Friday, September 20, 2013

Guadalhorce Revisited

Temp - 26C/30C - Clear - Wind S @ 8 mph

It was back to Guadalhorce on Friday morning, arriving well before the heat of the day at around 9.30am. We decided to head first for the eastern section of the reserve, having not done so on our previous visit on Wednesday.

Little Egrets
Crossing the footbridge the usual Little Egrets were fast asleep along the river bank, two Cetti's Warbler called but remained hidden and several Red-rumped Swallow, along with the odd House Martin were busy feeding low over the reeds, a few Common Swift passed high overhead. At this stage the first large raptor of the day turned out to be a Honey Buzzard, which drifted nonchalantly over and out towards the sea.

Violet Dropwing - Is this guy wearing sunglasses?
As we approached the first of two hides, this one overlooking the Laguna Cassilas, a dragonfly deep red in colour took my eye and after a short while I managed a few shots of a Violet Dropwing (thanks to GR for I.D.). A lone Reed Warbler in the reeds ahead, a couple of Sardinian Warbler and the usual Zitting Cisticolas. The water contained around eight Pochard, a single juvenile White-headed Duck, several Coot, three Little Grebe and a lone Snipe. Dave set eyes on a large raptor approaching from the west, a Booted Eagle, which was strangely mobbed by a lone Kestrel, before both birds headed off.

Zitting Cisticolas - Not too much zitting at this time of year!
On to the second hide which overlooks the wader pool and just prior to entering several noisy Monk Parakeet, a real specialty of Guadalhorce! The pool contained a couple of Little Egrets feeding close in, four Grey Heron, at least three Little-ringed Plovers and a single White Wagtail, which flew after a short stay. As we continued our vigil a dashing Kingfisher and then a number of Spotless Starling came up in the distance and it wasn't long before the culprit, a ♀Marsh Harrier drifted close by, causing the usual mayhem. At this stage a bird in flight heading straight for us turned out to be a Little Bittern, which gave great views before turning and dropping into the distant reeds, where the hell was my camera!

Continuing on to check out the old river, the Rio Viejo, which held plenty of water and here a good number of waders to be found on the mud. The first, around a bakers dozen of Black-winged Stilt, several Dunlin and a lone Greenshank. Further scans produced a single Little Tern, fast asleep on one of the raised muddy areas, and feeding on the peripheral were Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. Also recorded before heading off to the sea, Little-ringed Plover, at least three Kentish Plover, a lone Ringed Plover, several Yellow-legged Gulls and two Crested Lark.

Sanderling - Dee's favourite
As we approached the beach the temperature was now into the high 20Cs with plenty of fisherman, walkers and several, shall we say exhibitionists! Avert your eyes Dee!! A number of gulls, mainly Black-headed with the odd Yellow-legged, along with the only other tern of the day, a Sandwich Tern. Dee's favorite next with a single Sanderling scurrying around and by the time we reached the turn back into the reserve, a single Whimbrel flew overhead and down onto the flats.

Audouin's Gull - regular at Guadalhorce
A few Barn Swallows began to move through as we made our way to the final hide at Laguna Grande, and I managed at least a single Pallid Swift, before a welcome sit down in the hide. From here a Black-necked Grebe was showing well towards the rear of the pool, three Greater Flamingo, which included a single juvenile, at least two Shoveler and a good number of gulls once more which included: Little Gull, a single Audouin's, two Mediterranean and several Yellow-legged. Additional waders from earlier included Common and Green Sandpiper.

A stop at the Laguna Escondida before heading off held ♀♂White-headed duck, several Little Grebe and during our stay a single Teal flew in. The walk back to the car produced a dozen or so Greenfinch with several Goldfinch around and a single Serin.

**It's worth noting that if visiting Guadalhorce NEVER park on the rough road areas near the footbridge! Our research did mention several break ins in this area and you are advised to park at the church and walk down! Sadly this was proven first hand when a group of Dutch birders we'd met during our stay parked within this area. As we passed them on the walk back to our car, which was parked at the church, all their suitcases and belongings which they had  left inside had been taken!!