31 January-6 February

There are sometimes weeks that fly by with only occasional bright bits (= birding) and often dark, somewhat expensive, interludes and this has been one of them.

This week was conspicuously dull until Thursday morning (03/02) when I met Federico down at the Guadalhorce for a bitter sweet morning's birding. I had already heard that the 1st winter Purple Heron (see photo in a previous blog) had been seen again during the previous weekend but t'was not to be. We trundled round quite happily, bemoaned the total lack of waders because of the high water levels along the course of the old river - el río viejo - before first finding 3 Skylarks which are still frequenting the area down towards the seawatch mirador before going on to the mirador itself and having 2 Barn Swallows on a low level mission past us on afterburn. We were pleased with 12 Common Scoters which are still hanging around as were at least 2 Black-necked Grebes, watched a couple of Sandwich Terns and admired a Cormorant which was showing quite advanced breeding plumage although others are still monotonously dark.

From there it was round the laguna escondida - the hidden lake - which was successfully hiding virtually everything apart from a few Pochards and 5-6 White-headed Ducks and a bored looking Coot and the plate-sized turtle. It was on the way to the laguna grande that things started to perk up as the Osprey flew over (imagine a photo here) and got another here of a Kestrel hovering (get that imagination working hard, come on, mind over matter!) and we also saw a House Martin.

At the laguna grande itself there wasn't too much either except a single Black-winged Stilt and the usual assortment of ducks and I'd taken one or two shots, seen a couple of Booted Eagles looking p*****d off with life which was how I was going to feel within seconds. I balanced the camara and telephoto on the tripod foot of the telephoto, which was my error. It did not bounce and the AF didn't work and God knows what else doesn't, but at the time of writing it it is on its way the Olympus Service Centre in Portugal and I'm wondering how much it will all cost me as a cement floor does not constitute a manufacturer's defect. And that, O Dearest and Best Beloved, is why you've got to imagine the above photos (the Teal is a previous shot).

Friday was a zero as I took the dog down to the beach near the Parador de Golf in the area known to many as mariconilandia and was rewarded with 13 Kentish Plovers. I love these little chaps as they fly and then to all intents and purposes disappear as they settle in the indentations in the sand. And when you scan with the binoculars you see one beady, little, black eye and then a ginger crown (if it's a male) and suddenly they appear to be growing out of the sand itself. And then home and wash the dog, which is when they show maximum affection by shaking all over you, even when in the shower.

Saturday morning (05/03) I awoke early and rapidly decided that going to the laguna Dulce at Campillos and thence to Fuente de Piedra was an idea not to be despised, especially after seeing the somnolent mass in bed beside me. The reason for the laguna Dulce was two fold, Hannu Koskinnen had reported seeing 2 Ferruginous Ducks and 3 male Tufteds there on Wednesday. Hoping that the Ferruginous would still be there was rather a forlorn hope, as they are (a) secretive and (b) don't stay around long, but the Tufties should still be there (said he to himself hopefully).

It was a lovely run up the road to the top at Las Pedrizas. The almond trees are in flower and the slopes beside the road in the area where it runs through the Montes de Málaga are sprinkled with pale pink, rather bonny.This waxing too damned lyrical, back to the birding. By the by, I had the old Olympus 590-UZ which at least has 26x and also accounts for the photos in this bit.

The laguna Dulce was attractive and there was plenty to see, albeit that many aquatic spp.were over the far side. Again, there were no Little Bustards to be seen but one or two Lapwings were feeling a bit frisky and the long pee-wiit calls reminded me of East Yorkshire in my distant youth.

Right by the hide a Hoopoe crossed in front of me and posed nicely and whilst watching the ducks a pair of Swallows swept in and posed nicely, preening nevously and shifting a lot. On the laguna itself there was a very fair selection of ducks, seven spp if I counted correctly: the usual Mallard (not many), a lot of Pochards, only 2 Shovelers (the remaining 700+ are at Fuente de Piedra), at least 25 White-headed Ducks, Gadwall, at least 10 Wigeon (a decidedly scarcer species than it was 20 years ago), a couple of dozen Black-necked Grebes and a few splendid Great Crested Grebes but not a Ferruginous Duck in sight. However, there were 3 male Tufted Ducks and a single female. along with them.

Thence the the final leg, a brief visit to Fuente de Piedra with a single aim only: try to find a Lesser Flamingo amidst the ever increasing masses of Greaters and you will be pleased to know that I failed dismally, basically, I think, beacuse there is quite simply too much water in the lake. There were still at least 60 Cranes in sight in the Cantarranas area but these will be off soon. I was not succesful but at least a Southern Grey Shrike crossed the road in front of me as did a Green Sandpiper. However, the bird of the day was definitely a diminutive Jack Snipe which went up from the flash near the car park while overhead there must have been at least 20 Swallows feeding in the area.

No hay comentarios: