15-16 August, Guadalhorce

As I have been suffering from a lack of birding through working far too hard on this damned book (it is coming on and I'm taking about 80% of it with me to the UK tomorrow), and I spent most of Friday putting all the bits that I am taking in order ready for the publisher (what a hell of a thankless task!), I thought that it was about time I went down to the Guadalhorce ponds.

So, yesterday morning (Saturday), I was down there by 0830 and spent the rest of the remaining 150 minutes wondering why I had gone down, because frankly there was very little (which is the polite way of expressing it). Waders, one Bar-tailed Godwit, 3-4 Little Stints and a single Common Sandpiper. There were 3 Knot around which I didn't see because they had flown from the laguna grande before I got there. For the rest, a handful of LRPs and Kentish Plovers and some rather disconsolate-looking Stilts. On the positive side, there was the first Osprey back. There was a distinct lack of Common/Pallid Swifts, 3 all morning I think. The White-headed Duck males are now showing a mixture of billcolouration, as they turn black in the winter, but one still with a blue bill was chivvying the others around. The male Black-headed Weaver provided good views and a brilliant patch of yellow but as the temperature rose and the scope and tripod seemed to weigh more and more with every step Paco Rivera and I decided that going home was a better bet, so we did.

However, hope springs eternal (or perhaps it's stupidity) in the Paterson breast so this morning (Sunday) saw me down there by 0845. And was there more to see, you will ask? My reply is, yes, marginally. The Osprey had gone but the male Peregrine was surveying its universe from the top of the tall chimney at the far, eastern, side of the river. But I am jumping ahead, because no sooner had I crossed the bridge than a Southern Great Grey Shrike made sure everyone could see it by sitting in the very top of a bare tree. There were also some more swifts, at least 10, and more swallows and martins, but no Sand Martins yet.

There were plenty of gulls but they were very jumpy and staying still to be scoped was definitely not on their agenda. The Black-tailed Godwit was still there and still asleep but there had been a minute (small is too strong a word) influx as there were now 4 Dunlin and a single Curlew Sandpiper and what was probably the same Common Sandpiper.

So, I am off Blighty tomorrow, to boldly go where no man has gone before near the centre of the unknown universe (near Morley) and nasty little men who play with explosives, as well as going to the Rutland Bird Fair and then on to the Yorkshire coast for some seabirds. See you at the end of the month.

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