19/12 : Guadalhorce with Bob

The title tells it all, doesn't it? A very pleasant morning's birding around the Guadalhorce with Bob, although early on it was cold enough to freeze certain anatomical parts off metal simians (work that out!) but did warm up somewhat later. As a general comment, before starting, it does seem to be a very good winter for Black Redstarts, of which we saw plenty including this stunning male, Blackbirds, Robins too are remarkably visible this winter and, of course, the plentiful Chiffchaffs.

We took the usual route in, straight across the bridge and down the eastern bank to the first hide which overlooks the laguna de la Casilla where, amongst the inevitable Pochards and the White-headed Ducks, which are building up numbers, we found this rather odd-looking Gadwall, the consensus of opinion being that it is a 1st winter male, still moulting. At first the dreaded word 'hybrid' had crossed my mind but thank heavens it wasn't. The view in to the top end of the río Viejo from the second hide wasn't exactly scintillating either, with a few Teal which are always a bonny sight and not a single wader in sight -not even one of those noisey Stilts of which we saw not one all morning.

Further down, where the río Viejo is wider, there were 2 Greenshanks, 2 Dunlins and a single Redshank, not exactly brilliant but better than nothing and later on a small plover, a Little Ringed, I think, shot over us like a bat out of hell near the laguna Escondida. But to go back. Surprise, surprise, there is a gang of workers clearing and burning the brushnear the seawatch mirador in the areas where the Kentish Plovers try to breed. I did suggest that clearing the sticks and branches that give cover to predatory rodents and snakes would also be a good idea, but that remains to be seen and I shall report later. At least something it being done and not only does it benefit the Kentish Plovers as we saw 7 Skylarks there too, which is nearly a record for recent years, and amongst the many Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the sea there were 2 Mediterranean Gulls. It was from this side too that we saw the Osprey sitting on the post in the laguna Grande surrounded by the riff-raff of Cormorants that had vanished by the time we got round there.

We walked back round to the laguna Grande via the Escondida, where no Boghens appeared to be willing to put in an appearance, but did have the pleasure of seeing 3 Meadow Pipits rooting around although getting a decent shot of them is another story.

The laguna Grande was rather more productive with a notable increase in White-headed Ducks with a sleeping flotilla of about 10 of them whilst further out 2 juvenile Flamingos were feeding before flying in closer. There has also been a notable but totally expected increase in wintering Grey Herons.

I haven't got a full list but we must have seen about 40 spp. - Bob will have put one in his blog - and had a very pleasant morning going at our own pace.

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