25/01 : coming up to date since God knows when!

No entries, are you dead? Have you forgotten how to write? What have you been seeing?

All these queries have been levelled since my last entry which, I see, was back in the mists of early January. The truth is that I have been very busy with lots of one thing or another, including getting a new laptop and having that set up (can't do things like that, my chips have self-destructed), so busy that I have few photos and even those haven't been downloaded yet and have also got to be done and edited to make this look relatively picturesque, and really insufficient birding time. So, this blog will be a series of short entries covering several dates, following on from the last one from me which, I see, was on 3rd January, so here goes.

06/01 River Guadalhorce
A very slow walk by the with the dog (there was a competion to see who could be slower which she won) and then a quick look out to sea showed a single Razorbill - it's been a good winter for them in Alborán - and no less than ca.30 Common Scoters, all females and imms., a large number by the standards of recent years. There was also a goiod sized flock of Cormorants doing some communal fishing in the river.

11/01 Torremolinos Standing on the terrace and blethering away on the phone and looking seawards, all at the same time (is thuis multi-tasking?), a single Alpine Swift came in from over the sea from the SW and shot on. This is a very early record but the week before there had been another seen and photographed near Sevilla.

13/01 Guadalhorce reserve
A walk around on my own in the afternoon, largely to see what management work has been done, showed that the huge stretch behind the wire fence, running from the seabird mirador to the western end, has been cleaned up of unwanted bushes and the like, something (amongst many) I have been pestering Medio Ambiente about and now looks good for Kentish Plovers as no longer will it harbour predators. It and the area between the eastern path and the río Viejo which has been given a good short back and sides with a strimmer should be also good for migrants, especially wagtails, pipits and wheatears. The 2 Greenshanks, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and a Green Sandpiper. It has been a good winter for Reed Buntings all over Andalucía but I only saw one. On the other hand, the place, like most of Andalucía, was knee deep in Robins and Black Redstarts, although there has been quite a fall in Chiffchaff numbers. My first Barn Swallow of the year was feeding at the laguna Grande. A total of 36 spp. for the afternoon without really trying too hard.

14/01 Barbate and La Janda
Time to visit Stephen Daly, meeting at La Barca from whence he took me on a tour around. This involved first showing me a Bald Ibis, a species I've never really bothered about going to see as (a) I'm not a lister and (b) they were a successful introduction in order to diversify the population, which is justifiable and has been successful. In fact, Stephen had found where they were feeding that week and we watched a flock of 24 birds, most ringed but 2 were not, so I suppose I can count them.

Crossing to La Janda, we saw most of the usual but were rather lacking in harriers, seeing only
Marsh, although we also saw 2 Black-shouldered Kites which are always beautiful little things to watch, found the communal roost of 11 Short-eared Owls, watched a pair of young Bonelli's Eagles as well as 3 or 4 Buzzards and a single Sparrowhawk.

It was after lunch (a tapa and an alcohol free beer) that we hadz what was undoubtedly the bird of the day, of not the month. Tootling along the road between Benalup and Sidonia, a falcon came towards us on the right side of the road, a small, slender falcon with long wings, smaller than a Kestrel and with an all grey body and dark underwing (shadowed by the sun). I don't know which of us got the identification by the odd nano second, but there was no doubt about it - a Red-footed Falcon. Stephen had seen and photographed an immature male on 6 January and we were only about 16 kms away. He swung the car round and we carried out a fruitless chase, but of the identification we have no doubt. Incidentally, José Antonio Cortés of SEO-Málaga had seen another immature near the laguna Dulce (Campillos, Málaga) around the time of Stephen's first sighting. Even more interestingly, Stephen's photos showed the bird to be ringed with both the standard metal and a colour ring, which has been identified by an Hungarian birder as being one of his ringed birds!

15/01 Torremolinos
More phone calls and from the terrace no less than 5 Barn Swallows flying determinedly eastwards.

18/01 Guadalhorce

A most pleasant afternoon out with Federico who is now out of dry dock and was itching to get in some birding.
He too was most impressed with the management work being done and even though we saw relatively few birds, apart from the masses of Robins and Black Redstarts and the continuing low numbers of Chiffs, perhaps the best was a small flock of 4 Skylarks. On the laguna Grande a group of Flamingos did what both they and Spoonbills do best when not feeding!

22/01 Fuente de Piedra
Another morning out with Federico, basically in search of Lesser Flamingos but although 2 have been seen daily, the light was againt us and we had no luck. In fact, we started at the laguna Dulce but as we could hardly see the water because of dense fog, the stay was necessarily very brief. We had good numbers of Marsh Harrriers with no less than 9 in view from the mirador at Cantarranas, plus at least 2 more during the morning at other points and a solitary Buzzard. Across the road from Cantarranas there were some 150 Cranes feeding, beautiful things! We had brief views of 3 Southern Grey Shrikes during the morning too. Thiss winter there have not been the numbers of Shovelers that there were last winter and most seemed to be concentrated in the laguneta del Pueblo behind the information centre. There we also saw a few Teal, Pochard and Gadwall and there were 2 Shelducks out on the laguna.

A walk along the path towards La Vicaria allowed us good views of a maximum of 9
Reed Buntings, the most I have ever seen down there, but no Spanish Sparrows. The final brush stroke to the morning was a series of excellent views of a Black-shouldered Kite, both perched and in flight, including hovering and doing its Kestrel imitation.

Not a vast species count, but a very pleasant morning.

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