Just back from a very pleasant morning at the Guadalhorce, Malaga with eight other ABS members. By my reckoning, until someone corrects me, we recorded a final total of 41 species.
It was a very pleasant morning down at the Guadalhorce Ponds in Malaga with members of the Andalucia Bird Society. Mind you, when we all gathered at 09.30 there was a fair amount of cloud, a hazy sunshine at best and even a couple of drops of something wet which, in other parts of Europe, has the common name of rain! Thank goodness that I had my sleeveless coat on as there was a cool breeze in the air but, fortunately, I did change into sun glasses. just as well as by late morning there was not a cloud in the sunny sky and the temperature was becoming very warm indeed.
Passing the resident Blackbirds and Rock Doves as I approached the meeting place at the top of the path leading up to the track towards the footbridge, not only were we met by a resting Booted Eagle in the bare tree opposite but the bird remained quite contentedly in place until all participants had had a good view. Below, the river had a number of Moorhens and Eurasian Coots plus many Grey Herons spread along the river bank and a short-visiting Little Egret. From the track we could see both resting and flying Great Cormorants moving to and from the Laguna Grande and we even had a pair of Hoopoes travelling upstream near the far, eastern, canal. Approaching the eastern arm of the river we were greeted by a passing Osprey which was quickly replaced by a Booted Eagle.
The morning was generally marked by a lack of small birds but there was plenty of water in all the pools. The Laguna Casillas held at least a dozen Pochards along with a few Eurasian Coots and the first of many Little Grebes. In addition to a number of Mallards a trio of Eurasian Teal came to join in the fun plus the first Common Kingfisher who flashed across the pond away from us. With Monk Parakeets regularly passing overhead and the sight of Spotless Starlings on just about every lamppost on the nearby motorway, we made our way on to the Wader Pool. Almost no waders here apart from the three Common Snipe but a single Greenfinch passed through. At the back a trio of Northern Shoveler and a handful of Gadwall. A pair of Collared Doves passed overhead so we knew it was time to move on.
The Rio Viejo (Old River) was somewhat better as we got our eyes focused with a single juvenile Greater Flamingo and then at least a dozen Dunlin, most of the latter now in full winter plumage. At least a handful of Redshank and a couple of Common Greenshank plus a Little Stint and a pair of Kentish Plovers added to the enjoyment. Likewise, Black-winged Stilts numbered at least twenty and there was always a Common Sandpiper to be seen. We even had a solitary Sanderling in with these small waders. Yet another dashing Common Kingfisher and the Booted Eagle had returned with a partner giving excellent views to all as it passed immediately overhead.
The walk down to the beach and the Sea Watch produced very little. Yes, a handful of Swallows passed westwards followed by a pair of White Wagtails but little else other than the first Zitting Cisticola. On the water itself, a small number of Black-headed Gulls in the slightly larger group of Yellow-legged Gulls.
Nothing on the beach as we made our way the main hide, recording a Chiffchaff as we walked the short path from the beach to the main track, until we were overlooking the Laguna Grande where we were greeted by yet more Common Coots and a small number of Yellow-legged Gulls. However, resting with the latter was a single second-year Audouin’s Gull (ring number BN34). We did manage to locate a single Black-necked Grebe in addition to the many Little Grebes plus a Common Sandpiper and a lone Ringed Plover. There were scores of Great Cormorants and a dozen or more Grey Herons plus a pair of visiting Little Egrets. The juvenile Greater Flamingo had either moved across to the water or there are two individuals on the reserve.
A final stop at the Laguna Escondida was so secret that very few birds had decided to visit. A few Eurasian Coots, Mallards and a couple of Gadwall and a pair of Northern Shoveler just about summed up the total. Just before we left a number of Terrapins decided to leave the water to bask in the sunshine and a pair of Willow Warblers were busy feeding in the nearby tree. At the far end of the water a Kingfisher was busy doing what it does best but in such a hurry as to make photography almost impossible. Just before we left a number of Spanish Pond Turtle Mauremys leprosa decided to leave the water to bask in the sunshine.
The final walk back to the cars was to take an anti-circular loop passed the open observation platform at the back of the Laguna Casillas where yet more Common Coots were found plus another Common Kingfisher. Either we recorded at least six Common Kingfishers or there was one very mobile and roving individual! A Zitting Cisticola was also seen but not one solitary White-headed Duck all morning; have they all moved over to the Laguna Dulce near Campillos?
A very pleasant morning’s birding in lovely company and a final total of 41 species made it all worthwhile.
Birds seen on the day 41 species (Shown in systematic order)
Gadwall, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great Cormorant, Osprey, Booted Eagle, Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Common Snipe, Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-headed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Swallow, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spotless Starling, Blackbird, White Wagtail, Greenfinch.
Membership Secretary of Andalucia Bird Society