Saturday 16 January 2021

Guadalhorce: Day One

 Thursday 14 January

With the imminent return to lockdown at the week-end restricting one to their respective local municipality, I though it vest to take the last potential opportunity to pay a two-day visit to the Guadalhorce in Malaga to cover both late afternoon and early morning.  Today it was an afternoon visit arriving on site at 1.30 to check out the pools and sea and then, all being well, perhaps see the wintering Short-eared Owl(s) come out for their evening quartering over the meadows. It certainly seemed a good ides with the sun streaming down from a clear blue sky  but, I must admit, I had not factored in the very strong, cold wind; definitely an afternoon for multi layers!

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia

All very quiet when I arrived and not a bird seen until i reached the Laguna Casillas where I found just ten Coots and a couple of Little Grebe. Moving on to the Wader Pool I noted a single Greenfinch and upon arrival a flock of forty Shoveler at the far end of the water along with a couple of Mallard.  Another couple of Little Grebe and then a fly-[past of five Black-winged Stilts.  A juvenile Flamingo was resting mid-water, no islands today with the water at a very high level, and a constant stream of individual Cormorant moving to and from the main laguna behind the trees at the back.

A walk to the Sea watch produced a White Wagtail and looking out at he rough sea I did manage to pick up the Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a couple of diving Gannets but, perhaps, the best sighting was that of a relatively close Great Skua.  Then it was back to the Wader Hide where, apart from Chiffchaff and Collared Dove, a female Marsh Harrier flew over.  Shortly after I was joined by Derek and Barabara Etherton along with Jerry and Barbara Laycock where we watched an Osprey fly slowly past us before the marauding Monk Parakeets travelling in the opposite direction.  A Buzzard was seen over the back of the area and Jerry managed to find a lone Black-necked Grebe at the very back of the water and then we all set of back to the Sea Watch.  Much time was spent checking the rough ground on the left where we duly recorded a number of Meadow Pipits along with Stonechat and Black Redstart.

Leaving the beach area we made our way back to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Many more Shoveler and a resting Common Sandpiper as we approached the hide. A bare tree behind the wader held a quartet of Common along with a score of Spotless Starlings.  Immediately in front of the hide we had more than a handful of feeding Black-winged Stilt along with a couple of Greenshank and a single Redshank.  On the water nearby a handful of Coot and half-dozen Shelduck, The usual islands to the left held over forty Cormorant and a single Little Egret appeared at the back.  Towards the very back of the water a large flock of eighteen Black-necked Grebes were working their way from far left to right.  Gulls seemed to be mainly of the Yellow-legged variety.

Time to move back to the Laguna Escondida and settle in hoping to see the early evening sight of the Short-teared Owls.  By now it was very cold and the wind seemed even stronger, especially as it was blowing directly into our faces from the north. Lots of feeding Crag Martins and then the arrival of a single House Martin.  On the water itself just a handful of Coot.  With the weather showing no signs of improvement we decided it was probably far too windy for the owl to appear and decided to call it a day whilst we could still feel our fingers.

Common Sandpiper Andarrios Chico Actitis hypoleucos

Whilst the others moved off I remained for a few minutes to sort out my gear and was rewarded when a lone Barn Swallow flew past the front of the hide creating a lovely silhouette of body and long streamers, almost certainly a male.  Calling to the others who had almost reached the main track, Derek started back and then a cry from the rothers to look up.  Thinking they meant they had also seen the Barn Sallow we, too, joined them.  But no, not a Barn Swallow but Jerry had seen the second Marsh Harrier along with another which turned out to be a "Ring-tail" (female Hen Harrier) at a very high and distant point towards the hills.  What an end to the day and I have a sneaking suspicion that as a result of walking back to me Derek may have missed both the harrier and the swallow. 

Common Redshank Archibebe Comun Tringa totanus

Walking back to towards the bridge I noticed the Heron in the meadow and at the far end also picked up a male Sardinian Warbler.  So ended an enjoyable afternoon, despite the strong, cold wind, and in lovely company.

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Coot, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Great Skua, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

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