02/07 : Guadalhorce

'In tropical climes, at certain times of day ...' Well, we may not be tropical but is has been warm enough by mid morning these past few days that Federico and I were entering the Guadalhorce at just gone 08.00 this morning when it was delightfully cool. We didn't expect to see much but one can only live in hope, and fishermen apart who must live in constant hope, the next on the list must be the birder.
We had hoped to see something, even though it wasn't a rare swift flying into an aeolic energy generator (sounds more learned than windmill), which that poor little White-throated Spine-tailed Swift did in western Scotland this past week, and the only windmill for miles around too! All the way from wherever to end up as avian mince meat. Anyone got C4 or Semtex for sale? We need a few kilos (make that tons) down here. After all, an African White-backed Vulture got chewed up in Cádiz province a couple of years since and that was the only European record! But I digress.
Federico and myself headed down the east bank, stopping at the first hide, to see that there are plenty of young Gadwall around and  that the female Red-crested Pochard has her brood whittled down to 4 from the 7 original on 14 June, which is not a bad survival rate. Not a lot else, Mallard, a single male White-headed Duck and a few Coots and a solitary Moorhen, whilst a Reed Warbler flitted in front of the hide.
Down to the second hide overlooking the nearly dry wader pool. Not a lot there either. A few Stilts, including some chicks, and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers. By now Federico was wondering if we'd see as many as five wader species and I wasn't going to bet on it! Further down, overlooking the river meanders, also drying out rapidly, quite few Kentish Plovers including well grown young, a couple more of Little Ringed and .... a Redshank! We were up to four species of waders! And to pout you out of the anxiety of waiting, no, we didn't see five species. Mind you, there were plenty of Greenfinches!
Walk along the beach. Nothing except a few House Sparrows and a female Sardinian Warbler. Things weren't looking good and it was starting to get warm. Perhaps things would klook up once we got to the laguna Grande?
Did they No they didn't, not really, although there were some 47 Audouin's Gulls of all ages from adult summer (1) through a mix of 3rd summer (check the bill), 2nd sumnmer and some in 1st summer plumage.  Further over a couple of Black-headed Gulls and then 7 adult Mediterranean Gulls, all still in that fantastic breeding plumage which you needed to 'scope to appreciate. Oh yes, and 3 juvenile Yellow Wagtails and some Spotless Starlings (these latter don't really enthrall me).
The heat was getting to us by now so we walked round to the laguna Escondida prior to heading out and then we got the bird of the day. A nice, albeit somewhat distant, male Ferruginous Duck. It's incredible the distance at which the white eye stands out and as it flaunts its white undertail coverts too, there's a nice contrast with that dark chestnutty plumage which really helps identification. It was just after it had disappeared down at the far end that Federico commented that we had neither seen nor heard Bee-eaters and that they appeared to be scarcer this year when we heard calls and a pair of these flying artist's palettes sat on the dead bush over to the left.Yes, I know the photo is crummy but at that distance it's the best that I could do.
So, with a grand total of 32 species we were wandering out towards the bridge when we saw number 33 - a Red-rumped Swallow.

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