Friday 5 June 2020

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Friday 5 June

Leaving Mezquitilla at 7am to drive over to the Guadalhorce in Malaga, I had large numbers of Pallid Swifts over the nearby apartment blocks and upon entering the motorway a Hoopoe flew across the road in front of me.  Approaching my exit for the A7 above the Guadlahorce to take me down to Guadalmar I could not but notice a trio of Jackdaws resting atop the lamp-posts.  Then, parking up near the primary school, welcomed by a few Collared Doves and numerous House Martins feeding low overhead.

Mixture of gulls and Sandwich Terns Charan Patinegro Sterna sandvicensis
A bright sunny start at 8 o'clock with just a slight breeze but cool enough to retain my sleeveless with its helpful pockets.  More House Martins and even a few House Sparrows as I approached and crossed the footbridge along with the first Barn Swallows of the day.  A Cetti's Warbler was calling from below and I was now joined by the first Common Swifts.  As the morning progressed I never seemed to be without scores of House Martins and both Common and Pallid Swifts plus a number which could have been either.  And so to the Laguna Casillas where I found mainly the breeding Black-winged Stilts and a Coots.  Just one Moorhen and one female Mallard plus the couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls that passed over.  During my stay I had the pleasure of a flypast Red-rumped Swallow to join the other hirundines and a number of Reed Warblers below the hide.  On the far side, a couple of Little Egrets visited for a few minutes resting atop the dead tree before moving away upstream.  And last, but certainly not least, I turned to my right just in time to see a single Little Bittern quickly fly into and disappear with the reed bed.

Wader Pool with some of the Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
The Wader Pool upped the number of Black-winged Stilts present by another couple of dozen and along paddled a single Avocet.  Also present, a single Redshank and in one of the dead trees at the back I managed to find a solitary Peregrine Falcon taking a long rest.  To my left a Sardinian Warbler landed at the top of the small, bare tree and remained far longer than one would normally expect.
Avocet Avoceta Comun Recurvirostra avosetta

As is sometimes the case, the Rio Viejo (Od River) turned up trumps once again with a whole range of species. I could see the assembled gulls on the distant island as soon as I reached the water and getting as close as possible was able to identify a few of both Black-headed and Mediterranian species.  At least one Audouin's and a couple of Slender-billed before also identifying a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls.  And resting with them at least eight Sandwich Terns.  On the far bank a Kentish Plover quickly followed by a couple of Little Ringed Plover and, using the scope, even a Ringed Plover.  In front of me a Zitting Cisticola headed for more dense cover.  However, one of my "birds of the day" just had to be the preening Oystercatcher which has been somewhat of a nemesis to me in Spain these past couple of years.

Oystercatcher Ostrero Euoasiatico Haemmatopus ostralegus

The walk to the Sea Watch produced nothing at sea but on just about the last tree before the end of the tack a couple of Spotted Flycatchers.  Making my way back I was finally greeted by the first Monk Parakeet gang and then, in the far distance passing low of the back of the laguna Grande, a lone Purple Heron. Continuing on a pair of Shelduck passed over head as they made their way to the Wader Pool and even a Crested Lark on the track.

Shelduck Tarro Blanco Tadorna tadorna

The short return visit to the Wader Pool gave me chance to take a closer look at the Shelduck and, at the back of the pool, seven adult Flamingos were seen heading low to the Laguna Grande.  From the Laguna Casillas I saw my first Little Grebe and behind me a pair of Goldfinch.  Walking to the Laguna Escondida I had first a couple of Greenfinch and then watched a pair of Purple Herons fly over and away to the east.  Once at the, almost empty of birds, pool a couple of Coots, Little Grebes and Mallard plus a single male White-headed Duck.  A male Pochard was resting or brooding eggs on a bank under a tree on the far bank.

Mot of the Greater Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus
So on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande where I found not seven but 35 Flamingos.  Indeed, fifteen minutes later they were joined by a further 13 individuals.  The trees to my left held a good-sized flock of Spotless Starlings plus a number of Collared Doves and there were yet more Black-winged Stilts.  However, two more surprises; a male Kestrel was unable to avoid me finding him eating a late breakfast at the back of a dead tree where I would normally find a Booted Eagle during the winter months and resting just above the closely-packed Flamingo flock a single Whiskered Tern.

Whiskered Tern Fumarel cariblanco Chlidonias hybrida

With the day getting warmer and warmer by the minute time to head for home and as I walked back along the tack first a couple of Serin and then, presumably picking up grit from the track, a Turtle Dove.  An approaching jogger frightened the bird away but it was quickly back on the track in front of me and this time mobbed by a Barn Swallow.  But it was a bird on a mission as it returned for a third time, no more than twenty metres in front of me. 

Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur

Crossing the footbridge I could see that a handful of the resident Rock Doves had returned to their resting place below the motorway bridge and noting the missing bird of the morning, I stopped by the church and, sure enough, found a singing Blackbird.

Very distant record shot of the Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco peregrinus

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
Newly-arriving Greater Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus

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

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