Guadalhorce, Malaga Province and Realenga, Granada Province.
A Morning with the Axarquia Bird Group.
I set off from home at around 07:00 to get down to Guadalhorce nature reserve a while before the start of the Axarquia bird group meeting so that I could spend some time on the beach at the first sea watch point. I arrived just after 08:00 and set the scope up at the end of the embankment and immediately started to pick up some interesting species including Balearic (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Cory's Shearwaters (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Monk Parakeet(Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Common Sandpiper(Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), a single Pied Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus) which I could hear ages before it landed on the main beach with a Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), a couple of Ringed(Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plovers(Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus). Up the river there was a small group of around 50 gulls but all 5 species I would expect to see were there, Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). On the margins a Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) was feeding, a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) sat on one of the larger rocks and a male Northern Wheatear(Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) darted around on the track. I then started the walk down towards the bridge where the group were meeting, on the way I saw a single Little Tern (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons) which was feeding in the pool near the beach, Cetti’s(Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Spotless Starling(Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticolajuncidis), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). I reached the meeting point in plenty of time and was soon joined by John and Jenny Wainwright from Salar who were also a bit early, while we were waiting for the others to arrive we picked up several more species including an Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) which was perched in one of the distant dead trees, Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Hoopoe(Abubilla / Upupa epops), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica). At just after 09:30 20 more birders arrived for the walk around the reserve including Bob Wright, Andy Paterson and Steve and Elena Powell just to name a few, after the customary chinwag we set off and made our way over the bridge and out towards the first of the hides which over looks the reed fringed pool on the track out to the far sea watch hide. Straight away we started to see new species including 3 Gadwall(Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and a Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) on the river, a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) over the main lake and just before the hide we had the first of half a dozen Honey Buzzards (Aberjero Europeo / Pernisapivorus) pass over head. From the hide we saw Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard(Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) before moving on to the wader hide where we added a single Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and a Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) to the list. In some small bushes a few yards further on we started to locate a few small brown jobs flicking between cover, these included Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), Common Chiffchaff(Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca), another Common Redstart, a Nightingale(Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) which was heard but not seen and on the opposite side of the track an immature Woodchat Shrike(Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) showed well from the top of a tall Shrub Tobacco (Nicotinana glauca) plant. We moved on down towards the beach scanning the wet area off to the right of the track where we saw several move Black-winged Stilts, a couple of Sanderlings (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and a calling Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia). Next we had a look from the sea watch point but the sea had now gone flat calm and we only managed to locate a few gulls all of which I had seen earlier, the Pied Oystercatcher did a fly-by and the only Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) of the day flew up the river. We then made our way along the beach towards the track back onto the
reserve, during the track through the sand we added a single Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), House Martin(Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and a couple more Sanderlings. Once back on harder ground we made our way to the main hide where we quickly busted the list with Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Spoonbill(Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia) and just as we were leaving 3 Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) flew around but did not land. We moved onto the last hide over the narrow pool where I eventually caught up with White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) and picked up a single Yellow Wagtail(Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava) which flew up from the margins. After a while Bob and the birders that were left decided to walk back to the car, I went back via the beach and had another quick look at the main hide on the way but only added a second Osprey to my list before heading back to the car and driving home.
I spent the rest of the afternoon on the terrace with Jayne and Barb, while I was there I saw several new species for my day list including Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Azure-winged Magpie(Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), an adult Golden Eagle(Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), 3x Sparrowhawks (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), a good number of passing Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) along with several late Commons(Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and a scattering of Crag Martins(Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) amongst the flocks of other hirundines.
I finished the day off on 82 species.
Photographs from the top: Pied Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) and White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala).