Guadalhorce today

As noted at the end of yesterday's blog, I was planning to get down to the Guadalhorce this morning with Federico. We went, we saw and even if we didn't conquer we got one very good species.

0835 saw us going in over the bridge and it was already promising to be a very warm day. The laguna Grande produced nothing except half a dozen or so Audouin's Gulls and 2 adult Med. Gulls still in breeding plumage but there was heat shimmer already so views of them weren't great. So, round to the laguna Escondida in search of Purple Boghen, preferably with chicks (which David Jefferson hadn't seen yesterday) but on the way met Estebán in his Land Rover and he had looked and seen 2 chicks yesterday.

Hope springs eternal in the ornithological breast, we've got to be the biggest optimists here are after anglers, but at least we can see if there is little or nothing!

Yes, there was a Purple Boghen - one! No more. There were Coot with young. There were Gadwall with young. And White-headed Ducks. But not the object of our enterprise. Tough, but that's birding for you, so round to the laguna de la Casilla.

At first view there was not a lot. Pochards in quantity, a few Coot, a Moorhens. Then a smashing pair of Little Bittern flew across and gave brief but acceptable views and returned a few minutes later to give a fantastic but regrettably view, including the incredible red-orange bill of the male. The male Black-headed Weaver, a stunning bird with its orangey-yellow plumage, flew across after stripping a long strand of dead reed leaf, presumably it's into the nest construction industry.

And then we struck gold even though I nearly missed them as they swam across in front of us. Male duck with dark reddish-chestnut plumage and white under the tail. Female nondesript but with the same white under tail giveaway - Ferruginous Ducks! A pair of what is a very uncommon species! I managed one halfway decent shot, which is reproduced here. I hadn't seen one for years and it was a new species for Federico. So, justice was done and we had some real luck as our reward in the growing heat (remember what Mr. Coward sang about Mad Dogs, Englishmen and mid day sun), even though on the return we called in at the laguna Escondida, fruitlessly yet again, just in case.

By the by, when you go in to the reserve over the new bridge, keep eyes open for the Red-rumped Swallows. A pair is nesting under the bridge and it is possible to have superb views of them as they fly around, over and even under you!

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