03/01 : Guadalhorce

This will be just a brief note on the visit I made down to the Guadalhorce reserve on 03 January with Dave and Ann from Torrox. It was a very pleasant morning's birding, except for the strong levante wind which made life less than agreable and meant that all the small things kept well down in the foliage. We took the usual route, in across the bridge, down the eastern bank stopping at the two hides and to the seawatch mirador before going back, down to the laguna Escondida and thence to the laguna  Grande.
We spent a lot of time looking for and at Bluethroats and around the second hide on the eastern bank there were certainly two adult males, we know they were different because one was ringed. Plus, by comparing the photographs of these with the one we saw further down before Christmas, we know there are/were certainly three males in that stretch. The light for photography was not good but these two photographs show the ringed male.
Common Sandpiper
Leaving aside these little charmers, there were more Chiffchaffs than when I was last down and plenty of Goldfinches,  Greenfinches, Black Redstarts (all female/juvs.) and White Wagtails. We found on 4 Skylarks and only 1 female Reed Bunting. There was a nice little selection of waders but only in very small numbers, such as the singles of Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and Redshank, the 3 Sanderlings and the same number of Greenshanks and with possibly as many as 8 Turnstones down on the rocks at the river mouth. There were as many as 8 Black.winged Stilts but as yet there is no sign of the hysteria which will later grip them.
3 Greenshanks
A pair of Shelducks on the río Viejo were nice to see. and there was the usual selection of Mallard, Pochard  and only 4 Shovelers, although many may have been sheltering from tdhe wind. Very few Teal were visible, the possible reason for which will become apparent if you read on.
We didn't see the resident Osprey and neither did we see any Marsh Harriers but there was a single Buzzard, certainly 2 and probably 3 Booted Eagles and at least 3 Kestrels, including a rather splendid male.
The bird of the day arrived just before I was getting ready to be off for home, although Ann and David were staying on. This bird of the day was a female Peregrine Falcon, but not just any female but a very big one and I was able to get enough on her head plumage, along with the size, to make me pretty certain that it was one of the northern calidus race from the frozen north. Apparently on Sunday she had been seen to get in amongst a flock of Teal which unsurprisingly had a massive mass panic and dived into the bushes with at least one getting cuaght in a mist net. The female nearly got herself caught too but I imagine that the ringers (banders if you are of nearctic origin) breathed a joint sigh of relief. Dealing with an angry, rather well armed peregrine would not make my day, I did it once with an Osprey and one feels terribly vulnerable. After I had left, Dave and Ann saw it have a go at a Cormorant and the Cormorant dived straight into the water. Sensible bird as I have little doubt that the female Peregrine could have done it a lot of damage.
So, althgough unable to compete with Dave's total, I don't think that ours of 42 is too bad.

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