4 October, día de las aves, Guadalhorce

Bob has written extensively elsewhere (his blog) about what there was and what we saw, so all I shall do is add my own bits, which isn't much and start by saying that the place seemed to get fuller and fuller with the masses who came to see the ringing - they had plenty to see - and find out to some degree what birding is all about. Neither did I keep extensive notes of what we saw, just the waders plus a few other interesting things.

Bob, Eric and myself started off at the hide at the laguna grande simply because it seemed best place to be before the masses started to arrive. The Osprey was having its breakfast having had a very successful fishing trip and Bob is, if anything, understating the case when he claim that it would have sufficient for lunch too. It was a whopper, one of the biggest I have seen an Osprey fish down here and about on par with a barracuda which I saw one take off Andros Island, Bahamas, many years since. And if one had really had the binocs up and the eyes well and truly alert, it was possible for a couple of seconds to see Booted Eagle, the Osprey and a fly-by female Marsh Harrier all at once. It was fairly obvious that Cormorant numbers have increased, at least 11 were flying around at various times and we also saw at least 7 Shovelers.

We did see some waders, a super Greenshank came in to a fast landing right in front of the hide and announced its presence before being joined briefly by a second bird. The 2 Knot of the previous visits were still there, same place, probing the mud. The single Bar-tailed Godwit that has been haunting the other side was there and showed itself quite nicely before flying off into hiding, undoubtedly overcome by an attack of timidity in the face of so many humans staring at it (sounds highly anthropomorphic).

From there is was around to the laguna escondida where there was little of note (i.e., nothing exceptional that hasn't been noted in previous blogs) and a stop at the ringing station where the masses were watching the ringers at work and being shown the Kingfisher (lots of the Spanish version of 'ooh, in't it pretty!') and other passerines. After seeing lots of friends - I am quite amazed how many know me, if only I could remember half their names ... I can remember faces. Of what is this a sign?

Round from there we went to the eastern bank to watch for waders from the second hide. The faithful are often rewarded and such was our case as there were no less than 7 Avocets, a species about which Bob has a monthly fixation, but it was impossible to see if any were ringed as they were upto their bellies in the water. Here and further down on the río viejo we saw the most. 6 Sanderling didn't look particularly energetic, which wasn't a surprise as it was getting hot by then, but even with the heat haze we managed to locate 2 Ringed and 4 Kentish Plovers, a nice pair of Curlew Sandpipers, a single Oystercatcher and a Dunlin, plus, of course, the usual Black-winged Stilts for a grand total of 11 spp. of waders, which is reasonably satisfactory.

We walked further down towards the seawatch point, myself a least scanning as I have still not seen a Whinchat this year, and I still haven't. We saw the Southern Grey Shrike which has taken up temporrary residence at the end on the left, but no Whinchats nor Wheatears. However, we found and eventually got a decent enough view of one of birding's prime skulkers, a record which I reckon to be one of my best this year as I haven't seen one since spring 1980 at Filey - a Grasshopper Warbler which showed itself sufficiently at one point to clinch the observation. From there is was a case of staggering back out while hordes kept on entering, along with children, some well behaved and a delight to see but not hear (well done their parents) and some who would be better as shark bait, along with their parents. We had brief but pretty good views of a Booted Eagle and finally, to round off the morning, a pair of Barn Swallows winging their way westwards and a pair of migrant Blackcaps.

Bob reckoned some 50 spp. for the morning, which wasn't at all bad given the levels of disturbance, and if we had stayed to watch the ringers we would have undoubtedly added such spp. as Wryneck, Robin, Iberian Chiffchaff (this seems a very late record to me) and undoubtedly far more.

PS: Would Alan Gilbertson please write to me at my private e-mail address (andy.birds (at) gmail.com) about when he saw the Lesser Flamingo and if it was ringed or not.

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