Winters movers and Spring arrivals.
Out on the fields today the changes were quite obvious, the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flock has dropped down in numbers over the last week and all I could find this morning were a remnant group of 7 birds. The three males were going the game though, trying their hardest to impress the 4 remaining girls. The Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) were in much the same state with around 30 birds on the usual fields down from a winter high of nearly 700. Along the river much smaller numbers of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) could still be found, while Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) and Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) numbers had actually almost doubled, I guess due to birds coming back North from Africa.
New arrivals or species in transit included lots of Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) which were pushing through in small groups, several of our local birds were also back on territories down near the town as were lots of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). The first two Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) flew up from the side of the road and a male Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) was perched on the roof of one of the small field huts where for the last few months there had been Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
There were a couple Black Redstarts still about but most birds had gone, as had all the local Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus). Along the river there was a single pair of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) chasing each other around, Steve Daly of Andalucian Guides (see link on right hand side) had told me that down his way near Barbate he had a pair of Plovers already sitting on eggs a week ago!!!
The resident birds were quite active as well, Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) were singing and they will hopefully be joined by the summer visiting Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) in the next few days. Several groups of Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) were moving nosily through the still bare Poplar trees which in a week or two will echo to the superb call of the many Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) that come to here to breed. In amongst the Olives and scrubby verges the cracking Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) can be heard along with the almost continuous oop-oop-oop of the beautiful Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
Spring has not fully arrived here yet (-3 last night) but its well on its way and for a trip down to the supermarket this was not a bad hours birding.