DOWN UNDER 1 : Introduction & Parrots

As many of you know, I was gracing the Antipodes with my presence from 21 January through to my return on 25 February. This involved stopping over in Brisbane with birding friends from university days (many moons ago and we remain friends! in two sections, the first from 21-25 January and then on the return from 21-24 February. My friends David and Florence live on the outskirts of Brisbane in a place called The Gap and there I saw in those days of intensive birding within a 50km radius of The Gap David and I saw some 168 spp. of which only around 153 were new!
The interim period was spent in New Zealand, first doing a three week with Wrybill Tours - www.wrybill-tours.com - which I recommend most highly, from 26 January through to 16 February, after which I went back up to Kaikoura for three days extra pelagicking. The tour leader was Brent Stephenson, co-author of the recently published 'Birds of New Zealand - a photographic guide' and also co-rediscoverer of the New Zealand Storm-petrel a decade since (and of which more anon once I sort out all 2.400 or so photos) which promises ot be a long task. If my NZ total is correct I saw 153 spp. there, of which only 99 were new, but some of these had already been new across in Oz.
However, it seemed that I ought to put something in to titillate the ornithological appetite, so here is a selection of the parrot photos from around Brisbane and from New Zealand, including the infamously destructive Kea!
I should point out that photographing some of these species if virtually impossible as they either flash across or feed high in the swaying tops of the eucalyptus trees, hence the relatively slim selection, although the Kea's and Sulphur-crests made up for it! The Australian species are taken from the South Queensland list order.
GALAH Seen occasionally, always in small flocks, a splendid and colourful species.
LITTLE CORELLA : Scarce, we found only two or three small flocks around Brisbane.

SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO : As a youngster I always wanted of these splendid birds and we saw them daily as a flock fed on the grass and gravel at a local primary school and we saw them daily there or flying across over the house as they went to roost!


 KING PARROT : Seen freqently and especially at a bar/restaurant J.M. Jones on Mount Nebo out in the boondocks where you get a handful of sunflower seeds and wild birds fly down to feed from your hand (and arm) and occasionally squabble over and on you!

Other species seen  although not photographed around The Gap and Brisbane included Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Rainbow Lorikeet which were seen daily but diabolically difficult to photograph as they fed high in the eucalyptus tops around David and Florence's home and the only two shots aren't worth putting in here; Little Lorikeet; Crimson and Pale-headed Rosellas.

Once over in New Zealand, home of so many introductions, we did see a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and an Eastern Rosella. We saw both Red-crowned and Yellow-crowned Parakeets - again I got no decent photos as they were usually high in the canopy and I make no pretensions to be a top bird photographer, and on an island cleared of pr4edators we were extremely lucky when a very photogenic and very rare Orange-crowned Parakeet made a brief 30 second appearance in full view after a long time waiting to see one.

We also succeeded in seeing Kaka well in rather unnatural circumstances where the species was being reared and birds hacked out with food available for them (note the rings), although we also saw and heard truly wild ones.

And finally in New Zealand, up at Arthur's Pass on the South Island, the famous - or infamous - Keas which love ripping off the rubber parts of any vehicle such as windscreen wiper blades, door and windscreen sealings, and so on and for which the insurance companies will not pay. At least one loved car-surfing, which involved staying - heaven knows how- on the roof of the car whilst it drove off until enough was enough and it flew back to wreak more havoc on fresh arrivals!

Guard has to be mounted on the vehicles to prevent vandalisation by these avian delinquents! Which ends part 1 of the trip report!


27 March : Guadalhorce ponds

normal White-headed Duck
A cool breeze but not too bad later on when the sun rose in later morning although the rising wind rather wiped out any advantage. Howsomever, a nice quiet walk - too damned quiet bird-wise - around with my sister was pleasant, even though the place wasn't exactly teeming with birds as the wind made every petit merde hide down in the bushes and scrub and the only migrants seen/heard were Willow/Chiffs which refused to show well and a couple of Reed Warblers! No shrikes, no wheatears, no Yellow Wags. On the plus side there were plenty of Barn Swallows and House Martins and also a pair of Red-rumped Swallows, always a delight and which made my sister happy.
black-headed White-headed Duck
pied-headed White-headed Duck
Neither were there many waders with the usual Stilts, although not in the numbers nor the level of hysteria that I would expect at this date, 4 Sanderlings, a few Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, a couple of Avocets and singles of Redshank and a single Little Stint. Not a lot. There are still a few Cormorants around and occasional Grey Herons. There were all the normal ducks that one would expect, but again in small numbers, and the only real interest was in the presence of a black-headed White-headed Duck and another which was also obviously carrying the same recessive gene to a lesser extent, the rest being normal birds as these three photos show. If I remember rightly, Dave E-B and the Arboleas Group had a similar black-headed male some time since down their neck of the woods.


26 March : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

After an exceedingly windy night here in Torremolinos which had been preceded by a morning up at Fuente de Piedra on Monday which was not worth writing about, there being next to nothing except for around 14 Black-tailed Godwits and 3 Ruff, but no other waders and not a single Yellow Wagtail, I spent the mornign Málaga with my sister who visiting from DarK Satanic Mill-land and did see my first Alpine Swift, having seen several groups of Pallids the previous afternoons. Up to 4 Lesser Flamingos have been seen at the laguna in recent days, but their presence is rather irregular and Greater Flamingos aren't showing much signs of breeding yet according to Manolo Rendón, the director of the reserve. However, Dave & Co. did rather better, as you can read .... By the by, it is believed that the Great Bustard seen is a wandering male from the Albacete population which has been seen several times in recent winters.
     After the stresses and problems of the last few weeks I was hoping to improve my mood with some decent birdwatching with friends. It didn't look good, what with extremely high winds overnight, but as Gilly, Val and I headed south towards Cabo de Gata the wind seemed to be decreasing. We met up with Colin, Sandra, Rod, Kevin and Troy at the cafe in Pujaire before heading for the first hide. I was the first to spot the Oystercatcher on the causeway. There were also pinky Slender-billed Gulls and some Grey Plovers. The water level had dropped since our last visit so there was a muddy shore on which shorebirds could feed. The option was taken up by Kentish Plovers, a Redshank and a Ringed Plover. Small numbers of hirundines were seen, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Sand Martins. I also spotted a pair of presumed Pallid Swifts over towards the village. All the other usual suspects were seen which included Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Shelduck, Little Egret and Southern Grey Shrike.
     I'd already spotted a distant Gannet out to sea before we drove to the second hide. We walked over to it, not seeing much on the way. I spotted a Spoonbill flying & landing on a small island. We then managed to see various small birds despite the wind. Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, Yellow Wagtail, Whitethroat and a female Woodchat Shrike. Scanning the savannah between us and the next village along I spotted our target bird for the day, the previously seen Great Bustard. Luckily it lined up beautifully with the village church so its location was easy to describe. We all had good views, a first for a number of the group.
     Suitably happy, we carried on towards the public hide, seeing a large number of Sandwich Tern feeding just beyond the violent surf. As we drove into the approach lane a few Lesser Short-toed Larks flew over. A Skylark serenaded us from up high. We only added Black-necked Grebe on the water, but Colin saw a Black Redstart in the enclosure. There were a few Black-tailed Godwits on the right hand causeway.
     After a refreshing cuppa at the cafe adjacent to Cabo de Gata village beach, we drove along the beach-side track to the Rambla de Morales lake. The wind speed had increased somewhat, so no cameras or telescopes were carried. Even so numerous White-headed Ducks could be seen. Colin spotted a wader in one of the little sheltered bays with some Black-winged Stilts....a Spotted Redshank. A female Teal added to a very short wildfowl list. Kevin just managed to blurt out Glossy Ibis as it took to the air giving everyone good views. Also seen were Common Pochard, Coot, Moorhen and a Black-necked Grebe in full breeding plumage. As we reached the large puddle at the end of the reeds we were happy to see three Green Sandpipers, a Kentish Plover and a Yellow Wagtail there.
     All in all a very good days birding, especially the Great Bustard! Pity about the wind. Even so we had 49 species.


18 March : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

My apologies to Dave and the rest of the group for the late posting of this. I forgot about it in the mass of e-mails that are assailing me, especially spam. A lovely shot of the male Serin, they are lovely little things - I have some hanging around the garden.
Rambla de Almanzora
   After the cold of last week up at Maria we decided we needed the warmer climes of the Rambla de Almanzora. We all met up above the old ford. The sun was out & there was little breeze. Below us in the pools opposite we saw numerous Black-winged Stilts, Mallards, a pair of Shoveler, Little Ringed Plovers, Common and Green Sandpiper and Redshank. Further up we added Little Stint, Snipe and Greenshank. Small birds included Chiffchaff, a Les-spotted Willow Warbler, an obliging male Serin giving it some from a tobacco shrub, both Water and Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail and a Great Tit. A few Barn Swallows were seen and John claimed some Red-rumped Swallows near the main road. Further up towards the defunct Desalination Plant we added Little Egret and Teal. As we walked back to the cars a Cormorant flew off.
     After a refreshing cuppa at Villaricos we headed for the beach. It being a national holiday (and Fathers Day) here in Spain there were a few motorhomes encamped on the flattened area. On the rocks were the usual Cormorants plus 10 Turnstones, a sleeping Audouin's Gull and a Sanderling. We wandered over to the estuary. It was quite weeded up allowing birds to feed upon it. These included Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper and, after some discussion, Yellow Wagtail. A Zitting Cisticola was also seen. We sauntered back along the beach towards the cars, seeing more Sanderling, Turnstone and adding Dunlin. Birding wasn't helped by a low flying microlight whining above us.
      It was then off down to the Vera pools, firstly stopping at the dual carriageway. There were hundreds of House Martins. More Shoveler and Teal were seen. Charlie spotted a raptor high up in the distance which obligingly came closer to be identified as a female Marsh Harrier. Her smashing male partner was seen quartering over the reeds. As Gilly and I were on a time schedule, we moved on to the pools opposite the Cosum supermarket. Little Grebe appeared to be beginning to nest. Grey Heron were also seen as was a Common Pochard. The adjacent pool only contained another Pochard and two Coot. However the next one, which is the end of the dual carriageway pool had numerous Shoveler resting on it and about 8 White-headed Ducks. Gilly and I then left. About an hour later, when passing Mercadona at Puerta Rey we saw a Red-rumped Swallow......never doubted you, John!


14 March : Guadalhorce (9 March) & Lags. Dulce & Fuente de Piedra (12 March)

As I noted this morning when putting in the note on the Ruddy Duck (please read if you've not seen it) , I have been very busy, still going through 2.400 photos and rejecting a lot, then eliminating a file totally in error which meant downloading and starting some of it (only about 1.200 photos) all over again - a right waste of time!) and then starting putting two lectures together as noted in a previous blog headed ANNOUNCEMENT. So, a brief note on my stuff before another of Dave's comes in!.
male iberiae Yellow Wagtail
Sunday, 9 March : Guadalhorce early, along with Paco Rivera (all the time) and Antonio Tamayo and Antonio Miguel Pérez (each for part of the time). A few raptors including the Osprey which took off in search of breakfast, a Kestrel and 2 Booted Eagles, one a dark morph bird, whilst the surprise of the morning (and probably bird of the day) was a Short-eared Owl.
There was a quite decent showing of ducks but nothing outstanding, whilst there were 9 species of waders including some hormonally active Little Ringed Plovers (but not as much as those we saw at Fuente de Piedra) as well as 3 Greenshanks (always nice) and a similar number of Dunlin and 2 Black-tailed Godwits. It was nice to see an iberiae race male Yellow Wagtail at the laguna Grande where there was also an odd gulls, size-wise a Comon but with some characteristics, including the bill, of a Ring-billed. I personally think that it may have been a hybrid of the two spp. (they have interbred) but people ore going for the rarer. An odd bird, that's for sure.
We also had brief views of a Bluethroat, there were plenty of Barn Swallows and a few Sand Martins. Not a big of even full list but I wasn't taking many notes and missed noting down an awful lot.
Wednesday, 12 March : A long morning out with Ron, starting first at the laguna Dulce (Campillos)  where we ran in to Jose Miguel Ramñirez counting ducks and searching for the aforementioned Ruddy Duck. Lots of Barn Swallows and a few Sand Martins, also 3 Tufted Ducks still, plus a good dozen of Red-crested Pochards, the males very handsome. There was lot of Black-necked Grebes, most in full breeding plumage, but rather fewer Great Crested than we might have expected.
Gull-billed Tern
From there we went on to Fuente de Piedra with the aim of looking for waders and, hopefully, a Lesser Flamingo. Alas, no Lessers (2 have been seen over at Osuna) but Pallid Swift had been seen by eaarlier birders (we didn't) and also 4 Mongooses (mongeese?) and I heard but didn't see a Woodchat Shrike at Cantarranas where there were 2 Marsh Harriers. Waders, yes there were, with at least 19 Black-tailed Godwits, some very handsome and splendid when in flight, and 5 Ruffs and singles of Redshank, Lapwing and Common Sandpiper. Ron counted some 18 or 19 Little Ringed Plovers which were being very noisy and hormonal. We walked round towards La Vicaria and were rewarded with views of 3 bright yellow male iberiae Yellow Wagtails, too bright to be true! We finished off with a pair of elegant Gull-billed Terns, the first of the spring.

13 March : Cabo de Gata and Ruddy Duck appeal

Another missile - sorry, missive - from Dave before the cat (a.k.a. Gilly) returned from Blighty to nail him to the wall. I have two write-ups to do myself but those will have to wait until the weekend as I am still sorting out photos and labelling them for the talks in Málaga and the Doñana Bird Fair as well as fitting in the England-Italy game in the Six Nations. Life is full but first an appeal.
RUDDY DUCK : Back in late February a male Ruddy Duck was seen on three consecutive dates at the laguna Dulce, Campillos (Málaga), it disappeared and then reappeared again at the same site in early March  and has not been seen since then, in spite of intensive searching by personell from Medio Ambiente. I'm sure that you all know about the elimination of Ruddy Ducks in the UK and in Spain because of the hybrisation problem. Therefore I ask that if the bird is spotted then you get in touch with me a.s.a.p., or with the Manolo Rendón at Fuente de Piedra, giving the site name, with GPS position if you have that capability. Basically, if this male takes up with a female White-headed, both will have to be eliminated to avoid the hybrid risk.

     The "cat" was flying in to Almeria Airport at 10.20am so the "mouse" had only a short time to "play"!
I left the house at 6am and was drinking Thermos coffee at the first hide at Cabo de Gata as the sun appeared over the mountain by 7.30am. All the usual suspects were there: Greater Flamingos, Slender-billed Gulls and Avocets were the most numerous. There were 2 Eurasian Curlews on the causeway and I counted 55 Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the shallows. Obligingly a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits flew over to feed quite close to the hide. Waders also seen were Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Kentish Plover and Grey Plover, either singles or in small numbers. The only wildfowl I saw were a small group of Mallard and a flight of 5 Shelduck. Small land birds included Crested Tit, Spotless Starling, Greenfinch and Stonechat. A Kestrel was also spotted behind near the pumping station and an adult Gannet out to sea. There were a few Barn Swallows but not a heavy "fall" yet.
     As I had a time constraint, I skipped the trudge to the second hide and headed for the public hide. I added Cormorant and Yellow-legged Gull to the list. Also seen were a pair of Sardinian Warblers and a female Black Redstart. I left there and, as I was in my 4x4, headed round the rear of the reserve. The track was in a reasonable state. Dry, but a few areas where it was bumpy. There were numerous Corn Buntings and Crested Larks. I added Greenshank to the wader list. On one of the distant farm buildings I spotted two Little Owls. However when I got down to near the end of the track another one was observing me from the top of a wall. Also seen were Hoopoe, Robin and White Wagtail.
 I just had time for a café and tostada in Pujaire before heading for the airport.


TWO ADS: SEO-Málaga talk ; Doñana Bird Fair

Not often do I do this but in view of the fact that some of the contents will be of interest, although all the talking part will be in Spanish, first below there is the ad. for a talk on pelagic seabirds - Aves Marinas Pelágicas -. that I am giving for SEO-Málaga on 11 April. However, I am putting the names of the birds in English and Spanish at the bottom of each power point photo to make life easier for all. The same talk, in a shortened versión, will also be given at the Doñana Bird Fair, more precisely on the Friday  at 13.00h..

Second, there is now a web page devoted to the SEO Doñana Bird Fair on 1-4 May at Dehesa de Abajo. This page may be reached and read in English (click on Union flag) at www.donanabirdfair.es

12 March : Sierra de María

Hot on the heels of Dave's excursion to El Fondo/Hondo, another today to the Sierra de María -boy, is the mouse having a good time! It is nice to see a local guide in Spanish and German.
     Gilly is due back tomorrow morning. Was I staying in to clean the house & do the washing? No, I was heading to the Sierra de María where I met up with 15 other members of the Arboleas Birding Group for some, as it turned out, non-fairweather birding! The sky was full of cloud, which was spewing over the mountain ridge. Someone with a smart car said the temperature was a cool 4ºC.

     We first headed down towards the plain, stopping at the farm buildings. As we arrived a low flying Griffon Vulture departed westward. Above the water deposit we could see up to half a dozen Crossbills waiting to drink at a puddle. They were joined by a Blue Tit and a pair of Goldfinches. We all could hear a Corn Bunting nearby, but saw no sign of it. We did see Chaffinch and White Wagtail. Also seen were Mistle Thrush, Rock Sparrow and Woodlark.

     We then descended upon the water trough area where there were many more Rock Sparrows and Corn Buntings. Les spotted a Linnet. A Crested Lark was seen as well as a distant Griffon Vulture just under clouds above the mountain ridge. We then convoyed across the plain. I didn't see a single bird, but Adrian saw a Barn Swallow and Rod a Carrion Crow. We had much better luck at the hamlet. I spotted a pair of disappearing Red-billed Choughs. At least 4 Lesser Kestrels were present as was a solitary Black Redstart. A flight of about 20 Calandra Larks flew over.

     Brian was badly affected by the cold so he and Mary headed home while we made for the La Piza cafe for a brew. From inside we observed Great, Coal and Blue Tits visiting the cone bird feeder. A Short-toed Treecreeper showed up as well. A Robin and Chaffinches were ground feeding. Some Jays were also seen.

It was next up to the chapel, seeing a Common Kestrel on the way. Colin also spotted a Southern Grey Shrike. It began to drizzle as we walked up to the Botanical Gardens. We all entered the Information Centre as drizzle turned to light rain. 5 minutes later it was frozen sleet! We retreated back to the cars, some heading home, the rest heading back to La Piza for an early lunch.
We depleted the cafe's supply of the very good Sierra de Maria Bird Guide, in fact the owner sold his personal copy as well. As we were driving off, Alan, John and Adrian in the car in front of me suddenly stopped. Had seen a large bird of prey flying off. Pretty certain it was a Goshawk!

     30 species for the day, not bad considering the weather! Hopefully the Rambla de Almanzora next week will be a lot warmer!

8 March : El Fondo, Alicante

Dave promised that the mouse would play whilst the cat was away, and thus it was .....
     Told you I'd be out playing while Gilly's in the UK! Having dropped her off at Almeria Airport on Thursday, I popped over to Las Norias. Very disappointing. Hardly anything of interest there and no photos, hence no report.      I conspired with Barrie to book up for El Fondo on Saturday. We had to be at the North Gate at 09.30 to be let in by a ranger. I got there very early so managed to do a bit of birding beforehand. I made my way to the local rubbish tip. There were stacks of Cattle Egrets waiting in the trees for tasty snacks, but they were outnumbered by hundreds of gulls, mostly Black-headed, but a few Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed. Jackdaws were also seen, plus an overflying Grey Heron. I got back to the entrance where I met up with Barrie. Apart from about 6 Spanish, there was also two local British Birders, Graham and Gordon. This part of the reserve is only open Saturdays 09.30 - 12.30 hrs by reservation only. The not-so-good Information centre area is open normally, I believe. It's all going to pot because of access disputes with the landowners. I only hope something gets sorted to preserve this important bird reserve.

     Thankfully a coachload of 43 failed to turn up so we entered & made our way down towards the viewing platform down the far end. Graham and
Gordon stopped at a raised hide half way along (more later). On the way down we stopped to observe at least 4 Booted Eagles around the line of eucalyptus trees. Barrie also saw a Southern Grey Shrike. At the platform we saw Little Grebe and Common Pochard on the smaller lake. The larger lake had more of the above plus Shoveler, Teal, Cormorant and Great Crested Grebe. Also seen were Tufted Duck, Black-winged Stilt and Shelduck.

The reeds contained a phenomenal amount of Chiffchaffs, so it was a nice change to see some Reed Buntings. Cetti's Warblers were heard. Both of us saw "it" at the same time and both said "Merlin" simultaneously as the bird shot low over the reeds. Within a minute I spotted Penduline Tits feeding on the reed tops.

     We made our way towards the hide by the channel, seeing Stonechat on the way. We both saw the passing Osprey at the same time, but Barrie spotted a distant Purple Swamphen first. Black-necked Grebes were also seen.    
We then walked towards the hide in the centre of the reserve. It is surrounded by about 50 metres of reeds, then water. I missed the Little Bittern seen by Barrie. At the hide we had good views of Marsh Harrier and distant views of the now perched Osprey. I spotted a flight of about 12 Black-tailed Godwits. A large shadow then passed over the hide....a Great White Egret.

   We got back to the viewing platform at about 12.10 where we met with some other British birders who informed us one of the three Great Spotted Eagles had been showing well all morning at the hide Graham and Gordon were at. We got into our vehicles raced to the scene. Climbed up to the top and were delighted to be shown the distant eucalyptus tree where the eagle was still perched. Couldn't tell which one it was, but it was probably " Not Tonn", as no satellite aerial could be seen and not "the other one" as it was a full adult. A Little Egret also seen. We left the reserve at exactly 12.30 and headed for the Information Centre. There, we had our picnic lunch watching the collared Red-knobbed Coot and Purple Swamphens in the Centre's little pool. There are two hides a short walk from there. At the furthest we saw Greater Flamingo, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck and an uncollared Red-knobbed Coot. We added nothing to the list at the nearer hide. I'd been saying we had not seen one single hirundine all day when Barrie spotted a small mixed flight of Barn Swallows and House Martins above the Centre which completed our list.
      A cracking days birding. 50 species in total.


5 March : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

If, after reading the below, from Dave, you don't think that he's a devious little chap in the eay he's
shunting Gilly off to the UK, then I'm a saint (and pigs also fly!).  However, it's nice to hear of waders moving, as I saw last Friday at Fuente de Piedra and Ron Appleby reports from the Guadaklhorce. I've seen my first Pallid Swift from the terrace and the Serins are singing, in spite of the bitingly cold wind. I really do excited about Dung Beetles, useful though they be!

All night the winds were rattling so birthday girl, Gilly, and I weren't overly confident of having a good days birding at Cabo de Gata and the Rambla de Morales. However by the time we'd picked up Val at Los Gallardos the wind had died down thankfully. We met up with Alan & John at the cafe in Pujaire before heading to the first hide. Behind us on the power line was a Southern Grey Shrike and a Corn Bunting. Later we added Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler. On the water in front of us there were Greater Flamingos, loads of Avocets, a few Black-tailed Godwits and some Slender-billed Gulls. John spotted some Grey Plovers on the savannah. I spotted a Ruff on the causeway. Also seen were Redshank, Kentish Plover, a pair of Greenshanks, Little Egret and 5 Eurasian Curlews. A couple of Stone Curlews were observed on the savannah. I spotted a pair of long distanced Spoonbills. A Hoopoe was heard. Crag Martins were overhead.
     We checked out the sea before yomping to the second hide. There were some Gannets and Alan spotted a Cormorant. At the hide "my" Spoonbills were asleep on one of the islands. I spotted a pair of Shoveler & John clocked a Shelduck. Gilly was the first to see the male Subalpine Warbler, our first of the year. Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Sardinian Warbler were also seen. A Thekla Lark posed very obligingly for the camera.
     Val spotted the first new bird at the public hide, a Black Redstart. We added Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Black-necked Grebes, a Yellow Wagtail and John saw an Audouin's Gull.
I then saw two large birds flying to the left of us, Common Cranes. Alan said, "There's a big bird to the right of them." With Gilly's help we got the scope on it. A large Eagle but very distant. Thought it might fly away unidentified, but then I glimpsed a dark tail end with white bar....a juvenile Golden Eagle. We headed for coffee, well satisfied and adding Kestrel on the way!
     After refreshments we drove along the beach track to the Rambla Morales. There was nothing at the beach end so we wandered down the track. There were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls on the water together with some Greater Flamingo. The Crag Martins were joined by a few House Martins and some Barn Swallows but in small numbers. A pair of Stone Curlews showed well, as did a Mediterranean Gull amongst the Black-heads. Val had just said about seeing Golden Plover on a previous visit when a flock of 24 flew over. Also seen were White-headed Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt and Ringed Plover.
     We ended on 53 species for the day. A brilliant day's birding. Gilly also photographed a Dung Beetle. Some local news...Les Senior saw Red-breasted Mergansers off Vera Beach and Colin Harrison saw and photographed a Bee-eater at Villaricos, a very early bird!
     Bought Gilly a weeks stay in the UK with her sisters for her birthday.....leaves tomorrow so watch this space for further bird reports this week.....while the cats away.....etc!