16 August : Guadalhorce

I know that I have said it before but it really does bear repetition. Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun ..... and yesterday (16 August) I was so brassed off with no birding and too much time thinking and looking at this screen that I did. I grabbed the nearest pair of binoculars and at about 15.45 set off for the Guadalhorce, heat, sweat, toil and tears and all. And, like a fool, forgot to take any water, refused to hump around a scope and camera with me. A nice, gentel trudge around would, I thought, do me good. It did, except that I got slightly dehydrated but that was remedied when I got home some three hours later.
So what did I see? Well, basically I went to look for waders but even vefore getting in came across the most superbly patterned chameleon, a really big chap about 12 cms long who was trying to imitate the pattern of the wire fence to which he was clinging. Damn, no camera!
A nice steady pace of not more than 1.5km/h was ideal and even then it started to get rather hot. The first decent bird was a female Northern Wheatear which showed very nicely. Nothing at the laguna de la Casilla going down the eastern track and at the wader pool (second hide) 4 Redshanks - there were at least 6 in the whole area, and singles of Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Dunlin, not counting the omnipresent you-know.what hystericals. Further down in the río Viejo area it was solid with gulls, there being at least 200 (and probably a lot more) of Audouin's in all plumages ranging from juvenile through to adult. An object lesson for gull watchers. Then add all the Yellow-legged, some Lesser Black-backs and Black-headeds, and there must have been quite easily well over 500 present. I looked but between only binoculrs and heat haze couldn't find anything else.
I didn't fancy walking along the beach so walked gently back, the Northern Wheatear was still there so I shuffled round to the laguna Escondida where there was an awful lot of nothing. The laguna Grande was rather better with 2 Grey Herons and a few more waders, including a Whimbrel which was fast asleep and never stirred, a single Oystercatcher left over from the group that was there earlier in the week, 2 more Curlew Sandpipers and another Dunlin, making a total of 3 for the afternoon. Finally, after hearing at least 2 distant Greenshanks calling on and off they decided to take off and  flew off  in the general direction of Gibraltar.
By now I had a headache, a first symptom of dehydration, and cursed myself for coming without water so it was time for home. A very pleasant afternoon, in spite of the heat, and with some birds at least.
P.S: Dave and Gilly E-B went down to the Strait whale watching on Thursday and saw some 14 Orcas. Aaagh - it is possible to go off people.


06 August : at sea in the Strait of Gibraltar

At last, a new entry you may rightly say. In excuse, I must give family problems as one major part, another the fact that we are in the hot season (although I really should get out and see some wader passage now) and I am very busy drawing and writing for a book which will be handed in about 10 months late if I can maintain the present rate of progress.
However, I should also add that there aren't going to be too many blogs between now and mid October at the earliest as for reasons totally beyond my control I had to reschedule the cataract surgery on both which was going to be in early July and will now be in the second part of September, so bang goes another month out, which is why I'm bashing on with the writing and dzrawing (which I actually finished last night). On the plus side, I should be able to see a hell of a lot better after it!
Last Wednesday we went down to Tarifa for a 3 hour trip out with Turmares to try and see some cetaceans, especially the Orcas or Killer Whales which have been seen intermittently. In that we were unlucky, in fact neither did we see Sperm or any other whales, but we did get in amongst a big pod of some 200 (guesstimate) Striped Dolphins, many with small youngBottle-nosed and finally a few Pilot Whales (which are more closely related to dolphins).

In the bird line things were equally bad, if not downright poor. We saw at least 3 Black Kites crossing towards Tangiers, 4 or 5 Cory's Shearwaters but no Balearic Shearwaters, which rather surprised me; the odd Yellow-legged Gull crossing between continents and that was it. No masses of Black Kites, no huge spiralling flocks of White Storks, in fact, a lot of nothing. So you'll just have to make do with these photographs!