Wednesday, December 07, 2022

📖 🇪🇸 Zapata/Rio Grande ~ Spain 30/11/2022

 🇪🇸 ZAPATA ~ Wednesday 30th November 2022 🌤 20C ~ Wind NNW @ 6MPH ~ My final outing of this particular tour was an early morning drive around Zapata and a look at the Rio Grande with friends Barbara and Derek Etherton, two British local birders who I met a few years ago.

Details for Zapata can be found HERE or by clicking on the SPAIN🇪🇸 link at the top of the blog.

Little-ringed Plover

We arrived at Zapata just prior to sunrise, which at this time of year is just after 8am. Derek drove today and our first stop was at the ford which crosses the Guadalhorce, always a great place to start. A Kingfisher and a couple of Grey Wagtails, plus a few waders this morning with Little-ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret and Greenshank but a surprise was the huge number of Cormorants, we counted (84). We also noted (17) Cattle Egrets departing their nearby roost, along with a Night Heron, which flew along the river. There is currently a wintering Little Bittern but unfortunately, there was no sign during our stay. 

Bluethroat calling along the motorway drainage ditch

Having missed out on Bluethroats during a brief stop-off last week I was keen to catch up with one of my favourite wintering birds at Zapata. The best place to find them is just across the ford where the drainage ditches are located for the nearby A7. It wasn't long before we located three birds, the first easily found by the call. A walk along the ditch produced two more birds before we headed back across the ford.

Serin at Zapata

After crossing back over we took a tour of the rest of this amazing little habitat, stopping at the reedbeds adjacent to Malaga airport where the usual flocks of Common Waxbill can be found. There was also a small flock of Serin as we made our way back to the roadside and a showy Hoopoe posed for a photo. 

Hoopoe at Zapata

Our full list of Zapata sightings can be found HERE

🇪🇸 RIO GRANDE ~ Wednesday 30th November 2022 🌤 21C ~ Wind NW @ 4MPH ~ After Zapata and a stop for delicious molletes (bacon & egg sandwiches) at Restaurante El Tardón in Alhaurín de la Torre we made the short drive over to the Río Grande. The Río Grande forms close to the Sierra de las Nieves natural park and with the recent rain, there was plenty of water coming down. This is another area you can drive around off-road (luxury birding) and like Zapata, it does mean crossing a ford. 

Brambling along the Río Grande ~ My first for Spain

We began at the Aerodrome, base Brica Infoca just off the A-357 and headed east along the dirt track to check out the huge eucalyptus trees and tamarisk. Short-toad Treecreeper and there were a few finch flocks ground feeding which contained Siskin, Serin, Chaffinch and a few Meadow Pipits but we were surprised to find at least (5) Bramblings amongst them, my first for Spain.

Water Pipit feeding midstream

To the west along the riverside, the first species of interest was a Water Pipit feeding midstream, shortly followed by some close views of a Black Stork

Black Stork along the Río Grande

Waders along the drive included Black-winged Stilt, Little Egret, Great Egret, Little-ringed Plover, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank.

There were a few raptors around today Buzzard, Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk, the latter being bombed by a half dozen Crag Martins, which didn't like the invasion into their airspace. 

Our full list of Río Grande sightings can be found HERE

A Few More Images of the Day...

Siskin ~ Río Grande

Bluethroat ~ Zapata

Derek's record shot of some of the large number of Cormorants at Zapata

So that's it and another winter visit comes to an end and as I type this final diary entry from home in Aberdeenshire the snow has been falling. From the southernmost tip of Spain to the northeast of Scotland in what seems like the blink of an eye!!