Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Fuente de Piedra

28 April 2009

Yesterday I managed to get the time to take Andy's suggestion to visit Fuente de Piedra. He had emailed me to say the whole place was alive with every kind of wader and perfect for some bird photography. I couldn't wait to get up there and so early Monday morning was my chance. When I arrived the sun shone and there was no wind and the lagoon had a stillness that was amazing! There was thousands and thousands of flamingoes that covered the lagoon like a pink mist. I had never seen Piedra looking so spectacular.

I walked over the wooded foot bridge and was amazed at the variety of birdlife. I could see a good number Black-winged stilt. Many of them where flying about and 'playing' with each other, as they do in Spring. I could see quite a few Ruff and one particular with different plumage. Well, I think it is a ruff.(Please comment to confirm this is a Ruff)
I spent a good time here getting various flight shots. I found that if I lay down on the bridge, then the birds would forget I was there and start to get closer. Avocets were in good number, and I had fairly good opportunities to get them in frame and also in flight. These are wonderful looking birds, so elegant and graceful. They look fantastic when flying.
Just then a Ringed Plover started to be curious of me. He was hesitant at first, but gradually took the courage to come closer to me. I was rewarded with some nice close up shots.
I decided to have a look at the other parts and went to the indoor hide overlooking the small lake. I saw on the edge a flock of Gull-billed Tern, never seen these before. Also on the little island there was a orange headed duck with a red beak. A quick look and identified it as a Red Crested Pochard. I later saw a couple more on the small pond where the rabbits are. Again this was another first sighting for me.

This was definately the best day I have enjoyed at Piedra and thanks to Andy Paterson for letting me know. You can read Andy's review at his Birding the Costa blog. There is a link on the right of this page.

Avocet, Redshank, Black-winged stilt,Sanderling, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Flamingo, Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Moorhen, Coot, Greenshank, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Little stint, Goldfinch, Swallow, Red-rumped swallow. Yellow wagtail, Corn Bunting.

Monday, 20 April 2009


18 april 2009

Today I had to go to the airport to collect my mother, so we decided to get a few hours of birding in at the ponds. There was definately more activity on the water with numerous White-headed ducks and Pochards about. In the main hide in front of the large pond we noticed seven herons flying toward us in the distance, as the got near we identified them as Purple Heron. They flew right over us, quite a spectacular start to the morning.

Working our way round the hides we saw the usual birds, but enjoyed watching 3 Bee-eaters playing about and landing on the long thin branches of the bushes. Many Woodchat Shrikes could be seen, never seen so many in one morning. The Osprey was feeding all morning on the same post, never leaving this position. I never take it for granted that he is still there and could be seen at any time, feeding within fairly close range. Such a sight would be spectacular in the UK. At the last hide before we hit the beach we saw Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Avocet and 9 Whimbrel.

So it was on the the beach and could observe 4 Sandwich Terns diving for fish where the river meets the sea. Also a flock of Turnstones came close to us on the rocks, they seemed quite tame. Looking over we saw Sanderlin and a Kentish Plover, but saw a different wader. Getting out the books it turned out to be a Dunlin with its black bit underneath. This was a first for both of us.

Altogether we saw 51 species that morning....a great mornings birding.

Birdlist: Monk Parakeet, Kestrel, opsprey, pochard, White-headed duck, Mallard, Goldfinch, Bee-eater, Sparrow, Redshank, Greenfinch, Serin, Swallow, house Martin, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Little-ringed plover, Cormorant, Chifchaf, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Woodchat Shrike, Gadwall, Common Greenshank, Great Tit, Blackbird, Green Sandpiper, Spotless Starling, Shovelar, Coot, Turnstone, White Wagtail, Whimbrel, Sandwich tern, Dunlin, Kentish Plover, Northern Wheatear, Avocet, Sardinian Warbler, Black-headed Gull, Fan-tailed Warbler, Swift, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Hoopee, Common Sandpiper, Crested Lark, Grey Wagtail, Sanderlin.

Friday, 17 April 2009

El Algarrobo, Nerja

17 April 2009

With the weather being unsettled over the past few days I was reluctant to venture any distance so I decided to visit the hillside at the back of Nerja. Quite often a Short-toed eagle will put in an appearance and this morning was not exception. In fact on the ridge of the mountain there were three soaring in the thermals, showing off the white underparts in the morning sunlight.
Within one hour of walking this local area I saw 16 species, but the highlight was seeing a Whinchat flying amid the rocky terrain. At first I thought it was a stonechat, but no this was definately a whinchat! Further in the valley I came across a small flock of Linnets in the grassland, showing off their red breasts. I decided to hide amongst some trees and was rewarded by a family of Goldfinch feeding their new fledged chicks. As I went to higher ground, I was suprised to see a Black Wheatear, thought they were only here in the Winter. Spring is a wonderful season to observe the antics of all the birds, courtship displays, nest building and feeding chicks.
On my way home I startled 9 Hoopee from the ground, if only I was quick enough with the camera, it would of made a beautiful flight shot.
Birdlist: Black wheatear, Hoopee, Spotless starling, House sparrow, Goldfinch, Whinchat, Woodchat shrike, Kestrel, Short-toed eagle, Sardinian warbler, Serin, Swift, Swallow, House martin, Collared dove, Linnet.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Alhama de Granada-In search of the Dippers

8th April 2009

We went to the small river running through the gorge at Alhama de Granada today in search of the elusive dipper. Sadly we only got a glimpse of him for about 2 seconds as he flew down stream. We sat patiently with cameras on tripods, camoflauged by the bushes and artificial netting we bought, but he just never came near the rocks and water we had seen him on previous occasions. All was not wasted as a lovely Grey Wagtail came within range and I was rewarded handsomely with some very detailed shots of this colourful bird.

We were suprised by just how many Wrens must be nesting in this location, all the while their song could be heard. Also heard but not seen was a cuckoo, a sound that Spring has definitely arrived. Also we heard the sound of a woodpecker, later identified as the Great Spotted Woodpecker flying through the wooded areas.
We had a pleasant morning counting a total of 26 birds before enjoying a pollo a la brasa at El Ventoro with a nice glass of Rioja. Life is good.

Birdlist: Coot, Chaffinch, Chough, Blackbird, Pochard, Kestrel, Magpie, Wren, Blackcap, Dipper, Blue tit, Great tit, Long-tailed tit, Goldfinch, Robin, Jay, Grey wagtail, Nightengale, Great spotted woodpecker, Serin, Little Grebe, Crag martin, House martin, House sparrow, Spotless starling, white wagtail.

Monday, 6 April 2009


6th April 2009

Today Luke and I went to Rio Gualdalhorce. Upon arriving there we were suprised to find the whole area in like a fog or sea mist. Anyway it seemed to clear but came back again then clear again and went like this most of the day. We left at 2pm but were very happy to see 38 different species, despite not seeing the usual Booted Eagles and Marsh Harrier.

First birds to see were Greenfinch as we came off the bridge. Then a single Woodchat Shrike with a stunning brown head. On the ponds the usual Shovelars and White-headed Ducks, plenty of Black-winged Stilts both feeding and flying. Then out of the mist came the Osprey, flying over the hide we were in.

We had two birds we wanted to see, a Gadwall and a Black-eared Wheatear, the latter we didnt see, but a first sighting ever of a Gadwall.

The highlight of the morning was to see two Bee-eaters perched on a branch in the distance, but the colours when looking through the binoculars was amazing! I couldnt take my eyes from them and so was too slow in getting the camera aimed. We saw both Kentish and Little-ringed Plover ( I could distinquish them now with help from Bob Wright last week), Common and Green Sandpiper on the far hide. Then onto the beach, with Sanderling and a lone Oystercatcher flying low over the sea.
Along the path we came across a lovely little Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola), and was able to get a few nice shots of him.
At this time the sea mist came in again heavy, so we decided to head home, but all in all, not a bad day.

Birdlist: Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, House Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Little Egret, Blackbird, Monk Parakeet, Woodchat Shrike, Mallard, Cormorant, Kestrel, Shovelar, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Osprey, Grey Heron, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Little-ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Bee-eater, Corn Bunting, Common Redshank, Sanderlin, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Grebe, Spotless Starling, Yellow Wagtail, Crested Lark, Fan-tailed Warbler, Hoopee.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Nerja Old Sugar Factory

3rd April 2009

Today I got up early as I had a couple of hours spare so went to the waste ground between Nerja and Maro. As I walked the track to the building serens and goldfinches were busy in the fields. I love this time of the morning, hearing the chorus of birds all round me. As I was getting the camera ready I noticed a slightly bigger bird with distinct markings. I grabbed my binoculars and saw it was a woodchat shrike. He was watching me, then flew off. He landed on a dead tree with no foilage, ideal for a photograph. I spent literally ten minutes quietly and very slowly walking toward him, getting within shooting range.

Further up I saw a wheatear on the old sugar building. Again I was stalking him, until he landed on some rocks and I got in range for a photo.

Nothing else really, other than the usual blackbird, sparrows..but a nice hour well spent.

Birdlist: Serin, Goldfinch, Wheatear, Woodchat shrike, Blackbird, Sparrow, Hoopee, Kestrel, Starling, Flycatcher.