Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birding Spain - September Visit

Arrived back in Spain Early Wednesday morning for my final visit of three for this year. With Dave travelling in South Africa currently and the wife away with friends further down the coast I have the place to myself for the next week, so I can literally devote my entire time here to birding and possibly a few beers! I eased into things today with a visit to Guadalhorce, one of my favourite reserves, being right next to Malaga airport I can also indulge in my other pastime, aviation.

One of four Cattle Egret
I arrived shortly after sunrise, which in this neck of the woods is just before 8am at this time of the year. After parking at the church, advisable if you know the area, I walked down to the bridge crossing and as usual was greeted by the call of Cetti's Warbler and of course the hoards of marauding Monk Parakeet, at least thirty or so in this party. I spent a while on the bridge checking out the river and banks below, a Kingfisher flew by and a few Rock Doves under the road bridge but the majority of activity was overhead, with a selection of mostly House Martin but several Sand Martin were mingled in. A few Common Swift were also passing through and a Zitting Cisticola was already doing what he does best, Zitting! The thing that struck me most while here though was the shear of number of Grey Heron, parties of four, five, six in flight all around and if I'd bothered counting I'm sure I could have easily reached a hundred or so.

Black-winged Stilt - Undoubtedly the most attractive wader today!
After an uneventful walk, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and House Sparrow mainly I stopped for a while at the Del Rio Viejo hide. However, just before entering the hide a call I didn't recognise alerted me to a small sparrow sized bird perched up on branches, unfortunately not for long and in direct sunlight! I had a few thoughts and after further investigation upon arriving back at the villa I'm certain it was a female or juvenile Black-headed Weaver, a bird I know which resides here, introduced apparently to Spain from Africa, but a first for me in Europe. At the hide a dozen Little Grebe, (2) Snipe, (6) Black-winged Stilt (2) White-headed Duck and single Green Sandpiper and Pochard.

Mightily cropped photo of Hoopoe and Booted Eagle
The Laguna Casillas was full of activity with more Little Grebe, four Cattle Egret, a brace of Little Egret and at least a dozen Little-ringed Plover. Towards the back of the lagoon a couple of Greater Flamingo and more Black-winged Stilt. Thirteen Greater Flamingo in flight towards the west of the reserve and perched up in one of the many dead trees a Booted Eagle, next to which was a very brave Hoopoe.

Hoopoe - Cant help love these birds!
The Rio Viejo (Old River) had plenty on offer, until everything flushed to an unknown predator, this just as I'd got the scope ready. When things settled back down a single Mediterranean Gull, along with mainly Yellow-legged Gulls and the odd Lesser Black-backed. Waders included both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. A closer check of the scrub areas produced Black Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and a single Bluethroat, which I was delighted with, being my first for the site.

Osprey - One of a trio today!
The Laguna Escondida was quiet, save for a Kingfisher, plus (22) Shoveler but with the sun directly on to my back I soon moved on to the Laguna Grande. On route (3) Red-rumped Swallow, several Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Kestrel and a Booted Eagle drifted south.

Little Stint at Laguna Grande
I spent the rest of the visit at the Grande and managed an impressive selection with the lagoon producing Grey Plover, Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, (8) Avocet, plus Bar and Black-tailed Godwit. Spotless Starlings were plentiful and both Sandwich Tern and Little Tern drifted through during my stay. However, the highlight for me was a trio of Osprey, one of which stayed for a while before finally drifting south.