06 September: Guadalhorce

T'was a grey morning when I met up with Alexandra Farrell by the church and didn't look much like improving but it did, and when it did and the sun broke through it was jolly warm. It was the first time that I'd met Alexandra and for some reason which I can't fathom she had wanted to meet me. However, reasons apart, we had a very pleasant morning's birding for over 3 hours. So what was there.

It was nice to see both Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, a single Melodious Warbler and also a couple of Robins, plus a few Zitting Cisticolas, which more or less sums up the total of small items. There were also some 20 Common Swifts moving through, plus all thenormal hirundines - Barn and Red-rumped Swallows (I only saw juvs. of these latter, have the adults gone?), a few House Martins and a single Sand Martin.

High in the heavens, at times only visible through binoculars but clearly audible, a westward movement of Bee-eaters, some of which then returned east. Why? Only a guess but I would imagine that they were disorientated by the cloud cover. (I feel the same before my first coffee of the day.) There was a movement of Grey Herons going on and we saw at least 20, including one scattered group of 13 birds, plus a single unringed juv. Spoonbill. On the other hand there was a huge lack of raptors and a single Kestrel is not much recompense at this time of year.

Thank heavens there were some waders and we had all three 'shanks, Red, Spotted and Green, always a nice sight, plus at least 4 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 or 3 Common Sandpipers busy waggling their butts and a single Knot, with the usual riff-raff of small plovers and an ever dwindling number of Stilts, plus 3 Little Terns, not the 100+ of the other day.

However the bird of the day was undoubtedly the Water Rail (photo by Alexandra). This bird obviosuly hadn't had its morning coffee or read the rules about skulking (or both) as it came ambling way out in to the open in front of the second hide on the eastern bank and then, with what I can only assume was a massive attack of agorophobia, did what all rails do when they see binoculars/cameras being trained on them - disappear at the greatest speed possible so all credit to Alexandra for getting this flight shot of it before it disappeared, never to be seen again.

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