13/12 : Guadalhorce & Short-eared Owls

Well, I didn't get down to the Guadalhorce when hoped for but did on Thursday afternoon and had a very pleasant afternoon's birding between 15.30 and dark when I came out. I also met a correspondent from Scotland from years since and Malcolm and myself had a very pleasant time whilst watching and waiting - and for what and were we successful, you will have to read on. For once I did the route in rseverse, there being some method in my change of track but that you will have to work out for yourself - answers to be written in invisible ink on the obverse of a 50 pound note.
So, starting off by walking down towards the bridge the first large object, apart from the multiple Cormorants all over the sky, was a Booted Eagle. And how do I know it was a Booted? Just look at the dark-pale pattern on the coverts and this is the one that shows up in flight in both light and dark phases and makes identification infallible. Once over the bridge, I headed down to the laguna Grande picking up a nice selection of the commoner species on the way : Blackbird, Robin, Stonechat, hordes of White Wagtails, small flocks of Spotless Starlings and so on, whilst the Cormorants flew back and forth on secret missions known only unto themselves.
From the hide at the laguna Grande it was so easy to see the Osprey, the German ringed black KM sitting on top of his favourite pole whilst below there were immaculate ruby-eyed Black-necked Grebes in winter plumage. There were plenty of Grey Herons around and young one in particular took great exception to a Cormorant perched in the dead tree on the islet and kept reaching up to try and get it whilst the Cormorant presumably sneered down at it. As the afternooon wore on more and more Cormants came in to roost in the eucalyptuses, decoprating them like black Christmas ornaments, although something (or somebody) put them up whilst a male Peregrine flew overhead.
There were few ducks but we commented on how attractive male Gadwall are, delicately so, much more than the brash male Shovelers and Mallards and in a different class to the delicate little male Teal.
I left Malcolm there and walked round along the beach, checking the sea - nothing but gulls - and back along the eastern arm to the second hide (ie. the one nearer the sea in front of the wader pool) to have a single Song Thrush pass in front. Just as I got to the hide 2 Greenshanks and a Redshank swept in, and I do mean swept at a hell of a rate of knots, to join 2 Black-winged Stilts and 2 Dunlins. But the clock was bashing on and the light lowering and it was time to go and join Malcolm in the hope of seeing the target for the afternoon - the Short-eared Owls.

We saw all three of the Short-eared Owls in medium to poor light, they really are lovely things, and it was when one, who shall be nameless but demonstrated an ample vocabulary when he found out why his photographs were total rubbish - he hadn't bumped up the ISO rating to its maximum and while Malcolm's photographs were superb, he was shooting at in excess of 5000 ISO, the idiot in question was at 100 ISO. We also saw juvenile/1W, young adult female and an adult male Marsh Harriers coming in to roost before coming out at last light.
So a goodish afternoon with 37 spp. and both Malcolm and I went down again on the Friday afternoon, 14/12, to try and get better shots of the owls only to have even worse light. I shall try again next week if there is a nice, sunny afternoon.

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