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


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