31 July : Sierra María

'Once more into the breach!' must be the war cry of the Arboleas Group, stern stuff they are indeed, as they headed for the hills again in a vain attempt to avoid the heat. I shall be going down to the Guadalhorce tomorrow early in what will probably be a vain attempt to see everything before heat stroke, heat haze and le cafard (a French expression) and trusting that I will not meet the identification sage of the Guadalhorce (no clues but it's a Brit and it's not Bob nor myself) but the wader migration season is upon us and anything could turn up early on.
I like the sound of (and I quote) 'Chaffinches and Rock Buntings taking the waters'. Sounds like a spa! Harrogate or Bath? 
You lot spend a lot of time taking coffee and refreshments. I wish we had a place for a coffee down at the Guadalhorce. Super shot of the male Crossbill, what a lovely colour he is!
Again we headed for the mountains to avoid the heat. Gilly and I, together with Ros and husband, Roger, met up with Adrian, Tony, Kas, Colin, Sandra, Rod and Linda at the garage cafe in Maria. After a coffee and chat we headed up to the chapel area. Not a lot around till we got to near the water trough. First arrivals saw a glimpse of a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying into and out of the poplar tree. There were numerous Chaffinches and Rock Buntings taking the waters. House Martins and Barn Swallows were above us or low flying over the fields. No sign of the Golden Orioles. The weather at this time was kind. Yes, it was sunny, but there was a nice cool breeze.

On the way up the advance party added a Blue Tit, whilst the rearguard spotted a juvenile Southern Grey Shrike. Once we entered the Botanical Gardens there were plenty of birds. Seeing them was a different matter! Luckily, being desperate for water, most were hanging around the small man-made pools. There were numerous Crossbills, but also Cirl Buntings, Serin and Chaffinch. Further along, on the lower walk, we had good views of Bonelli's Warbler. Some of the group saw a pair of Short-toed Treecreepers. Also seen were Coal Tit and a pair of high flying Griffon Vulture. We then made our way to the La Piza forest restaurant for refreshments. Again there were Crossbills and Chaffinches hanging around the water sources. Only added Great Tit to the list.
Driving down towards the plain, we had a brief stop at the farm buildings, seeing distant Griffon Vultures and a Crested Lark. A Swallowtail Butterfly showed well. On the plain itself, by the roadside we saw Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear and a Calandra Lark. Eventually we reached the hamlet. At first we thought all the Lesser Kestrels had gone, but I spotted a Kestrel sp., presumed Lesser, sitting atop a stack of straw bales. 
Lunchtime was upon us so we returned to La Piza. As we were leaving Colin spotted a passing Booted Eagle. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen. We had good views of "Spanish" Squirrels. We saw a Red-rumped Swallow on our way past Velez Blanco.

27 species seen. It was agreed that group outings will be suspended in August, but that doesn't mean there'll be no reports. I'll be out and about on my lonesome seeing what's around.

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.


24 July: Los Filabres

Before we jump in to the Almería territory, a note from my own garden. Last Sunday a family of 3 or 4 Short-toed Treecreepers spent the morning calling but steadfastly remaining mostly invisible. Then from Monday onwards there has been a newly fledged family of three young Spotted Flycatchers which this morning is down to two young birds. These are learning how to catch flies incredibly quickly and I was watching just before 08h when it was quiet and I could hear bills snapping as insects became breakfast. I have the subjective feeling that somewhere around 20-25% of the swifts have shoved off in this past week, there certainly appearing to be less around in the late afternoon when I go walkies on my own.
The Arboleas Group decided to go for altitude in their search for cooler weather where it is supposed ot be about 3ºC cooler for every 1.000m of altitude (or something close) but it does increase the possibility of being sunburnt.
Dave, thank you for your faith in my love of LBJs, although is actually an MBJ (Medium Brown Job). Before even reading your text and looking at the photos, my first reaction that your beautifully blurred photo was, as you suggest: a Tawny Pipit. But as it doesn't seem to show the dark line of coverts it sort of put me off, but I wonder if it was a juvenile? I know amazingly little about the species but the jizz of the thing feels right, and the habitat is also.
a view from Sierra Filabres
The heat here is oppressive, so, as I mentioned in last weeks report, to avoid it we were going for altitude! As none of today's 9 members had been up the Los Filabres, we met up just outside Arboleas and we convoyed up to Tijola. We made our way to the now refurbished bridge over a brook just beyond Bayarque in a valley. On the way we spotted a roadside Woodchat Shrike. I'd already warned that the prospects of seeing a lot today were not good. We managed to see a couple of Black Wheatears on the ridge and building above us. Crag Martins were flying around and a charm of Goldfinches flew over. 
Northern Wheatear
We left there and headed up towards Bacares, stopping at various unofficial lay-bys to check out what if anything was around. We added Black-eared Wheatears and a family of four Kestrels. Also seen were a couple of scruffy, presumed juvenile, Bee Eaters
Before reaching Bacares we bared right to head further up towards the old mine. A male Blue Rock Thrush showed well, but right on a blind bend so a brief stop only! We sauntered into the old mine complex, seeing Crag Martins overhead and entering nest holes in the cliff face. A Black Redstart was also seen taking food to another hole. Whilst there a Grayling type butterfly took a liking to my shoulder! Over the road, where we'd parked, we checked out the valley below and managed to see some Rock Sparrows on the power lines.

Booted Eagle
We now reached real altitude as we headed for the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory.at 2,168 metres (7113ft). There was even snow on a distant mountain range! We were greeted by a soaring adult Booted Eagle. We parked up near to the buildings. I saw a bird on a nearby rock formation. I was positive it was a Tawny Pipit, but looking at the slightly fuzzy photo I took, I'm not so sure now. I'll leave the ID to Andy in his prologue as you know how much he likes LBJs! There were numerous Black Redstarts with smaller numbers of Rock Sparrows. Northern Wheatears were seen with beak-fulls of food as well.

No, the birding wasn't brilliant, but the scenery and views were great as was the cooler climate! A lowly 17 species seen.


17 July : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

Grief but they're brave in Almería! I hope that I feel as brave tomorrow at the Guadalhorce but I doubt the endurance. Poor Linda, at least the shingles appears to have gone but being attacked by a bidet can't be much fun. 
I understand that there are a lot of Black- and Bar-tailed Godwits on the Atlantic coast of Andalucía, White Storks are heading back to Africa and the first Black Kites won't be far behind now. Did the Flamingo fly-past include the Dambusters March? Joking apart, we have had a few small flocks moving along the coast here. I too have detected odd small flocks of Bee-eaters flying westwards. And for the cetacean watchers, both Fin Whale and Orcas have been seen on the trips out from Tarifa.
Question (and thus revealing my ignorance): Is 'retail therapy' the same as going shopping? If so, forget it.
baby Avocet / Avocetlet
     It was back to one of our favourites today despite the hot weather. We drove Ros down to the cafe at Pujaire where we met up with Brian, Mary, Dave, Myrtle, Rod and Linda. The latter has been in the wars again. Whilst recovering from shingles, she picked up a tummy bug which caused her to faint. She hit her face on the bidet causing double black eyes. Can't keep an Arboleas Birding Group member away from our days out! Now to the birding....... 
Having already picked up a Bee-eater prior to Pujaire, we headed for the first hide. Lots of birds on view from here. Greater Flamingos in vast numbers. Gilly later counted 738. The next most numerous were Avocets. Around the causeway and in front of us in the pools were odd groups of Black-tailed Godwits, some still in breeding plumage. On the causeway itself were Black-headed Gulls together with singles of Common and Gull-billed Tern. Kentish Plovers were numerous round the shores. I manage to spot a Common Sandpiper. Also seen were Mallard, Shelduck, Redshank, Hoopoe and small groups of young Yellow Wagtails.
Wild Boar watching Flamingo
Flamingo watching Wild Boar
Sea Daffodils
We then headed to the second hide. There was a small flock of Yellow-legged Gulls resting on the beach. The Sea Daffodils were blooming. Dave Green was the first -to the hide. He was amazed to see a Wild Boar. By the time the rest of us got there it was walking across the salina to the separating causeway. The only new birds added were Black-winged Stilt and Thekla Lark. Also but not identified were two large birds of prey perched over the other side of the reserve on an electricity pylon. We had fabulous view of a triple Greater Flamingo fly pass as the headed out to sea towards Roquetas across the bay.

On the way to the public hide we added Little Tern to the list. At the hide itself there were again numerous Greater Flamingos and Avocets. An Eurasian Curlew was seen. On the causeway to the right a line of terns included both Sandwich and Common.
After refreshments at the next village we walked to "Kevin's" viewing point over the salina. There were at least 150 Audouin's Gulls at rest. Red-rumped Swallows were also seen.

At this point the group split up. Rod and Linda headed for the Rambla de Morales. Gilly, Ros and I wanted to go round the rear of the reserve in search of those distant big birds of prey. The rest headed to Almería for retail therapy.
The track round the rear was not too bad. We had good views of Avocet and their young. Gilly spotted Alpine Swift amongst a swirl of its Common and Pallid cousins. A Southern Grey Shrike was also seen. An obliging, but angry looking Little Owl was on one of the ruined buildings. Unfortunately no sign of the birds of prey. My best bet would be Short-toed Eagles.

non-buzzing ugly Cicada
We met up with Rod and Linda at the Pizzeria in Retamar for lunch. They had added Coot, Moorhen, Crested Lark, White-headed Duck and Kestrel. Having spent all their previous Spanish summers up in wet and cool Galicia they didn't know what was making that god awful and persistent buzzing sound. Attached here, for their information, is one the ugly critters (Cicada) which came into our house with some washing.
The total today was 40....yes, more than initially reported. Might have to sack my secretary! A good day, but it was very hot. Heading for altitude next week!


16 July : Lesser Flamingos at Fuente de Piedra

As many of you will know from the not infrequent mentions in my blogs over the years, there have been many records at Fuente de Piedra of Lesser Flamingos, the smaller African cousin of our Greater Flamingo. I'm sure that many of you, both resident and visiting down here, have seen one or more birds over the years, usually over to the far left of the information centre and mirador where there is a fresh water inlet.
There have been records of up to 7 birds at a time and there has been at least one attempt at breeding when a pair was photographed within the colony with an egg clearly visible in the nest. Nothing came of that attempt, that we are aware of.
Then, two years ago, there was another breeding attempt at Manjavacas lake in Cuenca province when a photograph taken on 1 May of a pair of Lesser Flamingos with an egg was published in www.rarebirdspain.net. The next news of that pair was that they had been seen with a chick on 31 May, but then there was another record dated 1 June of the pair still with an egg. So, did they breed or not? In view of the lack of convincing evidence that I would consider proof, the fact that they adults were standing by a flamingo chick, is, to my mind, insufficient plus there is the contradiction in the same web page.
In the mean time, I understand that about two years ago a pair nested in Italy, successfully or not I do not know as I have no further details.
This last winter-spring I knew that at least two and often three birds had been seen regularly but never at the usual drinking site, always down at the far end of the lake where there is the colony nesting area. In fact, I only saw them once, on 17 May when by chance, searching for them from above at the far western end, I happened to see a pair, the male following the female and mated with her without falling off - always a problem with those long legs! Four days later another mating between them was seen at Veta la Palma on the edge of Doñana.
The next news that I had was that the pair were nesting in the midst of a group of some 3.000 pairs of Gretaers - try finding them in that little lot, especially as they are smaller and hide maongst their bigger bretheren. All we could do was hope and then there wss the news that a chick had apparently hatched and we waited.
Finally, last Thursday afternoon, 11 July, a bird, presumed to be the male, was seen feeding a chick estimated to be some 25 days old from its development and comparing with that of juvenile Greater Flamingos. Breeding has been successful so far, the chick has survived the first critical 7-10 days and is in the nursery. It was seen again at the weekend and the bigger it gets the better its chances of survival.
So, where are these Lesser Flamingos from? Therein lies a small problem. It is a known fact that there have been and are escapes from zoological collections flying around. Indeed, back in the ringing of 1999 an adult bird was trapped, a superb thing to see close up with its dark ruby red eye and all black bill. But it was from a collection as it bore a metal collection ring. Others have escaped from a collection in Belgium and at least two have been seen in Spain but these, thanks to an intelligent owner/curator, all carry red plastic rings with individual codes such as those that we put on the Greaters.
So do we get wild birds up in southern Spain? I have long maintained that it was possible and the rarities Committee persisted for years in mainatining them as a category D species - one of unknown origin, possibly escaped - but only a couple of years ago it was admitted that there must be a presence of genuinely wild birds which puts them in category A. There is a breeding population, only a few thousand pairs, down in Senegal-Mauritania. But our birds also get down there in the non breeding period and there is no reason at all why the smaller Lessers not attach themselves to a flock of Greaters and end up here. I have seen up to 4 together without any rings at all visible at Fuente de Piedra and there have been records of up to 7 at once.
So, is this start of greater things? Only time and rainfall to fill the lake will tell.
I went up there early this morning, a beautiful one, not to try and see the adults or chick, a virtually impossible task as there some 22.000 pairs of adults and in excess of 14.000 chicks in the lake. It is an incredible sight, with masses of chicks down at the west end. It's worth a visit.
And there were also 3 Black Kites and 2 Buzzards!


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.


10 July : Sierra María

To tell the truth, having seen the spectacular footage of the dry storms last night when something over 3.000 lightning strikes were recorded and also 3 fires in Almería as result, I didn't really expect anything from Dave & Co. today but it takes more than a few lightning hits to dissuade the Arboleas Group. On the other hand, Linda has my full and unmitigated sympthathy (for what it's worth) and I do hope that she'll soon get over the shingles, which is very nasty complaint to suffer and more so in the present heat.
Our area had major thunderstorms during the night and as a result Ros and her husband Roger(?) were awake all night as a lightening fire raged near their house. Hence they were absent as were Rod and Linda who has come down, if that's the right phrase, with shingles. As Gilly and I headed north passed Huercal Overa, water dumping helicopters were still at work dousing the last of the flames. We managed to spot a Crag Martin and a Black Wheatear before we arrived at the cafe by the Maria garage. After the bad weather of the previous night it was good to see blue skies and sunshine. Eleven of us made our way to the Chapel car park. We could hear the screeching call of a Golden Oriole, not the usual pleasant harmony. Eventually we had good views of a male flying before it disappeared into the foliage of the poplar tree. On top of this tall tree was a Woodchat Shrike for a short time. A sunbathing cat thwarted any birdlife at the water trough, so we sauntered up towards the information centre. There was a steady stream of Griffon Vultures flying along the ridge from the plain towards the direction of the feeding station. Also seen up there were a pair of probable Ravens. On the way we saw a Rock Bunting, a Melodious Warbler and a soaring pale morph Booted Eagle.
     It was good to get into the shade of the pine trees in the Botanical Garden. The small man-made pools were being used by Crossbills, Serins and a Subalpine Warbler. "Stragglers" also saw Long-tailed and Blue Tits. We heard more than saw numerous Bonelli's Warblers. As could be expected most birds were keeping silent and out of sight. We did find three probable Tawny Owl pellets beneath one pine tree. Insects seemed to be its main diet. Did get some photos of Fritillary and Grayling butterflies as well as a sunbathing lizard.     Before heading down onto the sweltering plain we stopped for drinks at the La Piza cafe in the forest. Here, many Crossbills were taking water from the top of a picnic table. Received info from the owner that a Scops Owl was regularly calling at the nearby campsite. We headed down to the plain. A plume of Griffons was above the farm buildings with a Booted Eagle above them. We managed to see Rock Sparrow and Goldfinch by the watering trough. Only saw Crested Larks by the roadside. At the hamlet our spirits were lifted with the sight of at least four Lesser Kestrels.
     Back at La Piza for lunch. A very large "Capricorn"(?) beetle was spotted 7ft up a tree. We ended the day with 30 species. Not too impressive but being out with birding friends made it all worth it.


03 July : Rambla de Almanzora & Villaricos

It's a good job that Dave and the 18 brave members of Arboleas Group ventured out today, warm though it has been, as the metcast for tomorrow is for lots of HOT in their part of Andalucía. Black-winged Stilts are noisy, Dave? And then you send a photo of one with its mouth shut. I'm guessing that you got your telephoto back, Dave! 
    There were 18 of us Arboleas Birding Group members who met up above the Rambla de Almanzora outside the village of Villaricos. I won't go through all the names but i'd like to welcome two "newbies", Phil and Jen to our illustrious group. It was hot and sunny, but the atmosphere wasn't helped by whoever had dumped loads of melons at our parking spot. The smell was not pleasant neither were the thousands of accompanying flies. We hastily headed up the rambla towards the sewage deposit hoping that it might smell somewhat better! Let me finally get to the birds......
rare shot of Black-winged Stilt with beak closed!
Most numerous birds were the noisy Black-winged Stilts. Waders also seen at the commencement of our walk were Redshank and Green Sandpiper. There were at least 20 Mallards, one female with a crowd of ducklings. Nearer the sewage works, which did smell, we saw a pair of Little Ringed Plover. Also seen down the gully were both Green and Common Sandpipers. Smaller birds seen or heard included Common and Pallid Swift, House Martin, Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, Sardinian Warbler and Goldfinch. Also seen were Roller, Hoopoe and Kestrel.

     After coffees and some tostadas at the Villaricos cafe, we headed down to the beach....as had numerous sun worshipers.  We did manage to see three Turnstones on the rocky islands just off the beach. Behind us on the flattened area were Yellow-legged and Audouin's Gulls. We walked along the beach towards the estuary. A family were rock pooling where the Whimbrel used to be. At the estuary we saw a Little Tern, Kentish Plover and more Audouin's. A Sandwich Tern was spotted out to sea.

We then convoyed down to the dual carriageway overlooking the pools at Vera. Again Black-winged Stilts were numerous, one of which gave an excellent flying display above us. 
Barn Swallows : 'There were two in the nest and the little one said ...
There were about half a dozen Little Egrets, but nothing else of real interest seen till a family got too close to the birds near the main road and put up a small group of Greater Flamingos. A short stop at the pool opposite only added White-headed Duck and Little Grebe. The reeds were getting obstructively high.

We ended up with 40 species after Barrie and Jan got a Cetti's Warbler on the way to lunch! I don't think we'll be returning to today's birding spots till after the tourist season has ended....too much interference! 
An additional photo attached from Kevin and Troy of their nesting Barn Swallows. News re the Eagle Owls near Adrian's house near Velez Rubio....went there on Sunday...they left after 10 consecutive days on the Saturday. Well, that the way it goes sometime!


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.