30 July, Guadalhorce

As for once there were neither medics to be seen or blood to be sucked for analysis and the knees were behaving as knees more or less should, I rang Bob last evening and this morning we met by the church prior to going into the Guadalhorce, in a rather grey dawn at the early hour of 07.20, which is just about the only to beat the heat. Last evening, too,we had promised that we would be on our way out by 10.30 - not likely, no way if there are birds around and they were in quantity, and very nice too.

Very pleasant it was too to run into Ted Lord, then Patricia along with Birgit Kremer (she has a fabulous web with great bird shots) and Eduardo (whose surname I do not know,my apologies). So, where does one start?

I think that it's probably best to start with the waders, as at last we had waders, at least 23 and possibly as many as 30 Curlew Sandpipers, a few still in fulll breeding plumage but the majority starting to moult out, plus a few juvs.. They really are charmers. There weren't many Dunlins, I think our maximum count was 3, but they too were still showing the world that they had been sitting in soot with their black bellies. We saw and heard a single Greenshank and there were at least 5 Redshank and singles of Little Stint, Whimbrel and Spotted Redshank, plus at least 2 Common Sandpipers. The vast majority of these were on the wader pool, in front of the sceond hide on the east bank, and with more further down along the río Viejo, where there were a lot of plovers of all three species, Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish and still fair numbers of the now less hysterical Black-winged Stilts, these including a flock of c.20 on the laguna grande. So, if my maths is right (doubtful) and assuming that I've not missed anything (possible), that should make a total of 12 wader species, which is not bad but things should get better yet.

There was a reasonable showing of ducks and grebes, always taking into consideration that the former are in moult now and are not in the mood to show off very much, although we did see a few White-headed and Pochards, as well as the ubiquitous Mallards.
What was of interest was the presence of a brood of Little Grebes on the laguna de la Casilla, Mum, dad and 4 young. Actually, if one stops to look at the adult Little Grebes in breeding plumage, they

are really rather attractive little birds, in spite of the god-awful noises they make. We also commented on the absence of Purple Bog-hens (a.k.a. Swamphens/Gallinules) this year.

By 10.30 the putative leaving time came and the temperature rising, we hadn't even got as far as the laguna grande and that was a must, as we had seen 7 Spoonbills in flight - which turned out to be 8 when we saw them on the deck - and I wanted to check them out for colour rings-.

The laguna grande was loaded with Little Egrets, 64 counted this morning according to José Miguel Ramírez, a Medio Ambiente biologist who told me that they are gorging themselves on small shrimps -camarrones- in the shallow waters. He also told me that yetserday there had been both Little and Black Terns and also Slender-billed Gulls, but not today in spite of looking hard, so we had to be satisfied with 7 Whiskered Terns, a single juvenile Sandwich Tern and a mass of gulls composed mainly of Black-headed, Mediterranean - some still showing quite a lot of breeding plumage, a nice selection of Audouin's Gulls, a few Yellow-legged and a couple of immature Lesser Black-backs.

As for the remainder, well, the usual really. A single Hoopoe, a usual selection of finches, a few Zitting Cisticolas, the normal 4 species of hirundines (Sand Martin was not seen). I reckoned about 55 species.

Oh, and I
nearly forgot, the rather handsome chameleon which staggered across our path as we wended our way out and did not want to be photographed by Bob! By the way, these are very much protected and do breed in the Guadalhorce reserve. They are not suitable pets. The baby on the left was photographed by myself in 2008. The Whiskered Tern photo, which is also by Bob, did not seem to mind but it couldn't see him!

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