30-31 March: a few more interesting birds

Now there's a surprise title for you, a few more birds! Never expected that, did you? So here goes although it will be brief as I want to try to get out and photograph Red-rumped Swallows later.

Yesterday morning, 31 March, it was a slow trundle around the Guadalhorce, part of it in the always welcome company of Antonio Tamayo. Surprisingly, the first bird seen and heardas soon as I had parked by the church was a Blue Tit. The Red-rumped Swallows were floating around by the bridge and should offer good photo opportunities. Also from the bridge I could hear my first 2 Nightingales of the year singing away, something they'll continue doing until late May, by which time they should be exhausted! The White-headed Ducks appear to have increased in numbers with a preponderance of sex mad males and fights between the males whilst the females undoubtedly suffer sexual aggression. Those apart, there was a good selection with Pochard, several pairs of Gadwall, the ubiquitous Mallards and, rather surprisingly as the date is getting late, 2 and a half pairs of Teal (i.e. 5 birds).

Several Whiskered Terns floated elegantly eastwards along the shoreline, as did 3 Meadow Pipits, while Whiskered showed very nicely at the laguna Casilla. There were 5 or 6 Woodchat Shrikes in total. There was only one Sand Martin yesterday and only 3 Yellow Wagtails seen, although the only male was a superb flavissima (the British race). The only wheatear was a female Northern.

Fortunately the number of waders, especially that of Kentish Plovers, has increased and of these there were some 12-15 birds but the conditions for them breeding are very poor, and also a handful of Sanderlings and 2 Ringed Plovers. 4 Redshanks were huddled together along the río Vejo, whilst the Black-winged Stilts are starting to get rowdy.

There were 2 Greater Flamingos on the río Viejo, one a ringed bird which was readable and a quick check at home showed that it had been in ringed in 2004 on the Étang de Fangassier, Camargue, France. Details will, of course, be sent off to France.

The surprise of the day was yet to come. Back in the late 1980s when the Guadalhorce was declared a Paraje Natural, the symbolic species was nominated as being a Glossy Ibis, and paradoxically since then there have been fewer and fewer sightings until now it is considered a damned good bird to see. So when we saw 2 sitting on shore the laguna Grande, Antonio and I nearly flipped, a flip when became damned near total when 2 more flew in and showed quite well overall, as these photos show.

Total of species seen, around 48.

At home in the afternoon, the only bird of interest was the Woodchat Shrike shown here which hung around between 14.15 and 17.10 but which was not present this morning. Also in the garden a single Red-vented Bulbul. After an absence of several months, I have seen and heard one or two of these escapes which first turned up a decade since.

31 March: This morning I took my little blonde friend for a walk and a look down at the mouth the Guadalhorce on the Guadalmar side. It was rather warm as we were rather later than intended, which she didn't like, but I was attracted first a pair of Common Sandpipers on the opposite bank, the male displaying to the female - some just can't wait! Better still, there was a small group of gulls on the sand bar and a quick glance showed 4 or 5 Mediterranean Gulls, all 1st summer birds, and a larger one but not a Yellow-legged. However, when it turned its all white head and I could see the black-tipped bill easily - at long last I had connected with the 3rd summer Ring-billed Gull that has been around and which I have mentioned previously. A very good bird to see. What a good week I'm having!

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