Monday, September 26, 2016

Birding Spain ~ Zapata 2nd Attempt Monday

After my first attempt at Zapata failed to yield my target bird, Red-necked Nightjar I decided to do a little more research when I got back to the villa. Thankfully, Barbara and Derek Etherton from the Andalusian Birding Group got in contact and Zapata being part of their local patch offered to meet up. I just couldn't refuse!!

Waxbill ~ You don't want to know what this bird is eating!
We met up at 06:45 at the Mesón El Cohete café, Alhaurin de la Torre, around a five minute drive into Zapata. A really lovely couple and as it transpired very capable birders indeed and very knowledgeable, as are most when it comes to their local patch. As it happens I had in fact found the correct tracks during my Sunday jaunt but it would seem after still being around just over a week previous, the Nightjars may well have left for their wintering grounds in West Africa. The nights are definitely getting cooler here.

Little Bittern ~ Surprised this photo came out it was still almost dark!
Notwithstanding, the day hadn't even begun! We decided to make our way down to the ford as Derek had mentioned it was a good place to see the sunrise and also to watch the hundreds of both Cattle and Little Egret coming away from their roost. As we drove down in the dark many Crested Larks were caught in the headlights, even a Red-legged Partridge was caught out too, but we avoided all. At the ford a couple of Night Herons flew through and already a couple of Kingfishers were busy, a Pied Flycatcher could easily be picked out in the increasing light and also of note Greenshank, Little-ringed Plover and Grey Wagtail. No sooner had Barbara and Derek said that this was a good time for Little Bittern, than a pair flew straight into the reeds, what great timing! While enjoying some excellent views a number of Waxbill were flitting around and as predicted many Egret overhead.

An off-road traffic jam at Zapata!
From here we drove to an area which is known to have Short-toed Lark and on route a couple of Marsh Harrier. When we arrived to scan the area for Larks Derek found five Stone Curlew, which even he was delighted with, not a common bird to the area apparently. We did indeed find Short-toed Larks and in the channels along the drainage ditch, a couple of Reed Warbler, Barbara also tells me a good place for Penduline Tit later in the year.

Black Stork at Rio Grande
After breakfast in the Mesón El Cohete we headed off for a new area for me known as the Rio Grande. Here there is gravel extraction and a fire station with small landing strip for fighting brush fires. The Rio Perelas and Rio Guadalhorce meet offering some excellent habitat but unfortunately at this time of year very little water could be found. That said another destination for my database and even with little water the birds were here. During our stay a Tawny Pipit, as we crossed what normally is the ford, Common Sandpiper, Pied Flycatcher, Waxbill and overhead Black Kite, Black Stork and at least fifteen Bee-eater. Many thanks to Barbara and Derek for taking the time, much appreciated!