Friday, October 27, 2023

πŸ“– πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ ~ Spain Autumn 2023 Update 4

   πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ  Friday 27th October 2023 🌀️  20C ~ Wind W@ 3MPH ~ A morning with Derek Etherton driving the dirt roads around the Zapata general area. Details of both Zapata & Guadalhorce can be found HERE

When I visit Andalusia at this time of year I always look forward to an early morning at Zapata in search of Bluethroats. These striking yet sometimes elusive birds can be found wintering along the reedbeds of the Guadalhorce. Over the years my friend Derek, who introduced me to this amazing little habitat a few years back usually knows exactly where to find them. 

Our first of four Bluethroats today at Zapata.

Firstly we began our morning at our usual spot near the ford in the dark. When I'm here in the early summer, we'd usually drive the tracks looking for Red-necked Nightjars, identified by their glowing red eyes in the headlamps but of course, by now they've flown to tropical West Africa for the winter.

A Cattle Egret among the sheep herds at Zapata later in the morning.

The reasoning behind starting at the ford this early is to watch the large numbers of Cattle Egret and smaller numbers of Glossy Ibis departing their nearby overnight roosts. Also along the river are Black-crowned Night Herons and the occasional Little Bittern. Not bad numbers today with (95) Cattle Egret, (5) Glossy Ibis and (7) Black-crowned Night Herons. No sign of any Little Bittern today.

Black-crowned Night Heron ©

At the ford we watched in awe as the dozen or so Cormorants were catching large numbers of fish, some I would estimate well over a few pounds in weight. At least three Kingfishers were also fishing and also noted. Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and a Grey Wagtail.

Bluethroats ~ Always a treat at Zapata.

Our sightings as we drove along the reedbeds included Black Redstart, Serin, Common Waxbill, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff but the morning was all about the Bluethroats.

After breakfast Derek departed and I headed over to the reserve at Guadalhorce. The place was disrupted today by diggers and tippers working on Laguna Grande so I took the Sendero del Rio Viejo route down to the de Aves Marinas (view point). 

Spotted Redshank with Green Sandpiper from the del Rio Viejo Hide.

With the disruption, there were fewer birds on the Laguna de la Casilla but the del Rio Viejo hide did produce a few waders and along with the resident Black-winged Stilts were single Green Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit and Spotted Redshank.

Sandwich Tern from de Aves Marinas.

Just as I approached the viewpoint an Arctic Skua drifted by scattering the many Yellow-legged and Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls. Among them were a few Mediterranean Gulls and during my stay of note three Sandwich Terns and five Northern Gannets.

A few Ospreys winter at Guadalhorce.

On the walk back a flyby Osprey, along with (5) Eurasian Crag Martins, which are now coming to lower levels for the winter and appearing more frequently. 

A few more images of the visit...

Bar-tailed Godwit

Spotted Redshank