My final birding of this outstanding spring visit to Andalusia before heading home involved a very early morning start with Derek Etherton meeting up at Zapata. Our target species for today were Red-necked Nightjar and Temminck's Stint. Details for Zapata can be found HERE.
We began at Zapata with a drive around the dirt tracks in the pitch black. Well, I say pitch black but the full moon was certainly a bonus as it was setting to the west. I'm also glad that Derek knows his way around this amazing habitat as you can easily come a cropper. As I did a few years back when I got bogged down in deep gravel after flooding, the less said about that the better.
You can identify the Red-necked Nightjars when their red eyes suddenly appear in the headlamps as you are driving along. After what seemed an age Derek found two birds and even more amazing they were mating. The birds seemed totally unaffected by our presence and continued to offer some excellent views before eventually flying off into the darkness. The experience of watching these nocturnal experts will certainly live in the memory for a long time. Blackbirds and Crested Larks were also noted along the trackside in the twilight along with a few Hares and Rabbits before we paused at a known Yellow Wagtail roost to watch the birds start their day.
|Good numbers of Cattle Egret coming from their nearby roosts.|
We spent the sunrise around the river and ford noting group after group of Cattle Egrets coming out of their roost. (15) Night Herons and (27) Glossy Ibis also drifted by and around the river Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover and Little Egret. Where we stood a Penduline Tit was constantly calling but remained elusive and a Woodlark sang in the distance. The huge clouds of flies above the treetops attracted both Pallid and Common Swift, along with a few Red-rumped Swallows and Barn Swallows. Singing in the reedbeds and tamarisk Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warblers and Nightingales, plus (2) Pied Flycatchers and a single Common Waxbill were also noted. It's difficult to paint a picture of this magical hour at Zapata but you really have to see and hear it to believe it!
|Temminck's Stints on the Canal Sacaba Malaga.|
After breakfast at el Tardon, Derek drove me across to the Canal Sacaba Malaga for three reported Temminck's Stints. A new destination for me which is located on the north side of Guadalhorce and upon arrival, we managed the birds without any great hardship.
|Squacco Heron fly-by at Canal Sacaba|
A bonus while at Canal Sacaba was the above Squacco Heron which nicely rounded off this year's 18-day Spanish Spring tour with a creditable 155 bird species and 17 butterfly species seen.