Saturday, October 21, 2023

πŸ“– πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ ~ Spain Autumn 2023

I had a rough start to this year's autumn visit to Spain. After escaping Storm Babet in Aberdeenshire, I arrived in Malaga only to be treated the following day to strong winds and rain which kept me indoors at the villa for my first full day. In the evening, the effects of Storm Aline even caused Malaga Airport to close for a few hours. Speaking to my Adalusia birding buddies, some of them said that they had not experienced such strong winds in over 30 years. I can well believe it, with gusts of 92 KPH registered at Malaga Airport.

The calm before the storm ~ Lots of Blackcaps feeding on the Fig tree fruit in the gardens. 

I typically avoid birding in Spain on weekends, but due to feeling a bit cooped up, I decided to head out to Guadalhorce for a few hours at dawn.  However, I should mention that the sun doesn't rise here until 8:30 a.m. at this time of year. (Reserve details can be found HERE ) I was walking down from the church at Guadalmar towards the reserve when I realised why I avoid birding on weekends. There were joggers and cyclists everywhere, making it difficult to spot any birds. Even inside the reserve, there were so many joggers that it felt like a training arena. Every time I tried to take a picture, joggers would pass by, scaring away the birds I had intended to capture. Despite the obstacles, I persisted and managed to complete the circuit.

Marbled Duck ~ Reintroduced a few years ago to Guadalhorce & it seems doing well.

From the Laguna de la Casilla hide it was obvious that there had been quite a large influx of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs with many feeding around the reserve. Just below a pair of Stonechats, along with a Sardinian Warbler and a Cettis Warbler made a brief appearance. On the water as well as a half dozen Little Grebes there were also (5) Marbled Duck and (8) Northern Shovelers

Black-winged Stilt ~ A regular nesting species at Guadalhorce

At the del Rio Viejo hide the usual large gathering of Black-winged Stilts, (4) Greater Flamingo but for a change and due to the recent rains little scrape and no sign of any waders.

The odd Osprey tends to spend it's winter at Guadalhorce 

As I reached the Rio Viejo (the old river) there were plenty of waders, mostly at roost but I did manage various counts of Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover with single counts of Little Stint, Redshank and Greenshank. While here a Grey Plover flew south calling, closely followed by an Osprey fishing. Also of note Siskin, Crested Lark and Zitting Cissticola

Fly over Crested Lark

As I arrived at the Laguna Escondida hide there was no room at the inn! It was full of togs trying for that money shot of a Kingfisher. Flashbacks to the Carlton Hide at Brandon Marsh in the good old days here. I managed to have a brief look at the lagoon but no sign of the White-headed Ducks, Red-crested Pochards or Ferruginous Ducks which are normally around the laguna. 

Common Sandpiper ~ Laguna Grande

On my final stop at Laguna Grande, I once again found too much water due to the recent rain. However, the term is not often used in southern Spain, especially as this year has been a major drought year so any downpours are welcome. The best here were Booted EagleGreen Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Red Knot and good numbers of Spotless Starling and Cormorants. Few Gulls today on the Laguna but (2) Slender-Billed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gull and Black-headed Gull all noted. 

Greater Flamingo on the Rio Viejo