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Sunday, April 22, 2018

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ SPAIN 2018 ~ Day 1

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ☀️22C Sunday 22nd April 2018 ~ My first visit to Spain this year staying at my buddy's villa in Mijas. I had planned to go up to Sierra Loja today, but with low cloud and poor visibility at first light and a 90km drive, I thought it was a bit of a risk heading off up a mountain. Instead after breakfast, I decided to stay closer to home and drag Dave out for a visit to Guadalhorce, my favourite local reserve near Malaga Airport.

Record shot of Western Subalpine Warbler
As we walked alongside the Rio Guadalhorce towards the footbridge that takes you across to the reserve there were at least 50 or so House Martins, which nest here each year under the bridge structure. Passing over the bridge a Hoopoe and from the reeds below Cetti's Warbler and Reed Warbler before a Nightingale also broke into song. Before continuing on I noticed some movement in the scrub and managed to obtain a record shot of the above Western Subalpine Warbler which never quite broke full cover before flying off.

Booted Eagle over Guadalhorce
Prior to heading down to the reserve itself, we decided to take a stroll along the opposite side of the river which takes you under the main A7 autovia, where a group of Rock Doves were in residence. There were plenty of House Sparrows to be found too but from within the group I managed to connect with two Spanish Sparrows. Zitting Cisticola was a constant companion zitting away overhead, occasionally landing for a breather and then seven Bee-eaters passed straight through, calling as they went. Just as I was contemplating the fact that there weren't many Monk Parakeets around today six obligingly landed nearby but were sent on their way by a Booted Eagle passing overhead. This must have spooked a Wryneck too, which lifted, unfortunately disappearing over the rock bank and out of sight.

Curlew Sandpiper nearing full summer plumage
Heading onto the reserve and at the first hide at Laguna de la Casilla a Western Bonelli's Warbler was singing for a short while. Four Pochard, two White-headed Duck, single Gadwall and three Little Egrets before I moved on to the del Rio Viejo. Here a dozen or so Black-winged Stilt, some already on nests, Wood Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover, Redshank and Curlew Sandpiper, which was almost in full summer plumage!

Wood Sandpiper at del Rio Viejo
At the Old River, where the water levels were quite high compared to what I normally encounter a further selection of waders which included Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Greenshank and Avocet. At the far side two Audouin's Gulls at rest, along with a solitary Sandwich Tern. When I reached the sea I paused for a while at Aves Marinas sea-watch tower, pretty rough seas today but I picked out a single Balearic Shearwater and there seemed to be a constant passage of Terns, almost entirely Sandwich but at least two Gull-billed noted!

Whimbrel along the beach area
I took the beach walk past the restricted nesting area, where several Crested Larks could be found, a solitary Whimbrel dropping in briefly but not a single Kentish Plover, which nests here.

Little-ringed Plover ~ Laguna Grande
My final stop was at the Laguna Grande but with lots of water currently covering the scrapes little chance of seeing many waders at close range. That said a Little-ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper dropped in for a short while. At distance a couple of Black-necked Grebes and in among the many Gulls two Slender-billed, a regular here.

A shy Whinchat
The final bird of an excellent visit was an elusive Whinchat, but I did manage to capture one image of him watching me, watching him!

Clouded Yellow
There were a number of butterflies on the wing today but just the three species noted: Clouded Yellow, Wall and Swallowtail.