It's been an odd month with insufficient birding, although it has its lighter parts and one week when I got away three times as my sister, who isn't too bad on her bird i/d., was out from the UK for a week in the middle of the month and we made it to the Guadalhorce (16/10), La Janda (17/10) and the laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra (19/10), with my visiting this last again on 27/10. Therefore, as I have a few records from home as well, I shall set all this out as a time line, which seems the best way, and finish off with recent news which I have heard in the past 24 hours.
16/10 Río Guadalhorce, morning : My sister and myself had a gentle walk around, there being little oustanding but a quite early record of 2 Song Thrushes. A couple of Sparrowhawks and a single Booted Eagle which circled lazily overhead. There were few waders, a total of 10 spp with the most numerous just being the Stilts, followed by 5 Dunlins and 3 Snipes followed by 2 each of Greenshanks and Sanderlings with singles of Redshank, Common Sandpiper and a lateish Curlew Sandpiper. There were no White-headed Ducks and some 40 Pochards.
16/10 Garden at home, pm. - 1 Spotted Flycatcher (R).
17/10 La Janda : An earlyish start to the day and we were down on La Janda by 10.00 and took thre usual track whilst it was dry : up along beside the drainage canal, across the bridge, up and across by the (not very) smelly farm, down and back down towards Facinas along the central track.
There were still quite a few Barn Swallows moving through and a single Sand Martin with some highflying House Martins. There were big flocks of finches with Greenfinches, Goldfinches, a few Chaffinches scattered in, there were plenty of Corn Buntings too and I saw at least 3 flocks of Short-toed Larks. There were plenty of House Sparrows and I managed to find one male Spanish Sparrow mixed in with one flock. They were harvesting the rice and when they have finished and it has broken up it will be undoubtedly very interesting if the water remains in the ruts, but that morning I found only one Green Sandpiper and no snipe..
18/10 Torremolinos, home : The Hoopoe shown here (left) fed voraciously in the garden all day and somehow surviving the marauding cats. It was joined in the safety of the pine at various times by both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers (right).
19/10 laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra : First stop laguna Dulce and although not overly full of ducks did manage to count 148 White-headed (more must have been hidden behind the tamarisks) and there were also Shovelers, Teal, Pochards and Mallards. There had been a goodly increase in the Black-necked Grebes. Marsh Harriers showed in numbers with no less than 5 different birds.
On to Fuente de Piedra, we stopped at Cantarranas, hoping for a first Crane but there was no luck and they have been slightly later this year. The main aim of going to Fuente was not see birds but to allow her to see Manolo Rendón who she hadn't seen in 20 years - amazing how time flies!
After the first rains there is, of course, water in the luck and after what has fallen this week there must be more still and there are plenty of Flamingos.
22/10 Torremolinos, home : A lateish Pied Flycatcher in the garden.
25/10 Torremolinos, home : More birds in the garden, showing the arrival of wintering Blackcaps with up to 4 in view at a time, plus a single Robin although I had been hearing one singing weakly for two or three days, and a single Chiffchaff.
27/10 Fuente de Piedra : A very pleasant morning's birding around the information centre after a chance meeting with Antonio Ternero, Andrés Serrano, Antonio Palomo y Juan Oñate. A pity that time is so often against me staying longer as although we saw a female Hen Harrier and Purple Boghen at Fuente de Piedra, I left for home at 13.15 whilst they went on to the laguna Dulce. There they saw the first Cranes of the winter.
31/10 Torremolinos, home : My first Black Redstart around the partment this morning, a stunning male.
OTHER NEWS : Cranes (ca. 400) are in on La Janda, as are the first Short-eared Owls. There are plenty of Skyarks and there are reports of Redwings and Bramblings in the area of the Strait, whilst a Bullfinch has been seen in the Montes de Málaga, a much underwatched area by many, including myself. Dunnocks and Alpine Accentors have beean seen in the Sierra Norte de Sevilla.