1 July : Guadalhorce

It was under definitely grey and unwelcoming skies that Federico and myself met at the church at 08.00, not to pray for good birding as the uncharitable may think, but for better car safety. In fact, we didn't really hope for too much given the time of year but we were to be pleasantly surprised, starting with a Spotted Flycatcher within 20m of starting off. By the time we had got to the bridge we had seen the Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins, and also a single juvenile Nightheron which overflew and by the time we had crossed a Great White Egret had also flown up river. Along the east bank the birding was fairly normal, with a Reed Warbler singing by the laguna de la Casilla and on the water in the front of the first hide there were some White-headed Ducks with a group of 4 males still busy harrassing a poor little female.
From the second hide there was at least mud to be seen and if there's mud there should be waders and there were. A couple of Redshanks and a single Green Sandpiper which was harried off by Stilts, a nice male Blue-headed Wagtail and a few juvs. of this, plus a juv. White Wagtail. But what did surprise us both, both at that hide and further down on the río Viejo was the number of juv. plovers, both Little Ringed and especially Kentish, this latter surprising us because we both had been under the impression that they had suffered a bad breeding season.
Down on the wide part of the río Viejo there was a nice smattering of gulls, especially Audouin's of which we read 8 ring numbers, a few Black-headed and juv. Yellow-legged, but surprisingly no Mediterranean Gulls. It was at this point that it actually managed to rain! Not a lot, but definitely wet enough not to be an illusion, which was when we started back towards first the laguna Escondida en then the laguna Grande.
There was actually little to see apart from a juv. Woodchat Shrike until we got close to the laguna Grande when a biggish bird with a grey back flushed out, flew some 15m down the track in front of us, dived in to a tamarisk and peeped out out at us to reveal itself as a Great Spotted Cuckoo (left). I couldn't get a bead on it with my camera but Federico managed to digiscope it and herewith the evidence.
Also at the laguna and within reasonable distance there was the 1st summer Little Gull (right), now moulting, which has been there for several weeks and also a a few 1st summer Mediterranean Gulls which were joined briefly by an incredibly smart adult still in full breeding plumage (below).

All in all, a surprisingly good morning with a total of 39 spp., although it would have been nice to have had better light for photographic purposes.

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