Monday, December 30, 2019

Vélez Estuary

☀️18C ~ Wind ⇐ NE@9mph  Monday 30th December 2019 ~ A drive out, spot of lunch and an hours birding to the Vélez estuary near the town of Torre del Mar, about an hour from the villa.

There are so few wetlands on the costa del Sol that this small estuary is a hotspot for birds during migration periods, but even in the winter months, I feel its always worth a visit. However, having visited before it's worth noting that the site has been blighted in the past by the traditional presence of certain gentlemen whose idea of 'a day at the seaside' is far removed from what might be considered mainstream practice. The problem has greatly diminished and I've never felt threatened during my visits but it may be best not to visit alone!

A great wintering ground for Common Chiffchaff 
With the water pretty low at present, the area currently comprises of a series of shallow reedy pools, flanked by trees and low shrub in which there appeared to be movement in every one. Common Chiffchaffs were in good numbers, constantly feeding and so engrossed that we could get reasonably close. Cetti's Warblers were heard regularly along the walk with the occasional one showing and this is a good area to find White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) with many present. Collared Doves, Monk Parakeet and Rock Doves, the latter particularly under the bridge eves, are commonplace.

Hoopoe checking out the leaf litter
At the water's edge, there were Meadow Pipits, Serin, Goldfinch and Blackbirds bathing, plus plenty of Moorhens and Coots. Within the undergrowth, a Hoopoe didn't seem particularly bothered by our presence, pausing briefly while checking out the leaf litter.

One of three Little-ringed Plover
There were a few waders to be found with a group of three Little-ringed Plover, two Snipe and a Green Sandpiper. At one stage a Common Waxbill overhead and by the time we reached the sandbar and the beach area Stonechat, a couple of Grey Wagtails and a Water Pipit were also noted.

1st winter ♂Bluethroat
We paused for a while when Dazza found a Bluethroat and spent a good half hour watching the bird, likely a first-winter male. I hadn't realised at the time but this was, in fact, a lifer for Dazza, so well done to her on finding the bird.

A stunning looking Audouins Gull
The beach area produced a couple of Balearic Shearwaters offshore, Sandwich Tern and Gannet and on the beach a stunning adult Audouin's Gull.

Meditteranean Gull ~ Easily picked out from the hoards of larger gulls passing overhead
Among the many larger gulls on a route, it would seem to roost, the odd Mediterranean Gull could be found. Finally, on the drive out back onto the main road, several Cattle Egrets were sticking close to a local farmer ploughing a field.

A Few More Images Of The Day...


Southern Speckled Wood