Sunday, 2 January 2011

Rio Guadalhorce, Malaga Province and Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

David and Steve's Spanish trip (Day one).

Today was the first day of David and Steve’s trip to Spain, I was due to pick them up at Malaga airport at 11:00 so I popped into the sea watch point at Guadalhorce for an hour or so. On the walk out to the sea I picked up a small flock of Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) all feeding on the dead thistle heads along the track. Resting up on the rocks on the sea front there was a group of Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and a couple of Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), along with loads of Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
I set the scope up and had a scan over the waves seeing good numbers of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), a couple of Common Scoter (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra) and single Black-necked (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus).
Along the river I added Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and a Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus).
On the other side of the bank in a small weedy storm drain I flushed up a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) and a Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea).
I then went and picked up David and Steve from the airport, once we found our way back to the car (forgot I had gone up one level) we returned to Guadalhorce for the afternoon.
From the sea watch point we added most of the species I had seen in the morning except for the two Scoters but these were more than made up for by a group of 6 Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) which passed quite close to shore and a Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) which spent some time sat on the sea giving nice but distant views. The Common Sandpiper was still on the mouth of the river and the Greenshank had gained a partner. Other species seen from here included a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) which was quartering the reedbeds on the main reserve, a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) which was perched on some of the canes that made up a big part of the storm blown grot that lined the beaches and several Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) that were running around on the sand.
We then drove down to the main entrance to the reserve and while I went and parked the car in a better spot (after all the robberies) David and Steve started the walk to the bridge and into the reserve. On my way from the car I picked up an immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) in one of the eucalyptus trees on the far bank, by the time David and Steve had reached the bridge I was back with them. On the river we picked up a couple of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and had great views of at least three Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) including one dark phase bird. Once on the reserve we headed towards the far sea watch point and then worked our way back finishing off at the main hide. The only new species added from the watch point was an immature Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) which passed from east to west but kept on going down the coast and a couple of Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) on the rocks at the river mouth. The water levels were high on the reserve so waders were nonexistent but we did track down several Zitting Cisticola’s (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) but frustratingly we only heard Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) on our way around to the main hide. From the hide we saw large numbers of Great Cormorant, a few White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), more Black-necked Grebes, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) and several Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). I was quite surprised at the numbers of Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) dragonflies still on the wing, dozens of each were seen. We then made our way back to the car picking up the Night Heron on the way and headed up to the Loja area. On the way to David and Steve’s accommodation we called at a couple of sites near Huetor Tajar and picked up good numbers of Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which was a nice way to end day one.
Photographs from the top: A group of Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and a single bird.

59 bird species seen.

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