Wednesday 31 March 2021

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

 Wednesday 31 March

Up to the local health Centre at 9.15 for my first Covid vaccination and, having completed my fifteen minute rest, decided I would take a quick look at the Rio Velez in Torre del Mar.  When I look back and think what a pleasant birding site this used to be it is difficult to now compare with past visits.  It may be looking green but it is in desperate need of a lot of water to flush the river clean and not helped by the selfish bamboo harvesters who, having taking their poles, simply discard the rubbish where it lands or throw into the river bed.  Naturally, they hope the flowing river will take the rubbish out to sea but it simply gets brought back into the shore for the local authorities to clean up.  Surely it is not such a big job to send the Police Local down to such harvesting sites at the appropriate time and take a few names, etc so that they know where to address the bill!  Similarly, the hide and its approach are now sadly in a disgusting state; again, lack of attention for those responsible for keeping an eye on our environment.

Right, moan over and back to the birding.  Only an hour on site but I was hoping for some evidence that the local Nightingales might have returned to the river.  No such luck but, on the other hand, there were a few calling Reed Warblers, lots of Cetti's Warblers and the sight of a lovely Bonelli's Warbler.  Lots of Blackbirds and Blackcaps about not to mention to the usual Cormorant gathering as they posed atop some of the taller trees.

Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli

On the river itself at least 14 Mallards including two families with 11 and 8 ducklings respectively.  Both Coot and Moorhen recorded and even a male Shoveler.  It was upstream that I found the feeding Barn Swallows along with a small flock of Serin but, perhaps, the best sight was the flock of 24 Black-winged Stilts that were flying as a group around the lagoon at the river mouth.

Birds seen:

Mallard, Shoveler, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Barn Swallow, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Bonelli's Warbler, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

 Wednesday 31 March

I see from his latest report that Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have been able to visit one of my favourite birding sites at the Cabo de Gata in Almeria province.  For me this is still a "No, no" as we await the lifting of the provincial borders lockdown but, all being well, we might just get lucky sometime in April.  And some great birds recorded with Short-toed Eagle, Curlew, Stone Curlew, Northern Wheatear and Audouin's Gull.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 31st March

I picked up Neville from Los Gallardos and headed south on the A7/E15 towards Almeria.  We came off at Jct 467, where our bird count starts.  Immediately I spotted a Short-toed Eagle above the small hill to the left.  It obviously shocked the two Red-legged Partridge as they exited right very rapidly!  An auspicious start!  We carried on through Retamar Sur, seeing the usual suspects....Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, Blackbird and House Sparrow.  More unusual was the flock of Black-headed Gulls, presumably heading for the local tip.

As we were about an hour early, we headed onto the track which goes round the rear of the reserve from the northern end.  With more time it's better to come in from the southern end as the sun would be behind you and you'd be on the correct side of the vehicle to see the birds on the salina.  There were plenty of Thekla Larks flitting about.  On the water we saw Slender-billed Gulls, Greater Flamingos, Avocets and Shelduck.  A small number of  Barn Swallow flew past.....I should mention here that the wind was gusty and cool, coming from the north-east.  We reached the hide and turned round.  We added a very obliging Iberian Yellow Wagtail.  We met the others, John, Trevor, Peter and Kevin, at the first hide.  They'd already seen Black-tailed Godwit, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt and Cormorant.  They'd also seen a pair of "large" larks which were probably Calandra.  Have seen them once in the past.  Kevin found the 6 or so Spoonbill up the far end.  Also seen were Little Egret, Mallard and Yellow-legged Gull.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After a cup of coffee in Cabo village we made for the second hide.  Leaving the village John had a House Martin and Kevin, a pair of Kestrels.  I had a Greenfinch.  A search out to sea only produced Black-headed Gulls.  From the hide I found two individual Eurasian Curlews flying over the savannah. Kevin did well to spot a sitting Stone Curlew.  John confirmed a Redshank whilst I spotted a Raven.
We moved onto the middle hide.  After trudging against the wind we saw a Hoopoe.  John added an Audouin's Gull.

Hoopoe Upupa epops (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

En route to the public hide, a Northern Wheatear was flushed as we passed.  From the hide we managed to find some small identifiable waders as opposed to the previous low supersonic flight views we'd had.  We added Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Dunlin and a Sanderling John had spotted.  He also found a Willow Warbler in the hide's sheltered shrubs.  Nothing new was added as we went along the track to the church.

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We then made our way along the beach side track towards the Rambla Morales.  My truck and Trevor's SUV made it but Peter's car got well and truly stuck in soft sand!  Kevin was behind him.  I drove back and managed with lots of shovelling and eventually using a steel hauser dragged the vehicle free.
Meanwhile John and Trevor had walked down to the Morales hump.  They saw Coot, Moorhen, Black Redstart and a Marsh Harrier.  Also seen were 13 Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Mallards and a House Martin.

After our exertions, we adjourned for a well deserved snack lunch!
We ended up with 45 species. Migration's still not in full flow here in East Andalucia.  Thanks everybody for great company.
Regards, Dave

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

Monday 29 March 2021

Guadalhorce, Malaga

Collared Pratincole Glariola pratincola

 Monday 29 March

Well, if you're going into Malaga anyway you might just as well go early and spend a few hours at the Desembocadura de Guadalhorce Reserve, and on this occasion it certainly paid dividends.  Over fifty species recorded since my arrival at 8.30 including massed numbers of Sandwich Tern, Shelduck and Slender-billed Gulls but also, even more so, hearing my first Reed Warbler of the year followed by my first Collared Pratincole sitting not thirty metres away in front of the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  What a morning!

Crossing the entrance footbridge a Little Egret upstream towards the motorway bridge along with a few of the resident Rock Doves and House Martins diving in and out under my footbridge. A Couple of Goldfinch as I walked towards the eastern arm of the river where i also saw a group of five Cattle Egrets pass over towards the sea.  Once comfortably seated inside the Laguna Casillas hide I found, initially, very little on the water.  A couple of Black-winged Stilts to the right and a pair of gadwall to the left below me.  However, closer inspection duly produced a pair of resting Pochard and the first Mallard of the morning.  Little Grebes towards the back and a couple of Moorhen before along with the occasional feeding Barn Swallow over the water.  

Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus (left) with Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Moving on to the Wader Pool I encountered a mixed flock of abut a dozen Goldfinch and a pair of Serin and this water held 21 Black-winged Stilts along with another Little Grebe, a pair of Shoveler and two more male Mallards.  Waders included a single Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and a Hoopoe then flew over the back of the water.

Sanderling Calidris alba

Arriving at the Rio Viejo (Old River) I certainly found a good supply of birds.  At the near end eleven Sanderling and on the right-hand bank a single Red-legged Partridge which then flew across the arm and disappeared into the vegetation.  Monk Parakeets were by now flying around with their usual raucus screaming and then the first of a couple of Redshank.  Checking he shore I also added a good number of both Little  Ringed and Kentish Plover along with a couple of Ringed Plover and another dozen Sanderling.  Just the one Little Stint but also a couple of Dunlin. Almost another thirty Black-winged Stilts which seemed to distract me from locating the four Avocet.  In addition, not just the handful of Slender-billed Gulls that I expected eventually counting 22.  Both Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over the water and I then concentrated on the mass of "gull-like" birds resting on the small island.  Twenty-seven Sandwich Terns and resting with them a single Mediterranean Gull.  Meanwhile,  eleven Flamingos were moving nearer so giving quite a variety assembled near said island.

A large flock of Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis with Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus on far right

Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis and Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

Not only cloudy above but the breeze was producing quite a swell on the sea when I arrived at the Sea Watch.  The occasional Cormorant was feeding close to shore and further out no shortage of gulls albeit needing the scope to identify both Lesser Black-backed and more Yellow-legged Gulls.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when within minutes of each other both a Great Skua and a Balearic Shearwater skimmed across the water.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Making my way back towards the Old River I had a couple of Blackbirds below me on the left and on the water itself, furthest away from the sea, a pair of Shelduck, a single Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper.  There were Greenfinches in the trees to my left and overhead a Sky Lark was "doing its thing" as it ascended into the heavens.  passing the Casillas water a single Coot had appeared and at the far end the singing of newly-arrived Reed Warblers.

Male White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala

The Laguna Escondida was notable for having just the four male White-headed Ducks on the water so straight on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande.  Even more Black-winged Stilts and very many Flamingos with no less than than thirty either on the water or just departing.  Four more Avocet and another twenty or more sandwich terns.   It took some finding but eventually I managed to find the remaining single Black-necked Grebe at the far back of the water.  meanwhile, over twenty Shelduck, mainly at the back, but less than twenty Cormorant present.  Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves and the occasional House Sparrow put in an appearance and a Cetti's Warbler could be heard calling to my left.

Sandwich Terns with Avocet (front)

Concentrated observation on the scrape and nearby duly produced a couple of Jackdaw along with Redshank, Common Sandpiper and then a pair of Iberian Yellow Wagtails.  A Black-headed and Little Gull were resting close by and even another lone Mediterranean Gull associating with the terns.  However, best at the end when visiting birder Rhona Richardson from London and spending six months over here asked if I knew what the bird with a black stripe on its face might be.  Well-camouflaged but once found  a lovely Collared Pratincole to end the morning's birding just as the sun broke through and the temperature started to rapidly soar.

Collared Pratincole Glariola pratincola with Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Flamingo, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Great Skua, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei

Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus with Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius and Little Gull Larus minutus  (centre)

Dunlin Caladris alpina (front centre) with plovers and Ruff Philomachus pugnax (right)

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (far left) with Sandwich Tern and Avocet

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

Thursday 25 March 2021

Fuente de Piedra & Laguna Dulca

 Wednesday 24 March

Fuente de Piedra Yellow Wagtails Lavendera Boyera iberica Motacilla flava iberiae

The idea was to be at Fuente de Piedra as early as possible in order to check out the hirundines before the expected heat took them higher and higher.  In the event, as assuming they were actually present, not one to be seen when I arrived just before 9 o'clock other than a single Barn Swallow as I crossed the railway bridge.  Indeed, not even a House Martin to be seen in the village albeit the White Storks were huddled down on their nest atop the tall chimney.

Entering the site I stopped to admire the Flamingos and Black-winged Stilts on the flooded field which also held a handful of Spotless Starlings. then, once parked up, it was straight to the boardwalk which I noticed was already occupied by three birders.  A Little Ringed Plover to my right and a couple on a small sand bank up against the reeds on my left which appeared to be the attraction of the above birders.  Moving further along so that I could look behind the small, grassy island, I was in time to see the arrival of a Water Rail; good way to start the morning. Then on to the far ide where checking the large field in front of me I observed a large number of Yellow wagtails of the Iberian sub-species but also one British flavissima sub-species along with a couple of White Wagtails.  The nest building held a good number of Jackdaw and scanning the bushes between the boardwalk pool and main laguna I found no less than three Woodchat Shrike perching, as is their want, on top of low bushes and happy to remain so for minutes on end.  Looking at the distant lake I could see a number of Gull-billed Terns flying close to the nearest edge to me and on a nearby tree a Meadow Pipit came to rest.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius with White Wagtail Motacilla blanca 

Time to return to the reserve proper and as I made my way back to the boardwalk a large mixed flock of House and Spanish Sparrows landed on the bare soil immediately in front of me.  the birders, now five, were still on the boardwalk in the same place overlooking an area close to the grassy island and one informed me that they were awaiting the appearance of a Spotted Crake, all cameras to hand.  Whilst awaiting the happening I looked back to the far end of the boardwalk and saw a Moorhen crossing the water and at least a score of the Yellow Wagtails had arrived to rest in the small bushes at the edge of the water.  Great photo opportunity for all.  

Spotted Crake Polluela Pintoja Porzana porzana

No sooner had we watched the Yellow Wagtails than the Spotted Crake flew out of the grasses to the far side giving an excellent view before disappearing inside the reeds - but not before I had managed to get one photo!  Leaving the Little Ringed Plovers to continue their scavenging and the birders trying to once again locate the Spotted Crake as a handful of Goldfinch flew over, I made my way back and on towards the scrape, which was now dry, and up to the Visitors centre for a better overall look over the main laguna.  A dozen Linnet were moving around the area and a good number of jackdaws had arrived at the building.  Out on the laguna thousands of Flamingos could be seen and nearer, on a sandbank, a score or more of Gull-billed Terns were resting alongside  many Black-headed GullsLesser Black-backed Gulls were much further away.  Also near the sandbank in a large pool a single Shelduck was recorded along with a couple of Redshank.

Gull-billed Terns Sterna nilotica (extreme right) with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

On round to the back and some time ion my own in the hide overlooking the Laguneto where, again, many Flamingos were present.  Also a few Coot and looking closer I also added a trio of Shoveler, pair of Mallard, Gadwall and a couple of White-headed Ducks.  Very few Little Grebe but I did also manage to locate a pair of Avocet and it turned out that Red-crested Pochard were the most numerous ducks on the water.

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

As I made my way back to the car park I added a couple of Greenfinch, Blackbird and a Hoopoe was busy calling away to my left.  Changing my mind, I brought the car to a halt when I reached the flooded field and gave it a last study.  A Redshank had arrived on the far side and at the far end towards the main road a Raven crossed over on its way westwards.  Having stopped, I also took the opportunity to pay one last visit to the boardwalk and whilst I did not see the Spotted Crake I did take the opportunity to watch the circling Buzzard above my head.  Despite their being still a handful of Spanish birders present, only one took the slightest interest to take a look at the Buzzard almost immediately above their heads! Then a pair of Kestrel as I left the site.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

And so on to the Laguna Dulce in Campanillos via a very short stop at the Mirador Cantarranas which produced both Cetti's Warbler and Corn Bunting.  Along the road at the back of the laguna I also recorded both Sardinian Warbler and Crested Lark.

Arriving at Laguna Dulce I had the site to myself and water was certainly still full of Coot along with many Flamingos and Black-headed Gulls.  Also present a number of lesser Black-backed Gulls and a good number of Gull-billed Terns feeding over the water.  Cetti's Warblers and House Sparrows were around the hide whilst on the water itself I found a handful of Black-necked Grebes along with a similar number of Little Grebes.  Ducks seemed to be mainly Common and Red-crested Pochards plus Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard until I found the main flock of White-headed Ducks; there must have been still at least thirty in residence.  

Movement on the far side put up a lone Lapwing and also revealed a number of Black-winged Stilts.  A Moorhen paddled along the reed edge and decided to take a short drive round to the back of the laguna where I found more Yellow Wagtails, Corn Bunting and Crested Larks.  Working my way ack I stopped to use the telescope on a suspicious dark shape in a hidden pool at the edge of the main water and was able to confirm the sighting of a Glossy Ibis.  Not having seen a single Collared Dove nor House Martin all morning I rejoined the main road back to Malaga by driving through Campanillos itself where, as you might expect, both were added to the morning's list of species.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae

My final ten miute stop was at he bottom of the Pennarrubia cliff face to look for Griffon Vultures.  Just the one seen but over a score of Red-billed Choughs were observed along with another Sardinian Warbler near the car.  The end of a most enjoyable morning which produced over 50 species including six new for the year.

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, White Stork, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard,  Kestrel, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail (Iberian), Yellow Wagtail (British), White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Chough, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar

 Wednesday 24 March

I received an email this morning informing me that a Puffin had been recorded at Cabo de Gata and have now received my friend Dave's report on his day's biding outing with the Arboleas Birding Group.  It looks as if the group by-passed the Cabo and straight on to Las Norias so , maybe, a case of close but not close enough, always assuming that the Puffin did not move straight on to pastures (well seas) new.  Las Norias itself seems to still be rather an eye-sore in terms of the discarded rubbish and on this occasion somewhat short on the expected bird numbers.  I wonder, like my visit today, whether the much increased temperature has driven the insect life high accompanied by the hirrundines and possibly even some early swifts.  I shall be interested to find out which of the Roquetas lanes has had a chain placed across it, possibly that leading to the light-house.  Still, hopefully by early April the provincial border closes will ne lifted s that I, too, can once more return to these Almerian sites.

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar -  Wednesday 24 March

Looking through my previous bird lists, I was amazed to discover it had been over a year since we'd visited Las Norias and Roquetas.  Today we returned. I picked up Juda from Los Gallardos and John collected Trevor.  On the way down towards we hit a bank of quite thick fog, but luckily it had cleared by the time we passed Almeria Airport.  We stopped at the Repsol Service station, Jct 420, for a coffee. We then headed for the first causeway at Las Norias.  The water was as flat as a tack so nothing could hide from us.  Unfortunately there wasn't much to see apart from Great Crested and Little Grebes, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard.  Down the far end I found a few Red-crested Pochard.  There was a line of 82 Cormorants sitting on posts plus one or two Grey Heron I found a pair of Gadwall to the right and then a Purple Swamphen in the opposite reed line.  A Green Sandpiper flashed past.  In front of us in the low shrub was a Sardinian Warbler. A  pair of Serin were chattering from the overhead power line.  A pair of Cattle Egret flew over as did a Yellow-legged Gull.

Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus courting (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved on to the next viewing point.  Having overcome the rubbish assault course we saw a low flying Teal.  Juda was first to see a Black-winged Stilt.  A Reed Warbler flew between reed clumps and began to sing.  John spotted the first of the very small number of Barn Swallows we saw all day. 
Moving on the bottom end of the smaller lake we were disappointed by the lack of birds.  Juda spotted a Magpie.

We parked up by the meadow.  John saw a Common Sandpiper.  A small flight of Yellow Wagtails flew over.  I stayed with the vehicles as the others ventured down the lane.  They added Thekla Lark and Greenfinch. 

We moved along to the small bridge near the Plastic Recycling factory.  Lack of birds was partially due to anglers illegally fishing, but Juda did spot another Purple Swamphen.  John did well to find a distant Marsh Harrier.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We headed towards Roquetas, stopping for another coffee en route.  On the way John had a Woodpigeon and an Iberian Grey Shrike.  With a chain across the track, we took to shank's pony.  We were pleased to see an overflying Great White Egret and as we carried on another Marsh Harrier which had put up a Glossy Ibis.  We also saw Red-crested Pochard, Greater Flamingos, Black-headed, Slender-billed and Yellow-legged Gulls.  We started to walk under a constant mosquito attack.  A Little Egret was on the track.

Moving to the next causeway we found a group of Shelduck sitting there.  John did very well to spot a couple of distant Avocet.  As we walked back Trevor saw a Zitting Cisticola which I only heard. Driving to the large lake we saw a Hoopoe and Kestrel en route.  The first bird of note was a Squacco Heron resting on a leafless shrub in the water.  Some Common Pochard were nearby.  I spotted what I thought was a tern sitting on a post in the water.  John, with his telescope, confirmed it was a Whiskered Tern.  A great spring migrant to end the day!

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended with 45 species. A bit disappointing to be honest. Expected a lot more hirundines and other migrants! Maybe next time!

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

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Purple Sandpiper at Benalmadena Marina

Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima

 Tuesday 23 March

A Purple Sandpiper was reported at Benalmadena Marina about a week ago but would it still be present when Jenny and I arrive not long after 9 o'clock this morning?   Having walked along the high seawall to the far end there was no sign of the wader.  The sheltered pools beyond the rusty fence on the harbour side appeared to be the obvious choice but all was quiet.  As for the seaward side of the breakwater, the large boulders and groins were too steeped to be able to see the water's edge and there certainly appeared to be nothing resembling a pool as depicted in recent photographs.  On the other hand, the photographs had shown no indication of a fence so what to do.  Checking again with my instructions I was definitely in the right area where the wall took a sharp turn inland.

Two Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima

Nothing for it but to step out onto the boulders and see if I could peer over the side.  All that came to me were the half-submerged weird-shaped concrete groins that are use to lock the breakwater into place before, or a the ae time, as the large boulders are deposited to build the defence.  Almost at the apex of the bend in the breakwater as I headed out and looked and the first thing I saw was a handful of these weird concrete building units.  But as I looked I was amazed to see not one but two Purple Sandpipers feeding on the damp algae attached to one of the exposed arms of the concrete unit..  Whoopy!  Out came the camera and just hope that I may have taken a half-decent photograph of the waders.

Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima

But not just Purple Sandpipers.  Making our way along the breakwater we had a couple of passing Cormorant and there were eleven Lesser Black-backed Gulls resting on the sea just off the breakwater.  Returning to the marina entrance for a coffee we stopped to watch a couple of fishermen washing their mussel catch and we were joined by a quartet of Turnstone who also appeared to be interested in what was gong on in the next boat.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres and friends

Back in the car park we quickly noted the Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, Blackbird and House Sparrow before driving into Benalmadena town to take a walk round the lake just inside the lovely park.  Lots and lots of Feral Pigeons and Monk Parakeets plus many more Collared DovesHouse Sparrows and a Blackbird whilst on the water mainly Mallard but also a Gadwall, a couple of Muscovy Duck, Coots and a Moorhen.  Even a single duckling, probably about a month old.  Now I wonder whether his siblings may have been the main meal for the local gulls?

Muscovy Duck  Cairina moschata domestica

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Muscovy Duck, Cormorant, Moorhen, Coot, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Blackbird, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow.

Fisherman busy cleaning their Mussel catch

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus

More of our pair of Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima

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

Saturday 20 March 2021

Desembocadura del Guadalhorce, Malaga

 Saturday 20 March

The Wader Pool with mainly Black-winged Stilts 

Cold and breezy when I set off at 7.45 but at least it was sunny and very little cloud.  However, reaching the motorway and looking west it was dark and ominous suggesting that I might be making a rapid turn round or, at best, putting a waterproof in the rucksack when I arrived.  Upon arrival at the Desembocadura del Guadalhorce it was obvious that the Guadalmar area had had a recent shower and was more cloudy as well as colder with a very stiff breeze.  But there were Spotless Starlings flying around and approaching the footbridge a pair of hunting Kestrels.  Both Mallard and Rock Dove seen upstream from said bridge and then he first Barn Swallow of the morning.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosettsa and Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus

Then it was straight on to the Laguna de Casillas where I found a male White-headed Duck and a couple of female Pochard plus Little Grebe, Moorhen and Coot.  However, it was the Wader Pool that provided the mass of birds with 45 Black-winged Stilts along with five Avocet and a pair of Redshank.  Studying the water i also found a single Common Sandpiper plus a Greenshank.  At the far end a pair of Little Grebe whist a lone Heron was sharing one of the bare trees at the back along with the roosting Cormorants.  Before leaving a small charm of Goldfinch arrived.

Redshank Tringa totanus

Lots of interesting birds on the Viejo Rio (Old river) with another score of Black-winged Stilts plus both a Black-headed and Slender-billed Gull. More than ten Kentish  mixed in with the half-dozen Little Ringed Plover and still a single Little Stint.  On the far side, a solitary Green Sandpiper and a pair of Shelduck.  Meanwhile, a regular passing of Monk Parakeets just to keep my hearing in check.

The sea was somewhat rough arriving at the Sea Watch and the poor light certainly no help.  I did eventually find the gull flock which consisted mainly of Lesser Black-backs but also a half-dozen or so of Mediterranean and maybe a score of Black-headed Gulls.  There must have been some fish about as the mixed flock also included a couple of Gannet.  Making my way back the same way I encountered my first Collared Dove of the morning along with a Blackbird.

As I made my way towards the Laguna Escondida I looked up and watched an Osprey moving upstream overhead no doubt heading towards the Zapata area and the chance of a fine fish lunch.  Then, once at the Escondida, eighteen Pochard and six male White-headed Ducks on the water along with more Little Grebe and Coot.  A pair of Shoveler at the far end came as somewhat of a surprise and I was to find another pair still present on the main lake a little later on.  Not just Spotless Starlings moving about but a lone Jackdaw perched on one of the main motorway street lamps beyond the far, northern, end of the laguna.

Yet more species when I finally reached the Laguna Grande and the shelter of the main hide to myself albeit the rain did not arrive despite a slight sounding of thunder over the sea.  Eight resting Flamingos but only two Black-necked Grebes at the far side.  Shelduck numbers had reduce on this water to seven but still another score of Black-winged Stilts. In addition to the forty or so Cormorant I also found three Heron, a couple of Cattle Egret and more Collared Doves.

Seven of the sleepy Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

Below me I enjoyed the  presence of a sleepy Greenshank plus a couple of feeding Redshank.  The Spotless Starlings were moving around in flocks of a score or more when, in the dull light, I saw a single bird moving across the laguna from right to left barely inches above the water.  A very strange silhouette until midway across with no sun reflecting on it when I realised it was not a lonely starling but a late Kingfisher, yet to set off for its breeding territory.  meanwhile, atop the tall roosting pole, a lonely Yellow-legged Gull looked down on the proceedings below.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Time to head off home to both miss any forecasted rain but also in time to see the Saints defeat Bournemouth and so proceed to the FA Cup semi-final.  Making my way towards the footbridge I first came across a pair of Greenfinch quickly followed a by a pair of male Blackbirds on top of a thick bust to my left.  It was whilst I was considering the fact that I had not seen a warbler all morning that the Blackbirds flew to the bush on the opposite side of the track and flushed out a Sardinian Warbler.  The smile was certainly on my face, not because the feeding Barn Swallows had now been joined by a handful of House Martins, but the fact that upon reaching the bridge a Cetti's Warbler was screaming its head off below me.  Back in the car and about to drive off when I realised that I had not seen a single House Sparrow all morning.  Perhaps I should stop near the church as there was bound to be a few there when a male House Sparrow flew across the road from the sports field and landed on top of the bush two metres in front of the car.  Definitely time to go home.

Grey Heron Ardea cineria

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Osprey, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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Thursday 18 March 2021

Quick walk up the Rio Algarrobo

 Thursday 18 March

All very quiet this morning and the return walk complete within 75 minutes.  It would certainly appear that most of the winter visitors have now departed and mainly the resident, breeding birds left on site.  Amazing to think that I will not see the following until next Autumn; green Sandpiper, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail and only the possible occasional White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff and Common Starling.    In addition, no sign of the local breeding Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap nor a Stonechat this morning, all possible already on nest.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Spotless Starling numbers are now much reduced as the winter flocks disperse but no shortage of Blackbirds sorting out their breeding territories.  Lots of Greenfinches, Serins and Goldfinches along with the resident House Sparrows.

Distant Serin Serinus serinus

As ever, Collared Doves were to be seen from start to finish but this morning not a Wood Pigeon to be seen and hardly compensation to find a single Feral Pigeon.  Once again the Monk Parakeets were late in arriving but they certainly know to announce their presence known once on site.  Once beyond the motorway underpass  there were still Lesser Black-backed Gulls making use of the hidden reservoir and lovely to see a Hoopoe feeding on the grassy area next to the Experimental Station entrance.  And still a lonely Cattle Egret on the same fixture at the local sewage works.  I wonder if the bird remains all summer?

Hoopoe Upupa epops

Birds seen:

Cattle Egret, lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Blackbird, Spotless Staling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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Sierra de Maria withthe Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 17 March

And a "top of the mornin' to you!" as Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group set off for the Sierra de Maria, and having to take the long way round to avoid crossing into Murcia province.  And what little green fellas did they find?  Certainly female Crossbills (or should that be Crosspats?), Green Woodpeckers and then, of course, Greenfinches.  So, as well as a good day's birding, all would appear to be well with the colours form "Paddy Land."

Sierra de Maria  -  Wednesday 17 March

Having had a near sleepless night, I wasn't at the top of my game as I drove Juda and Rob towards Maria using, because of Covid restrictions, the Oria and Chirivel route avoiding Murcia province.  En route to the cafe meeting point in Maria town we logged Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and a Mistle Thrush.  We met up with Adrian, Kevin, Troy, Pete, Sue (?), Neville, Trevor and John.  After a coffee and plan talk I decided the majority of the group would go round the loop whilst I would take Juda and Rob to the chapel and plains.  Here is a joint report so bare with me!  Us first....We spotted both Serin and Goldfinch as we drove up the hill towards the chapel.  Once there, despite the cold gusty wind, we heard the yaffling of an Iberian Green Woodpecker and had a fleeting glimpse of a Jay near the water trough.  

Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Rob saw a Black Wheatear and a Blackbird.  Also seen were Long-tailed, Coal and Crested Tit.  Due to the weather, Juda being dressed like Nanook of the north, we drove up to the Botanical gardens where, thankfully. we had shelter from the winds.  A couple of female Crossbill showed well and we saw more of the previously mentioned Tits.  Rob spotted a lone Griffon Vulture above the ridge.  I spotted a Woodlark.  As we drove down towards the main road we saw a couple of Magpies and a Robin.

Two female Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

 We next stopped at the ruined farm buildings.  A Mistle Thrush was perched on the tree above the small deposito.  Some Thekla Larks were flitting around.  A female Black Redstart made a brief appearance. Rob spotted the first of a small number of Barn Swallows seen during the day. 

Driving along the plain Rob found a solitary Rock Dove on a field.  We added Calandra Lark as well as seeing more Theklas.  At the hamlet there were at least 5 Lesser Kestrels.  A Red-billed Chough flew by as did a Carrion Crow. 

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A Rock Sparrow showed well.  We added Corn Buntings.

Driving back to the water troughs we had good views of Linnet, White Wagtail, Goldfinch, but the star was a Cirl Bunting.
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

At the La Piza forest cafe, having set up my trail camera by the small pool, we sat down for lunch and observed the comings and goings around the nut feeders.  We had Blue, Great, Coal, Crested and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Crossbill and Jays.  Overhead Rob was first to see a flight of 30+ Griffon Vultures.  We waited for over an hour for the others to join us, but alas we had to go before they arrived.

Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

This is John's summary of their mornings birding.  After separating from us, they started round the loop, seeing Mistle Thrush, four Carrion Crows, Crested Larks and Corn Bunting.  Stopping just before the village, they spotted the first of half a dozen Kestrel sightings.  A couple of Barn Swallows were skimming the reeds.  Kevin found a Thekla Lark.  A Hoopoe was heard but not seen.

Moving along the track, which was in the process of being repaired they added Red-legged Partridge, Greenfinch and Magpies.  Kevin and Troy spotted a distant, hence unidentified, eagle.  Near the rocks they saw a Stonechat, some Jackdaws and a Hoopoe.  Troy found a pair of flying Mallard then a pair of Black Redstarts.  Travelling on they saw some Griffon Vultures and a Red-billed Chough and Ravens near the runway.  They added a charm of Goldfinches before reaching the hamlet.  They also saw the Lesser Kestrels and added House Martin to the list.  They saw the same species as us at the water trough and at La Piza.

Male Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A very pleasant, if not odd day's birding.  Adding up, I think in total the two sections saw a total of 43 species.

Regards, Dave

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