|Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Friday 5 March
The promise of a minimum 50% chance of rain all day when I set of for the Desembocadura de Guadalhorce in Malaga with very dark, overcast skies above. Arriving by 8.15 the weather was still dull and overcast but calm and not cold as i was greeted by both Collared Doves and Blackbirds. Walking across the footbridge just the one Little Egret in the river and a lone Barn Swallow heading into the reserve. A Robin was feeding on the track as I reached the end of the avenue leading to the eastern arm of the river and once at the Casillas hide I was able to settle down and watch the scores of hirundines feeding over the water. Not just scores of Barn Swallow and House Martin but at least a score of Crag Martin who had yet to retreat up to their breeding grounds. Indeed, probably theearly light and stillness that attracted them. In addition, at least a couple each of both Red-rumped Swallow and Sand Martin.
|Time for some Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica to take a rest
Meanwhile, on the water itself, eight Common Pochard and a single, male White-headed Duck. Just a pair of Shoveler, couple of Coot and the single Moorhen eventually put in an appearance. The old tree on the far left bank held a pair of Kestrel but the male had already taken flight as I approached the hide.
|Common Pochards with White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
Behind me I could hear the Goldfinches as I set off for the Wader Pool where resided about a dozen Black-winged Stilts along with a single Common Sandpiper and a pair of Little Ringed Plover. At the back a trio of Little Grebe were bust feeding and this led me to find the single Black-tailed Godwit now almost in full breeding plumage and a lone Greenshank. In addition to the Goldfinch, now was the time for the Cetti's Warblers to announce their presence.
|Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Making my way to the Rio Viejo (Old River) the overcast sky had now turned black and cloudy and the wind was freshening up to more than a strong breeze and also quite cold with the temperature dropping from aroun17C at the start to about 12C. A large, bare tree to my right held a group of HouseSprrows and on closer inspection discovered that there were four Spanish in addition to the eight House Sparrows. A trio of Monk Parakeets screamed over and then I was able to identify not only a small group of Black-headed Gulls along with many Black-winged Stilts but also a quartet or Ringed Plovers, more Little Ringed Plovers and a single Little Stint. And another Greenshank was working the water's edge on the right.
|Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Once at the Sea Watch the wind was now both strong and cold with the sea very choppy. using what shelter was available I was able to scan the water and found many Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls but also at least seven Gannets busy diving for their morning feed. Making my way back I found Greenfinch and a pair of Yellow-legged Gulls was taking refuge on the Rio Viejo when I also picked out the pair of Mallard and a Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail flew over the water. At the Wader Pool, a pair of Shelduck had arrived with another Moorhen.
|Male White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
On to the Laguna Escondida which was relatively quiet, perhaps because it was feeling the real brunt of the strong wind off the sea which certainly did its best to keep me cold! Three Little Grebe close to hand and a score or more Shoveler sheltering under the bank. A trio of male White-headed Ducks were on the open water and another Moorhen skulking in the reeds at the far end of the water. On the meadow on my left a single Grey Heron and as I left my only Crested Lark of the morning.
|The Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus flock of 35
Once at the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande again very limited shelter from the cold wind. Now there were 35 Flamingos on the water and all huddled together in the middle right. Many more Black-winged Stilts and, at the very back, over 70 Shoveler along with at least 25 Shelduck spread across the far waters. No shortage of Cormorants present, many in their breeding plumage. A Great Tit was observed in a nearby bush and the the arrival of a small group of Spotless Starlings followed by a single Redshank to work the scrape immediately below the hide. Only one Collared Dove seen and no Cattle Egrets present at this time. Deciding it was getting too cold and windy to hang around any longer I made my way back to the car recording a female Black Redstart and another two Little Egrets in the river upstream of the footbridge.
|Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochatd, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.