Tuesday, September 17, 2019

πŸ“– Trip Report Spain Part2~ Autumn Migration

TRIP REPORT Part 2: Wednesday 11th September ~ Friday 13th September ~ The second part of my 5-day trip to Spain which includes visits to Guadalhorce and Canteros Los Arenales. (Site Details for both... HERE)

View from the villa terrace looking down towards Fuengirola and the Moroccan coastline beyond
View looking south-west towards Fuengirola.
☀️πŸ’¨28C Wednesday 11th September 2019 ~ Slept late this morning and then had a very enjoyable late morning/afternoon VisMig (visible migration) on the terrace of the villa. Our villa is situated at around 900ft up on the mountainside just below Mijas old town with stunning views down towards the town of Fuengirola and the Meditteranean beyond. On a clear day, the coastline of Morocco on the African continent can be easily made out. At any time of year, it's a great place to just sit and skywatch but during Autumn migration almost anything can pass by. Past years have produced Bonelli's Eagle, Osprey, Black Stork and Egyptian Vulture. Alpine Swifts are a regular passage migrant too.

One of three Pallid Swift passing through today on the stiff breeze.
There was a stiff northerly breeze blowing today with a reasonable number of Hirudines passing through which included Crag MartinRed-Rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow and House Martin. Common Swift numbers were lower than of late but at least (3) Pallid Swift was a real bonus.

Bee-Eater over the villa
Bee-Eaters have been constantly moving through wherever I've been during this visit, with some flocks numbering some 50+ birds over the villa today. In fact, three birds actually passed under the terrace pillars while we were having lunch. Late evening appears to be the best time, being diurnal (active by day), they tend to find a local roost for the night, although I've heard them passing over well after midnight on occasions.

Mediterranean Gull over the terrace was a complete surprise!
During the course of the late afternoon (14) White Storks passed NW, a group of (6) Honey Buzzards were also noted heading NW and overhead (2) Short-toed Eagle, (5) Booted Eagle, (2) Sparrowhawk, (3) Black Kite and a few local Cattle Egrets were other highlights. However, the best had to be my 1st terrace Meditteranean Gull in over 10 years! Over previous years Gulls have never seemed to make it up this far from the shore.

A local Cattle Egret passes by.
Species around the villa grounds included Spotted Flycatcher, Serin, Black Redstart, ChiffchaffSardinian Warbler and Turtle Dove.

☀️24C Thursday 12th September 2019 ~ Canteros Los Arenales is an old quarry to the back of Mijas. From the car park at Sendero Cerro de la Medialuna, you make an initial steep climb past the old extractions which lead on through the pine woodlands where there are lots of tracks to explore. At the apex, there are some absolutely stunning views at nearly 3,000ft across the Hoya de Malaga. This is one of my favourite walks and I spent an enjoyable 4 hours exploring today.

First bird of the visit ~ A juvenile Dartford Warbler.
As soon as I got out of the car the distinctive calls of Dartford Warbler could be heard echoing around the parking area. I also check the rocks in the immediate area too for the distinct flash of white rump against the pure black body of resident Black Wheatears and listen out for the short sharp 'tsi' of Rock Buntings. Today I got lucky when a juvenile Dartford Warbler popped up just as turned on the camera.

Two very confiding Black Wheatears
Two Black Wheatear soon greeted me, these are in my opinion very inquisitive birds and I've found them to be very obliging too in tolerating the camera.

An obliging Rock Bunting
Rock Buntings are a little harder to nail down but with patience, which I don't have too much off, they will eventually oblige.

One of a number of Firecrests throughout the visit.
As I made my way up towards the woodlands several Crossbill passed over and for the first time since visiting over the years, a Tawny Owl called from across the quarry. A distant Raven was cronking away and as I got a little higher Crag Martins began to appear. Firecrests are also a regular feature here and at least (3) were noted before I stopped for a rest and to take on water.

Close encounter with a Crested Tit
While sitting I watched a group of Long-tailed Tits come quite close and among the chatter, a Crested Tit began to call. To my surprise, the bird popped up at close range directly in front me, a magical moment! I've always struggled when here to get a decent photo but today was the day.

A Common Redstart in a hurry
High up in the pines a Hawfinch was calling, that unmistakable sharp clicking 'pix' but I never quite managed to connect with this one. I was distracted during my search by a flash of red from the lower canopy and just managed to get a shot of a Common Redstart as it flew down into the scrub.

Female Pied Flycatcher ~ Butter wouldn't melt πŸ‘€
Having reappeared I watched the bird for a short while feeding contently on some small black berries, that is until another bird suddenly and aggressively appeared, sending the Redstart darting into the bushes. I was surprised to find that the assailant was a female Pied Flycatcher. It was an excellent 20-minutes or so before I moved on, with Short-toed Treecreeper, many Chaffinch and a couple of ground feeding Serin.

Sage Skipper ~ A new species for my Spanish list
Striped Grayling ~ A second new species for my Spanish list
Having reached the top of my climb I stopped for a good while to enjoy the views. With direct sunlight, this is also a good place to search for butterflies and I was delighted to be able to add the above two species to my Spanish List ~ Sage Skipper and Striped Grayling.

Orange-winged Dropwing ~ This one appears to have recently emerged.
Another addition to my records was my first Orange-winged Dropwing dragonfly a species that is spreading north from Africa into Spain and colonising relatively rapidly. The distribution maps in Dijkstra/Lewington, published in 2006, do not show it in Spain.

Greater Flamingos arriving at Guadalhorce
⛈🌞26C Friday 13th September 2019 ~ With my flight back to the UK this evening I managed a final early morning visit to Guadalhorce. There was a threat of thunderstorms today and as I drove down to the reserve some spectacular lighting could be seen away off across the Mediterranean. However, by the time I reached the reserve just before sunrise, the storm seemed to have dissipated.

Glossy Ibis ~ One of just 3 additions to my previous visit to Guadalhorce mentioned in Part 1
I took my usual circular route stopping at the hides Laguna de la Casilla and the Rio Viejo, ending up at my final stop, the Laguna Grande. Seawatching at this time of day is almost impossible with the sun low and directly ahead but a walk along the beach produced a few passing Sandwich Terns and Sanderling along the shoreline. My final additions to my Five-Day List were a flyover Stone Curlew and a female Ferruginous Duck, which I just managed to see before it disappeared into the reeds.

Record shot of Stone Curlew over Guadalhorce.
Full Species List...

Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-Legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Osprey, Short-Toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Black-Winged Kite, Kestrel, Peregrine, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Black-Winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Little-Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Black-Headed Gull, Meditteranean Gull, Yellow-Legged Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Eagle Owl (H), Tawny Owl (H), Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Bee-Eater, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-Rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail sp, Redstart, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Stonechat, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Wren, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Short-Toed Treecreeper, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Raven, Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Serin, Hawfinch (H), Common Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting

More Images of the Trip...

Juvenile Kentish Plover at Guadalhorce

Stonechat at the Cazalla watchpoint, Tarifa

Red-Rumped Swallow over the villa

Kestrel at Guadalhorce

Redstart at Cateros Los Arenales

Spotted Flycatcher at Guadalhorce

Garden Warbler at Guadalhorce