Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Las Chappas, Guadalhorce, Teba and Laguna Dulce, Malaga Province.

A new Orchid for my Spanish list and Birding on the way home.

I drove down to the coast to my first stop which was to try and find a new orchid species for my list, I was searching in the unlikely area around a hotel down near Marbella. In some pine woods which have managed to be missed by the bulldozers I quickly found (with directions from Ian Phillips from Malaga) two spikes of the rare Heart-flowered Serapias (Serapias cordigera). Both spikes were a little past their best but easily identifiable. In the area there were also fruiting spikes of both Limodore Species (Abortivum and Trabutianum).
The next stop was to collect Niels and then we were off to Guadalhorce where we were after target bird number one, White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) but before we went on to the main reserve we had a quick look at a very quiet sea from the watch point. From here we started the list with Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). We then made our way along the embankment down to the bridge, on the way we found an extra bird for Niels hit list when we found the first of many Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) flying nosily around their very large nests. From the bridge there were Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and a calling Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti).
Once we entered the reserve we started to hear and see lots of Zitting Cisticola’s (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) which seemed to be calling from every direction, along with Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). From the main hide we soon had the White-headed Duck under the belt; several males were displaying and generally making a nuisance of them selves. Also here there were good numbers of Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), more Black-winged Stilts, Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). Further on around at the second hide we saw more White-headed Ducks, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera). On our way around to the next hide on the walk down to the second sea watch point we picked up a female Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) flying into the reeds. From the next hide we did not see any thing new but the wader hide produced a couple of Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus). On the way down past the scrape we saw at least 6 Slender-billed Gulls (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei) amongst the flock of Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). Again the sea was quiet so we retraced our steps and on the scrape the birds mention had been joined by 1 adult and 2 immature Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), a single Little Tern (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons), a Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and a flyby none breeding plumaged Little Gull (Gaviota Enana/ Larus minutus). On the walk back we picked up the female Ruddy Shelduck (Tarro Canelo / Tadorna ferruginea), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). Some butterflies were seen during the walk including Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea). The only dragonfly species seen was a male Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii).
The next stop was lunch which we ate whist sat beside the Rio Grande, we then move north to Teba Gorge. As soon as we arrived another of the main birds we ticked of the wanted list when we saw a nice male Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) perched on a telegraph pole. We then had a look in the gorge from near the bridge; the first birds were a pair of Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). A little further on we had views of a couple of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) passing over high, a few Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) were also up high but then we picked off another of the birds on Niels list when a pair of Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) showed well for us. On the road side there were large numbers of Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) butterflies and the last thing seen just as we were leaving were a pair of Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) which circled up and away.
Our final stop of the day was at Laguna Dulce where things were very quiet, in the shallows there were again good numbers of White-headed Ducks, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen and further out there were Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and all three of the common Grebe species. Over the water several Black (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger), Whiskered (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus) and Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) were feeding or sitting on the many reserve signs.
We then made our way back to the house and made sure Niels was settled in.
Photographs from the top: Heart-flowered Serapias (Serapias cordigera), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius).

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