Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Counting the Costa (Part 5)

These bitesize chunks keep coming...

So on the 7th I was allowed to go to El Hondo again, this time sans child and I was really excited but this was soon crushed by the pissing rain. Despite this I managed to see a few decent birds and bumped into Graham Critchell, a local guide again. 2 Hen Harriers hunted the margins of the reserve, one male and one female. A Great White Egret stalked the ditch around the pool and a group of Pochard were amongst their commoner Red-crested brethren. After a couple of hours of getting wet I retired to a hide where aside from ubiquitous Chiffchaffs a new Spanish tick did briefly grace me with its presence - a very soggy Water Rail. I tried to winkle out a Bluethroat or three but only succeeded in finding a group of Reed Buntings and a couple of vocal Kingfishers. As I left the reserve a flock of 13 Glossy Ibis sprung from the salicornia surrounded ditches. Not a bird I have seen particularly well in the area (exclusively flying birds...).

The next day the weather was cold and pants as it was in truth from the mid-point of the holiday. It felt like October in the UK. I took Izzy to the park in La Siesta and was amazed at the number of chats and thrushes present. A Blackbird and Black Redstart in every bush with single Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush. IT got really interesting when two thrushes went overhead sounding every inch like Redwing but I got nothing on them visually. Gah! A mega emerged from the bushes at that point - a Dunnock which is scarcer than Alpine Accentor in the province. The cold weather was obviously encouraging more northern birds south.

Back at the apartment I did a bit of vismigging as stuff was moving through and a small bunch of Crossbills were a nice surprise as were another Spanish Tick in the form of 2 flyover Siskins. These are scarce winter visitors to the province but I was aware they had been seen locally and as such I was prepped for them. The two Goldcrests came into view again and I managed the photo from earlier in the blog of one.

The afternoon consisted of another visit to a Park - this time at the east end of La Mata to get Izzy on the swings. Here there was an incredibly showy (or ill) Hoopoe which despite being in the middle of a dark bush gave excellent photo opportunities at high ISOs. A couple of Firecrests were in the plantation here but little else aside from the ever present Black Redstarts.

I eventually conned Izzy to go to the wader hide which held views of lots of Ringed Plover with attentdent Dunlin, Little Stint and Grey Plover. No sign of a Richard's Pipit in the 'normal' place but that is the usual story.

Our final day was supposed to be spent in the mountains at Maigmo but fog curtailed that with only a Coal Tit to show for our efforts. We then went for a walk at Clot where the above showy Purple Gallinule was hanging with the Moorhens and Mallards. And then we were done. 82 species for the trip which I thought was ok given the restrictions of a new born. I was delighted with the haul of difficult northern species. Full trip list in the next post.

PS I found a couple of Waxwings today whilst walking Isabelle to nursery. They would be proper mega in Spain

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