Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Maidens Harbour

29 December 2009

Luke and I went out to Maidens Harbour this morning, along the coast between Maybole and Turnberry. It was -1c but felt colder due to the stiff breeze constantly blowing into our faces.
Stopping the car near a small pond near Maidens we saw 2 Whooper Swans, with about 10 Tufted Duck. We first heard and then saw a flock of Curlew dart past us over the pond, I love the call of the Curlew. Back in the car we made our way to Maidens. On the way half a dozen Fieldfare were on the ground. Oystercatchers we in abundance on the grass areas aswell as the beach. Also there were groups of Dunlin and Redshank feeding in the sand. We arrived when the tide was fairly close, but soon noticed how it was on its way out as the birds got further away from us. Sightings of another two Curlew on the beach, along with Little Ringed Plovers. Out in the bay I saw my first Red-Breasted Merganser, a lovely looking bird, bobing up and down on the water. Two Shelduck flew in on the water, their bright red bills looked beautiful against the grey water. A lone Rock Pipit was exploring amongst the old fishing nets. It was getting too cold for comfort so we decided to call it a day. On the way home we saw a Buzzard perched on a pole, got good views as it took off, and swooped low over the snow covered field. Not too bad...26 species in 2 hours.

; Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Red-breasted Merganser,Dunlin, Little-ringed plover, Rock Pipit, Curlew, Rook, Jackdaw, Crow, Mute Swan, Whooper swan, Tufted duck, Black-headed gull, Fieldfare, Song thrush, Blackbird, Redshank, Robin, Wood pigeon, Colared dove, Pheasant, Shelduck, House sparrow, Tree sparrow, Chaffinch.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Spain becomes Scotland!

Kirkmichael, South Ayrshire.

Well just a note to mention the reason for the absence of blogs over the past few months!
I have left Spain after 7 gloro¡ious years and have moved back to the UK, well Scotland to be precise....well Ayrshire...South Ayrshire, in the South-West corner of Scotland.
Sadly I havent had much time for birding except on one occasion last week when I went out to what will become my 'local patch'. Its snowing here and is so different from Spain....but I'm loving it!
Will get back to the usual blog as soon as possible...so watch this space. In the meantime, here is a shot taken of the ever popular Robin taken earlier today.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Charca de Suarez Reserve, Motril

28 September 2009 Last Fridays visit to Charca was really enjoyable to say the least. 18 members of the Axarquia Bird Group attended the special visit of the reserve and were all waiting eagerly as Manolo opened the gates to us. 48 species were recorded. To read a detailed account of the visit please go to Bob Wrights Blog: http://birdingaxarquia.blogspot.com/

Birds seen:
Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Snipe, Dunlin, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Bluethroat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Red Avadavat, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow and Spotless Starling.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Tarifa and La Janda

23 September 2009

Had a meeting to attend in Gibraltar so we decided to leave the day before and get a day's birding in near Tarifa and La Janda. We set off early at 6am and was at Tarifa by 9am, even with a stop for desayuno. We started to see the mass exodus from Europe of the migratory birds as we left Algerciras. We stopped first at El Algarrobo and could see many Booted eagles. In the thickets were the familiar sight of male and female Stonechats. We left this spot as the we had heard that good sightings were to be held at the other view point toward Tarifa. Here there were many birding folk all equipped with scopes and camera. There were a Dutch group taking detailed notes on the migration. Flocks of Alpine Swifts would come and go along with a few common swift. The mains raptures were the Booted Eagles and Short-toed Eagles, along with the occasional Sparrowhawk. A Kestrel perched on a post across the main road certainly caught the attention of many, until a Ruppel's Vulture stole the limelight. After a quick cup of tea made from our camping stove, we nearly missed the Osprey as it flew over us heading South. It was amazing to see just how high the Black Stork's soar far higher than the eagles on this occasion. The Egyptian Vulture is easily ID by his tail, think it was a juvenile we saw. Along with the Black Kites and Red kites, nothing else seemed to be in the skies. As we were about to leave for La Janda, everyone got excited as a Goshawk flew across and down the valley. This was a big bird...alot bigger than the Sparrowhawk seen earlier! So it was on to La Janda. This is a beautiful area of green rice fields with a majestic mountain backdrop. Flocks of Glossy Ibis flew to and fro over the fields. Little Egrets and White Storks stood motionless in the fields. Here we had lunch, fried eggs and beans, made from our stove. After lunch we drove slow along the canal to first hear a Kingfisher and then Luke spotted the splash of blue dart along the waters edge. A few Marsh Harriers were hunting in the distant field, but we really got excited when we saw our first definate ID Montagu's Harrier! The little white patch on the top of his tail. In one of the drainage ditches we saw through the scope a Snipe with his long beak. This was a first sighting for Luke. Lapwings, Purple and Grey heron occasionally flew past...yes this was a magical place at this time of year! Birdlist: Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Glossy Ibis, White Stork, Black Stork, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Ruppell's Vultutre, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Kestrel, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Swift, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Spotless Starling, Alpine Swift, Blackcap, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Snipe, Lapwing, Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Purple Heron.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Motril Marshes

27 August 2009

Again I went down early to Motril, well, with the new motorway finished
I can be there in 25 mins. Left at 7.30am and was at the Motril marshes by 8.00. Walked round the tracks and first spotted a juvenile Woodchat Shrike on the wire. Lots of Cattle Egrets were about this morning and were perch in various places. Looking upward there flew over 15 Grey Herons heading toward the reserve. Shame it doesnt open this time in the morning during weekdays...never mind. Walking further i disturbed a couple of Mallards, but just then I saw a bright yellow blob fly into the green reeds. I knelt low and started to creep closer so as not to disturb. It was the Yellow Bishop! I was able to get quite close until it flew away, but what an amazing little bird to see in the wild. The yellow is the deepest, purist yellow one could imagine! Fantailed warblers and Goldfinch were about and then I saw the Red Avadavat's in the reeds again. This is a guanteed place to see these little fellows. Beautiful to watch. I decided to get in the car and drive a little more along some of the tracks, often the car serves as a good hide. I wasnt too long in the car when i saw a rather large bird on a concrete post. Was it a kestrel? Well it kind of looked like one, but as I got closer and looking through the bins, I noticed it had some blue markings! Looking at the head it resembled a bee-eater, then it dawned on me it was probably a Roller. I drove ever so slow and got a good view to confirm it was, I think, a juvenile Roller. Took some photos and tried to get closer, and t he amazing thing was, that it didnt fly away. It just kept looking at the car and I was able to get about 3 metres from the bird until it eventually flew to the next post. Again I stalked it again and watched it for ages. I had only ever seen one once before, and that was high on a wire in Almeria. It was getting hot now so was happy to call it a day and get back to view my pics on the PC.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Charca de Suarez Reserve, Motril

24 August 2009

Went down to Charca again today, especially as Bob Wright yesterday had seen a Yellow-crowned Bishop. Went to the Motril Marshes first and saw the usual Puprple
Heron take to the air as it detected my presence. On the wire above me flew a juvenile Woodchat Shrike, then darted to the ground after its prey. Walking around saw good sightings of the Avadavats, but too far for interesting photos. These are wonderful birds to look at, the red is just hypnotizing! Few Cattle Egrets were about and a few Sedge Warblers. On the road were a dozen Turtle Doves, reluctant to move as I drove nearer to them. Next I went to Charca reserve. All was quiet here and as I approached the hide where the ducks rest, they sensed I was there and about 15 took to flight. Barn Swallows were skimming over the water catching the insects. In the reeds I noticed a Little Bittern in stealth mode. Just then a splash of pure yellow few over the reeds as the Yellow-crowned Bishop came into sight and then disappeared into the long grass again. I wouldnt of been able to make a positive ID, if not to have seen Bob Wrights excellent photos of this bird the day before. On to the main hide and there was plenty to see. Over on the right, in the far corner there were two Night Herons. In the tall trees I saw a flock of Grey Herons, some of them where flying into the lake and landing in the water. Just then I noticed something move right in front of the hide, it was a Little Bittern. Never realised just how "little" these herons are! He was amazing! Then I heard the familiar sound of the Kingfisher, then spotted him on a nearby reed. Shame the light was directly behind him as the photo came out as a silohette. Then he flew to the main island in front of the hide and I got a few shots. Couldnt stay long so it was time to make tracks, but an enjoyable few hours.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Reported by Luke.

We met a friend of ours Marc Anderson at Leroy Merlin store at 7:30am. We headed off to the bridge where I heard a Robin and we saw two Spoonbills in the distance and a couple of Mallards floating in the water. Then we headed into the reserve and we got to the first hide were there was another Spoonbill and also a few Black-winged Stilts also two Little Grebes. We looked in the distance at the Osprey tree were we saw a bird that was in a shape of a Falcon, so Marc got his spotting scope and confirmed that it was a Male Peregrine Falcon, so we all looked at him and got very good views of the Peregrine sitting very calmly in the tree.

We headed off to the second hide and there were 6 White headed Ducks on the pond. Carrying on to the next hide we saw a beautiful view of a Juvenile Woodchat Shrike and then Marc spotted something in the bush and it was a Yellow and Black bird and he confirmed later it was a Black-headed Weaver bird. So continuing, we saw a Beautiful Female Kestrel sitting peacefully and then about 2 minutes later a Female Sparrowhawk flew about 3 meters away.

We got to the next hide and there wasn't much on the pong just a Juvenile Black-winged Stilt and a Coot. So again carrying on to the next hide we saw Kentish, Little ringed and Ringed Plovers, also Curlew Sandpiper and Stilts also Common Sandpiper with a really good shot of a Kingfisher perched and Little Egrets in the pond. We looked at the Osprey tree again and the sun was facing the other way and the Peregrine was still sitting there and we looked through the scope and got some amazing views of this bird of prey as it was hunting along the field and perching again, we were all watching him for about 15 minutes and then he flew up river.
And so we walked back to the car and as we were on the motorway going over the bridge when we saw the Booted Eagle flying over the river. Amazing day all together. 25 Species all together.

Bird List: Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Spoonbill, Mallard, Black winged Stilts, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, White headed Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Woodchat Shrike, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Egret, Kentish Plover, Little ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Kingfisher, Booted Eagle, Monk Parakeets, Black-headed Weaver.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Charca de Suarez Reserve, Motril

14 August 2009

Luke and I spent an enjoyable evening with Bob Wright at Charca de Suarez Reserve in Motril. We had never been there before, but had heard good reports about the place. The main objective was to see the Avadavat's or the Bengali Rojo. A beautiful small red bird! After a little wait for the reserve to open, the gates were unlocked and we set out in a anti-clockwise direction visiting the hides. Nothing exciting at the first hide, just a few Mallards in the distance. Walking to the second, a Nightengale flew across our path and hid in one of the bushes. Flycatchers were active in the trees above. In the second hide we came across three ringers who had been there all day, but they said it had been rather quiet. On the other side of the pond we spotted what was a Squacco Heron, but then deserned it was a Little Bittern. This was a first sighting for Luke and myself of this bird. We then got to the main hide. Quite a few people where watching from this location as there was more activity on the water. After a couple of minutes we saw a Kingfisher skim over the pond and land on a reed. From here he began to dive into the water to fish. In the far tree, there must of been 20+ Grey Heron's all roosting there. It was good to watch the Little Egrets fly in on the little island on the lake. Grey Wagtails were flying about low over the water in search of insects. Coots and Moorhens were happy doing what they do, while a juvenile Night Heron was watching the world go by. Did we see the Avadavat's at the reserve? No, but earlier we had seen them at a pond on the outskirts of Motril, very near the reserve. Maybe next time we will see them.

Birdlist: Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Purple Heron, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Moorhen, Coot, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, White Wagtail, Barn Swallow, Spotted Flycatcher, Nightingale, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow and Spotless Starling.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

RSPB Baron Haugh & RSPB Lochwinnock, Scotland.

26 July 2009

As we had a week in Scotland, we thought we would check out some of the local RSPB centres in the area. The first stop was Baron Haugh near Motherwell. We arrived around 6am and walked to the reserve where there are 4 hides surrounding the lake. At the first hide we didnt see much until after about 15mins, Luke spotted a kingfisher in the distance. It began to fly from reed to reed, giving us beautiful views through the binos. We watched it as it plunged into the still water and fly out onto the reed. Fish in mouth it started to beat the fish on the reed before swallowing it. If only it was closer I would of taken the camera out, but still the next 20 mins gave us so much pleasure as we watched it hunt. All around us wrens were chirping away. So on to the next hide. Here we saw Lapwings and a lone Mute swan. In the distance were a couple of Oystercatchers feeding away. Onto the third hide and we were greeted with a treat as out of the reeds came a Waterrail. This was a first for both of us so we were over the moon to see this bird. All in all we saw 27 species here at Baron Haugh. Then on to Lochwinnock which is at the other end of Glasgow. The loch was very quiet this time of year. We were hoping to see some Great Crested Grebes, but only could see one about a mile away in the distance, even a scope would of had difficulty finding it! The RSPB centre had a photographic hide, kitted out with chairs and camo covering the windows. Again slightly disapointing as the weather wasn't good and the light was poor, but we still managed to get some shots of the usual garden birds. The highlight was when a male Sparrowhawk perched himself on a nearby fence and feasted his eyes on the tiny blue tits and Great tits. Another first sighting for us was in the form of a Lesser redpoll. He appeared for about 3 seconds before flying off never to return. I am happy that I just happened to have the camera ready and so got a half decent shot. We decided to have a walk round the trails surrounding the loch, and came across a Great-spotted woodpecker climbing up one of the trees. Back at the hide he came on a nearby post and I quickly was able to get a few shots off. These are beautiful birds with the red against a pattern of black and white. Here we saw 13 species and so at the end of the day we had totalled 40 species at the 2 reserves.

Birdlist: Lapwing, Magpie, Mute Swan, Common gull, Black headed gull, Wood pidgeon, Great tit Blue tit, Raven, Starlings, Wren, Kingfisher, Sedge Warbler, Mallard, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Waterail, Great Black-back Gull, Common Sandpiper, Wood Warbler, Long-tailed tit, House Martin, Greenfinch, House sparrow, Jackdaw, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Siskin.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Barn Owl

19th July 2009

While visiting my home town of Liverpool, Luke and I met up with Tom Charles, a friend who has a real passion for
nature that is reflected in his photography. Previously we had met up but the weather was dreadful and we couldn´t even venture out of the cars due to the British Summer weather. Anyway, we arranged another expedition to a location in Lancashire, were Charles had seen and captured beautiful images of Barn Owls. (www.tomcharles-photography.co.uk) Luke and I arrived about 15 mins before Charles and never really saw anything except for a lone Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a number of Starlings. Oh yes, a Curlew flew over us and landed in the nearby field. (Later we spent time walking near this bird just to hear the lovely call it was making). When Charles arrived, he spotted in the distance something white flying low over the field. All three of us took binoculars to hand and shouted out in excitement. Luke in particular had been waiting and looking for a sighting of a Barn Owl for over a year, so feelings were truly high! Charles told us to keep low and wait as it would fly toward us near the canal that was between us and the bird. It was amazing to watch this owl systematically hunt up and down the field looking for its prey. It then landed in the field, we think to have a rest. We walked further up the canal and it took off again, flying out of sight. Charles suggested we carry on moving. Suddenly under a small bridge I saw the Owl flying low and was coming straight toward us. Charles excitedly said "Get down lads, and hold fire". All we could do is watch this silent hunter as it amazingly got nearer and nearer to us! With cameras ready we waited until eventually all of us just had to go for it and started to shoot from the heart! The bird just kept coming nearer until it decided to land on the grass floor directly opposite us on the other side of the canal. We were amazed! Within 5 seconds it looked at us and flew off. We were on such a high! The light was now vanishing and was proving difficult to shoot in. Walking back again Charles (with amazing eye sight) spotted a Little Owl perched. As it was too dark to photograph we just looked at this little cute bird! All in all this was an amazing magical night, and as said one that will not be forgotten! Birdlist: Barn Owl, Sparrowhawk, Curlew, Greenfinch, Little Owl, Heron, Mallard, Lapwing.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Summer Bee-eaters

26th June 2009

Been rather busy over the past couple of weeks and have not had much time to get out in the field with the camera. Today, though was an exception. I waited until evening as it was a little cooler to go out and see what the local bee-eaters where up too. Seems like the juveniles had fledged their nests and where happily taking out the insect population.
The sun was still intense at this time of the day, but hiding under an avocado tree, it provided just the shelter I needed. Quickly set up the tripod and got in position...wasnt long before a couple where in view and was able to get a few shots off.
Not much else about..except a flycatcher trying to compete with the bee-eaters.
Birdlist: Bee-eater, Flycatcher, Goldfinch.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Hoopoe's in Nerja

11 June 2009

Last week I took Steven out for a mornings birding, he was on holiday in Nerja and had contacted me to hopefully see some Bee-eaters and Hoopoe's in the area. I knew where the bee-eaters are nesting
so that was not a problem and generally one would nearly always see a hoopoe fly across the fields. I collected him at 9.00 and we set off. Steven is a keen birder and wildlife artist, producing some remarkable paintings of birds he has photographed. I took him to a place I knew for a certain had hoopoe's and before long we were watching them flying about. We noticed in one particular tree in the distance there was a lot of activity. As we made our way quietly we figured a nest may be near. We were able to hide near a old rustic wall and gladly I brought the camoflage sheeting with me so we set up our tripods and cameras and waited, covered by the camo. Not wanting to get too near the nest we just waited and hoped for the best. Not too long a hoopee flew onto the trunk of the tree like a woodpecker would do and within a flash entered a small hole in the tree. Amazing, i had not ever seen this before. Then a minute later he peep his head out and flew from the tree. Steven got some shots of all the action and was well chuffed. We packed away and set off to the bee-eaters. On the way Steven saw another new bird not seen before, a Blue rock thrush, there he was on another wall as we drove away. A couple of days later I returned to the nest and was able to get some photos myself, although I still am looking to photograph a hoopoe in flight...something that is proving very difficult!

Birdlist: Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Thekla lark, Blue rock thrush, Kestrel, Swift, House martin, Swallow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Rio Gordo - Barn Owls?

4th June.
Luke and I were invited by Bob (Birding Axarquia) to take a trip to the Rio Gordo area of Axarquia to hopefully see a pair of Barn Owls. Apparently they have been nesting in this same place now for the past few years. In fact the owners of the property had raised the chicks themselves and since them one of them keeps returning. We met Bob at the agreed location and as he arrived we were greeted by a Short-toed Eagle flying from pylon to pylon. He was of the white plumage variety and watched him hover just like a kestrel in search of prey. Along the track we saw a lovely Woodchat Shrike perched on the end of a olive tree. Thekla Lark were darting to and fro over the track. We arrived at the house which had fantastic views over the valley and were made very welcome by Mark and Kate. As we were scanning looking for the owls, we saw a big bird flying over the valley slightly toward us. I thought it was a buzzard, but both Luke and Bob felt it was a Montagu's Harrier. They arrive in Summer when the Hen Harrier's leave. The tail was rather long so likely was a Montagu's. This was a first for both Luke and myself. The owner had cameras on the nest linked up to his laptop so we could see the chicks inside viewed from his laptop, this was like Springwatch in Spain. Also there was another nest, this time of a Kestrel. It too had I think 4 or 5 chicks in it. We positioned ourselves outside and waited.....and waited. Scanning the countryside guessing where the owl may roost. After an hour still nothing, except the kestrel flying about. What kept us amuzed was watching a family of Stonechat in the bushes just opposite us. A chick had just fledged and still had some of the chick feathers (slightly blueish in colour) on its wing. As the evening fell, still nothing. We had seen in the distance across the valley another Short-toed Eagle perched on a post and noticed a fox walking toward it. Then the fox disappeared, then the eagle?? Ten o'clock came and it was virtually dark by now and still no owl. We packed up our things, said "goodbye" to Mark and Kate, hoping we may see it along the track using the car headlights...but No!. Never mind, still an enjoyable evening in the middle of Axarquia.
Birdlist: Short-toed Eagle, Kestrel, Montagu's Harrier, Stonechat, Thekla Lark, Woodchat Shrike, Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Swift,

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Bempton Cliffs - Razorbills

The razorbills I think were really cute sitting on the cliff edges. They were quite content to watch the Gannets fly to and fro with only occasionally they themselves taking to flight, but would come back again to the exact location on the cliff.
At first glance you think they are just black and white, but upon a closer inspection you can see suble shades of brown merging to black. When they opened their beaks they revealed a beautiful golden yellow colour inside, that really stood out. What looked fantastic was the thin white line as though painted on their faces and beak...very artistic to say the least!.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bempton Cliffs - Gannets

26 May 2009

I know this is a blog on birding activity within Andacusia, but I had such a wonderful time over in the UK last week that I had to mention it in the blog. We planned to get to see the sea birds that the UK offers. I had never seen a Razorbill or a Guillimot, or a Puffin, guess its one of the down sides of living in Spain, well the Southern coast of Spain that is. But really it was the Gannets we really wanted to see.

We drove 3 hours from Liverpool to Bempton and arrived there about 10.30. It was a dull day when we arrived but could see clearer weather out to sea coming in from the East. We arrived at the RSPB shop all excited, greeted by a very friendly girl who told us the best locations to view the birds and so we set off. It is only a few hundred metres from the shop to the cliff edges. Therer must of been thousands of birds all huddled together on the cliff edges while hundreds of birds where in flight. Gannets by far where in the majority, followed by Kittiwakes. They glided past us on the sea breeze and then came into land on the grassy slops like huge 737's. There were many people here, from keen birders to families out for the day. A few photographers where hoping to get the perfect shot and it was good to talk to some of these.

The Gannets must be one of the largest seabirds with a wingspan of nearly 2 metres. Truely a majestic bird to watch, even though
we never saw them dive in for the fish.
I will post another blog of the Razorbills and Puffins we saw at a later time.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Nerja Bee-eaters

19 May 2009

Today I got up early at 6.00am as I was meeting up with Martin Hierck, a bird photographer from Holland.
We decided to try to get some decent shots of the Bee-eaters that have arrived over the last few weeks. Last year I had discovered a nest site of about 30 birds, and so we went to see if they had returned. As we approached by car we could see a few sitting on the electric power lines looking down at us. We parked the car and made a strategy. We both agreed that photos of birds on power lines was not too good, so we found an old branch and tied it to the small foot bridge crossing the road. We had also seen them on this bridge and so figured they might like our branch. The sound of the bee-eater is distinct and we got excited. We both took our positions underneath some advocado trees and waited....and did we wait! One bird nearly landed but had second thoughts. After nearly an hour I said to Martin I would go on a walk about to see if I could try and move them from off the power lines toward our branch, but this had not effect. In the end we gave up, and decided to take a run in the car through the campo. After being towed out of an unusual deep ditch we set about our way. Plenty of Goldfinch and Serin, a few Kestrels flying overhead. On the road ahead of us we saw a snake about a metre in length, guess it was a grass snake, then slithered into the long grass. As we turn the bend a Blue Rock Thrush was sitting on a brick wall, sadly we couldn't get the cameras into position fast enough before it flew away. As time was pushing on, Martin had to leave and head back to Rincon de La Victoria. I decided I would have one last look at the bee-eaters. There they were again on the power lines. I took position under the same tree and waited. This time it only took 5 minutes before the first bee-eater landed on the branch we had erected, then came another and started to share his meal. It was wonderful to see them exchange bees together. It was a shame Martin could not have been there to share my excitement, but I guess that is what birding is all about...we just never know when the moment will happen. Birdlist: Goldfinch, Serin, House sparrow, Kestrel, Blue rock thrush, Bee-eater, Hoopee, Stonechat.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


12 May 2009

Thought I would get a real early start today as the Summer heat seems to intensify each day. By 12 noon it is quite hot and so I arrived at Guadalhorce when it was still dark at 6.00am. I had never been there in the dark before
so ventured over the bridge into the reserve. The tall trees next to the river attracted my attention as I could hear an unusual screach coming from one of the trees. The moon was out which gave me a sillohette of the tree. I saw what looked like a kestrel, same size but the sound coming from it was not that of a kestrel. While I was looking at it another bird much the same size flew near it and both birds flew off and landed in the scrub in the field. Once they took to flight I reckon they were two Nightjars. When I got home I listened on the RSPB site at the Nightjar call, and sounded very similar. Never saw much else while it was dark but I could see the dawn starting to break in the East. When I got to the furthest hide near the sea hide the dawn chorus was in full swing. After sitting in this hide for about 10 mins I decided to go and as I left another Nightjar was flying straight at me. It saw me when it was about 3 metres away and veered to the left. I could make out the white undermarkings as it flapped it's wings. Great excitement. Other than this not much else happened. I waited down near the pond edge under cover for an hour and half and waited to see if any other waders would arrive, but the whole pond was taken over by the Black-winged Stilts. Other than a lone Redshank and a Little-ringed plover nothing else. It was now 10.00am so I started a slow walk back. I met Manuel Aravjo doing some digiscoping but on the pond was only a pair of White-headed duck. When I got to the hide overlooking the main pond there was a Grey Plover amongst the rocks. I had read Andy's blog report as he had seen this bird earlier, so this made up for the lack of waders, as this was a new bird sighting for me.
Birdlist: Nightjar, Shovelar, Black-winged Stilt, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed plover, Redshank, Goldfinch, Swift, Swallow, Martin, Kestrel, Coot, Blackbird, Woodchat Shrike, White-headed duck, Grey Plover.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Rio de la Miel

7 May 2009

Took the moto up to Rio de la Miel, just out of Nerja and past the pueblo blanco of Maro. The road twists and winds up the valley until you get to the top of the mountain range. From here one can see the snow still present on Sierra Nevada.

Not a great birding site, but one can easily expect to see the usual tits, blackbirds and serins. I stopped off near a stream and had a wander up a path to some pine trees. In the distance I could see what looked like a falcon of some sort flying near the crags, but too far for a positive ID. Could of been a Peregrine. Also spotted perched on a crag in the distance was an eagle. If only I had my spotting scope, maybe then I could of identified it. Walking back to my moto I saw a lovely Pied Flycatcher on a dead branch. He was quite happy letting me watch him and he would fly into the air and catch his meal. Also at this altitude there were Stonechat and Whinchat, normally I only see them in the Winter down on the coast.
Birdlist: Great tit, Serin, Blackbird, Nightengale, Pied flycatcher, Stonechat, Whinchat, Goldfinch.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Fuente de Piedra/Alhama de Granada

5th May 2009
After last Monday's amazing birding day I decided to head up to the lagoon again at Piedra. I arrived at 8.45am and there was no one in sight. Great!, I thought. But to my disapointment there were not many birds in sight either. I couldnt believe the contrast from the previous Monday when there were flocks and flocks of waders everywhere! Now there was a few on the various ponds.
There was a group of flamingoes nearer to me than last week so I spent some time watching them and was able to get a nice flight shot. The pink underneath their wings is beautiful, an amazing looking bird!
There was a couple of Avocet, a few Dunlin feeding away, and the usual Redshank. Went to see if I could see the Red-crested pochards again, but they seem to have vanished too. The Curlew Sandpipers were still there, as were the Ringed Plovers, but really not much else. On the wooden bridge a very tame Swallow kept flying and landing on the bridge, and came withing 10 feet of my lens.
I think it was a Marsh Harrier that flew past in the distance over the lagoon, and then at 10.30 a coach load of school kids started to walk towards me. I decided at this point to head somewhere else....and so decided to go and see if the dipper's were still at Alhama de Granada.
I took the road from Antequerra to Granada instead of down to Malaga, passing Archidona. I had heard there are Short-eared Owls in this area, and thought about an evening visit there sometime. Turning off the main A92 toward Alhama the scenery this time of year is wonderful, rolling green fields of grasses and wheat. On the way saw Woodchat Shrike, Kestrels galore, and also a Sparrow hawk.
When I got to Alhama I excitedly started to walk the path through the gorge. I could hear the waterfall in the distance and as I got to the small pond saw the Dipper fly toward the waterfall. I got in position and waited. Had my sandwich and coffee out of a flask and was enjoying the sun on my back whilst listening to the sound of running water. The Grey Wagtails I had photographed some weeks earlier came to visit me again, this time they brought their new family with them. The baby one was so small and was happily churping away, waiting for his mother to come and feed him. Just then in the back undergrowth there was the dipper. I was looking at him through the camera lens waiting for him to get into a better position for a photo, but he was too busy bashing a small fish on the rock. He was trying to kill this fish for about 3 mins and when all life was hammered out of the fish he flew away again in the direction of the waterfall...fish in mouth. I saw the dippers fly up and down the river atleast 15 times but they never stopped on the rocks to where I could get a nice shot.
Just as I was about to call it a day, in between a rock and the log on the embankment, I noticed some movement. Just then a baby dipper appeared! I was so excited, I couldnt find him through my lens and when I went to have another look, he had gone. Just then his mother made a brief appearance on the log and flew off. I didn't even try to get a photo this time, just wanted to savour the moment, even though it only lasted 2 seconds! I was so happy I had been about 8 feet away from a dipper and it's chick.
Driving home just before Zaffaraya, I saw my first Azure-winged Magpie outside of Donana, so all in all a good day really with 30 species observed.
Birdlist: Black-winged stilt, Avocet, Redshank, Dunlin, Common Tern, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Ringed Plover, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Curlew Sandpiper, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Blue tit, Great tit, Dipper, Nightengale, Woodchat shrike, Sardinian warbler, Azure-winged magpie, Jackdaw, Grey wagtail, White wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Serin