12 November, the Guadalhorce again

Yet another morning at the Guadalhorce ponds, although actually the first for me since 26 October although I have walked along the river bank on three or four occasions with my little hairy friend and seen 5 Long-tailed Tits on 30 October, a single Swallow going east on 10 November and a Greylag Goose the same afternoon, which I saw and the dog ignored the following morning in front of the Parador de Golf. There are Chiffchaffs all over the place, thousands of 'em and I have seen several Black Redstart, including a stunning male which graced the garden for 48 hours before deciding it didn't want to live near me.

I had arranged to meet Stephen and Charles, visitors from London who were put in touch with me by our birding priest, Manolo (I haven't dared ask him if he prays for good birding yet and if I tried the lack of success would be extreme!), in whose company they had seen the Great Bustard that overflew the ponds last Sunday (perhaps he does pray for good birding as he managed to photograph it too!). So with a start just after 0930, at which time I started the day list but forgot to put things down so there were at least 31 spp. seen although it is true that there were notable gaps. Nevertheless, the last part of the morning really was the best by a fair way.

We walked along the eastern bank first and here was not a lot to see.although we did get vfleeting views of an hyperactive 1st winter male Bluethroat - these are super little birds but they will not stay still be properly appreciated. I had a very brief view of a Squacco Heron. From there we saw the Osprey fly into the dead eucalyptus with a rather small fish and also logged at least 2 Common Buzzards during the morning, whilst I saw another and a 1st winter Marsh Harrier and 2 very distant vultures, most probably Griffons, after I left them. We also saw the Booted Eagle with a coloured wing tag which, I think, was marked about 4 years since but while the tag is still the original orange on the underwing, the upperwing part has faded to yellow, so be warned if you see a bird with one. We later saw another without tags, so 2 of those.

From the east bank we walked back round to the laguna Escondida, meeting Eric Lyon who had escaped from his wife while shopping and had done the sensible thing. He'd seen little to that moment but we sat down at the hide and scanned the laguna. And we were rewarded. Ten minutes before Eric had not seen the Purple Boghen (also known as Purple Swamphen or better still Purple Gallinule) but hey presto! There it was, standing half way up on the left as though it owned the place and did so before slowly stalking off out of sight. Later it swam slowly across but we missed it and all we sawwas the white stern vanishing under the tamarisks.

There was at least one Kingfisher present I rather think that there were two, but all we we were treated to was the sight of electric blue butts disappearing around corners rather than one spending a couple of minutes sitting and showing itself off.

Of waders there was very, very little to see, things go from bad to worse. There were 2 Ringed Plovers, only 2 Stilts(!), probably 3 Common Sandpipers, one of which deigned to be photographed, 3 Dunlin, and what was most probably the most abundant wader of the day, at least 4 Snipe, one of which showed beautifully instead of cowering under the reeds.

From there we went to the hide at the laguna Grande and met another photographer, Birgit Kremer who has a superb web page with super photos of birds and other beasts. Take a look at it on www.iberia-natur.com , you won't be disappointed. The snipe in particular delighted Stephen as it is his favourite bird.

At the laguna Grande, where the all these photos were taken, we could see the Osprey sitting in the usual tree and surrounded by interloping Cormorants, of there are many. But when the Osprey took to the air, the clag hit the fan and there was a mass panic by the Cormorants and they were all over the sky before eventually settling, rather nervously, it must be said, on the water.
Altogether a most satisfactory morning with gloriously unseasonally sunshine.

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