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Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater
join us for a fantastic tour of The Gambia this November

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

JULY 31ST - DAY 3 SHORT BREAK - BIRDS 'N' BUTTS

SAN PABLO TRACK - SAN ENRIQUE WOODS - LAGUNA TORREGUADIARO - PALMONES SALT MARSH

distant but you can see it is a Roller
Another hot day but a cracking birding day. We set off at 8:30am and drove the short distance to the track near San Pablo. We stopped the car along the way to look at a bird perched high in a dead tree some 100 meters from the road. It turned out to be a Common Kestrel but to our great delight there was also a ROLLER sitting in the same tree! After several minutes of watching this lovely gem we found a second bird, two Rollers, a great start to the day.
Zitting cisticola


The San Pablo track was as good as ever, we spent a couple of hours walking to the brow of the hill, along the way we listed some good species: Zitting Cisticola, Black Kite, Raven, Common Nightingale, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Bee-eater and lots of common species.
Short-toed Eagle


As the valley opened up towards the top of the hill we found Tawny Pipit, Southern Grey Shrike, Sparrowhawk, Montagu's Harrier and a superb Short-toed Eagle perched on a pylon. From the brow of the hill we found lots of Bee-eaters, another Montagu's Harrier and then a female Hen Harrier put in an appearance, another great bird for the day.

Juvenile Woodchat


At San Enrique Woods we found the usual Tree Sparrow as well as Spotted Flycatcher in the woods and on the river bank we saw Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Kingfisher and Yellow-legged Gull.

Torreguadiaro provided a number of water-birds: Common Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Purple Swamphen and Mallard.

Our last stop was at the Palmones, we walked along the promenade, it was still hot with a nice cooling breeze. The tide was extremely high and most of the birds were huddled together on a, smaller than usual, sand-pit. Five species of gulls: Black-headed, Mediterranean, Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Slender-billed Gull were all present. The only wader on the sand with them was an Oystercatcher. A long search of the salt marsh produced: Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Little Egret ans a single Spoonbill.

a record shot of Slender-billed Gull

On the way back up to Gaucin we stopped at Sierra Crestellina to look for Bonelli's Eagle, The eagle didn't show but we saw Griffon Vulture, a flock of six Red-billed Chough and an adult Egyptian Vulture, a super bird to finish the day with.

Very few butterflies were seen today but we added Speckled Wood and Southern Small White to our list.

Monday, July 30, 2012

JULY 30TH - DAY 2 - SHORT BREAK BIRDS 'N' BUTTS

A long day today and it was very hot, average all day was 30C with little breeze.

From 7am to 9am we visited the 'Dead Tree' found near El Colmenar. This tree has prodcued nearly 20 species since my first visit. Today we saw 8 species but one of them was our target bird - the Golden Oriole. A family party visited the tree several times whilst we were there. Nothing else to report really, just a brief glimpse of a Turtle Dove.

After breakfast we set off into the mountains stopping first at the Rio Guadiaro at Estacion de Cortes. The usual list was gathered there. A nice surpise was the finding of two recently fledged LITTLE RINGED PLOVER chicks, I hope they make it. Other sightings included: Bee-eaters (lots of drab looking individuals), Rock Sparrow, Booted Eagle, Spotted Flycatcher, Cirl bunting and many common species. We also watched a few Alpine Swifts coming to drink, great birds when seen at such close proximity.

Further up the valley and into the Llanos de Libar we added several good birds to our tally - ROCK THRUSH was the best but we did see Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock thrush and lots more Bee-eaters. As we drove through Montejaque we saw a Black Redstrat fly up from the road. At the 'Dam that doesn't work' we found Crag Martin, Alpine swift, Rock Dove and Spanish Ibex.

Lastly we visited the Encinas Borraches track - now it was getting hot, 33C at 2:30pm!  We concentrated on butterflies for a while with good views of: The Hermit, Tree Grayling, Rock Grayling, Adonis Blue, Brown Argus, Spanish chalk hill Blue, Southern Gatekeeper, Cleopatra, Clouded yellow and Bath White.

Despite the heat we managed a good list of birds too! Southern grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear, Spectacled Warbler, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark and Woodlark, lots of Corn Buntings and plenty of Goldfinches.

We got back to Gaucin at 5pm and after a short rest we set off for an evening outing and riverside picnic at the Rio Guadiaro. Our intention was to stay until dark so we could look for nightjars and owls, what a success it was.

During the picnic we noted some good species along the river: Cattle and Little Egrets, White storks flying over, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Heron and lots of Turtle Doves coming to drink. As it got dark many egrets and herons flew over us and headed upriver to a roost site, we also counted 5 White storks doing the same. The hightjars failed to show so we set off back up the valley and soon found our first Red-necked Nightjar flying across the road. The next one was sitting on the road and I nearly ran it over! This was quickly followed by a sighting of a perched BARN OWL, wow, this was my first Barn owl in the area ever!!  We also saw a Little Owl further up the track.

Back at home at 11pm - a long day and I am falling asleep as I write this, good night.  Photos to follow

Sunday, July 29, 2012

JULY 29TH - DAY 1 - SHORT BREAK - BIRDS N BUTTS


I collected Mike from Malaga Airport at 12 noon for the start of his 5 day short break with us here in Andalucia. It was 25C when he got off the plane. We set off for the mountains hoping for some cooler temperatures and shade from the sun.

This Birds and Butterfly Tour list started with Crested lark and Woodchat Shrike, both seen from the car on the way up to the Park Natural Montes de Malaga. We also stopped to look at a Short-toed Eagle that was perched on a pylon.

Bath White

 In the woods it was really hot but we had a nice breeze. Many birds were calling but it was hard to get onto them, we heard Crested Tit, Common Crossbill and Coal Tit before we found Short-toed Treecreeper and a couple of Coal Tits. During the next hour we walked down through a narrow valley and added Blackcap, Robin, Melodious Warbler, Eurasian Nuthatch, Subalpine Warbler and Great Tit.
Cardinal fritillery
 On the way back up to the car we found a good number of butterflies, the best of which were all photographed by MIKE.
Cleopatra

Dusky Heath

Tree Grayling

A better picture of Dusky Heath

Scarce Swallowtail

Saturday, July 28, 2012

JULY 24TH - 28TH AROUND GAUCIN

July 24th - Rio Guadiaro

Dawn and I spent the afternoon in our favourite spot by the side of the river near Estacion de Cortes. We were joined by Ian and Jacqueline friends form the village. We sat for 4 or 5 hours and never moved from the spot. Birds logged included: a good flock of some 30 Bee-eaters, Kingfisher, Turtle Dove, Little ringed Plover, Cirl Bunting, Chiffchaff, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, both Grey and White Wagtails, lots of Barn Swallows, House Martins, Pallid Swifts, Common Swifts (big flocks moving south high up), Alpine Swifts coming to drink. A great sighting was an adult female Montagu's Harrier which flew down the valley, we also saw Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Black Kite and lots of Griffon Vultures.

July 26th  - Rio Genal early am

I visited the Rio Genal alone and hoped for some good sightings of birds coming to drink, however nearly all of the pools have gone now!! There were 5 White Storks in the field adjacent to the river, they didn't budge when I arrived - where was my camera - yes some dip-stick left it at home again! A Wryneck called as soon as I got out of the car but I couldn't find it after a short search. At the only remaining pool there were hundreds of flies, millions of dead fish and just as many maggots crawling out of the dead fish carcasses, how nice. But there were lots of birds coming to drink and to eat the maggots. A very confiding Melodious Warbler came to gorge on maggots, so did Grey Wagtails. A couple of Turtle Doves called from the bushes but failed to show. The Kingfisher dashed by as walked down stream to look for more pools - there were none.

July 27th    - San Pablo track.

Another early morning outing in lovely weather. We met Jacqueline and Ian, Paul and Sue and their two sons Charlie and Tom together with another two of their friends near the church in the village at 7:30am.

Apart from Dawn and myself none of the other group where regular birders, this should be fun - don't you think? However, it did turn out to be great fun, all of them showed good interest in seeing the birds and once they seen a few in the scope I had their undivided for two hours!

We saw lots of Woodchats, Sardinian warblers, Goldfinches, Barn swallow, Common Swifts, Crested larks, Melodious Warblers, Stonechats and a few Ravens. But it was the birds of prey that got them hooked, we were lucky enough to see Short-toed Eagle in the scope, a couple of Montagu's Harriers, Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle and a few Griffon Vultures.

After three hours we were seen at a venta taking breakfast
Later on and further along the track we saw a large flock of some fifty Bee-eaters flying low, some of them perched on a fence line and we also saw those in the scope. A few Ravens flew over, I had a glimpse of a Tawny Pipit and we also saw Collared dove, Robin, Blackbirds, Linnets, Serin. Then we retired for coffee and tostada!

July "8th - Rio Genal

A late morning visit to the dry River bed of the Genal - not quite dried up yet, there is still one remaining pool of water near the bridge.

I sat for two hours watching the pool, swatting flies and getting hot, but it was worth it. I had a great time watching wagtails, finches, tits and warblers, the best of which were: Crested tit, Grey wagtail, Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers, Long-tailed Tit, Kingfisher and many more. Nearly all the birds are either juvenile or adults in the process of summer moult - none of them look good at the moment.

The last remaining pool in the river bed - only 2 meters long and  4 cm  deep

A scraggy looking Crested Tit

A few pics of the delightful Grey Wagtail



Juvenile Goldfinch - no red face yet!



  

Monday, July 23, 2012

JULY 23RD - DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE

Another short trip to the dried-up Rio Genal, I was hoping that the pools were still there but most have now gone. The remaining pools were bright green and full of dead fish.

My favourite little pool under the bridge was just about surviving, I added 8 litres of tap-water to it but even then it seemed to disappear in front of me. The whole area was buzzing with flies and the smell of rotting fish - how nice?

Two White Storks flew off as I arrived and a Common Sandpiper hung around for a while. the usual array of species visited the pool whilst I was there but I added Golden Oriole to my recent list.

A couple of Eels were a surprise as they sloshed about in the mud of the little pool, there are still lots of frogs around and many Pond Terrapins which look quite out of place on the dry river bed.







A family of Blackcaps - note all the youngsters have rufous caps until  after the  winter moult

Long-tailed tit and male Blackcap

Female Sardinian Warbler


Everyone's favourite - the Robin

Saturday, July 21, 2012

JULY 21ST 2012 - RIO GENAL

Well, I call this blog entry the Rio Genal but in fact it is no longer a river - it is merely a series of stagnant pools full of dead and dying fish. The local herons and kingfishers think its Christmas!!

I arrived at 8:30am and sat quietly for a couple of hours and watched the wildlife go by. It was very hot today and no breeze, I had to sit in the shade or fry!

15 different species of birds came down to drink whilst i was there and a Booted Eagle and a Raven flew over. I had great views of Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler neither of which would stand still long enough for a digi-scoped picture. Likewise, Blackcap and Corn Buntings.







The river bed 

stagnant pools full of fish dead and alive


A few weeks ago this was a fast flowing river

A family of Blue Tits


Chaffinch

Cirl Bunting


A Long-tailed Tit sneaks in at the back

Robin - baby above - mother below


Sardinian Warbler
 Just before I left, four White Storks landed just behind me but as I turned to photograph them they immediately took off. After a couple of circuits above me the storks left the area, shame.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

JULY 18TH - BUTTERFLIES


ENCINAS BORRACHES TRACK

This was a late morning visit to the Encinas track just south of Ronda. I didn't arrive until 11:30am because I wanted to look at butterflies and not birds so much.

It took me nearly 90 minutes to get 50 meters along the track as there was so much to look at and so many different species flitting by. The blues are a hard bunch to sort out and several species of grayling were also on the wing.

Here are a few of them:  

Adonis Blue above and below


DUSKY HEATH

Dusky Heath

Two bad shots of THE HERMIT


another bad shot of THE HERMIT

SAGE SKIPPER

SMALL HEATH

SOUTHERN GATEKEEPER

SOUTHERN GATEKEEPER

BELIEVE OR NOT THIS IS A SPECTACLED WARBLER

BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR - JUV

STRIPED GRAYLING