A days guiding in Malaga Province.
I picked Peter up from Antequera and we headed out to Laguna Dulce near Campillos, on the way I learnt that Peter was a Brit who had moved out to Finland some 30 years ago and by the time we reached the Lagoon I had turned a funny shade of green (with envy) after he was telling me about all the species he gets near his house, including Hawk Owl. I did feel slightly better when he also pointed out that the temperature drops down to minus something absolutely ridiculous.
The first species we saw were on the flooded crop fields to the right of the main pool and these included at least 50 Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava). The mosquitos were horrendous at this spot and if I did not already know that Peter was from Finland I would probably have guest he was from that direction somewhere at this point. I was bouncing around swatting them like a demented Morris Dancer on speed whilst he was totally ignoring them and telling me that these pitiful things were no match for the boys they get in Finland.
We then moved to the hide which was a little better where we added another new species to Peters life list, around 10 White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) showed well, along with loads of Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Common (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), 2x Tufted Ducks (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). There were a lot of Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) on the water and some that were feeding in acrobatic flocks along with several Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus) and at least one Black Tern (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger). Other species seen here included Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a singing Sedge Warbler (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus).
We then made a move towards Teba but before we left we had a quick scan of the tamarisks at the far end of the slip road and added an adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) and a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). We went past the raptor view point and on to the gorge, as soon as we parked up we could hear the years first Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), along with Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). Once we were down in the gorge we started to add some more species to Peter’s life list, these included Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). Whilst here we also noted Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and a very brief view of a Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) which unfortunately Peter missed.
We then went back to the watch point, on the way we saw a nice flock of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) on the road side wires. Next we added another of the birds on Peter’s wanted list, during the time at the watch point we saw 4 of the required Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), along with Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
On our way to Fuente de Piedra we called at a couple of the other lagoons near Campillos, at the first we had some brilliant views of Black-winged Stilts and fleeting glimpses of the noisy Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Further on we stopped on the roadside to watch a cracking group of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), a single Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), a couple of migrating male Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and a single calling male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
Our next stop was at Fuente de Piedra after picking up some lunch. From the area around the visitors centre we found several Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), 2 Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), a small flock of Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), migrating Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and a pair of passing Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax).
The last stop of the day was at Laguna Herrera back near Antequera, we turned off the motorway near Mollina and went across to the lagoon via the farm tracks. There were a few Greater Flamingo’s on the Laguna but as usual there were many more on the flooded field near by. New birds for the day were a pair of Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), several Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), a pair of Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), a single Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), a heard but not seen Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and around 30 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni).
Photographs from the top: White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus).