16 January, Guadalhorce (yet again) and complaints

Last evening I was full of what I was going to do this morning, which meant getting on with the blankety-blank illustrations as the son is away having a lecherous weekend and the daughter not gracing us with her presence from Madrid. But, as many of you will have realised by now, I am terribly easily led and when Federico rang to say that he was down from Córdoba and how did I fancy going down to the Guadalhorce... well, there are no prizes for guessing my reply. So, here I am, typing this whilst a major portion of what is laughingly called a brain is listening to my Christmas present to myself (Cecilia Bartoli singing Rossini's La Cenerentola - and jolly nice it is too, I like Rossini).

This it was at just before 0930 we ventured in. There is still a lot of very muddy looking water coming down both arms of the river and the levels were on the high side so the Spoonbills which have been frequenting upstream were not to be seen, although Pat tells me that there were 5 an hour earlier when she went in (the early birder sees the Spoonbills!). Indeed, the water levels are far too high all round, there being a marked absence of islets and shore on which waders and other species might stand and indeed there was quite a marked lack birds, both specifically and numerically. Nevertheless, we persevered and came up with one, yes, one wader, and that a Common Sandpiper on the shore. No Sanderlings, no Turnstones, not even an hysterical Stilt, in fact, no now't (as they say in Yorkshire).

And ducks and waterbirds you may ask? Well, you may but again the outlook was pretty dire. While there were plenty of Little Grebes we saw only one Black-necked. I didn't keep an exact duck count but I don't think that we saw more than half a dozen White-headed, perhaps twenty or so Pochard, some very bonny Shovelers, a few Mallard and a couple each of Gadwall and Teal, plus we heard a Wigeon which refused to show itself but the call is unmistakable but Pat, being lucky, saw 3 of them, as well as a Kingfisher and 9 Kentish Plovers on the beach (I don't do beaches except as a treat of the dog as my knees have a strong self-destructive tendency on sand).

Equally unmistakable was the call of a Stone-curlew down towards the seawatch mirador but which we couldn't find. From the mirador itself we saw 8 Balearic Shearwaters heading east. Actually, what I consider to be the best bird of the day was down there too in the form of at least one male Dartford Warbler, a distinctly scarce species in the reserve.

As a side note, we stopped to talk to an English gentleman - we knew he was English because he was in shirt sleeves whilst we did our impression of two Esquimaux and he also spoke English, which is a dead give-away - and he asked about a duck he had seen on Wednesday and gave a perfect description of a Ruddy Shelduck, but these are common in collections and are to be found in at least one Málaga park.

We stopped at the laguna Escondida to see if we could see a Purple Boghen and one showed itself beautifully for about 2 minutes before dispappearing deep into the reeds whence it had come (Pat didn't see that!). But there was little else there. Chiffchaffs were remarkably scarce considering how many there had been before the NewYear and we didn't see or hear a single Zitting Cisticola (a.k.a. Fan-tailed Warbler), perhaps the heavy and prolonged rains have decimated their population just as a prolonged cold winter did three winters since.

At least there were some raptors. The same Common Buzzard which has been around for nearly a month was sitting looking depressed amongst the riff-raff of the Cormorants in the eucalyptus, one of these (a cormorant, not an eucalyptus) was in nearly full breeding plumage. We saw 3 certain Booted Eagles, a single immature Marsh Harrier, the usual Kestrels and the Osprey.

The remaining species were the sort of thing that one might well expect to see and I'm not up to lists, so, the sum for the morning was 36 species. Not great but better than nothing and sitting indoors.

1. As Antonio Miguel Pérez, the warden, has not had his contract renewed by Egmasa we were treated to the sight of several dogs running free and nobody with authority to call attention. My own inclination is to shoot the owners first and the dogs second, the breeding season will soon be upon us. We saw two chaps in a Medio Ambiente van who stopped for at least 3 minutes, which is as much use as a wet paper bag.

2. The beach is in a terrible state and needs cleaning of unnatural litter (plastics, etc.), plus shelters built by the male nudists. If they like the sun and fresh air so much, why do they need shelters?

3. The blinds by the first hide overlooking laguna de la Casilla on the eastern arm and also at the laguna Escondida and which are supposed to hide the approach of man (and woman, just so I am not accused of chauvinism) are distinctly non-vertical and one by the hide at the laguna Grande isn't happy either. I wonder how long it will take for them to be repaired?

4. Meanwhile snail-gatherers, those are the chaps with plastic bags who wander around in a Quasimodo-like position, go where the devil they like and they are not stopped.

Keep watching this space. One day soon I'll have a really good gripe and copy the photos and text in the rather neglected Spanish blog too, then I hope that you can all have a mass gripe to the (in)competent authorities.

No hay comentarios: