficult to be sure and although they appeared to be juvenile Gyr Falcon, I would think that there were also, potentially, both Lanner and Saker Falcons.  Indeed, it could be that these raptors, presumably being raised for the falconry trade, could even be hybrids.

Holding aviaries for the juvenile raptors. Possible Gyr Falcon Halcon Gerifalte Falco rusticolus?
Again, no luck with the sandgrouse but a lovely view of an Iberian Grey Shrike.  A pair of Kestrels took off from the track just beyond the ruined building and during the rest of my drive through the immediate area found more Stonechats, Thekla and (mainly) Crested Larks along with Serin, Blackbird and a pair of Short-toed Larks then, as I made my way back to the new road to Alhama de Granada, a male Sardinian Warbler.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

A last minute decision as I made my way to Alhama saw me deviate to the Bermejales Reservoir where I found plenty of after but not a single bird on same.  However, a walk around the picnic site produce Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon and both Blue and Long-tailed Tits.  Having come this far I carried on and reached the small laguneta above Alhama de Granada where I found a good number of Pochard plus Mallard, Little Grebe and Moorhen before continuing on back to the coast and home.  As previously stated, a most enjoyable tour of the area, just a shame about the lack of birds.

Still cold enough to provide late Almond blossom - looked over by a Corn Bunting

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Kestrel, Moorhen, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

19 February 2020

Good to see that Dave is back in the birding saddle once again and out and about with his Arboleas Birding Group.  Looks very much as if it was all worthwhile, especially the sighting of two golden Eagle and the Green Woodpecker.

Sierra de Maria: Wednesday 19th February

I was absent last week as I had to take Gilly to the dentist.  Thankfully her treatment appears to be completed.  Last Monday I stupidly slipped down our stairs, spraining my right ankle and suffered various bruises.  Luckily nothing broken apart from the mug I was carrying in one hand and the full mop bucket in the other! 

So today I decided to lead the group to the Sierra de Maria.  The forecast wasn't particularly good, predicting grey skies and a possibility of rain.  Are we good weather birders?  On the journey I passed through fog ( low cloud ) and light showers, but by the time I got to Maria town the precipitation had stopped, but still cloudy.  I'd only espied a White Wagtail and a House Sparrow en route. I was joined by Peter, Alec, John, Alan, Iain, Trevor, Adrian, Michael and Karen.  It was especially nice to see Roger and Angela again.  After a refreshing coffee I lead the convoy of cars round the loop.  Before turning right towards La Canada de Canepla, I spotted Goldfinch and Chaffinch.  En route to the village (13km) we'd also seen Carrion Crow, Corn Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Magpie and  Kestrel.  I stopped having just turned left before the village for everybody to catch up.  A pair of Mallard flew over.  

Vociferous Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
There were more Corn Buntings to be seen and heard.  John and co spotted a Moorhen, Crested Lark, and both Spotless and Northern Starling.  Alan saw a little group of birds by a small building and some rocks.  A pair of Stonechat and a Black Redstart.  Some Linnets were also seen.  We carried on. I spotted a Hoopoe in a tree, followed a short time later by another on a rock.  Next, by some farm buildings, I spotted a small flock of Jackdaw.  After seeing a pair of Red-legged Partridge I saw a large raptor above a small hill.  A Golden Eagle.  Luckily everybody caught up before it flew off.  Carrying on, my next find was a Dartford Warbler.  I landed in a bush to the right. 

Female Stonechat Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Eventually everybody managed to see it albeit some only fleetingly.  A first for Iain!  John then spotted a flying Raven.  Moving on to the cliff face, I flushed an Iberian Green Woodpecker before the others arrived, but it yaffled occasionally to confirm my sighting. John then found some soaring Griffon Vultures, 12 in all.  (The sun was now shining!) The usual Rock Doves were present.  Alan spotted a head showing on top of the cliff.  A Blue Rock Thrush.  Moving to the far side of the cliff, Trevor and I saw a Green Sandpiper fly off from a shallow flood pool.  On top of the cliff was a pair of Black Wheatear.  Another Golden Eagle appeared, doing a display flight.

Hoopoe Upupa epops (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
I then lead the convoy towards the hamlet, seeing an Iberian Grey Shrike on the way.  John and co added a Thekla Lark and Woodpigeon.  The hamlet proved disappointing. There was a large flock of White Wagtails and some Meadow Pipits.  The troughs had a similar result with some Linnets.

It was now time for lunch so we headed to the La Piza forest cafe.  As I parked up there was a Great Tit and a Crested Tit in the tree next to me.  We heard a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker.  As we ate our lunch we saw Crossbill, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch and a Robin visiting the feeding area.

I then headed home.  Most of the others went on to the Botanical Gardens.  They manged to see a Peregrine Falcon and some Red-billed Choughs.  Huh...not jealous at all!
We ended up with 46 species.  It was a great day considering the dismal forecast.  Great birding, great company!

A couple of notices.  Hope Val and Tony's bee stings heal soon.  Best wishes to Pat, Richard's wife, who had a eye operation on Monday.
Regards. Dave

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

Monday 17 February 2020

Donana National Park

Sunday 16 February

Time to set of on the journey back to Algarrobo Cost with the day spent in the Donana National Park visit the various reserves, El Rocio and the Dehesa de Abjao.  By 11am we were at the  Laguna de la Mujer where we were welcomed by scores of Azure-winged Magpies and a feeding Hoopoe. On the water, still masked by the early morning mist, we had a couple of Cormorant, Little Grebe, Mallard and Coot.  A Grey Heron was well-concealed at the back of the water.  The nearby bushes held both Blackcap and Great Tit and both Wood Pigeon and Great White Egret flew past overhead.  No shortage of Chiffchaff and as we left we added both Blackbird and Greenfinch and the passing Barn swallows.

Azure-winged Magpie Rabilargo Cyanopica cyanus
Then it was off to Matalascanas and a visit to El Acebucho passing a number of Buzzard, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Magpie and Azure-winged Magpie on the way.  All very dry here so a very short stay but sufficient to add White Stork, Robin, Stonechat and Red-rumped Swallow.  Finally, not just a couple of Firecrests but also a first Short-toed Treecreeper of the year.

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Our third stop was at La Rocinas on the outskirts of El Rocio and this really was a wonderful site with lots of water and a great range of species. The approach had produced more Azure-winged Magpies and a Raven and as soon as the car parked we added the fist of many Chaffinches.  Also in the pines approaching the fiorst hid another two Short-toed Treecreepers and a rather handsome male Serin.  From the hide overlooking the water we had a wonderful display of birds including very many Glossy Ibis, Shoveler, Pochard, Heron, Coot and Moorhen.

Short-toed Treecreeper Agateador Comun Certhia brachydactyla

A lovely addition was the handful of Spoonbill and the presence of a small number of Greylag Geese along with a Purple Swamphen.  Having noted the many Common Pochard, a few Mallard and a healthy supply of Shoveler we then found a quartet of Pintail along with a few Teal.  A Yellow-legged Gull was resting to our right and then, back in the trees, more Chaffinches and a pair of Long-tailed Tits plus a couple of Blue Tits.

Pintail Anade Raudo Anas acuta

Walking to the second hide the chance to see a nearby Wren and then more Chiffchaffs and Chaffinches plus female Black Redstart.  And certainly no shortage of occupied White Stork nests.  An added bonus as we made our way back to the car was a Penduline Tit feeding in the reeds.

Female Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros

And so to El Rocio itself taking the sandy track at the back rather that the main road.  With the sun behind us we were able to check out the main water and quickly noted the many Flamingos and Black-winged Stilts.  In addition, we also found Redshank, Lapwing and a pair of Snipe.  A Crested Lark was feeding on the track and a number of Cattle Egrets were also present, the Little Egrets being further away towards the water.  More Glossy Ibis and the usual ducks on the main water along with more Greylag Geese.

Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus

Our final stop was a return to the Dehesa de Abajo and on the journey we managed to add Zitting Cisticola, Corn Bunting and an Iberian Grey Shrike.  However, not so much the small flock of Linnets that brought the car to a standstill as the beautiful Black-winged Kite.  The water itself was much as the previous Friday with many Common and Red-crested Pochard along with Mallard, Shoveler and Gadwall plus both Little and Great Crested Grebes.  We even managed to find a couple of Marbled Duck and the approach had delivered a handful of Marsh Harriers along with a Black Kite.  On the fields behind, accompanied to the calling of the Cetti's Warblers, a large number of Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill plus more White Storks, Little Egrets and Herons. Special mention must be mad here of the single Black Restart resting on the field and with yet more White Wagtails we finally set off back towards Sevilla noticing the dozen jackdaws in the air as we departed.

Marbled Ducks Cerceta  Pardilla Marmaronetta angustirostris

Approaching the "dump" near La Puebla de Cazalla on the A92 we noticed the number of Red Kites and then a pair of Red-legged Partridge crossed the road in front of us as we approached the Malaga provincial border.  A great day's birding which produced a final tally of almost 80 species.

Night Heron Martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax (Adult above, juvenile below)

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Teal, Marbled Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Back Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia apartment block - no vacancies!
Watch out for Pine Procession Caterpilars Thaumetopoea pityocampa these next few weeks
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