Friday, September 19, 2014

Spain Update #2

Temp - 24C/27C - Occasional Cloud - Wind NE @ 12 mph

Dave and I were due to head down to Tarifa today for a raptor watch but I'll just say that last nights late one put paid to that! A slight change of plan, we decided it might be best to stay local today and head there tomorrow.

Old quarry at Cantera los Arenales
Late morning we decided to head off up above Mijas and into the surrounding sierras, by a strange quirk of fate on exactly the same day we did it last year! The area in question starts at a disused quarry Cantera los Arenales and from here you make a steep climb up through the scrub and into the pine woods.

After parking we took the steep climb and as per usual things were pretty quiet to start with, save for a lone Chiffchaff calling. After finding a few sheltered areas it wasn't long before Crested Tit and Firecrest were located and soon after Coal Tit and Jay. A Falcon SP. whizzed through but far too quick for any ID attempts. However, what was without doubt was the Booted Eagle that passed overhead shortly after.

Stunning views from just short of 3000ft
Just short of  3000ft the paths open up to produce stunning views across the Hoya de Malaga. From here we're normally graced with the presents of a number of raptors but sadly today all we could manage were single Short-toed Eagle and Common Buzzard. Four Crag Martins were entertaining and these were joined occasionally by Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin. Bee-eaters could be heard from below but we never made eye contact. On the way back down other birds of note included Crossbill, Raven, Long-tailed Tit and Blackcap. Sadly we dipped on two of our target birds recorded here last year, Black Wheatear and Rock Bunting!

Three of the four Caspian Terns on the Laguna Grande.
With Dave visiting friends in San Pedro I paid an afternoon visit to Guadalhorce to catch up with another friend. It was a really excellent visit, first bird of note a Hoopoe, which I spotted as I crossed the bridge into the reserve. I decided to head straight down to the Laguna Grande, on route Crested Lark, Serin, Turtle Dove, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler and the usual marauding Monk Parakeet.

One of a brace of Little Tern 
As I approached the hide I was alerted to the call of Caspian Tern, four in fact and by the time I settled in the hide all four were down and resting. A similar selection of waders to yesterdays post but with the addition of Greenshank.

Booted Eagle - Canon SX50 to the max!
I spent an hour or so in the hide, a couple of Little Tern came in to rest and I had the Canon SX50 maxed out on digital to get the above record shot of a Booted Eagle at rest. Yesterdays Osprey was also taking a nap in the adjacent tree. At one stage a Little Bittern flew from the reedbed towards the back of the laguna and then out towards the river.

Spoonbill and one of over twenty Grey Heron.
Finally, a couple of Spoonbill seemed a lot more active than the five I noted during yesterdays visit and both Audouins Gull and Mediterranean Gulls were also noted.