24 April at the Guadalhorce and a PS.

Due to circumstances beyond my control (which means just about everything!) I didn't get to Tarifa today. Instead I was able to get a consolation prize in the form of the Guadalhorce along with Ann and David Jefferson, starting at the unholy hour of a very warm 11.30 and staying until about 1500 or thereabouts. For some reason that well known song about mad dogs, Englishmen and midday sun came to mind more than once as it was hot but, rather surprisingly given (a) the lateness of entry and (b) the heat and consequent shimmer when using the scope, we had a very pleasant walk around.

A trio of Shelducks, generally uncommon here, on the laguna grande started the morning off nicely, while a single Greenshank slept peacefully, undisturbed by a couple of Redshanks and even the normally hysterical Black-winged Stilts seemed less noisey, perhaps the heat of the sun? Ann saw a Spoonbill while I was looking the other way, the story of my life! Round at the laguna escondida there wasn't very much to see either, except for a Reed Warbler which briefly showed itself before diving head first into the thickest part of the reed bed, an immature Purple Heron - you don't see too many of those around - and a pair of Coots with three red-headed young. A Pratincole winged its way north and offered very brief views. There were goodly numbers of swifts, nearly all Common, moving through all the time while we went round to the east bank and there was not an awful lot to see from the first hide but at the second there was plenty.

were in the majority by a long way, some 34 in the whole of the area I reckoned, and some were very nervous, moving and caling a lot, what the German investigators in the 1930s called Zugunrühe or migratory restlessness, and I have a very strong feeling that many of them will not be around tomorrow morning. There has been a slight buildup of Ringed Plovers as these head north. Otherwise, a couple of Dunlin, another Greenshank- a total of 3 during the morning, nice views of a Wood Sandpiper and a single shy Curlew Sandpiper and one Sanderling. It was while watching the Curlew Sandpiper that 2 little balls of fluff with legs shot past at mach 0.9, running after mummy no doubt, baby plovers but heaven knows of which species, Kentish or LRP. And to finish off the morning, although it was well in to lunch time period, a Pratincole, perhaps the same as before.

It was also nice to run into two flocks of Spanish school children, adolescents, who in the main seemed to be interested in what the teacher was saying (except for one couple whose hormonal levels were about the same level as those of the Little Ringed Plovers) and who were not making any noise at all, unlike many I have had the misfortune to run in to there and at other sites. As we commented, if only one becomes interested, then their visit had achieved its purpose.

PS: Yesterday, 23 April, Paco Chiclana and some birders from Sevilla saw a Long-legged Buzzard on La Janda (Cádiz province) where I should have been today.

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