New Year's Day 2011 (and afternoon 2 January)


Yes, another year, more birding, so where does one go that's near to home? Right, you've got it - the Guadalhorce. And furthermore, it wasn't a case of staggering in there half way through the day but by 08.30, only to find that Antonio Miguel (the warden) and Paco Rivera had beaten me to it. Worse, Antonio reckoned that he'd heard the Richard's Pipit but did we hear it when we went down to its favourite area? - did we hell! However, all was not spoilt and although trying to be sure that the rear end view of a rather large, white egret was in fact the rear end of a Great White Egret (or whatever they're calling it now) just isn't on, even though he saw at least one bird later in the afternoon, so perhaps, just, it may have been ....

But I'm jumping ahead, with the first bird of 2011 being a Robin which I heard singing somewhere in the darkness of the garden at 07.10 whilst having my coffee (essential for the maintenance ofr some semblance of life). It was really rather an average sort of a morning down at the Guadalhorce, with nothing brilliantly outstanding, although seeing 2 early/late Swallows over the laguna Escondida was nice, and a friend told me that a late Red-rumped had been seen the previous week, as had a 1st winter Purple Heron. There was the usual assortment of ducks, some stunning little male Teal, 4 Shoveler, 3 or 4 male White-headed Ducks of which the bill colours ranged from still black of winter to a rather dirty blue, and so on for a total of 7 species, the most interesting being a flight of 7 Shelduck which came in from the general direction Morocco.

Also on the sea there was a single Great Crested Grebe and several Black-necked Grebes, plus a solitary, distant Balearic Shearwater and 2 Great Skuas / Bonxies which were practising flkying information for a while. It was also nice to see a small pod of some 7-8 dolphins, the male a really big chap who jumped clear of the water on several occasions and at least 2, smaller, youngsters.

Birds of prey included a Kestrel, 3 or so Marsh Harriers - I'm afraid these really are part of the scenery, as are Booted Eagles, in winter - and one tends to just note down their presence rather than numbers. The Osprey was there and had really scored for its breakfast with a big fish at least 40-45 cms long which would also have done it for lunch and a late afternoon snack too. Antonio Miguel was 'scoping it and said that he could even see the blood coming from the fish and acknowledged the truth of my comment that if he had Osprey talons stuck in his butt that he too would undoubtedly be bleeding considerably.

The bird of the day, for its scarcity within the Guadalhorce, was probably a Wood Pigeon - right,a Wood Pigeon! The remainder was all fairly normal but sufficient to notch up a total of 46 spp. for the morning before lunch and listening New year's Concert from Vienna and finsihing off with the RadetzkyMarch - I think I may put it on my phone for incoming.

2 January (afternoon) : I went down to the river again this afternoon as Antonio Miguel had put it out on the internet that he had seen one, and possibly two, Short-eared Owls and as (a) the sun was shining and the light good, (b) I thought it'd be nice to have it on my year list and (c) simply get out of the house, I went down there, as did several others with the same object. And were we lucky? Of course we weren't, you never are if you go out especially to see something. Some other afternoon, perhaps.

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