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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Spain - Malaga

Yours truly and my good friends Lee Brown and Martin Blow hatched a plan a few months back to visit Spain, namely the Malaga area and try and connect with some Spanish specialities over the course of 3 days.

The idea being to not only see and photograph some good birds but to build a trip list to see what we could achieve over the visit. Lee and Martin both needed lifers so there was plenty of incentive to try and get as much out of the trip as possible, it spurred us on, especially the first day but more on that later.

Sites visited were thus

May 1st - Mouth of the Guadalhorce
May 2nd – Osuna
May 3rd – El Torcel and Hoz De Marin

We had deliberately booked the hotel so that we were in walking distance of the Mouth of the Guadalhorce reserve flanked by urban Malaga, the idea being get there at dawn to maybe pick up Barn Owl or Red Necked Nightjar(I got one of these on my last visit here in September 2015).

The first day was spent at Guadalhorce on foot but the 2nd and 3rd days we had arranged for Luis of to pick us up for 2 days of guided birding. I can highly recommend Luis; he found us the birds and went out of his way taking us to Fuenta De Piedra for an unscheduled visit that was quite stunning.


Flights were very cheap, we got the late afternoon flight with EasyJet for £45.00 return, no hold luggage just cabin it works out cheaper.


For 3 nights it came to £166.00 each, we stayed at the Hotel Campanile, we all found it ok and the food and service was good.

May 1st – Mouth of the Guadalhorce

Setting out in the dark we arrived as dawn showed with plenty of birds heard en route, Nightingale being very vocal as we crossed the bridge.
As we entered and it became light lots of birds gave themselves up, a distant flight of 20 odd Greater Flamingo’s was very nice as they wheeled around the site, we caught up with these later.

Red Rumped Swallows seemed to be everywhere and a flight of Herons coming into the Reserve turned out to be 4 Squacco’s, we tried to find these later but no luck, however we did see 3 Night Herons, one an adult.

As the morning gathered pace and the heat built we saw so many birds, Woodchat Shrike, Black Necked Grebe, White Headed Duck, Bee Eater, Crested Larks, Kentish Plover, Zitting Cisticola’s to name but a few, Black Winged Stilts were seemingly everywhere.

A highlight for all of us was a flock of 50+ Slender Billed Gulls, these stayed all day on the pools, often feeding around the Greater Flamingo’s as they stirred the mud up as they walked.

3 Amigo's

You can never get fed up of photographing these

Greater Flamingo's

Woodchat Shrike

Sardinian Warbler

Kentish Plover

Audouins Gull

Adult Night Heron

2 immature Night Herons

Lots of waders were present on the pools including flocks of Sanderling and Dunlin but also Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed/Little Ringed/Grey Plover and also a single Turnstone + Avocets.

Overhead Pallid Swifts seemed to outnumber Common Swifts and the pools also held Audouin’s and Mediterranean Gulls, Gull Billed and a single Whiskered Tern, there was so much to see you always had the feeling you could easily miss something.

By now it was afternoon, food and a beer was calling so we retired back to the Hotel, the list was growing so we returned mid afternoon to a couple of favoured pools that we had taken to, we got better views of a Ferruginous Duck seen in the morning. The light was also better for photography; the Slender Billed Gulls gave even better views.

Raptor passage had been nonexistent until late afternoon when 3 Booted Eagles came through, all 3 of different morphs with the pale bird looking particularly good.

If I recall we added another 3 birds to the list in the afternoon session, by now it was really hot but on the way in and out we came across a pair of Bee Eater’s, it looked like they were looking for a nest site. Stunning colours, you just don’t get to see them in the UK regularly, great to watch and virtually the last birds we saw as we called it a day on the Reserve.

Pale phase Booted Eagle

Slender Billed Gulls

Slender Billed Gull

We ended the day on 75 species, to be honest far more than I expected, we had walked 33,003 steps which equates to 21.78km, roughly 13 miles, never have these little legs gone so far but was it worth it.

Birds missed that may have been present, we couldn’t find the Bonaparte’s Gull, Little Bittern and Purple Swamphen were not seen but very likely there, Purple Swamphen is very elusive anyway so it was not expected.

Plenty of Little Egrets on the pools but no sign of Great White, presumably at its breeding grounds.

All in all a fantastic start to the 3 days with some great birds that we rarely see, I know that Lee had picked up plenty of ticks – next stop Osuna for Day 2, Farm and Steppe country this was one place I had always wanted to go – Black Winged Kite awaited.........

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