9 May : down by the riverside....

Right, I didn't get to Fuente de Piedra last Saturday as hoped, but instead got down to the Guadalhorce this morning in the always pleasant company of Bob Wright, who immediately made me envious by recounting his birding over the weekend (see his blog: Birding Axarquía or something like that). However, before starting on this morning's birding and just to get my own back on him after the luck that he had had and to remind him what a Spotted Flycatcher looks like (he hasn't seen one yet this year!), herewith a photo of one that was in the pine tree in the garden yesterday (Sunday, 08/05), along with a Bonelli's Warbler and Melodious Warbler, neither of whichwould not cooperate and be photographed. So, that said and the stirring done, on to this morning's walk around the ponds at the Guadalhorce.

It was coolish as we went in at about 09.15 but within a relatively short time we were rather glad that we had not taken anything to keep us warm. The hot weather has arrived and by the time came off around 12.00, we were glad to reach the shade of the cars and trees by the church. We soon knocked the 3 spp. of hirundines and also Common Swifts of which there were fair numbers. It was straight across to the eastern bank and the two hides. The first hide that overlooks the laguna de la Casilla was fairly uninspiring but there was at least some sign of life at the second on the upper area of the río Viejo and it was there and on the lower reaches towards the sea that proved to be the best part of the birding.

From the second hide there was at least some mud visible, not a lot but sufficient to hold 10 Dunlin plus 2 later, 5 Avocets with 2 more further down, a single Redshank with another further down, plus a pair of Little Ringed Plovers trying to share a few square meters with a pair of Stilts. The escaped Ruddy Shelduck is still present and still appears perfectly happy here rather than in some park somewhere - and I can't say I blame it. An Osprey sat across in the trees between the eastern and western parts.

From there Bob and I strolled gently along the beach and were treated to sights of a few Kentish Plovers, I love these little chaps and got a few photos, including these of the pair together (above) - and there aren't many pairs this year, and of this lovely little male (left).

Further down the beach with heat shimmer starting to make identification difficult and series of bumps slowly resolved themselves into 5 Grey Plovers in varying stages of moult to add to the singleton we had seen on the río Viejo, plus a single Sanderling. All these birds have still got an awfully long way to go as it is the later migrants that go furthest north.

From there we cut inland along to the laguna Grande where there was not a vast amount to see apart from the presence of 2 immature Grey Herons and then to the laguna Escondida, where virtuousness was rewarded with the sight of 2 Little Bitterns. Less than 50 spp. but at least a pleasant morning with good company and very definitely a damned sight better than being at home!

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