Monday, 18 May 2020

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Sandwich Tern Charran Patinegro Sterna sandvicensis
Monday 18 May

At last, the big day has arrived!  Nine weeks of lock down and only allowed out for an hour a day within one kilometre of your home for the past week but, today for the first time, anywhere provided you stay within your own province, in our case Malaga.  So what better way to start than a morning at the Guadalhorce, arriving at 9am for three hours in glorious sunshine and not a cloud in the beautiful blue sky.

Welcomed by scores of House Martins and just a few Barn Swallow I was soon crossing the footbridge into the reserve itself.  Th e occasional House Sparrow but nothing on the river itself.  However, once on the far side lots of calling Nightingales and scores of Common Swifts feeding low over the fields with the House Martins.  The occasional passing of a squadron of noisy Monk Parakeets and then the deafening call of the resident Cetti's Warblers.

Lots of cyclists about and the occasional walker but no birders seen the whole morning so the hides all to myself.  Once at the Lagina Casillas a collection of a dozen Black-winged Stilts along with a Moorhen, a trio of Coots and both a pair of Mallard and White-headed Ducks.  Just as I was about to move on a Common Pochard presented itself.

A few of the Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
The Wader Hide was full of Black-winged Stilts and I duly counted a total of 34.  Also present a number of Redshank along with, mainly, Ringed Plover and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers.  A Shelduck was resting at the far end of the water and as a Blackbird flew across in front of me I also picked up a couple of Dunlin.  Lots of calling Reed Warblers and, just outside the hide, the first Sardinian Warbler of the morning.

Redshank Archibebe Comun Tringa totanus

The Rio Viejo, old river, was also complete with Black-winged Stilts (20) and a good-sized mixed flock of gulls, mainly Black-headed but also a few Audouin's Gulls.  Resting with the I counted a quartet of Sandwich Terns.  On the nearest shore a couple of Kentish Plovers to add to more Ringed Plovers and Redshanks.  On the other side of the track, in addition to the constant supply of Common Swifts and House Martins I had a Crested Lark along with both Greenfinch and Goldfinch.  However, the best sighting probably was that of a Willow Warbler, Zitting Cisticola and two juvenile Goldfinches all sharing the same small open bush.  A Little Egret flew high overhead as it made its way upstream and from the Sea Watch I found a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  The return walk produced a female Blackcap.

Gulls, including Audouin's gaviota de Audouin Larus audouinii and four Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Continuing on to the Laguna Escondida I had a pair of Linnets pass me and another Crested Lark.  On the water itself just a trio of Little Grebe plus a couple each of White-headed Duck and Common Pochard

Little Grebe ZampullinComun Tachybaptus ruficollis
On the dead tree to my left a single Bee-eater remained resting for almost the whole of my stay, occasionally joined by another individual and a half-dozen Spotless Starlings.  Then, just proving that it pays to be be patient, a Red-rumped Swallow passed in front of the hide to feed over the water.
Bee-eater Abejaruco Europeo Merops apiaster

And so on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Another twenty Black-winged Stilts plus thirteen Flamingos.  Almost a dozen Collared Doves in the trees to my left and whilst most of the gulls were Black-headed there was also a couple of Slender-billed Gulls.  As I made my way back to the exit I saw my first and only plane of the morning, showing how quiet everything is at the moment, as a Ryanair flight departed towards the sea just before midday.  Approaching the footbridge a lovely male Serin alighted on the fence to my right and when back at the car I had the joy of listening to, and then finding, the lone Turtle Dove.

Six of the thirteen Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus

Three lovely hours so rather than straight home i took the slight detour so that I could spend thirty minutes driving through the track above the rive at Zapata.  All very overgrown and a lot of heavy activity below as lorry after lorry removed soil to deposit on the far side of the river.  Most of the birds seen had already been recorded at the Guadalhorce but I did have a Spotted Flycatcher and then another couple of Crested Larks.  Just before turning down towards the ford a trio of Hoopoe were hiding in a low bush to me left and, at the water's edge, a couple of Cattle Egrets.  Again, lots of calling from both Cetti's and Reed Warblers.

"Push off, Mallard, this is our spot!" screamed the Black-winged Stilts
All in all, a lovely first day of birding wit 47 species recorded.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Flamingo, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Bee-eater with Spotless Starlings Estornino Negro Sturnus unicolor

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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