06 / 02 : Guadalhorce pm.

Even by my standards of tardiness (I said tardiness, not Tardis, if uncertain ask anyone of less than 40 years old who likes sci-fi), a week late this is pushing it, although I plead mitigating cicumstances, my Lord, as I have corrected the English summaries on some 400 pages of three different conference proceedings, the English one marine scientific paper and one letter on same, plus trying to clear other stuff off my desk with a moderate degree of success and I've not even been birding. I have another blog to write for this and my Spanish blog before the end of the day too.
So, last Monday afternoon, 06/02, I met Federico for a rather cold walk with a rather unpleasant wind blowing down upon us from the sierras. Nevertheless, we had a very pleasant afteroon and notched up some 43 spp., of birds, which wasn't bad, although with nothing really oustanding. Our route was that we walked down the eastern bank, along the shore and up to the laguna Grande, across to the laguna Escondida and thence homewards.
It was nice to see some waders with 9 spp. recorded. The best was probably a single Wood Sandpiper, with plenty of Little Ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, as well as some 5 Snipe, Black-winged Stilts, 3 Dunlin, Snipe and Common Sandpipers. There were up to 14 Sanderlings on the rocks over on the eastern arm of the river along with some Turnstones. Many of the waders were on the río Viejo, as were the juvenile Flamingos which have been around for ages, as well as 2 Spoonbills.

One of the reasons for going down was to assess all the work that has been done and Federico and I discussed it, but of that more in the blog which will follow this, today if at all possible but I may do the Spanish version first.
We saw the first adult Audouin's Gull of the spring, a lovely looking bird, they start coming in from about 15 February onwards.
On the laguna Grande we picked up the resident wintering Osprey, they really are fabulous birds, andf there were plenty of ducks, many sheltering from the wind. Apart from the White-headed Ducks, there were Teal - including these two (R) who did everything together - and the splendid males (below L), as were the male Shovelers (below R).

Ducks apart, both Federico and myself had the impression that numbers of Black Redstart had fallen somewhat whilst Chiffchaffs were on the scarce side. I should add here that my friend Samu both heard, which is really the only way to identify them on song, and photographed an Iberian Chiffchaff at the end of last week. These are early arrivals and some years ago a friend and I had one singing around 14 February. We saw only 2 Skylarks but I am hopeful that in the future we will see rather more wintering birds.
So, after one of the coldest weeks that I have had the misfortune to winter in 31 years on the coast, the temperatures are set to rise slowly and if anyone is heading towards Almería, the male Desert Wheatear was seen again this weekend near Torre García, Retamar.

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