Monday, April 09, 2012

The Rio Velez

Yellow Wagtail (Blue-headed)
With our flight time home not until the evening we took the opportunity to visit another interesting birding site. Although I consider this to be one of the best all-round site's I've visited thus far on my trips to Spain, I do have some reservations about recommending it!

The estuary of this particular river is directly beside a naturist beach and close to a naturist campsite. Although the genuine naturist is no problem whatsoever, as Dee discovered, the area obviously attracts a few sordid characters and is also becoming notorious as a gay pick-up spot! Having said that, we did come across a few strange characters but during our afternoon visit we never in any way felt threatened, especially with me being such a handsome chap!! However, the area concerned is only a very small part of a sizeable site and can be avoided.

Beautiful Swallowtail
The Rio Velez is situated approximately 35kms east of Malaga, near the town of Torre del Mar. The estuary of the river is surrounded by extensive reed beds and marshes. When the river is not in flow , the estuary becomes a large lagoon and the remainder of the river dries out and becomes walkable or drivable for around 4kms.

During our visit the river was in slight flow and the lagoon was well advanced. Immediately after parking at least 3 Nightingale were singing in the reeds and giant canes and a number of White wagtail were on the waters edge. A large group of Black-winged Stilt were settled at the base of the lagoon and Monk Parakeet could also be heard.

Woodchat Shrike
As we made our way upstream a couple of Woodchat Shrike were constantly flitting from ground to perch and it wasn't long before we discovered Little-ringed and Ringed Plover. Savi's Warbler and Baillon's Crake could also be heard from deep within the reed bed but we never managed a viewing during our stay. This is also an excellent place to see Spanish Sparrow, with at least 5 recorded during our stay. Further upstream the area is carpeted with wild flowers and the water reasonably well vegetated with reeds, Tamarisk and Oleander. Several Butterflies were on the wing with a number of various Fritillary, Clouded Yellow and my favourite Swallowtail.

Black-winged Stilt
Despite a little early in the season Yellow Wagtail were everywhere, two Hoopoe seemed to follow us around constantly and we finally made contact with the Parakeets. Also recorded of note during a terrific few hours were: Woodlark, Crested Lark, Cetti's Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Lesser Kestrel, Spotless Starling and Crag Martin.

During our long weekend we also visited Gibraltar for the day and although primarily for sight-seeing we did record of note: Blue Rock Thrush. A selection of images during our stay can now be found at my Flickr site.