Friday, September 17, 2021

πŸ“– πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ Spain Trip Report 05 ~ 14th Sept 2021 ~ Part 1

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ When Dazza and I flew out from Malaga on January 2nd 2020 having spent Christmas and New Year at my friends' villa in Mijas, we had no idea it would be 18 months before either of us could return. During that period the world has once more become a different place. For us, even a move to another nation and lifestyle change has occurred during this period! So it was a lovely feeling when I emerged from Malaga airport on Sunday afternoon from my flight from Aberdeen after such a long enforced absence.

A stunning morning view of a Juvenile Booted Eagle

The first few days were spent simply catching up and generally hanging out at the villa, which in itself can be a superb 'watch point'. On Monday evening we were treated to some amazing views of one of the local Eagle Owls perched atop the electric pylon just below the villa, sadly too dark for any good images. Then the following morning while enjoying breakfast on the terrace a young Booted Eagle had the good grace to perch close up for a while.

A Bee-eater (on this occasion a group of 18) flies close to the villa and out towards the sea

There was plenty of visible migration in the early week, Black KitesShort-toed Eagle, Honey Buzzards and lots of Common Swifts but the highlight has to be the constant passage of Bee-eaters over the villa, which you hear first as their unmistakable calls echo around the mountains. 

Sardinian Warbler ~ Patience is a prerequisite to photographing one of these!

The surrounding scrub and woodland have also been a hive of activity with Red-legged Partridge, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, skulking Sardinian Warblers and the odd Turtle Dove. The Wild Boar which have been devasting Dave's garden recently have been curtailed (it would seem) by the addition of a new electric fence. I think this is Dave's ultimate solution!  

GUADALHORCE ~ (Paraje Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce) is situated on a naturally formed island just where the Guadalhorce river flows into the Mediterranean. See HERE for site details.
A couple of visits over the period, early morning and late afternoon, the latter when the sun is better positioned to view the Laguna Grande. 

Mediterranean Gull over Guadalhorce

The birding was good but not as prolific as it can be and I'm relating this to the time of year. The lack of Gulls resting up meant that I failed to achieve any decent views of Audouin's Gull or Slender-billed Gull, two species I regularly encounter here. That said, I managed a few shots of some fly-by Mediterranean Gulls

Kentish Plover 

There was the usual selection of Waders with TurnstoneLittle-ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper plus resting Sanderling and both Greenshank and Redshank

Wood Sandpiper 

Little Stint
 and Wood Sandpiper were the best of the bunch, viewable from the Rio Viejo, along with Dunlin but no sign of any Curlew Sandpiper on both visits. By far the largest numbers belonged to the Black-winged Stilts, once again it looks like another excellent breeding year. Two groups of Greater Flamingo including juveniles with a total of eighteen birds, plus a single Spoonbill was noted but as per usual the bird was fast asleep during my visit! 

White-headed Duck

I could only locate a single White-headed Duck during both visits, which is a concern as I'm usually into double figures. Also noted were five Northern Shovelers a single Drake Pochard and four Black-necked Grebes, this included three juveniles. Flyovers included two Great Egrets, three Cattle Egrets and the usual marauding Monk Parakeets

Honey Buzzard

During my morning visit, there was also a large passage of Honey Buzzards, very high up and quite difficult to see in the bright morning sun.

Zitting cisticola (Fantail Warbler)

Passerines were thin on the ground with Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola (Fantail Warbler), Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler and Chiffchaff. Plus in addition to Common Swift, a full set of hirundines Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin all noted. A Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae) also dropped onto Laguna Grande for a short period.

More Images of early-week...

Iberian Scarce Swallowtail

Lots of these White-banded Digger Bees around the terrace

Black Kite low over the villa at sunset

European Paper Wasp

Cockatiel fly past at Guadalhorce ~ Not sure of these escapee's breeding status in Spain!

Pallid Swift over the villa

Little Stint