9 August, Guadalhorce and other bits

Bob Wright (from here on known as Lord of the Axarquia, or LoA) has written about the visit we made to the Guadalhorce this morning, entering in the distinctly cool side of warm before 08.00 and I shall add a bit here. I don't normally make a list of everything that flies, walks or crawls across our path like LoA does and list only those that interest me (generally waders, gulls and terns) or unusual species. Neither did I take any photos today, so this is a poor offering compared his.

The water levels along the old river - río viejo - are very low and there is a need for the authorities to pump is at least 7-10cms to make more mud available for waders. The first hide along the easterly arm of the river produced next to nothing and inspired no confidence whatsoever, so the stay there was very breif and on we went to the second. here, at least, there were waders, indeed it was main concentrations for them apart from some at the very end very further on which could only be seen from a distance.

Discounting the normal Black-winged Stilts, none of which suffered an attack of hysterics at seeing us, and several pairs of Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, all of which looked rather fed-up with life although I suspect that many will be in post-breeding moult as well as recovering from the stress of breeding itself, there was not a vast variety. Surprisingly, by my count (I do count waders, remember) there were no less than 9 Little Stints, rather attractive busy little chaps amongst the much larger Dunlins, only 3 of them in total all morning, and what was undoubtedly the joint best bird of the day, a Temminck's Stint which was still showing quite a lot breeding plumage. At the second hide, apart from the above, there was also a single, rather tatty-looking Greenshank in heavy back moult.

It was from this second hide that Bob (ak.a. LoA) spotted a small dot sitting in the top of one of the distant eucalyptus between us and the laguna grande. It took a lot of work and scoping to work out what it was but eventually it was decided that it wasn't a dwarf, somewhat anorexic, Peregrine nor any exotic raptor but a juvenile Hobby -and here's where we had the problem, did juvenile Hobby have the red on the trousers and lower belly? Well, they don't and that's what it was. Equal best bird of the day.

Onwards toards the seawatch mirador to see what was on the river, to which the polite answer was 'not a lot', the impolite one I leave to your imagination. No resting gulls, except one which didn't look overly full of life and could well end up joining a pair of its moribund friends. No terns at all, not one! And right at the very end, right on the limit of scoping with heat shimmer starting which is a birder's enemy, some waders. It took patience but there were some 7 Sanderlings, again moulting out of breeding plumage, and 5 Little Stints included in the total above, and a single Curlew Sandpiper, it too having lost nearly all its breeding plumage.

By now, the heat was starting to make itself noted, so back we staggered and 3 more Curlew Sands had flown in by the hide, making a grand (not very,really) total of 4 for the day. Round by the laguna escondida, where the sun beating down on our backs made us soon decide that sitting and looking at nothing except of few moping Pochard, a handful of White-headed Ducks and not much else was really a waste of time, and on to the laguna grande. There, a few distant Black-headed Gulls, a Grey Heron and few egrets, plus at least one Common Sandpiper, which brought the wader count up to 10 for the morning. Not a brilliant number and there wasn't a single Redshank, but at least something is happening. Time will tell and show us, always provided that we get out to watch!

Other bits
A House Bunting has been seen well down at Tarifa this past week but they are common just aross the water and I have seen them in the soukh in Tangiers. Further, this was actually watched taking bread and apparently the upper mandible is deformed. As there is plenty of maritime traffic across the Strait at this tme of year, it may vey well have been a hitchhiker (but not to any galaxy).

At home, I saw the first migrant, a Melodious Warbler, in the garden on 3 August and on 8 August no less than 3 Spotted Flycatchers, the first ones in the garden all year.

There has been a marked drop in the numbers of swifts (mainly Common) this past week and a week since the watchers at Tarifa counted over 80.000 moving across the Strait in one day from just one point, and these are birds that migrate on a broad front.

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