Monday, April 17, 2017

Diary Update #3 Spain 2017

πŸ”† Sunday 16th April 2017 πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ  ~ Another very early start, this time in search of the illusive Red-necked Nightjars down at Zapata! Well illusive to me anyway as I arrived a few days to late last September to see them. The area in question is actually right on the perimeter of Malaga Airport and begins at the mouth of the Guadalhorce. Since my last visit here the unprecedented winter rains have certainly changed the terrain somewhat and driving off road in the dark here at the best of times is a risk! It was on my second circuit, after checking out the runway light stanchions that I flushed two individuals, which rose from the dirt directly in front of the vehicle lights as I spotted them, leaving a swirl of dust in their wake!! Good enough for a tick but must do better....

Record shot at dawn of my first Cuckoo of the year!
The sky was now brightening to the east so I parked up nearby the ford and managed to make out Black-crowned Night Heron and Squacco Heron standing midstream before they took flight. Several Nightingales in song and both Cattle Egret and Little Egret were beginning to move overhead.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail alongside the ford
A walk along the banks produced numerous Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. A single Greenshank could also be made out over on one of the small shingle banks, a Cetti's Warbler and then my first Cuckoo of the year! At least four Crested Larks, Reed Warbler, Serin and two Iberian Yellow Wagtail.

Sardinian Warbler
I took the track back to the main road along the river past a good area for Short-toed Lark and managed two, which flew overhead calling. A Common Whitethroat, Sardinian Warbler and Sedge Warbler before heading home.

Dave drove down to a bar in Fuengirola in the afternoon to watch his beloved Man Utd and dropped Dee and I off above Mijas, where we headed off into the disused quarry Cantera los Arenales. From here you make a steep climb and can reach up to 3,000ft . There are lots of tracks to explore producing some absolutely stunning views across the Hoya de Malaga. Among the vegetation, repopulated pines predominate, although these are mixed with Holm oaks and other typically Mediterranean shrubs in the areas closer to the summit.

One of two Black Wheatear at Cantera los Arenales
We spent an excellent couple of hours and although the raptor passage was not prolific it was quality with many Booted Eagle along with single Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite and Bonelli's Eagle. The walk produced most of the woodland species you'd expect here including: Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Jay, Chaffinch but strangely no Firecrest on this visit.

Black Wheatear
Finally a good search of the quarry back at the parking area produced two Black Wheatear, a real speciality here.