15 October, Guadalhorce and bits

Yes, I know, 15 October there and writing it up on 21 October, laziness? No, a lot on, what with those damned illustrations and correcting articles for the Spanish scientific bird publication Ardeola. For example, this morning, between 0730 and now, 1030, I have corrected an article on aging and moult in Sparrowhawks and prepared a description for the Rarities Committee of a House Bunting in Nerja (more of that in a bit), which has included at least two e-mails in each direction between Denmark and self this morning. However, here goes with what happened last Thursday at the Guadalhorce in the always very agreable company of Ann and Dave Jefferson.

This time the late start (1045) was my fault as I had been with the Reichfüherin to health centre for anti-flu vaccinations and they were running late. Most of the birding was actually fairly run of the mill the stuff, nothing really outstanding but one or two nice bits such as the colour ringed Spoonbill - there were actually 7 around - and, as usual, I had a reply about its provenance (a juvenile ringed in Holland this year) from the super-efficient Otto Overdijk who runs the European Spoonbill colour ring network.

As for raptors, the same very attractive female Marsh Harrier, photoed last week, was still around and David has reminded me that they saw a second female after I had pushed off in search of sustenance and I also saw one of them again yesterday and today when walking by the river with the dog. . We also saw another very dark and by now rather late Honey Buzzard, plus, of course, the Osprey which spent a lot of time flying around with a fish slung like a torpedo under its body and a Booted Eagle (I saw a dark phase bird fly over when by the river yesterday afternoon).

There were quite a lot of Willow/Chiffs around, all that I managed to specifically identified appeared to be Willow Warblers. It was nice to see a Robin, I've also got one that has taken up residence in my garden and I found one dazed by the roadside this Monday, which fortunately recovered. Also, lots of Greenfinches and Goldfinches, as well as good numbers of Fan-tailed Warblers (a.k.a. Zitting Cisticolas, I've made my feelings clear on this name before). Ann was happy to get pretty good views of the electric blue rump and also other parts of a Kingfisher which several times shot across in front of us like an Exocet missile.

Numbers of Cormorants and Grey Herons are on the increase, as is to be expected, and this week I've had counts of up to >60 of the former, and it was nice to see 4 Black-necked Grebes amongst the masses of Little Grebes. After the dearth of waders last week, it was nice to see at least some of the usual ones, including 2 each of Turnstones, the ever elegant Greenshanks and Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, a solitary Oystercatcher and also 1 each of Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin, 4 Avocets, as well as at least 3 Common Sandpipers.

The total: 47 spp. if I have added up correctly.

Now for other odds and sods. I have already mentioned the increases noted in Cormorants and the Robins. The same afternoon, 15 October, I saw a solitary Barn Swallow on full afterburn heading westwards towards the Strait and in the garden this week I have had several Willow/Chiffs and also some Blackcaps, although getting a good view of the latter is difficult as they tend to shoot into the densest part of a tree or bush in a kamikaze-like dive.

In the Strait of Gibraltar they are still seeing Rüppell's Vultures and it is worthwhile remembering that the Griffon Vulture passage, several thousand of them, will be moving in that direction between now and the beginning of November, so don't be surprised if you see some where normally you would not expect to do so. Young ones get exhausted quite easily and are often found sitting on buildings or even in the middle of the road! I once saw a string of an estimated 800 or so down near Tarifa and as I was sufficiently daft to go through them one by ten, I found a juvenile Bearded Vulture / Lammergeir which had joined them and great was the joy!

The most interesting bird to be reported is,without any doubt, a House Bunting, seen and photographed in calle de Los Huertos in Nerja on 13 October by a Danish birder. This is, I believe, only the second Spanish record. If anyone living in that area feels lke going around and having a walk around and hits gold,I'd love to hear of it, preferably with a photo to help clinch the identification.

And as there no photos this week, I attach one not very good one of one of the skua plates for the book to titillate your jaded appetites. Good birding!

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