Little Bustards every where!
I called in for my usual morning visit to the Lagoons before the hike with Rio Frio Health at the Hotel Eslava in Antequera.
As soon as I turned in to the site on the road nearer the Autovia I picked up the first two male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) one on either side of the track. Several Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) were running around on the track giving good views and a nice male Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) did a fly by and landed on a small stone building before going through a hole in the wall and relieving a female bird of her incubation duties. Also along here I picked up Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). I then moved around to the flooded fields along the next track and again as soon as I left the main road I could hear at least another two male Little Bustards calling and one of then was sitting out in the open on a large pile of earth. A little further on I parked on the bridge over the drainage canal that runs along the track side and had a look through the gates where I picked up Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a small flock of around 5 Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta). Just then a car pulled up and out got Bob Wright from Axarquia bird group on his way to Fuente de Piedra to meet up with Andy Patterson (AKA Birding the Costa blog), we chatted for a while and added Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) to the list before going to have a look at the main lagoon. Waders were few here today with a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) being the only addition, other species included a few Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and the surprise of the morning a pair of White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) which were the first I have seen on the site. Also seen along here were Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Time had run out so I started to make my way to the hotel but on the way I saw another male Little bustard and picked up several Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) hunting over the fields. At the hotel I met the group and we had a run out to the start of the hike at Archidona. The main walk is a loop through wooded scrub, Olives and agricultural land and to finish off we do the walk through the pine woodlands from the town up to the monastery at the top of the hill over looking the area. On the way around I picked up a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) hunting over the olives, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea). The only flowering Orchid was Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) but a few butterflies were seen including Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Moroccan Orange Tip (Anthocharis belia), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon).
On the climb up to the monastery the only new species noted were several immature Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra).
Several species of wild flowers were seen on the way around including Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus), Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba), Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys) and Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea).
Photographs from the top: Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), female Iberian Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava / iberiae), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba) and Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea).