31/05 : in the merry, merry month of May, hey, hey...

Yes, I'm still alive after New York and immediately plunging into the presence of the Broad-billed Sandpiper, found at the Guadalhorce by Blas López, and it was present from the Tuesday 7 May when he found it and I watched it for a total of over 2 hours on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (8-10 May), during which time several local birders plus a lad from Granada and another from Madrid who is doing his 'big year' and dropped by on the Friday afternoon on his way down to Tarifa.. Another 3 Broad-billeds dropped in to the Albufera de Valencia on the same dates. As I last saw one, my only one, about 50 years ago, at that rate of sighting my chances of seeing another seem rather dubious. Needless to say, counting of other waders rather went by the board although there was plenty to be seen during those three days, including counts of 25+ Curlew Sandpipers (08/05) - some in gorgeous breeding plumage, similar numbers of Dunlin (10/05) and lesser numbers of other species which included 8 Bar-tailed Godwits (08/05) with 2-3 on other dates and 2 Whimbrels on 10/05, with 5 and 6 Grey Plovers regularly seen there on the final days of the month as well as 20+ Redshanks on several dates, while on 29/05 there were 41 Sanderlings showing a real mixture of plumages, this including a party which arrived straight in off the sea from the south and immediately started feeding..
migrant Ringed Plovers
I went up to Fuente de Piedra several times but unfortuantely the powers there decided to cut off the water supply to area around the board walk and keep the lake behind the information centre flooded. This, in my opinion, was a grave tactical error (and I have said so to the powers) as it deprived a lot of migrant waders of a resting and feeding-up place. For example, this flock of 36+ migrant Ringed Plovers was seen there on 11/05, a date when another lucky birder saw no less than 8 Squacco Herons (I saw 2 of them), others were around the Guadalhorce also. Equally, 1-2 Greenshanks were seen regularly at
both sites.
There are, of course, the usual baby plovers, Stilts and Avocets at Fuente de Piedra, and when one is confronted by a distraction display such as this in front of the car (photographed through the windscreen), slowing down rapidly is advisable (unless you happen to be the fat, ignorant s.o.b. who drove his Merecedes past at high speed nearly killing the distracted female, totally ignoring my flashing hazard warning lights and hand signals to slow down - another one for my not-so-little elimination list!). The reason was this enchanting pair of little Avocets, perhaps four days old.

 On the other hand, being a a Mum to three little Stilts can be a tiring job .....

Flamingos are breeding at Fuente de Piedra and there have been reports of up to 4 Lessers, I saw 2 actually mating on 18/05, but there is a lack of sightings since then. These are not visible from the information centre.
There has been a trickle of Whiskered and Black Terns, with more of the former, at both Fuente de Piedra (5 and 6 respectively on 11/05) and at the Guadalhorce where there have been 2 present these last three days of May. The numbers of Gull-billed Terns at Fuente de Piedra are quite suprising given that the lake still has high water levels. There is at least one pair of Lapwings at the laguna Dulce at Campillos. Both Shelduck and and Red-crested Pochards are breeding at Fuente de Piedra and it looks like a pair are also breeding at the Guadalhorce around the laguna de la Casilla. It may be that I am not particularly observant, but there seem to be few large broods of ducklings and young Coots and Moorhens around at the Guadalhorce - perhaps the effect of the foxes that are there?
The cold, windy at times rather damp weather of most of May can not have helped many insect eaters and on 18/05 there was a huge movement of Common Swifts, although some Pallids and even Alpines were involved, as they moved away ahead of the nth frontal system, with reports of aglomerations hanging together for warmth on the sheltered sides of buildings and also of deaths with birds flattened on the roads in both Granada and Almería. The same day there were 2 male Marsh Harriers and single late moving Black Kite and Booted Eagle at Fuente de Piedra, but to go back to 09/05, Honey Buzzards were coming ashore between Torremolinos and Benalmádena, a single, very black, bird came in over the Guadalhorce and 2 were reported from Vélez Málaga. An immature female Sparrowhawk came in off the sea the morning of 29/05.
There have been a lot of records of late Common Scoters - and not just ones and twos which are not too unusual  from along the Med. and Atlantic coasts of Andalucía, from Almería in the east (where there was a brief appearance at Rambla Morales by a Great Scaup for one morning a week since). These late scoters have been quite notable off the Guadalhorce, with no less than 15 on 29/05, of which at least 5 were immature males (brown, not black, mantle), the rest being females or immature females, but today, 31/05 there were no less than 25 of them, with one adult male and at least 2 immature males that I could pick out, the rest again being females or immature females.
My own garden has had an odd spring for migrants, although in May there was the first European Turtle Dove in years (damned Collared Doves have displaced them) on 12/05 and 13/05 singles of Melodious Warbler and a female Whitethroat, while a Hobby overflew on 16/05, the real suprise being a Wood Piegon, hotly pursued by a female Kestrel, on 21/05. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to see a Spotted Flycatcher, others had been reported, and at last one turned up on 24/05 and has been seen several days since.
At least the month finished in style, with a Roller at the Guadalhorce which both Bob Wright and Antonio Tamayo advised by mobile beafore I left for home.

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