Thursday 30 September 2021

Las Campinuelas

 Thursday 30 September

Message from my friend Chris this morning to inform me that a Dotterel and kettle of Black Stork had been recorded at nearby Las Campinuelas yesterday (late) afternoon so decided to get in the car and head off for same.  This time I did not park up and walk the circuit, rather I drove to the muck heap so that I could check out the barren, open land (plus the muck heap) by using the car as a hide. As I entered the area a quartet of Cattle Egrets on the wires watching the harrowing and a Blackbird crossed the road.  Once at the muck heap I watched as a number of Crested Larks made a hasty departure but there, on the top, a very patient juvenile Woodchat Shrike which was happy to pose and have its photograph taken.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike

Whilst sitting quietly in the car at the muck heap I also recorded a nuber of Stonechat and a lone Whinchat along with a pair of Greenfinch.  Then it was off on a very slow, lots of stopping drive in the open along the various tracks. In addition to the numerous Crested Larks and many Stonechat I also found a good number of Northern Wheatear and, at the same time, there was a steady movement across the area of Barn Swallows.  A lone Hoopoe also flew over and then on to the top of hill and back down past the model aircraft runway.  This area produced a handful of House Sparrows and a charm in excess of 50 Goldfinch.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

More Northern Wheatears before finding a close, long-resting Whinchat giving a better photo opportunity.  back to the muck heap which was now hosing a couple of Yellow Wagtails.

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra

rather than return the same way I headed up along the Velez Malaga road to take the Algarrobo camino to check out the spring  that I normally visit soon after the start of a "normal" walk round the site.  More Blackbirds but the three pomegranate trees to the far side contained over-fresh fruit and sitting in the middle a young or female Spectacled Warbler.  Even better, concealed behind some dry twigs at the bottom of the tree, I found my first Wryneck of the year.  And returning to the car a Sardinian Warbler joined the others.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata

And so back home with a smile on my face to greeted by the ever-present Monk Parakeets.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

Birds seen:

Cattle Egret, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

Two more shots of same Whinchat Saxicola rubetra

Our juvenile Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator

It may be it's the early bird that catches the worm but this Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava did alright with a flying insect!

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

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Tuesday 28 September

The latest Arboleas Birding Group visit to the Sierra de Maria looked like a good send off for Dave before his stats his visit to Covid-infected Britain so trust he gets back safely.  Same goes for Jenny and I when we return at the end of October for a couple of months so, like Dave, a change of birding venues and, hopefully, some new species.

Sierra de Maria   -   Tuesday 28th September

Yes, a Tuesday this week as I have to take Dave Green to a hospital appointment following his recent knee operation.  Juda arrived early at my house and we drove to the Overa hotel where Paul, Kath and Nevill tagged along behind us for the trip to the Sierra de Maria.  There, at the Repsol garage cafe, we met up with Trevor, Jacky, who hadn't been out with us since the beginning of Covid and her brother, Dave, and sister in laws, April.  We also welcomed back after a similar period, Barrie and Jan.  After coffee we headed to the chapel.  Once parked up a scan skywards revealed numerous House Martins and the odd Barn Swallow.  I spotted a Griffon Vulture disappearing over the mountain ridge.  Paul added a Jay. 

Juvenile Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Also seen were House Sparrows.  Jacky picked up the call of a Great Tit.  There was nothing around the water trough so we trundled up the hill towards the Botanical Gardens.  A flash of red tail revealed a Black Redstart.  Jacky saw a flight of small birds, some of which landed on top of a pine tree.  Crossbills.  The bright red male posed well at a distance.

Distant Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

As we entered the gardens a female Sparrowhawk lazily flew over.  Barrie, Kath and Juda had a seat as the rest of us did the lower walk.  A plume of Griffon Vultures circled above us.  We had fleeting glimpses of a pair of Dartford Warblers.  We heard Robin, Chaffinch and Blackbird.  As we returned to the gardens I spotted a Crested Tit followed by a Coal Tit.  Barrie had seen a Crag Martin.  As we were leaving I heard a Raven's call, but Barrie was lucky enough to see a pair as he looked at some Griffons. Down the road we saw some Spotless Starlings. Jacky, Dave and April stayed at the gardens to do the medium walk.

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We stopped next at the farm buildings.  Apart from a few passing Barn Swallows, Juda found a White Wagtail.  Our stop at the water troughs added Carrion Crows, Rock Sparrows and Thekla Larks.
We then convoyed along the plains.  I stopped to observe a Northern Wheatear to my left, missing the Little Owl to my right!  More Northern Wheatears and Thekla Larks were seen.  Nothing new at the hamlet.  Headed back towards the La Piza forest cafe.  The Little Owl had gone!

The "behind you" Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We had our lunch watching Great, Crested and Blue Tits feeding off the nuts.  Crossbills came down for the water and Chaffinches for the bread.  The young Jay posed well again as did an Iberian Red Squirrel.  We were joined by Jacky and crew.  They added Serin and Chiffchaff and were lucky enough to see the Sparrowhawk plucking it's lunch!

Iberian Red Squirel Sciurus vulgaris
- the original "tree hugger" (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

What a great day with the birding, company and weather.  We ended with 28 species.  Thank you to Kath for being my secretary.  Wishing Dave Green a speedy recovery with his knee.  Happy 80th birthday to Barrie for next week.

I'm now away to the UK for 7 weeks so we'll be back in late November. Good birding in the meantime.

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

Monday 27 September 2021

Campanillas near Malaga

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos

 Monday 27 September

Following a message from friend, Derek Etherton and a link to google maps on the phone, I took off this morning to visit Campanillas to seek out the long-staying Pectoral Sandpiper.  Good job I had the pin or I would never have found the now not-so-flooded field.  Also not helped the huge amount of traffic on the motorway but, nevertheless., eventually on site before 10 o'clock and a most enjoyable and rewarding hour spent watching the bird life along with a couple of Spanish birders who were already resent.

"Tatty" looking White Storks Ciconia ciconia

Driving down the narrow track above and next to the fenced field I immediately noticed the dozen White Storks; the most filthy and tired looking I have seen for many a year.  Also present a couple of Little Egrets but scanning with the binoculars produced many more.  Whilst also checking the number of Cattle Egret present, taking advantage of the horses disturbing the soil, I watched a Hoopoe fly past in front of me.  

Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis - or should they be "Horse Egrets?"

Scanning around the shallow pools I quickly found a good number of Little Ringed Plovers and many, many Yellow Wagtails both Western (Flavisima) and Iberian Blue-headed.  But where was the star of the show, the visiting Pectoral Sandpiper?  A quick word with one of the Spanish birders and the bird was pointed out to me so that I could spend time observing its feeding activity.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

In the distance I could hear Collared Doves and saw a few Spotless Starlings but also present on the wet grass a number of White Wagtails. t the far end of the field at  mixed flock of at least 40 Serin and almost as many Goldfinches.  To add a little variety both a couple of Linnets and Greenfinches were also recorded.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 

Whilst watching these small birds I saw the arrival of a large kettle of White Storks and, this time, I mean "White" Storks.   I got the distinct feeling that they took one look at their dirty, scruffy cousins down below and decided that this was not the best place to stop for an hour or so!

And now some really white White Storks Ciconia ciconia

Birds seen:

Cattle Egret, Little Egret, White Stork, Marsh Harrier, Little Ringed Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Yellow Wagtail, Iberian Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Iberian Blue-headed Wagtails Motacilla flava iberiae with Little Ringed Plovers

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

More views of the Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos

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

Las Campinuelas, Algarrobo

Hoopoe Upupa epops

 Sunday 26 September

An hour to spare before driving into Velez Malaga to collect Jenny from church so took the opportunity to pay a first visit to Las Campanuelas, on the other side of the motorway from the local golf course, since before June last.  Hot and sunny with  just a little thin, scattered cloud and everything dry and dusty.  No sooner reached my parking spot and a Barn Swallow on the wire and as I started my walk towards the spring recorded both Hoopoe and Crested Lark.

Once at the spring area counted no less the 32 Collared Doves on the wires in front along with a couple of Spotless Starlings.  Almost immediately joined by a Blackbird and a few House Sparrows.  Once across the road and on my anti-clockwise circuit a few Goldfinch followed by a Black Redstart.  Next up both Sardinian Warblers and Great Tits before coming across a feeding Blue Tit and many more Crested Larks.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

The bottom end of the circuit produced a couple of Stonechat and as I approached the road I picked out a distant Buzzard above the far side which had, presumably, been disturbed by the passing cyclists.  And that was just about it until I spotted the Spotted Flycatcher as I approached the car.

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Birds seen:

Buzzard, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

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

Saturday 25 September 2021

Charca de Suarez

 Saturday 25 September

Common Kestrel?  These days nothing "common" about these small, delightful falcons.  On the other hand, this was the first species recorded as I approached the Charca de Suarez in Motril and also the last species seen at the end of Camino Patria in the growing fields at the back of the reserve as I started back to Mezquitilla.  An early morning visit and only time for ninety minutes as I had to be back early for a local appointment.  Great to meet up again with friend Mick Richardson along with his Spanish birding pal, Juan Perez.  Still warm and calm but sufficient cloud to keep the temperature down a little.

Approaching the Charca itself both Collared Dove and even a Wood Pigeon traversing "Tip Alley" before meeting up Mick and finding Blackcap almost immediately.  Numerous calling Cetti's Warblers and ere long a small group of Red Avadavat flew over.  Once at the Laguna del Alamo Banco Mallard and a couple of White Stork.  A Heron was resting atop the pole in the middle of the water.

Heron Ardea cinerea with Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata below

Moving across to the small hide at the bottom of the Laguna del Taraje we found more Mallard along with a couple of Teal, Gadwall and Moorhen.  Ere long a pair of Purple Swamphen were found along with the first Red-knobbed Coot followed by a very short-stating Kingfisher.

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

Continuing on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we found Spotted Flycatcher, Chiffchaff and Blackbird.  A Nightingale was calling from the depths of the very dense bushes to our left and then the first Great Tit.  On the water quantity rather then depth of species including mainly Mallard, Common and Red-knobbed Coot along with a few resting Heron.  However, more diligent searching also produced Little Grebe, Purple Swamphen, a couple of Ferruginous Duck, single Pochard and more Moorhen.  Lovely to find a juvenile Night Heron at the far end and whilst no Cormorant, on this occasion there were at least a quintet of Black-headed Gull.

Distant record shot of juvenile Night Heron Nycticorax nyticorax

Whilst at the Laguna del Trebol north end we witnessed a Ferruginous Duck fly past which was later located at the far end when we visited the southern hide to this water.  Perhaps the bizarre sighting at the northern hide was the very rough-looking Blackbird in just about the worst state of moult; talk about "hen pecked!"  The walk between the two hides produced a lovely Pied Flycatcher and another Great Tit.

Heavily moulted Blackbird Turdus merula

Leaving the hide to walk to the Laguna del Lirio I happened to look up and watched a Booted Eagle circling high above.  Then, at the water, the massed observers were watching the Kingfisher that was happy to remain atop a water height post for the duration.  What a way to end the short visit.

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

But that was not the end of the birding.  Taking the Camino Patria at the back of the reserve, rather than turn right into Turtle Dove Alley, what I now refer to as "Tip Alley", I continued straight on and my journey was most worthwhile.  Stopping near a rather dilapidated greenhouse on the right to check out some "strange looking" doves resting on the bare top wires, I realised that only were they Turtle Doves but immediately below was both a Hoopoe and a Zitting Cisticola along with a rather large flock of House Sparrows.  Just a little further on and I stopped to watch the feeding Common Waxbills at the side of the road and, on the opposite side of the road, a large charm of Goldfinch.  hardly worth mentioning that I was welcomed home by the screaming Monk Parakeets!

Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Heron, White Stork, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Goldfinch.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

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

Sunday 19 September 2021

Cadiz Palegic with Dave Elliott-Binns

 Saturday 18 September

A lovely report from friend, Dave but this time without his Arboleas Birding Group in which he outlines his recent palegic trip down in Cadiz province.  He may have thought himself short on bird life but he certainly made up for it with close sightings of the mammals in the Strait.

That be Africa over there! (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Chipiona & Tarifa pelagic:  Friday 17th, Saturday 18th September 2021

My mate, Paul, who's over from England drove to my house and we set off on the long journey to Chipiona, north of Cadiz.  We dropped our gear off at the hostel and made for the marina where we ate our snack dinner whilst watching 3-4 Little Swifts flying around.  A Turnstone landed on the quayside.
We were up at 04.30, leaving at 05.00, to give us plenty of time to get to Tarifa port.  We were lucky to find a close parking spot, but were concerned as it had a blue curb, which usually means you have to pay.  As we were eating our weetabix beside the car, I collared two locals who assured me it was ok. 

We met up with Javi and the seven other trippers.  The boat was a bit smaller than the one Javi uses out of Rota and Chipiona and the seats on this one faced inwards, but we coped.  We first travelled a mile or two offshore.  We saw numerous Yellow-legged Gulls, mostly immature ones.  There was the occasional Balearic and Cory's Shearwater, but not in the numbers previously seen.  They didn't want to hang around.  We then got into a good pod of Common Dolphins which were after Flying Fish, a first for me! 

Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We headed towards the Moroccan Coast seeing Mediterranean Gull and Gannet on the way.  Taking a roundabout route to avoid the container ships, we arrived at the designated spot and soon came across small family groups of Pilot Whales.  At one point the skipper stopped the engine and a mother and youngster swam slowly under the boat, by only a few feet.  You could hear them communicating.

Family of Pilot Whales Globicephala melas (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We headed back towards Spain, where the birds seemed to be.  A flight of Common Tern headed out towards the Atlantic as did a flight of Avocet, but I assumed they'd turn north to Donana! Javi tried chumming, but got only Yellow-legged Gulls. 

Young Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis getting the chum (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A couple of Balearic Shearwaters came for a look but didn't stop.  Meanwhile all the bird action was above us.  Javi spotted the first of two Sparrowhawks, high up and Africa bound.  Then we had about 4 Egyptian Vultures, followed by at least 8 Short Toed Eagles.  Later we added Booted Eagles and topped off with two Marsh Harriers, one male skimming the waves.

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)us

We ended the day with 13 species.  Even though the volume of birds, especially the shearwaters, was down, we had a great morning.  Javi is a top man.  Got back to the car and no ticket.  Yay! Just the 5 hour drive home to look forward to....NOT!!

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Pilot Whale Globicephala melas (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Young Pilot Whale having a nose (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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