Sunday 16 January 2022

Guadalhorce and Fuente de Piedra

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

 Sunday 16 January

Dropped Jenny off at Velez Malaga and still at the Guadalhorce, Malaga by 9.25 to start a full day's birding.  Dry and calm weather and by the middle of the day quite warms and sunny with very little cloud.  After leaving the reserve I called in briefly at both Zapata and the Rio Grande on my way towards Campillos.  Next a very short stop at Penarrubia before arriving at a very dry and empty Laguna Dulce.  Finally on to Fuente de Piedra where there was plenty of water and then finally an overnight stop in Pedrera at the Las Canteras restaurant/hostal in readiness for tomorrow's visit to the Osuna Triangle.

Entering the Desembocadura del Guadalhorce immediately on view many Cormorants and they left and entered the reserve and once at the Laguna Casillas mainly Coots and Mallards along with a good number of Shoveler.  From thence on it was to be the Shoveler that was the dominant species with well over a hundred on site.  Also present many foraging Chiffchaff and Crag Martins feeding over the water. A pair of Pochard to my far right and only a couple of Little Grebe before I moved on.  

Redshank Tringa totanus

More Shoveler at the Wader Pool along with a dozen Black-winged Stilts and single Avocet and Redshank.  A Booted Eagle was resting in a tree at the back of the water and a Heron flew in as a couple of Collared Doves flew out.  Making my way towards the beach the Rio Viejo (Old River) produced many more Black-winged Stilts along with a couple of Greenshank whilst each side of the path I manged to locate Blackbird, Black Redstart and Robin.  A dozen Shelduck were recorded and then the first Sardinian Warbler.  Lovely to see a female Kestrel resting atop a pole, made a change from a Cormorant, and once at the Sea Watch just the four ducks on the water to my left (east) but, at least, they were Common Scoters!  Making my way back by the same route I noticed the Little Egret working the eastern arm and two Sandwich Terns flew upriver. Now the Kestrel was asleep in a well-leafed tree but more Stonechats, Black Redstarts and Sardinian Warblers. A Common Sandpiper had arrived at the top end of the old river and a Zitting Cisticola took to the air.  Meanwhile on the opposite bank behind the resting Black-winged Stilts a score of feeding Serin.

Feeding Serins Serinus serinus

Approaching the Laguna Escondida a couple of White Wagtails and a lone male Blackcap.  On the water itself, a few Coot and a couple of Little Grebe plus very many Shoveler.  However, a single female White-headed Duck was seem making her way up the right-hand side of the laguna.

Massed Dunlins Calidris alpina

So on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna Grande where most of the Cormorants were to be found along with a small number of Flamingo and two sleeping Spoonbill.  Also present over a score of Shelduck, more Black-winged Stilts and a large mixed flock of Spotless and Common Starlings.  Nearer to the hide a large flock of Dunlin and a single Ringed Plover plus a few feeding Serin and a single Meadow Pipit.  On the far side near the small island a handful of Sanderling and a couple of Kentish Plover.  

Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis

Nevermind the dozen Black-necked Grebes at the back of the pool, preening itself atop the old tree on the island a magnificent Osprey and, as I was about to depart, the arrival of the Booted Eagle.  Perhaps it was scoping the distant Osprey that led me to finding the dark shape hiding at the back of the trees which turned out to be a Marsh Harrier.  And the last birds to be seen were a pair of Monk Parakeets.

The very distant Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Zapata produced more Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails along with a couple of Greenfinch whereas the stop at the Rio Grande was noted for the large number of people out for their Sunday picnic - but at least there were five Cattle Egrets, the only individuals seen all day.  The cliffs at Penarrubia duly produced the Griffon Vultures and a handful of Crag Martins plus a male Sardinian Warbler but no Choughs on this occasion.

Cranes Grus grus in the dried up Laguna Dulce

Quite a shock to find the Laguna Dulce completely devoid of any water yet a smile as I studied the 28 feeding Cranes in the middle of the dry lake.  Leaving the hide to make my way round to the back of the now dry laguna, I noticed a handful of Chaffinches in the trees at the side of the layby. Stopping to check the sex of the individual that landed immediately in front of me but partly hidden by the branches and twigs I was delighted to not the  white rump and quickly identify the winter-plumaged male Brambling.  Most unexpected,  Once round the back I found both a Raven and a Little Owl along with very many Stonechats.

A much larger group of distant Cranes Grus grus

On round to the main car park at Fuente de Piedra and immediately yet another Black Redstart.  The entrance field on the left still held water and mainly occupied by Black-headed Gulls and Black-winged Stilts plus a single Lapwing.  Working my way round to the back and the Laguenta I had a Blue Tit and a handful of Linnets on the wires.  Also present many feeding Chiffchaff and, on the water, Coots, Shelduck and Mallards but mainly more Shoveler and a lot of Black-headed Gulls.  On the main salina, as well as Flamingos, it had been scores of Lesser Black-backed and a few Yellow-legged Gulls.  A pair of Gadwall drifted past and beneath me both a Robin and Sardinian Warbler were busy foraging.  Finally a Moorhen crossed the water, the first and only one seen all day.

Making my way back to towards the car park and the boardwalk I came across a small flock of half-dozen Song Thrushes and on the bottom nesting hole of the bird tower a resting Little Owl. All that remained was for me to eventual see a Jackdaw as I drove out of the reserve.

Very distant record shot of Little Owl Athene noctua

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Common Scoter, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Little Owl, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet

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