12 September : Guadalhorce

Black Kite
An excuse to escape from other tasks (which still remain to be done nearly 36 hours later so this going to be fairly brief) with a visit of my friend Joan Ximénez from Madrid which gave a chance for a walk/stagger around the Guadalhorce.
First, to give an idea of how much there was around, a total of no less than 55 species, which is pretty good, especially so if one takes in to account the fairly strong Poniente (westerly) wind which kept passerines down - I had hoped  for more having had a two Redstarts on the garden the previous day - and which also blew some migrant raptors down to the coast. The presence of no less than 34+ Black Kites moving westwards - the first before we had even left Torremolinos - the most notable and 17 Honey Buzzards (we probably missed some) was the most important feature. The only other raptors seen were a juv. Marsh Harrier, a single Booted Eagle and a couple of Kestrels
Honey Buzzard
This was followed by a movement of Grey Herons, some 8 or so coming in from across the bay whilst others had followed the coast, including a dispersed flock of some 15, mostly juveniles of the year. Most of the remaining species were what might normally expect at this time of year, although it was obvious that some, such as a small group of Sand Martins flying westwards, were moving and very probably so were the other hirundines, Red-rumped Swallows being notable by their presence. We saw a distant flock of ca.20 swifts through the 'scope, so far off that no specific status is claimed.
juv. Flamingo on the sea (stupid bird)
All the normally present ducks were there but with nothing to do backward flips with tuck about but the 6 Shelducks are always a good bird to see at the Guadalhorce, apparently there had been ca.20 the previous afternoon. The same can also be said for the waders of which there really was rather a dearth and it's very difficult to get excited about all three small plovers, nice little chaps though they be. A Snipe showed well, as did a single Avocet on the laguna Grande. The two Curlew Sandpipers were nice but again, nothing outstanding, and the only Dunlins flew past at mach 0.95. There was a flock of some 9-10 Sanderlings which were showing the whole gamut of plumage from a few still in summer plumage to about half of them in winter plumage. There were also 2 juv. Flamingos plus another one swimming on the sea! I know it sounds odd but they can and do and I once logged a flock of 90 or so birds, tired, which landed on the sea a km. or so out and simply floated around as a large pink mass for about half an hour before taking off.
Cross-billed Yellow-legged Gull
There wasn't a single gull on the río Viejo, which was rather surprising but there was some compensation with the gulls at the laguna Grande where a single Cormorant was playing dead at the top of the big pole to the left of the hide. There was a goodly selection of Lesser Black-backs, mostly adults, and the ubiquitous Yellow-legged Gulls. This where the bird in the photograph was seen with its abnormally long and crossed bill. Don't tell Bob, he'll want to claim it as a new species, something like Cross-billed Gull I should think! Being less flippant, these beak abnormalities are not too uncommon in the big gulls but this one really was highly visible. There were very few Audouin's, it's amazing how quickly both these and the Mediterranean Gulls move through although these latter will build up again with arrivals from the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, plus any that trickle down from such well-known maritime nations as Hungary!
However, as a consolation and although they were the only terns that we saw, a pair of Caspian Terns, an adult and a juvenile, which like all children was perpetually demanding food. Regrettably these didn't stay around long enough for me to get a photo.
So, really that was about it. passerines included a few, very few, Zitting Cisticolas, a single Melodious Warbler and a nice Northern Wheatear. A plus on the way out was a Stone Curlew which flew out of some the grounds that had been grazed by the horses.
See you in about a month with a bit of luck!

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