Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Spain at Christmas

☀️21C ~ Wind ⇐ WSW@4mph  Sunday 22nd December 2019 ~ We arrived in Malaga on Friday evening for our two-week stay over the Christmas and New Year period at my friend's villa in Mijas. Unlike the previous year, our Ryanair flight was on time and uneventful.

It's such a treat to be getting away from the monsoons of England, which have seemed unrelenting over the previous few months. That said, the weather for the first few days of our visit was something we're not accustomed to here with low clouds, sea fog and drizzly dank conditions.

Thankfully and to be fair as predicted by my many weather Apps we awoke this morning to glorious blue skies and a gentle breeze, which thankfully is set to continue for the duration of our stay. In the afternoon we headed off to Guadalhorce (Info HERE) for a leisurely walk. As I've mentioned many times in previous posts it's never a great idea to bird on a Sunday here in Spain but despite the many joggers, noisy kids and cyclists, we chanced it and enjoyed a pleasant visit.

Horseshoe Whipsnake 
Always on the lookout for amphibians and reptiles, Dazza was in great form today. Firstly finding a small Horseshoe Whipsnake just peering up from in-between a couple of rocks and then a monster of a Western Montpellier Snake enjoying the warmth of the day along one of the tracks. My contribution was a more common Moorish Gecko!

Western Montpellier Snake ~ Around 6' in length a species of mildly venomous rear-fanged colubrids
Two unexpected firsts for us today here in southern Spain with a group of Common Scoters just offshore of the reserve, with at least three Velvet Scoters within. My thanks have to go to a local birder who was kind enough to point the birds out in his scope, which I'm sure looking at the wintering range for these species are quite a rarity for the area, particularly the Velvets.

Crag Martin at Guadalhorce
At this time of year, Crag Martins are a regular sight, coming down from higher altitudes to spend the winter at sea-level. Crested Larks can be heard and occasionally seen darting around the scrub and there's also a regular wintering Osprey. Guadalhorce is also a great place to find Black-necked Grebes in good numbers. Passerines were thin on the ground but Serin, Black Redstart, Zitting Cisticola (Fantail Warbler) and Sardinian Warbler were all noted.

Wintering Black-necked Grebes at Guadalhorce
The Laguna Grande held the usual numbers of Black-winged Stilts, along with Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Common Sandpiper. There was also a group of five juvenile Greater Flamingo. Other highlights during the visit included three passing Booted Eagles and a few groups of marauding Monk Parakeets, which as usual were a noisy distraction!

More Images From The Visit...

Sanderling on the Laguna Grande

Black-winged Stilt ~ Always in good numbers at Guadalhorce

Osprey ~ A wintering bird

Moorish Gecko