Dennis and Ian, Day Four, still no Larks.
We got up quite early for our second try at picking up the resident Duponts Larks (Alondra de Dupont / Chersophilus duponti), we were on site before dark and the first things we heard were a couple of Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus). The Larks were notable by the silence again and it was not till after dawn that we started to hear the Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) again. Both Northern (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) were seen on this visit along with a single Tawny Pipit (Bisbita Campestre / Anthus campestris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Southern Grey (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). On this visit we all managed to pick the Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) and we got some good views but again there was no sign or sound of any Duponts Larks.
The next stop was down on the coast in the damp areas around Charca del Suarz because the main reserve was shut. Several Bonelli’s Warblers (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) were picked up feeding in the higher parts of the flowering Willow tree, while Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) both skulked in the undergrowth. A Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) could be heard reeling some distance into the marsh, Yellow (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) were also seen in the same area. We then drove further around the marsh and found a track out into the reeds where we heard and got good views of another Savi’s Warbler. Also around this area we saw Little (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Zitting Cisticola and Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). Along the ditches we also saw a nice male Blue Emperor (Anax imperator) and a couple of Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope).
Down in the fish market we picked up Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and several Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) but the site was generally quite quiet.
The next site was further along the coast at Torre-del-mar; Rio Velez is not my favorite site because of the weirdoes hanging around in the bushes. Luckily there were no problems today and the birding was good. We started at the river side by the road bridge, the damage done by the river in flood had weeded out most of the bank side cover, so the only species seen were the common Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos). Down on the beach the first two birds seen were a couple of Caspian Terns (Pagaza Piquirroja / Sterna caspia) passing east, on the sandbar be hind the beach a single Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) was resting up. Out on the sea we picked up a single winter plumage Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and a single Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) and Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica). Most of the Gulls seen at the docks in Motril were also picked up here including several cracking summer plumage Mediterranean Gulls. On the way back up the river we picked up several Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Kentish (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). We then made our way home over the hills via Zafarraya.
Photographs from the top: Northern (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica, Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus).