01/03 : Guadalhorce

A nice day weather-wise yesterday morning, which is more than can be said for today after overnight rain and electrics (yes, I'm a day late but there are extenuating circumstances to do with birding), and although it was cool when I entered the ponds the temperature rose pleasantly during the morning.
One of my aims, apart from birding of course, was to see how much more work had been done as yesterday was the last day of the workers who have been slogging away these past months. I have got so say that they have done a a good job overall, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically in parts, but as plant growth is rapid down here the scars will soon heal over. I think that those who visit these coming spring months will find a good chance of seeing more migrating pipits, wagtails (something to which I always look forward), with more chance of shrikes also. There is a variety of vegetation levels which amplifies species and insect range.
A lot, if not all, this work has been carried out because of financing by the Caixa bank as part of their social services programme to help the insertion of those with social integration problems. So, a big thank you to the Caixa and to those who did the work for Medio Ambiente from which we birders will benefit.
There are signs about dogs without leads, in spite of which one illiterate moron had two loose yesterday and was intercepted and bollocked by the indefatigable Antonio Tamayo. The excuse of said moron was that he hadn't seen the signs, in spite of having passed two! And they are amongst us and they breed!
On the negative side, there is a distinct lack of water in the río Viejo as this photo from the río Viejo observatorio (hide) shows and urgent pumping is necessary as I estimate the levels to be of a late July standard. The open spaces are being enjoyed by the Little Ringed Plovers who are busy tuning their hormones but not so good for the othe waders as I saw only 7 Sanderlings, the usual Black-winged Stilts which have not yet achieved total hysteria levels, Kentish Plovers (Estebán, the one who drives the Land Rover truck, told me he had seen a flock of 20+ that morning along the cleared beach and reckons it's going to be a very good year for them), and 2 each of Redshanks and Greenshanks and singles of Avocet, Green Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit.

The duck variety was much as always, Pochards, some remaining Teal, the ubiquitous Mallards, - the males now in their little bachelor clubs whilst the females are incubating, and the White-headeds of which the males are now gaining their blue daffy-duck bills. (I still think they look mentally retarded!) The Cormorant population is definitely down, I only saw one in full breeding plumage, and Grey Herons too seem to have declined in numbers.
There was no Osprey in evidence and only 2 Kestrels along plus a single Booted Eagle, although Ron Appleby had seen 8 the other day up river, 6 together possibly being migrating birds.
As I was alone I wandered at my own not very quick pace and noted a goodly increase in Chiffchaffs and several Hoopoes (2 of which I also had resting in the pine in the garden today, photo R here) and a fall in Black Redstarts although I did see a cracking male later on something and was rewarded with a female Bluethroat coming into the telescope view at the same time.
I also saw 2 Song Thrushes, these probably having come in from Morocco where they have over-wintered, rather like the Redwing that Stephen Daly had seen near Barbate yesterday. I spent some time with Antonio Tamayo and he heard Penduline Tit (I didn't as hearing goes with advancing years, as do other physical attributes - and you can think what you like!) but neither of us saw them.
However, as the virtuous are occasionally rewarded I did turn up a Wryneck which posed nicely for about 30 seconds, a very bonny bird to see and definitely bird of the day for a total of around 47 species, with which I was quite happy.

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