11 July : Guadalhorce

I awoke early and was on  my way to the Guadalhorce by 7.30 and going in over the bridge atby 7.50, all prepared for trying to see something in this dead part of the year, when breeding has more or less finished and return southerly migration is not yet under way. With regard to the latter, my sources in the UK tell me there are lots of waders already back and just standing around doing nothing, most probably the result of the vile spring and failed breeding, if indeed it was attempted at all. For example, an e-mail from Kevin Wade this afternoon informed me of a Ruff at the río Grande at Cartama.
At least I was travelling lighter than normal as the head of my tripod self-destructed on Tuesday and I was using the little Nikon 50mm with 27x wide angle. However, a new tripod head is on the way from the UK and will be here Monday. If you have problems I heartily recommend Steve at  www.swoptics.co.uk - splendid service and not for the first time, plus the prices are very competitive..
I must say that the temperature was lovely with a nice breeze blowing down towards the sea, but how long would it remain so? An advance reply: not for long!
female Red-crested Pochard
First stop was the first hide on the east bank to look out over the laguna de la Casilla but just before I got there Federico turned up, having cycled from Torremolinos and there was me thinking that he had gone north but as it has been so hot in Córdoba they had stayed. My mission wasto see if the female Red-crested Pochard still had the four ducklings that were left last week. The answer is that she had when I arrived but not by the time that I left as a couple of young Yellow-legged Gulls appeared and created havoc amongst all the water birds, including the Red-crersted family, and one of the youngster went swimming off in the opposite direction whilst Mum alarm called anxiously and then vented her feelings by attacking a Coot. As I didn't go back that way I don't know.
But if the numbers of R-c Pochards may have gone down by one, Gadwall have done incredibly well and there were adults and well grown ducklings all over the place. Our attention was diverted by a flock of arounf 33-35 Flamingos which appeared over the laguna Grande, spent some time circling before deciding that it wasn't for them and were last seen heading down towards Gibraltar.
From there we went down to the wader pol in front of the second hide but there was very little with a few Stilts and a single Little Ringed Plover.  It really was quite dismal except for the presence of Bee-eaters in numbers., including hearing but not seeing one high flying flock which was certainly moving down towards the Strait. Down to the río Viejo which was disappointingly devoid of birds except for a handful of Kentish Plovers but naught else. I was about half round and I'd only seen about 18 species at that point! It looked as though I wouldn't even reach Dave's totally in Almería yesterday, plus the temperature was rising unpleasantly to wards the uncomfortable side of warm.
At the sea watch mirador Federico and I parted ways, he to cycle back, myself to walk along the beach and then in to the laguna Grande.Along the beach I crossed paths with Esteban, one of the Medio Ambiente's wardens and whilst we bemoaned the lack of birds he told me that the Little Ringed Plovers had 10 nests that he had counted and the Kentish about 25, which is better than the impression that I had and we agreed that a really good clearance of ground plants was vital if there were to be more Kentish.
Around to the laguna Grande and there was a Redshank - yes, a Redshank to make 4 species of waders! - on the pool before it. On the water and islands there were Audouin's, Mediteranean and Black-headed Gulls and then a flickering flight and a bright yellow bill revealed a Little Tern. Then a Common Sandpiper flitted across - 5 species of waders! Checking the eucalyptus trees at the far side I picked up a rather distant Great Spotted Cuckoo, they do start back early, as do the Common Cuckoos. A quick visit to the laguna Escondida gave a lot of Bee-eaters with large numbers of young on the wing and as usual there were some around, feeing and perched and, as always, calling loudly. There were 4 White-headed Ducks on the laguna, I'd only seen one previously this morning and brought the species total up to 30 species, plus 2 more spp. on the way out to round out the morning.

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