Thursday 6 May
Up very early and straight to the Desembocaduro de Guadalhorce by 7.30 where I stayed for two and a half hours which enabled me to leave before the temperature got too hot.. A beautiful clear day but the low cloud and shade not doing justice to some of the earlier birds. Plenty of water in the ponds but most of the birds seem to have departed with no Flamingos, only a couple of Shelduck and few gulls, etc. However, what was seen was very special and, for me, four new sightings for the year.
Welcomed by a couple of Blackbirds and walking towards the footbridge the Nightingales were singing away and the first House Martins were up in the sky. As I crossed the footbridge I stopped to watch a lone Squacco Heron circle like a plane coming in to land and once alighted on a branch slightly down river I had the opportunity to take a photograph, albeit the bird was in the shade as well as poor light. Continuing on I soon added both Goldfinch and Sardinianian Warbler then a Zitting Cisticola as I approached the first hide.
|Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Laguna Casillas was rather quiet with a Moorhen in front of me and six Pochards on the water. A Mallard made its way towards the next pool and a Crested Lark took its leave from below the hide. Eventually a couple of Black-winged Stilts dropped in and a single Little Grebe was noted at the far end. Above and around me lots of feeding House Martins, the occasional Barn Swallow and calling Reed Warblers.
Serin and House Sparrow plus Monk Parakeets as I made my way to the Wader Pool where there were many more Black-winged Stilts but not as many as my previous visit. Lovely to see a quintet of Avocet and a single Redshank. And certainly no mistaking the Cetti's Warbler as it announced its presence.
|Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta
As you might expect it was the Rio Viejo (Old River) that once again produced the goods. Far fewer birds on the water now and mainly Black-winged Stilt along with a dozen Slender-billed Gulls. The water also held the only, two, Shelduck seen during the morning. On the edges a small number of waders including Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover plus a Sanderling, Little Stint and another Redshank but also two Dunlin.
|Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Moving on to the Swea Watch a couple of Hoopoes crossed the track in front of me followed by Greenfinch and once on site it was necessary to use the scope to find the many distant Lesser Black-backed Gulls. However, whilst scoping westwards at he far end of the beach, and no pedestrians yet, a single Oystercatcher was foraging at the water's edge. A rather lovely, if distant, sight.
|Redshank Tringa totanus
Working my way back I stopped again to check a dark corner of the Rio Viejo and eventually found the lone Grey Plover resting in the corner next to a Dunlin, Redshank and Black-winged Stilt. Fortunately, I took a few shots experimenting with the light compensator. Good job as when cropping to find a better shot of the Grey Plover I discovered the Knot!
|Grey Plover Pluvialus squatarola (top centre)
Approaching the Laguna Escondida a Wood Pigeon flew across and once in the hide, initially, just the single Coot and a lone Little Egret on the left side. However, in addition to a couple of Pochard there were eventually four Coots and five male White-headed Ducks paying special attention to the single female. About to leave when the flock of Common Swifts arrived and on a concrete "box" in the distant meadow a Red-legged Partridge stood on the top surveying the surroundings.
|Mainly Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis
Finally the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande. As I approached the local wardens were completing the grass cutting in front of the hide and I am sure that the noise must have kept most wildlife as far away as possible. But all was finished within about ten minutes. Still plenty of Black-winged Stilts to be seen and now with fledged chicks looking like wandering balls of fluff. At least another six Avocet and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls. About a half-dozen Slender-billed Gulls arrived and on a small island away to my left a couple of Black-headed and a single Mediterranrean Gull were resting with the dozen Sandwich Terns. Ere long I added Collard Dove, Spotless Starling and a male Kestrel before taking leave of the site. And as I crossed the footbridge still plenty of House Martins and the occasional Barn Swallow but also two Red-rumped Swallows and a couple of the resident Rock Doves. A most interesting and satisfying morning which produced exactly 50 species.
|Fledgling Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.
|Knot Calidris canutus (left) with Dunlin, Redshank and Black-winged Stilt but also showing Grey Plover at very top
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