23 April : Las Norias & Roquetas

Brilliant stuff with the Bittern record, they are very scarce in Andalucía.  Mind you, I do have strong doubts about the noises that Great Reed Warblers emit being classed as 'song'.
The lure of some shopping made Sandra suggest we visited Las Norias and Roquetas this week and we're glad that she did! Gilly and I were chauffeured down to the Jct 420 service station by Kevin where we met up with Rod, Linda, Colin, Sandra and John to have a coffee before heading into plastic greenhouse city, Las Norias. At the first causeway we immediately saw that the water was as flat as a tack and more disturbingly we had been joined by thousands of mosquitoes! 
There weren't many birds out and about. On the water were Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, a Cormorant, Red-crested Pochard and a Little Grebe. We could hear a Great Reed Warbler shouting its song from the far reeds. It eventually showed itself. Round the back of the pump house we managed to see a singing Reed Warbler and a Hoopoe. Gilly spotted a Common Sandpiper. A Little Ringed Plover was also seen as were Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls. As we were about to leave two Little Terns flew over.
     We moved round to the Old Heronry. A Black-winged Stilt on the point was joined by another (or one of the previous) Little Terns. We added Gadwall to the list. A large group of terns then appeared, feeding over the water....Whiskered Terns. Shortly after 4 Gull-billed Terns flew over. An adult Night Heron took off from the right and flew up and down the lake.
     It was next to the second causeway, by the new heronry. Very concerned as there was only one Little Egret there. I'd have thought there'd be far more activity by this time of the year. There were numerous Great Reed Warblers singing to the right. On the left hand lake we saw more Red-crested Pochards and Great Crested Grebes. Most of the group walked up to the little bridge whilst Gilly and Linda hung around the vehicles for security. We added Grey Heron, Common Pochard, Kestrel and Red-rumped Swallow. Gilly and Linda saw a Purple Heron.
     Personally I was slightly disappointed as we headed towards the lake at Roquetas. After a coffee stop we arrived by the lake. There were numerous Coot in a flotilla, one was part albino with a white back. John spotted White-headed Duck. Colin spotted a bird flying from the reeds on the far side to the reeds to the right, the town side. It was Night Heron size but brown. Having seen many juvenile Night Herons I knew it wasn't one of them. Having checked "Collins" when I got home it was obviously a Bittern. Good spot, Colin! As we were about to leave some Greater Flamingos were seen flying.
     41 species for the day, the Bittern being the star bird. Hopefully there will be more activity at the Las Norias heronry site in the near future.


23 April : Fuente de Piedra & laguna Dulce

This has been Ron's last visit to Fueante de Piedra this winter as he returns to Yorkshire next week and won't be back until next December, so I hoped that we would have some luck, and luck we had in fairly large quantities. We set off earlier, hoping to miss any school trips and failed dismally, but even the noisy teenagers  failed to spoil our morning. So, what made the morning so good?
The answer: WADERS IN LARGE NUMBERS, starting off with large numbers of Little Stints, many in superbly pristine breeding plumage but very flighty, as indeed were most of the waders. And how many of these? Well, we estimated at least 100. Not bad for a start.
But better was to come with an estimated 80+ Curlew Sandpipers, some still in winter plumage but most showing signs of change and at least 2 in full, resplendent breeding plumage. 
These were followed numerically by 60+ Dunlin. Then there were the other lesser numbers of the 12 species of waders seen whichg included 30+ Ringed Plovers, 10+ Redshanks and 4 Common Sandpipers with singles of Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Turnstone and Greenshank, plus, of course, the ever present and uncounted Black-winged Stilts and Avocets.
But there was even more to come with the presence of 2 rather distant Lesser Flamingos over to the right from the Information Centre (this rather poor evidential record photo on the left where the colour difference can be appreciated) and a further scan along the lake towards the breeding colony revealed another, even more distant, pair. By chance we ran in to my old friend Manolo Rendón, the director there, and he believes that there might even be a third pair. And to add even more force to the wild birds theory, none of these were ringed.
There were 7 pairs of Red-crested Pochards on the lake behind the Information Centre  as well as a few Pochards, Shovelers and a few Mallards, with Avocets apparently sitting fast on the islands, and all to the warbling of a Nightingale..
From there it was off to the laguna Dulce for a last look, stopping at the west end of the Fuente de Piedra laguna to see if we could find the third pair but no luck, although we were treated to a Cuckoo calling but which refused to respond to our calls.
The laguna Dulce is still full of Coots, the predominant species by a great magnitude, god knows where they will all breed, or perhaps they are immatures. Thgere were few pairs of Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, as well as a few Little Grebes, plus 3 Red-crested Pochards. We saw 4 Marsh Harriers, a male plus 3 immature birds, with a distant female Montagu's Harrier and on the road after leaving had brief views of 2 male Monty's. Of note was the constant, generally northerly, flux of Common Swifts all morning with a few Pallid Swifts, probably about 1% of the total, intermingled.
And thus ended Ron's winter in Málaga and we look forward to next winter, all things being equal.
A note from Mick Richardson of Loja, who yesterday visited the Guadalhorce where he recorded ca.70 Little Terns in front of the reserve and down at Calaburras there was still a single Purple Sandpiper present.


17 April : Guadalhorce, two points of view + Doñana Bird Fair update

Yesterday morning I had planned to meet up with Bob and his folks from the Axarquía group and as Ron also wanted to see Bob about something, I took him along with me, after which Ron went his own way upstream whilst I tagged along with Bob's gang and talked more than birded, although we did see some bits and pieces.
A Green Woodpecker had been seen the previous day -a very lost bird indeed! but we didn't see it, which is hardly surprising. There was a brief view fly-by view of a female Little Bittern at the laguna de la Casilla and all the usual ducks, but no Red-crested Pochards today. More unusual was the presence of a very late Snipe skulking on the far side whilst Reed Warblers were chizzing, clicking and churring away and there were snatches of Nightingales in song.
There was a dearth of waders generally, starting at the wader pool in front of the second hide along the east bank, although an adult Slender-billed Gull, bird of the day for me, flew over. Further down on the río Viejo there were a ones and twos of all three small plovers, plus a single Greenshank fast asleep right down at the far end and a Dunlin, plus 3 Common Sandpipers.  Round on the laguna Grande there were 3 more Dunlin, making as grand total of 4! There were good views of 2 Curlew Sandpipers, one of which was showing some signs of breeding plumage. There was still a single immature plumaged Cormorant, the rest having departed for more northerly waters. However, the suprise of the morning was the flyover of 5 Glossy Ibis, a goodly number as we are normally used to seeing one or two only.
Ron had gone off upstream as his wont and had a far better morning than myself as he walked all the way to the Guadalhorce train station, the one after the airport going towards Málaga. Apart from 8 Nightingales in full cry and 3 Reed Warblers, he turned up 3 Purple Boghens and saw the same 5 Glossy Ibises as they flew down over him towards us down as the Guadalhorce ponds.  A pleasant morning.
DOÑANA BIRD FAIR update: The latest information and timetabling for the Bird Fair at Dehesa de Aabajo between 1 and 4 May is available in English at www.donanabirdfair.es. I shall be giving my spiel on pelagic seabirds at 16.00 on 1 May, having the dubious privilege of opening the proceedings. It will be in Spanish but there are pretty pictures!

PS: 18 April - just had the first Woodchat Shrike for this year in the garden! ¡Toma ya! (= beat that)

16 April: Barca de Vejer - Benalup - N of La Janda

A shortish note on the birding this last Wednesday when I took Ron Appleby up to La Barca de Vejer to tick off Bald Ibis - surely a candidate for one of the most reptilian looking birds, not to mention its hair style which latter greatly amused Ron. We ran into thick fog from Algeciras onwards which extended most of the way up past La Janda but which was quite clear by the time we had parked in La Barca where Stephen Daly was showing the same birds to a small group of clients.
Bald Ibis - last in the beauty contest
Having walked at least 50m for one of the easiest ticks ever and after Ron had had his fill of this species and counting some 9 nests on the cliff face, we had a coffee. Stephen told me that plans to extend the availability of nest sites by some foreign organisation had been turned down by the administration for some reason which was blamed on cash availability although he intimated that there were some xenophobic tendencies behind it by someone, in spite of the tourist attraction factor being built in alongside the conservation factors for this rare species.
As Stpehen had checked out La Janda the previous day and it was totally dead, we fgollowed his suggestion and went off towards Benalup to watch displaying Montagu's Harriers, 2 males and a female, to the background of a singing Nightingale. At the same point we also saw a pair of Black-shouldered Kites, surely one of the most attractive of raptors but these, like the harriers were rather distant on what was still a rather grey morning.
mentally retarded Griffon Vulture
male Blue Rock Thrush
From there it was on through Benalup and slowly down to the north end of La Janda, stopping along the road before the smelly farm, where we ran in to quite a reasonable selection of raptors with 3 Common Buzzards, a couple of Marsh Harriers, 25 or so Black Kites - some of which were in extremely tatty plumage, and also some Griffon Vultures, one of which was exceedingly dumb and let me more or less walk up to it as it sat in the crown of a wild olive. Here too we saw 4 Booted Eagles and a Kestrel.
Given that La Janda would be a waste of time according the info. from Stephen - and it certainly looked very dry and unsuitable for very much at, we decided to go across to Bolonia and up to the cliff face which we hoped would give us something. There were no Egyptian Vultures to be seen at the usual hole, in spite of prominent 'no climbing' signs but there were Griffon Vultures on the cliff and it may be that their presence has ejected the Egyptian Vultures, a species which is diminishing in numbers generally. On the other hand, below the cliff face a pair of splendid Blue Rock Thrushes were quite prominent whilst a pair of male Lesser Kestrels made an appearance, it being presumed that the females were incubating if the noise levels were anything to go by.
We stopped on the way down and walked the open scrubby area and turned up 4 Woodchat Shrikes and 2 Northern Wheatears.
Not a bad day from my point of view but Ron was very pleased and we did have 9 spp. of raptors, so another happy friend!
Lesser Kestrel male


16 April : Sierra de María

I've got an entry iof my own from yesterday top do and put in but that will be online tomorrow. Therefore, herewith the Arboleas Group's entry with a a photo of the very generous donation of the bird identification posters the La Piza restaurant.
At Alan's request as he's heading back to the UK till September, we're going to one of my favourite locations, the Sierra de Maria. Gilly and I picked up Kevin and headed for Maria seeing only a few birds on the way to the Garage cafe at the far end of the town. There we met up with 12 other members for a coffee and chat before making our way to the Chapel. Colin spotted a Black Redstart as we left.
On the drive up we saw Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Serin and Great Tit. I spotted a departing pair of Rock Sparrows as we pulled into the chapel car park. Someone spotted "big birds" over the ridge to the right. There were about twenty odd Griffon Vultures soaring on a thermal. Checking the mountain ridge above us we could see another 9 perched up there. Alan then spotted an eagle gliding left to right along the ridge....an adult Golden Eagle. We then wandered over towards the water trough, hearing a Nightingale as we approached, but never saw or heard it again. Things didn't look good at the trough as two cats were hanging around, but they soon departed. A warbler was seen in the small trees. I thought it might be a Willow and Alan thought a Bonelli's and he was proved right. Birds then started to come to the trough to drink. We had both Cirl and Rock Buntings. A wonderful male Pied Flycatcher was hunting from the poplar tree. 
We carried on up towards the botanical gardens, seeing nothing new. A Crossbill was perched atop one of the pines. Alan identified a singing Woodlark. Walking round the medium walk we had good views of Short-toed Treecreeper and Firecrest. Not so good views of Subalpine and Bonelli's Warblers. They definitely hadn't arrived in numbers and there was no sign yet of Orphean or Melodious Warblers. Brian meanwhile had spotted a Raven and the Golden Eagle had returned, circling high above us. Also seen were Jay, Woodpigeon, Long-tailed and Coal Tits. John thought he heard a distant Great Spotted Cuckoo. Heading back down towards the vehicles Gilly spotted a Sparrowhawk near the trough.
We then convoyed down towards the plain stopping at the ruined farm buildings. None of the usual Crossbills waiting to drink, only Chaffinch and Serin. A Carrion Crow was seen and a pair of Hoopoes.
poster presentation, Dave in centre
Moving on to the farm trough area we only added Linnet to the list. On the plain, birds were few and far between. Crested Lark, then a Short-toed Lark. At the ruined buildings near the end were a pair of Wheatears. I thought they were Black-eared but looking at the photos proved them to be  ... apologies Alan and John! A Hoopoe also appeared. At the hamlet there were about 6 Lesser Kestrels seen as well as another Northern Wheatear.
It was then back to La Piza for lunch, watching feeding Hawfinch above us and Crossbill, Great, Crested and Blue Tits using the feeding station. Whilst in Extremadura Gilly and I picked up a couple of bird posters, one on Spanish raptors, the other on woodland birds. We framed them and donated them to the cafe for display. It was very much appreciated.
A great days birding I'm sure everyone would agree. 44 species in the end.


Dave & Gilly in Extremadura

Dave and Gilly have been beating up Extremadura orntihologically and here is Dave's chronicle. I have had to cut one or two photos because of the length. The climb up to the hermitage is a real killer, Dave. Mary Carmen and I did it years ago.
Gilly and I left Arboleas at 5am and headed for our first stop at Fuente de Piedra to check out any Lesser Flamingos there. Unfortunately there was fog on site. We could hardly see anything across the Information Centre car park let alone over the water so with no further ado we headed to Sevilla and then north towards Merida and into Extremadura. Before reaching the border we had Stone Curlew and a magnificent male Hen Harrier. Our "holiday" list started as we crossed into Extremadura. We had 20 species before we stopped at the Embalse de Guadiloba, just east of Caceres. These included White Stork, Azure--winged Magpies, Southern Grey Shrike, Raven and numerous Black Kites. It being a Sunday there were quite a few anglers, but it didn't seem to deter the hundreds of Corn Buntings perched on the barbed wire fencing next to the track.
 Inline images 1

Above us there were Griffon Vultures and a continual flow of Black Kites passing by. Gilly then spotted a group of Great Bustards over to the right . There were 32, mostly males, some displaying (see later photo) Also seen were Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike, Crested Lark and
Meadow Pipit. "Water" birds included Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Green and Common Sandpipers,Great Crested Grebes, Little Egret and Gadwall.

     We then moved a few kilometres east and turned towards Santa Marta de Magasca. The village is at the apex of a triangle that takes you back to the main Caceres to Trujillo main road and the newish motorway. Immediately to the left as you leave the main road is a power line with nest boxes on each telegraph pole intended for Rollers. No Rollers, but there were many Lesser Kestrels.Inline images 4

 One box was occupied by Spanish Sparrows. Inline images 5
Male Northern Wheatear! What an obliging cracker! Inline images 6We carried on towards the village, stopping at various telegraph poles where Black Kites were perched to get a photo, but they were very skittish and flew off. Adding a Common Buzzard we headed to Trujillo where we booked in to the Hostal Julio. After a well deserved siesta we had an evening visit to the Belen Plain, a few kilometres further 

east. Lots more Corn Buntings (of course) and Calandra Larks. Also seen were feeding White Storks, Cattle Egrets and Little Owls. We saw more Great Bustards but the star of the show was this Little Bustard. Such a delight for it to be showing so well. Inline images 7

Well satisfied we returned to Trujillo, walking up to historic main square where we had a coffee with 17 Lesser Kestrels gliding over us with many Common and Pallid Swifts.

     We were up early the next morning to have breakfast before we headed to Monfrague (pronounced Mon-frag-way) National Park stopping off at various bridges over lush meadows and fast flowing riversInline images 8

The sun was just coming over the surrounding hills and there was a light mist over the water. We could hear Cetti's Warblers and Common Cuckoos. A Cormorant flew over and Little Ringed Plovers were on the waters edge. Gilly also spotted a Grey Wagtail and captured this photo of a male Blackbird. Always thought the beak was yellow. Never noticed the eye ring before!Inline images 9

We then drove up to the parking area on the way up to the hermitage.Inline images 10
The trek up to the top is not for the faint-hearted but well worth it! On the way up we saw a male Blue Rock Thrush. He followed us all the way to the top eventually singing away from the top of the mobile phone mast.  Inline images 11 
The view from the top is magnificent. We were a bit early to see the Griffon Vultures gliding past at eye level or below you. We did have good views of Blue Tit and Rock Bunting.Inline images 13
Over towards the Penafalcon cliff face we could see a few Black Vultures amongst the hundreds of Griffons. The star of the show awaited us at the bottom car park. As we drove passed it I thought I heard a woodpecker. We could see some birders looking into a tree, so we obviously stopped. There, giving extraordinary views, was a Nuthatch. A cracker of a bird! Inline images 14

We drove round to park opposite Peñafalcon. Here is a normal view of it showing Griffon Vultures effortlessly circling it. Inline images 15

I don't normally promote products but I have to praise our new Canon Powershot SX50. The picture below was from the same location taken of Griffons on the peak, 4-500 metres away.Inline images 16

Inline images 17Closer still was a Griffon's nest with a chick. Also seen round the cliff face was a Peregrine Falcon, Egyptian Vultures and a nesting pair of Black Storks.Inline images 18

Moving on we drove a large bridge where hundreds of House Martins were nesting underneath together with a few Alpine Swifts. After lunch at the Information Centre we headed over the dam to another cliff face. Spot the bird.......it's very large but here's a closer view......Inline images 20
Yes, an Eagle Owl with a bundle of fluffy chick below it's head. We also saw a Short-toed Eagle here and had good views of a Wren and a not very flattering pose for a Long-tailed Tit.Inline images 21
Making our way back we stopped at a small picnic area with tables under some pines. On a previous visit some years ago we'd put crumpled Ryvita biscuits on the table and had got visitors. Today we tried our luck with the remains of Gilly's tuna baguette. Sure enough, from nowhere twenty or so of them arrived! Azure-winged Magpies, taking only seconds to clear the table!

Inline images 23
We headed back to Trujillo for a break before going for an evenings search for Sandgrouse. We drove back to where we'd seen the Lesser Kestrels & Spanish Sparrows using the nest boxes and took a track off that road going back towards Caceres where we'd had success before.

We saw our first Rollers of the year, a Short-toed Lark, Montagu's Harrier and a Merlin struggling to fly carrying a Corn Bunting! Eventually I spotted two distant Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flying past.Inline images 25

     Up early again today, stopping for breakfast on our way to the Arrocampo nature reserve. It's a large lake supplying water to cool the Nuclear Power Station. (Armed guards unhappy if you point a large lens in their direction......been there, done that!) As there was low lying mist over the main body of water we headed through the village of Saucedilla, passed the information centre to some smaller lakes (near hide 5 for info) I spotted some Woodpigeons over the far side of the lake, but there was something else grey coloured with them. Got the scope on it - a Black-shouldered Kite. Also had Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Harriers and a passing Egyptian Vulture. We returned to the information centre where, above a water gully, numerous Sand Martins were resting up.Inline images 27

We walked towards the hide close by, Gilly spotting a Purple Swamphen. We both heard and saw Savi's and Cetti's Warblers. Once we'd settled down in the hide we scanned the reeds. There were at least 10 Purple Herons.Inline images 29

Something was nesting in the roof above us. Yes, I know it's "only" a male House Sparrow, but I had to get the photo in!
Inline images 30
The other highlights from this hide were Little Bittern, Ferruginous Duck and Gull-billed Terns. We also passed the landmark 100 species with a Little Grebe! We headed back to the main body of water which was now clear of mist. We added Reed Warbler and I got a photo of a flying Purple Swamphen.
     We cut through from the motorway to come in to Monfrague from the north, stopping first at the Eagle Owl cliff face with parent and chick showing well!  Inline images 32

We were then blessed with a good view of an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle flying above the rock face showing the white leading edges of its wings brilliantly. We added Sparrowhawk and Honey Buzzard on the way back to Trujillo. We walked up to the castle above the main square so we were eye level with the nesting Inline images 33

     We headed south to a village called Robdillo de Trujillo the next morning where we'd been shown Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers some years previously. Didn't see them but did manage 7 Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting and Sardinian Warbler. From there we went to the castle above Montanchez, where in winter Alpine Accentor (my bogey bird) can be seen. Here we added Black Redstart, Linnet and had good views of Goldfinch.

Inline images 35
 We started to make our way back towards Trujillo. Suddenly Gilly shouted "Stop!" She grabbed the camera and took this picture of a Common Cuckoo.Inline images 37

We had a siesta at the hostel before heading back on to the Belen plain. As promised here is a picture of a displaying male Great Bustard.......whatever turns you on! The females must see something I can't!Inline images 38

     Here endeth the lesson! We eventually got 110 species. The weather was kind to us as well.
I hope the photos all appear where they're supposed to!


08 April : Fuente de Piedra

A fairly brief entry after the rather nice morning that Ron and I had at Fuente de Piedra on Tuesday morning. We made the tactical decision to try and  get there before the noisesome and rowdy masses of uncontrolled little children and their apparently gormless teachers descended from the two coaches - which was a wise decision!
The result was some 40 species and we walked the board walk and beyond, checked from the mirador and had a look at the laguneto del Pueblo behind the information centre.
The main onjective was waders and we weren't defrauded as we saw some 11 species, the best being some 18 Ruffs - none in breeding plumage, 14  Curlew Sandpipers with some showing first signs of breeding plumage, 27+ Little Stints but no signs of Temminck's, 13+ Avocets, 6 Wood Sandpipers and the same number of Redshanks, with Dunlin (2) and a Common Sandpiper, plus the usual Little Ringed Plovers and Black-winged Stilts.
The laguneto del Pueblo gave 2 pairs of White-headed Ducks, 4 pairs of Red-crested Pochard - the males in splendid plumage, as well the usual Mallards and Shovelers while there were 4 Shelducks out on the main lake. There were some 20 or so Whiskered Terns and a single Black Tern as well as Gull-billed Terns moving to and fro over all the area throughout the morning. A single 1st summer Little Gull was a nice and rather unexpected surprise.
We heard Bee-eaters passing over on several occasions and were also rewarded with views of male Yellow Wagtails which stood out like the proverbial sore thumbs,even at long range, which makes one wonder how or why more aren't wiped out by Sparrowhawks. Corn Buntings did their usual impression of squaky gates and Ron was delighted with a superbly coloured Melodious Warbler, his 200th species for his various winter visits over the years, this year staying longer to get more spring migrants.
A very good morning, not quite sure how many species but certainly in excess of 40.
PS: A Ring-necked  Duck was reported from Rambla Morales yesterday by Rai Martín.


02 April: Embalse de Puentes - Adrian's patch

After having shipped my sister back to the UK where the Moslem Brotherhood have apparently shrouded southern England in desert dust (not quite as good as listening to Billy Connolly on the subject of Jihadist bomb-makers, suicide bombers and virginal burkhas, - it's on youtube) I got down to the serious business of trying to sort out photos for the talks and label them, the rain helping put me off the idea of getting out birding, of which there has been a serious lack, in spite of Common Swifts flashing past the window whilst I write, which could account for more than the usual number of typo errors as I am multi-tasking by also listening to Act 2 of Il Barbieri di Seviglia, very recommendable. 
By the by, and apropos of absolutely nothing, apart from the fact that you lot seem to spend half your time having a refreshing cuppa of tea (no wonder the British Empire disintegrated!), Cattle Egrets in Oz have bright orange-ochre heads and necks so that they look like a totally different species. 
And just in case you missed the news, part 1 of the Antipodes trip, the introduction and parrots all in glorious technicolour, is in the costa blog just before this blog. So, herewith Dave's account of their trip to 'Adrian's Patch' today.
   Have a good trip, Dave and Gilly! Today we headed back up between Puerto Lumbreras and Velez Rubio to be escorted by Adrian round his patch. All twelve of us met up at junction 6 on the A91 for a cuppa before convoying off into the wilderness. Spotting birds as we went we added Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Magpie, Barn Swallow, Wood Pigeon and Crested Lark before stopping by some disused farm buildings. The garage appeared to be the nesting site for Red-rumped Swallows. Also seen were Rock Sparrow, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Jay, Great Tit and Red-legged Partridge.
Further along the road we stopped again. On the ridge above was a medium sized bird perched which flew off before being "scoped". It could have been one of two Common Cuckoos we heard shortly afterwards. Adrian spotted a large eagle flying away. Silhouetted against the skyline I believed it to be a Short-toed Eagle by the level position of the wings whilst gliding. Searching for raptors towards the "Grandmother's Molar" mountain, I could only claim a Kestrel. Below us in the shrubs, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers showed well. John and Alan saw a swift species.    On the way to the next location we saw a Little Owl on a ruined barn. We stopped next to a running brook in a rambla with reed beds. We could hear Cetti's Warbler and Gilly spotted a Zitting Cisticola. A Common Sandpiper flew off as we arrived. The water attracted Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and a pair of Meadow Pipits

Heading for the Embalse de Puentes dam we saw two Great Spotted Cuckoos on the way. Immediately upon arrival we heard but didn't see Bee-eaters. There were three Cattle Egrets on the pump house roof. There was very little on the water. Great Crested Grebe, a pair of Mallard and a flotilla of Coot. I spotted three distant Griffon Vultures. A female Kestrel posed well on the dam's floodlights. We first heard then later saw a Red-billed Chough. Crag Martin, White Wagtail and Rock Dove were added to the list.

We then descended to the pine forest for a picnic lunch. No woodland birds seen, but John saw a possible Lesser Black-backed Gull on the reservoir some distance away.

A good days birding. Thank you, Adrian. 
    Kevin Borman, one of our members has just had his book Flamingos in the desert published. It deals with his explorations and experiences in the Almeria region.

     Gilly and I are off to Extremadura next week so I've left Rod Prout in charge.