Friday, September 19, 2014

Spain Update #1

I arrived up at Dave's villa in Mijas, Spain Wednesday evening just as the sun was setting over the mountains. Even this late in the day a few Common Swift passed through and the usual Sardinian Warblers were hanging around the garden. We sat out for dinner overlooking Fuengirola and the Mediterranean below from the vantage point of Dave's patio area around a 1000ft above. Once again as like previous visits a very vocal Eagle Owl was calling from the hills over towards Mijas for most of the evening.

Crossbill - Highly cropped in the morning sun.
The sun doesn't actually rise in this area at the moment until just after 8am but I was on the patio, coffee in hand Thursday morning to watch it appear from behind the sierra's. First birds of note, a group of around a dozen or so Crossbills, one perching nicely before heading off below. Over breakfast several Barn Swallows passed through shortly followed by a couple of Red-rumped Swallow and one or two Serin.

Monk Parakeet - Well known at Guadalhorce
With food shopping and Dave having a few jobs to do in the morning we decided on an afternoon visit to Guadalhorce, Red Kite on route!. This reserve is quite close to Malaga airport and begins at the mouth of the river Guadalhorce, it consists of old gravel pit workings and ponds make up a wetland habitat with coastal access. The weather today was partly cloudy, around 28C but with a nice breeze and very little humidity made for quite a pleasant day.

Osprey - Happy enjoying it's fish dinner during our whole 3 hour stay.
After parking securely, 'never leave your car near the reserve entrance if you value your belongings', we made our way across the bridge onto the reserve. From our vantage point a Booted Eagle was enjoying a thermal over towards the airport and the usual Monk Parakeet were causing the inevitable mayhem. Even from this distance the unmistakable sight of an Osprey feeding on the large perching post near the Laguna Grande was a stunning sight. In fact the bird was there during our whole 3 hour stay.

Juvenile Greater Flamingo - Two on site during our stay!
We decided to move around the reserve anti-clockwise and the path leading to the Laguna Escoudida hide yielded several Crested Lark, Serin, Linnet, Collard Dove, and a fly-by Cattle Egret. The laguna itself had a couple of busy Kingfishers, Little Grebe, Shoveler and a half dozen White-headed Duck in various plumage and mostly fast asleep! We did managed the briefest views of a group of Black-headed Weaver that have apparently been around for best part of the week but never managed to reconnect.

Mediterranean Gull in among the many Lesser Black-backed.
Next stop Luguna Grande which was a real hive of activity, including much better views of the feeding Osprey, being closely observed by a whole tree full of Spotless Starling. Waders included: Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Avocet, Redshank and Black-winged Stilt. Also of note a couple of juvenile Greater Flamingo and five roosting Spoonbill with plenty of Gulls on offer.

Ringed Audouins Gull AZYY
Audouins Gull, Mediterranean Gull and Yellow-legged Gull among the many Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed and also recorded Shelduck, at least a dozen Heron and single Little Egret.

Several Sanderling along the shoreline
While walking away from the wader pool along to the sea one or two more Crested Lark in the scrub to the right, single Yellow Wagtail but another bird took the eye, which on closer inspection turned out to be a Wryneck. The bird stayed grounded briefly before flying off towards the houses!

Sandwich Tern taking a breather!
The sea was pretty quiet with mostly Lesser Blacked Gulls and a single Sandwich Tern perched on one of the buoys, two more flew through during our walk along the shore with several Sanderling, a couple of Turnstone and a Woodchat Shrike briefly on the fence over towards the designated nesting area.

Back onto the reserve along the Rio Viejo had a small group of Greenfinch and stops at the two hides, Del Rio Viejo and Laguna de la Casilla, produced more additions to the day list with five Curlew Sandpiper, Cetti's Warbler, Snipe, five Teal, a pair of Pochard and a couple of fishing Little Terns graced the Laguna de la Casilla. Along the tall reeds heading back to the bridge a single Spanish Sparrow, Reed Warbler and while heading back to the car a group of House Martin with a few Red-rumped Swallows mingled in were feeding over the waist ground.