Friday, January 04, 2019

Spain at Christmas

Fires lit and settled back aboard now after spending Christmas and New Year with Dazza at my best buddy's villa near Mijas, Spain. The winter birding was excellent and the weather simply stunning with mostly clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s.

Wintering Stone Curlews at Zapata

Osprey over Zapata
Over 10-days we spent plenty of time around Zapata, a little gem of a place at the north end of Malaga Airport. Incredible that with aircraft landing only meters overhead the habitat can yield so much. Wintering Bluethroats, Penduline Tits, Stone Curlews and an Osprey to mention a few.

White-headed Duck ~ Guadalhorce
At the opposite end of the airport is the reserve at Guadalhorce which I've mentioned here many times over the years, here too despite the disruption the birding was outstanding with key species such as White-headed Duck and over 30 wintering Black-necked Grebes.

Thekla Lark at 5,000ft

Where there are rocks there's Rock Bunting
At Sierra Loja in the Granada Province, we took the climb up to 5000ft in glorious conditions encountering a small wintering population of Ring Ouzels, Azure-winged Magpies, Thekla Larks, Blue Rock Thrush and of course several Black Wheaters.

Black-winged Kite at La Janda
We also drove down towards Gibraltar and then on to the rice fields of La Janda, where once more wintering species were in abundance: White Storks, Common Cranes, Spoonbills, Hen Harriers and Black-winged Kites.

Griffon Vulture
On New Year's Eve, a drive across to the new Vulture feeding station near Campillos produced several Griffon Vultures overhead but unfortunately, despite there being the whole of a dead horse, not a pretty sight or smell, this was not enough to bring the hoards down, apparently, it wasn't ripe enough! Fussy things Vultures.

Flamingo's at Fuente de Piedra

Iberian Grey Shrike at Fuente
From here onto Fuente de Piedra one of Spain's largest lagoons for the awesome sight of 1000s of Flamingos and while in the area a couple of Iberian Grey Shrike added to the excitement.

One of four Black Wheatear at Canteros
Finally Canteros Los Arenales an old quarry some 3,000ft up to the back of Mijas Pueblo and Dazza's favourite walk. The day list here consisted of Crag Martin, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Dartford Warbler, Hawfinch, Crossbill and Black Wheatear.

And so the end of another superb visit and indeed another brilliant year's birding. To finish I've compiled the following video of the visit ~ I hope you like it and Happy Birding.