03-12 April

I have already intimated that for the foreseeable future (until the end of July, very probably) I shall be dedicated to trying to get 88 sheets of illustrations finished for my magnum opus seabird identification guide, which means that blogs with my own input will be weekly and will only be relieved by interesting stuff from Dave and Gilly and the Arboleas Birding Group. So, this is the first and covers from 3-12 April and refers mostly to the Guadalhorce.

03 April: Down at the ponds with Dave and Chris Sowter - he a gull ringing expert -and Dave and Anne Jefferson from Nerja, we being later joined by Salva García, an avid gull ring reader who was keen to meet Dave (and vice-versa). A very pleasant afternoon's birding and talking about gullss and colour ringing of said gulls, plus some earlyish Curlew Sandpipers, a couple of Avocets and a single Greenshank, at least 7 Northern Wheatears including 5 super males which were then outshone totally by a male Black-eared Wheatear.

05 April: Sister rang from England to say the first Sand Martins had returned to the big colony near where she has a big caravan on the East Yorkshire coast, 3 yesterday and ca.40 today. She has her uses!!

08 April: Took wife and dog for walk along the beach in front of the Guadalhorce and apart from 5 Turnstones, a single Pratincole which came in off the sea. The photo is of the dog.

10 April: Early on, a single Bonelli's Warbler stayed around feeding in the one remaining pine in the garden for half an hour, and later on when I went for the bread I looked skywards, an automatic reflex for an birder, to not only see a maelstrom of swifts and also 3 Sparrowhawks circling round as they moved eastwards.

11 April: Patricia, Federico et al. went down to the ponds and saw a single male Redstart and also a Wryneck, but not a lot else.

12 April: I had to get out this morning after a solid week of painting, so met Bob Wright and later Bob Hibbett, so down to the ponds! And was it worth it? Hell, yes. For a start, 10 species of waders which included all 3 spp. of small plovers, at least 15 Redshanks, a nice Wood Sandpiper and a pair of resting Whimbrel, but later a fly-over of a flock of 13 Whimbrels, lovely and of course the camera was in the rucksack. We watched a pair of female weavers, probably Black-headed, by the laguna Escondida, lots of swifts of both common species. We saw no wheatears nor any of the pratincoles that had been seen yesterday but there are still some Yellow Wagtails around and at least 4 Woodchat Shrikes in the area. Birds come in, rest and are off very quickly most of the time.

A small Acrocephalus warbler with an odd song had us confused and was not showing itself at all and thoughts of a possible Marsh ran through Bob Hibbett's head but after listening to song on the internet we have ruled it out as an oddball Reed Warbler.

As we were leaving two Purple Herons flew over, another first for the year. So, on now with some painting. I'll be in touch.

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