28/11 : an afternoon at the Guadalhorce

It's not very often that I go down to the Guadalhorce ponds in the afternoon but after three and half days of my knees in self-destruct mode (which is what cut short my visit which I never bothered writing up as there wasn't a great deal from my point of view) to the Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra last Saturday, they had improved sufficiently to go down yesterday afternoon. If I hadn't gone somewhere, I'd have probably gone bonkers (no comments, please), so off I staggered at my own rather slow pace. hoping to see something reasonably nice and a faint hope that I may latch on to one of the Short-eared Owls that have been seen.

The first thing I saw was a Kingfisher which flashed along the river before I even crossed the bridge and there were Cormorants flying in all directions. I went straight across to the eastern arm and was struck by the large quantities of Chiffchaffs, they were everywhere. Of course, the problem with Chiffs is that they may harbour something a lot rarer in their midst, so always provided that (a) the little devils weren't in deep scrub, (b) flashing from one bush to another or (c) hiding in deep shadow, I tried to check out those that did show reasonably well.

I stopped briefly at the first hide on the eastern bank where this female Pochard had decided that Monday afternoon was a good time for a bath, and she was obviously really enjoying it. None of the other ducks -more Pochards and one or two White-headed Ducks, Coots and a single Moorhen - thought but they sure as hell weren't emulating her!
After the rains the water levels have risen to the extent that there is now shoreline for waders but there were 5 Flamingos and some Teal, Mallard and more Pochards.

I was still checking out the Chiffs that were visible and I had gone on about 50-60m towards the seawatch mirador when I hit gold. One Chiff looked as though it had a white wing bar on the coverts. I lost it and found it again and it had. Just one bar on the coverts. And a good supercilium too. A Yellow-browed Warbler! My second one down here after one that stayed in the garden for four days at the end of October some years since and was twitched by varous friends from the balcony. But this was very active, I saw it, watched and lost it again, found it again and tis went one for three or four minutes, as which point I tried to keep an eye on it and extract the camera from the rucksack, which is when I lost it as it flew across into the tamarisks on the left of the path. I looked, but no joy. But what a bird and definitely the bird of the day, if not the month.

From there I went back round to the laguna Grande, stopping en route at the laguna de la Casilla and the laguna Escondida. In fact, it was this part between the laguna de la Casilla and the laguna Grande which turned out to be the most productive. Cormorants were starting to flight in to the eucalyptus trees and decorate them like macabre Christmas adornments. A pair of Great White Egrets flew in and landed clumsily in the bushes. The Osprey sat on the pole looking extremely like a portly old gentleman who has had a rather large lunch and was contemplating doing a lot of nothing. In the distance there were intermittent views of up to 3 Marsh Harriers, a juvenile, a female and an adult male, all of which were very nice, and a Booted Eagle overflew in direction of the church.
In the laguna Grande itself there was not a lot to see although there were some Teal cirruping away in one corner, a most un-duck-like sort of call, the maleslooking vey smart in the late afternoon sun. Black-necked Grebes have increased somewhat and at one point this kamikaze Little Egret flew straight towards the hide, giving me the chance of a lucky shot. And from then on, with no Short-eared Owls showing, it was time to trudge for home, feeling a lot better for being out and with Chiffs still flitting around as the sun fell behind the Sierra de Mijas - how romantic it all sounds.

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