30 July : Guadalhorce

A short one this, rather like my visit yesterday morning to the Guadalhorce, and with no photos to enliven the text. However, having gone in before 08.00 and out by 10.30 as the heat was building up nicely well before 10.00 and the heat haze had started by 09.30, it wasn't at all bad. In fact,l it was made better by meeting Juan Ramírez who I hadn't seen for months and who had been away in Fuerteventura working on the resident Egyptian Vultures there but he complained about the lack of bird variety.
The female Red-crested Pochard had been reported as missing in action with no ducklings seen since my last visit and there was no sign of her of the chicks, so one must presume that the chicks have fallen foul of somepredator - wild dogs, the foxes which are present, perhaps rats. But there they were not. There are still plenty of young Gadwall around though.
Surprisingly, there was at least one female Stilt still apparently incubating and there were some quite young birds around. But it was wader migration in which I was interested and which has definitely started with large numbers of Little Ringed Plover, with a count of 38+ on the semi-dried out area in front of the second hide down the east bank, plus at least another 20 along the río Viejo and a few more on the laguna Grande, putting the total at well over 60. It's difficult to imagine all these being home grown birds. On the other hand there was only 1 Ringed Plover and much fewer Kentish than the last time I was there on 18 July. Further down the río Viejo Juan spotted the head of Whimbrel which kept down so I never located it but we did find 4 Little Stints, 2 still in breeding plumage. We also notched up at least 3 Common Sandpipers and a single Wood Sandpiper.
The walk along the shore revealed absolutely nothing and it wasn't until we reached the hide at the laguna Grande that things perked up again as there were plenty of gulls to be looked at with some handsome Mediterranean Gulls, elegant Audouin's, the riff-raff of Black-headed and Yellow-legged and 3 adult Lesser Black-backeds. In the wader line there was another Common Sandpiper and summer-pluamged singles of Knot (very nice!) and Curlew Sandpiper (equally nice). A single adult Spoonbill flew in and an immature Night Heron did a circuit and landed.
At the laguna Escondida Juan located a Little Grebe nest with 4 egggs and then an adult came in and started incubating.  We had seen a Black-necked Grebe on the laguna Grande. We saw less than 5 White-headed Ducks, it doesn't appear to have been a good year for them. There were much fewer Bee-eaters than a fortnight since but I had the impression that there has been a good breeding season for Zitting Cisticolas/Fan-tailed Warblers.
Hot and sweaty, I headed for home whilst Juan went on - brave lad! But 41 species wasn't too bad for the morning.

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